Fundraising & Grants

Reviewing the Options
From soliciting donations to applying for grants
Raising money for a nonprofit organization is always a challenge--in good times or bad. You can make it easier for your group if you learn about all the different methods of fundraising, and choose those that are truly best suited to your organization.

When reviewing your options, try not to rely on only one type of fundraising, especially if it means depending on sources that could dry up all at once, such as government or foundation grants. On the other hand, scattering efforts and trying every type of fundraising method simultaneously is not a good strategy, either. For best results, carefully plan an array of fundraising methods to employ in the coming one to five years, based on your company's internal needs, strengths and assets.

Fundraising and grant writing have the same goal--to obtain money for an organization, but otherwise, they are quite different.

  • Fundraising may sometimes deal with grant proposals, but it also seeks other opportunities, other than grants, to fund the organization and its various projects. Fundraising includes nurturing long-term donors, reaching out to the community in the form of events, speeches, letter campaigns, etc. The fundraiser develops a relationship with the community and media to direct attention and potential funding to the organization, builds donation databases and develops various campaigns throughout the year.
  • Grant writing is usually focused on the here and now of a specific project or need. Fundraisers are often so busy with the actual maintenance and planning of the organization and its projects, that bringing in an outside grant writer is very common. The grant writer's job is to seek out grant opportunities that match the company's project or need, and to write a proposal specifically aimed at that grant.
Sites with good, free information

AACT members can access the Reference Room (menu right), as a benefit of membership.   In addition, the links below can be very helpful in understanding both the basics and the complexities of fundraising and development.

  • Texas Commission for the Arts. This is practically a one-stop shop, where you'll information on building a fundraising plan; an overview of the different types of funding and their unique constraints; rules of thumb on boards and fundraising; guidelines on how to organize and develop your fundraising materials; a research checklist; sample fundraising plan and template; sample donor profiling and pledge forms; a sample breakdown of benefits for underwriters; sample cover letter, proposal, budget, and follow-up letter; a special events timeline; and more.\
  • All About Nonprofit Fundraising. An extensive, free library of articles on the varied elements of fundraising, the importance of the relationship between an organization and its potential donors, and constructing and implementing a strong fundraising plan/program.
  • Free Grant Evaluation Kit. This kit from Nolo Press is designed to "help you make savvy decisions about what types of grants, and how many, you should pursue. Figure out the specifics of what you want to fund, and then research appropriate grants using two forms, complete with thorough instructions."
  • Grant Space, a service of the Foundation Center, provides answers to most basic questions about fundraising and grants, as well as listings of available funding, workshops, etc.  Check out the menu on the right side for a helpful list of subject categories.
  • The Foundation Directory Online. Published by The Foundation Center, FD Online is the most comprehensive database for finding foundation support. FD Online includes records for 140,000 grantmakers and over 380,000 grants. Updated weekly, the directory is available on a subscription basis (but free to try).
  • Should Your Small Nonprofit Go After Grants?  A helpful article targeted at the smaller organization.
  • Nonprofit Fundraising Methods: An Overview, is an article from Nolo, the publishers of well-respected books and materials to answer everyday legal and business questions.
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