Every nonprofit needs to bring in funds with which to carry out its mission. In order to do so, it will probably want to consider and choose among a variety of fundraising methods -- whether it's approaching individuals for donations, applying for grant funding, holding special events, or something else (or a combination).
Yet there's no tried-and-true combination of methods that works for every nonprofit. Why is that? Part of the reason is that different nonprofits are starting with different "assets," as we'll explore in this article. If you develop a fundraising plan that doesn't take these assets (or lack thereof) into account, your plan may not produce the desired results.
When we discuss assets in the context of fundraising, we mean existing tangible or intangible items. The reputation a nonprofit builds by being a visible part of the community is an asset, because it can help inspire donations. A building is an asset, because you can hold events or meetings there, or collect fees from others who do so. If your group has numerous members who work for a company that generously matches employees' charitable contributions, that's definitely an asset.
A member's connection with a celebrity is another asset, if the celeb can be persuaded to peform at your gala dinner, undergo dunking at your carnival, or have lunch with the highest bidder at your silent auction.
Objects, skills, people, connections, and experience can all be assets.
The key thing to realize is that different assets have different fundraising uses. But for maximum brainstorming effectiveness, it helps to consider the assets in the abstract first, then decide what types of fundraising it might support.
That's what a California church did, for example, when it realized that its parking spots were an asset, in high demand for Sunday services. By auctioning off a reserved spot to the highest bidder, the church brought in an extra $500 to its coffers.
Though you may come up with similarly new and creative ideas, you'll likely want to match most of your assets to the major types of fundraising used by nonprofits similar to yours. For instance, if you have a large membership, soliciting individual donations would be a natural strategy for your group. If you have a pulpit or other forum from which a leader speaks, your individual outreach can be even more direct and powerful.
If you have volunteers or staffmembers with Internet skills, then they're an asset that can be used to help set up a website, Facebook page, and email outreach program for communicating with members and requesting donations.
Board members or staff/volunteers who own or have access to a nice home, club, boat, or other facility are great assets when it comes to planning house parties or other fundraising events.
You get the idea. Again, recognizing, listing, and planning around these assets is worthy of its own brainstorming session, in which you bring together your group's leaders, board, and interested volunteers. Ask people to think about all the relevant assets that they can identify within your group, write them on a big chart, then consider what fundraising use each asset might support. Use the resulting list to take the next step, which is to develop a long-term fundraising plan.