How to Raise Money For Your Nonprofit When Donors Are Financially Pinched

Written By Marte Cliff

Are you worried because your donors are feeling the pinch right now?

Hopefully you have enough major donors to get your non-profit through these rough economic waters, but I know that many small groups don’t. They have to rely on small gifts from “regular working people.”

So perhaps right now would be a good time to ask for “things” rather than money.

Last week I had a letter from a young man who wanted to raise money to donate to animal rescue. He wasn’t a registered non-profit, so didn’t feel like he could really ask people for money. After thinking about it for a day or two, I wrote him back with some suggestions that might also help you.

You could gather things to sell on e-Bay or a yard sale – and you could ask your friends to help you gather more.

I told him to consider collecting blankets, dog and cat beds, toys, towels, etc. and delivers them directly to the animal shelters and rescues in his part of the country.

What could your group collect for your cause? Would people donate items you could use, or would you need to sell the items to get cash? What local businesses would allow you to place collection bins?

How about volunteer labor that reaches beyond the daily needs of your non-profit?

You could do something like dog or cat sitting or dog walking – or even “plant sitting” for people on vacation. Be creative with this – look at the talents your volunteers possess and what they’d be willing to do for the cause. Then spread the word. Even a car wash brings in money.

You could do what my son and his daughter are doing right now – they wrote a little kids’ story and are going to offer it for sale on the web, with the proceeds going to their favorite charities.

Don’t forget to keep mailing.

Luckily, most non-profits can now add e-mail addresses to their donor database – so don’t have to spend a lot of money on postage in order to stay in close touch with supporters.

Do remember to keep e-mailing everyone. Let them know what you’re doing both to raise money and to help the animals, kids, trees, etc. that your non-profit helps. Now more than ever it is vital for your donors to know that their money is accomplishing something positive.

Be sure to let those people know that you can use their volunteer labor as well as their money. And when they show up ready to help, do all in your power to make them feel welcome. I can’t believe how many people I know who “used to” volunteer somewhere, but were treated so poorly that they left.

Unfortunately, you still do need to do a postal mailing once in a while. But if you keep in touch regularly through e-mail, you can probably get by with mailing quarterly. When you do, be sure to make it a comprehensive letter that demonstrates the good you’re doing, along with asking for financial support. A newsletter is a perfect choice for quarterly mailings.

Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter with a passion for animal rescue.
Because so many small non-profits need to raise money before they even consider spending money to hire a professional copywriter to assist them, she wrote an inexpensive guide called the Fundraising Primer, which is available at . Among other things, the guide will show you the basics of constructing a fundraising letter that lets donors know why they’ll feel good when they support your cause. The sales page alone will help you improve your skills.

Marte’s ezine for fundraisers offers tips and hints for raising money both through the written word and through various community events. To subscribe, send a blank email to

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