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The Complexities of Non-Profit Funding: How Are Non-Profits Funded?












As one of my intern goals at Facing History and Ourselves, I wanted to learn about the inner workings of a non-profit organization. Having no experience whatsoever dealing with non-profits, I was expecting the fiscal operations to be fairly simple. However, sitting in on regional budget meetings with my supervisor helped me understand that there are multiple contributors and factors that help keep non-profits afloat. Facing History and Ourselves has thirteen regions, so I’ve sat in on almost thirteen budget meetings! At FHAO, I’ve now seen four different ways that a non-profit can earn revenue: fee-for-service plans, donor gifts, fundraisers, and grants.

Each region has a financial plan that fits its structure and environment, but many regions offer fee-for-service events where teachers can pay to attend professional development seminars over the summer. As a part of the FHAO internship program in New England, interns are encouraged to attend week-long learning sessions (which are often fee-for-service) for educators who want to continue improving in their profession. So far, topics have included: The Reconstruction Era and the Fragility of Democracy, The Holocaust and Human Behavior, and Race & Membership. I am looking forward to attending the last of these early in August.


Facing History and Ourselves

Certain regions gain revenue through individual donor gifts, which are allocated to specific project codes in the organization in order to organize the funds. Often times, donors extend their gifts over a period of multiple years in order to fund programs, projects, content, or staff development. As an intern, I’ve sat in on calls with potential donors who asked questions to determine whether FHAO and its projects are worth their investment. Donors often ask about specific projects that they have a personal interest in and Facing History employees answer questions and provide any additional information that the donor may require.

Fundraisers are often effective fund-raising events because they can bring in revenue while also exposing a wide audience to the values of Facing History. For example, non-profit organizations can host large dinners that bring in a variety of donors. Though I have not had any personal experience with fundraisers at Facing History and Ourselves, another FHAO intern has worked on projects researching effective fundraising models.

Cory Booker

Senator Cory Booker (NJ) Accepting the Facing History and Ourselves Upstander Award at the San Francisco Bay Area Benefit Dinner

Finally, I’ve learned about the importance of federal grants in funding the organization’s work. During the year, the government releases a variety of grants to which organizations can apply. A FHAO grant team looks over these grants and first determines whether our organization meets the application criteria. Next, we attend webinar sessions which allow potential grant applicants to ask any questions that they may have. Once we’re sure that we can move forward and we have answered all of our questions, the grant writing team takes over and begins its research and writing process. As an intern, I’ve helped compile and organize data to put into these grants and I’ve sat in on preliminary grant meetings.

Supporting and funding a non-profit as large as Facing History and Ourselves takes many talented teams as well as a variety of different revenue sources. There is nothing easy about running a non-profit!



Image Sources: https://brightcove.hs.llnwd.net/e1/pd/1513023957001/1513023957001_4889075898001_FH28050.jpg?pubId=1513023957001&videoId=4594731336001



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