Navigating Nonprofit Fundraising

Yesterday I went to a fundraising training session hosted by NEO Philanthropy; they’re a big funding source for a lot of nonprofits and have created a specific initiative to target sexual assault on college campuses. They invited a lot of the big players in this field, including Sexual Health Innovations, End Rape on Campus (run by the women featured in the recent documentary “The Hunting Ground”), Know Your IX, It’s On Us Campaign, Culture of Respect, Breakthrough, and Carry that Weight Campaign. Needless to say I was fangirling a bit.

Working in development, I’ve realized that fundraising¬†isn’t something a lot of activists know how or want to do. Given the passions of my peers and supervisors, raising funds is the tedious part of completing their missions. It’s also fairly difficult for those of us with backgrounds in, say, women’s studies to determine good business practices.

There are two main streams of funding: donor and foundation. Donors are individuals who contribute money, whether from a crowd funding campaign or personal connections. Foundations are organizations often run by companies (like the AVON Foundation) or families (like the Clinton Foundation) that set a mission or set of values and seek projects that align with these to fund.

The session was helpful for me to understand some basics and challenges of networking, donor prospecting, grant writing, and maintaining relationships, skills I’m sure will come in handy throughout my nonprofit career.

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