If your fatherhood program relies solely or primarily on funds from foundations or government, it's crucial that you expand the focus to include donations from individuals.
One of the pitfalls I often see is the reliance of a fatherhood program on a single source of funds, typically a foundation or government grant. Even when a program has more than one source of funds, I rarely see one with more than two or three sources, and those sources almost never include donations from individuals.
Why is it important to expand the focus?
First, the vast majority of giving in the U.S. to charities comes from individuals--some 70% to 80% of the $400 billion given annually!
Second, it's vital to diversify funding sources. Just as with diversity in investments, diversity in funding sources provides a hedge against a reduction or elimination of funding from a specific source. I've seen a lot of programs disappear when their lone funding source stops funding them.
The challenge for many program staff is not knowing how to talk to individuals about giving. It's one thing to know how to write a great proposal for a foundation or government grant. It's another to know how to connect with individual donors.
So here are two recommendations for how to do that.
- Get into the heads of individuals committed to donating to charities. Find out what they're thinking or, actually, what they're being told to think.
Believe it or not, there are organizations that cater to these folks by helping them understand what they should be thinking about when donating to charities. One such organization, for example, is The Center for High Impact Philanthropy. The center speaks to donors about how to achieve "high impact," a buzzword in the giving community. Subscribe to their blog and download their free resources, such as their High Impact Giving Guide, to gain insight into how to connect your program to what donors care about. This group of blog posts, for example, helps donors understand what high impact means, and how they can achieve it with their giving.
Another popular resource for individual donors is GuideStar. This website helps donors decide which organizations to donate to by providing extensive background information on thousands of charities. Charities complete profiles that have components that donors care about (e.g. programs offered and outcomes). By completing a profile, you can build credibility for your program or organization. (Click here for National Fatherhood Initiative's [NFI's] profile.) After you create your profile, you can place links to it on your program's donation page and in solicitations for funds (e.g. emails that are part of annual giving campaigns).
- Register for and obtain NFI's Father Engagement Certificate™. One of the five sessions that are part of this popular training is on fundraising. The focus of that session is on raising funds from private sources, including individual donors.
So what are you waiting for? Start learning how to expand your program's funding sources to include individual donors.
Does your program have funding from individuals?
If your program doesn't have such funding, what's kept you from securing funding from this untapped source?
Are you a dad looking for help? Please visit our Fatherhood Program Locator™ and enter your city and state on the map to find programs and resources in your community.