Fundraising for Your Organization

Factsheet - ISSN 1198-712X   -   Copyright Queen's Printer for Ontario
Agdex#: 057
Publication Date: 01/88
Order#: 88-011
Last Reviewed:
History: Reprinted February 1989
Written by: Peter Fleming - Manager of 4-H and Organization Development/OMAFRA; Nancy Larmer - Rural Organization Specialist/OMAFRA

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. People Give To People
  3. Know Your Project
  4. Potential Sources of Funding
  5. Developing Your Fundraising Strategy
  6. Know Your Organization
  7. Other Things To Consider
  8. Summary


Does your group have a long list of project or program ideas - but not enough dollars to do them all? If your answer to this simple question is yes, then read on. Most organizations occasionally require outside funding as a source of revenue for new or special projects. You are not alone!

The 5 key ingredients to successful fundraising are:

  1. Know what motivates individuals/groups to donate,
  2. know your project,
  3. be aware of potential sources of funding,
  4. be familiar with your own organization

"People Give To People"

"People give to People!", is a well used phrase in fundraising. Statistics indicate that 75 cents of every Canadian dollar donated in a year was given by individuals. People like to help others; they may have a personal involvement or commitment to the group and cause; they seek recognition; they enjoy the event; ego gratification; the need to belong to an organization by either donating their time or money; community pride; religious point of view; compassion; community pressure; guilt; or they may give just because they were asked to give! If you don't understand why people give, then you can't design a program for them.

Know Your Project

People will want to know what it is they are being asked to support. You should be aware of the costs involved; the benefits to community and organization; exactly how much money you need - not how much you think you could raise; when are the dollars needed, and the cash flow required to see the project through.

Your project should complement the goals and objectives of the organization. Define your purpose - a clear, concise statement detailing why your organization is raising money. Remember - your purpose will determine if people will give.

Potential Sources of Funding

Special Events Fundraising

Special events (e.g., raffles, bingos, draws, garage sales, etc.) can be organized by the group as one method of raising funds. The event should reflect the objectives of the organization.

  • fun, entertaining
  • easy to ask for dollars in a relaxed atmoshpere
  • dollars available on the spot
  • community involvement helps to build cohesiveness
  • good public relations
  • may not make a lot of money and may even lose dollars
  • need a good number of volunteers
  • people may actually give less than they might have if they were asked to donate directly
  • everyone contributing the same
  • people want full value for their dollars ( they forget donation aspect and look at what they get vs. what donating )
  • difficult to be unique with this type of approach (everybody's doing it!) - takes creativity to have you event noticed

Individual Donations

Involves soliciting donations through individual contacts (e.g., door-to-door, canvassing, phone, letters).

There are 2 approaches to soliciting individuals:

  1. target an individual
  2. mass mailing or canvassing
  • low cost involved
  • fewer people required
  • encourages two-way communication of project and organization
  • public relations - gives you the chance to tell your story
  • can be tax deductible
  • requires more volunteers for the door-to-door or targeted approach
  • not everyone likes to solicit and some people don't like to be asked in this manenr
  • requires time in relation to potential donations
  • if no one is home - they may not have a second change to donate
  • door-to-door can be expensive and time consuming in rural areas

Business Contributions

This method is similar to soliciting donations except it is targeted to businesses. Many businesses budget each year for donations and sponsorship towards fundraising projects for their own public relations and marketing. Donations from businesses may be in dollars or product. Be prepared with your request!

  • potential for larger donations
  • good public relations for the business and for the organization
  • tax deductible for business
  • potential for repeat donations (secure source of funds)
  • willingness to contribute on business cycle
  • difficult to identify person who approves donations
  • large businesses require a professional presentation by the organization
  • may be lag in time between commitment and donation
  • budget for donations/sponsorship may only be established at a particular time of year


In Canada there are over 600 charitable foundations which administer funds for a variety of projects.

Publications listing names and mandates of foundations can be found at your public library.

Organizations submit requests for financial support to a foundation whose mandate coincides with the nature of their project.

  • may be eligible for a large amount of funding
  • may be a long response period
  • requires detailed project proposals and organization information
  • could be one-time only

Government Grants

Many municipal, provincial or federal government departments have funding programs to which organizations may make application.

These grants are targeted to specific projects (i.e., recreational facilities, child care). The organization applying must clearly understand their project before applying.

  • can be a major source of income
  • eligibility standards are well documented and established (easy to determine if project is suitable for funding)
  • requires extensive support documentation
  • several government programs exist but identification of right one is difficult
  • time lag before commitment is given

Developing Your Fundraising Strategy

Deciding which source to target is a difficult one. You may decide to utilize more than one approach. Consider these factors as you develop your strategy:

  • Timing - urgency for requirement of funds should be considered. If cash not needed immediately, you may ask for a pledge.
  • Amount of funding required - size of expected donation should be relative to size of project. Ask for a specific dollar amount and be realistic.
  • Available resources - number of volunteers, costs involved and time available to conduct a fundraising campaign.
  • Profile of project - person or business contributing to project in many cases must be offered tangible and intangible returns (e.g., public relations or direct individual benefits) - identifying profile of project will help to determine geographic boundaries of campaign.
  • Environment - availability of funding from some sources may be conditional on economy.
  • Sequence - if more than one source is being considered, (e.g., event fundraising used in conjunction with another source), individual contributions may be affected by prior "donations" through special events fundraising.
  • Values - the organization must be supportive of the method being used to raise funds. Some types of fundraising activities may not meet with approval of organization or community (e.g., lotteries, sponsorship by certain companies).

When targeting your efforts on individuals or businesses, you should develop a means of putting in priority your most likely candidates for support and concentrate your efforts in that area. Identify those who may be interested the most in the project, develop a list and work from the top down.

Determine in advance the amount you are going to request, research the potential donor about their interests and goals and how the project relates to them and then you can answer the question - What's in it for me? Also identify possible alternatives to tangible dollars e.g., moral support, contact, references, and products.

Be sure to personalize your approach to potential donors and approach supporters of previous campaigns first. It is best to spend more time nurturing the "old money before seeking out the new".

Know Your Organization

Preparation Points

  • be aware of your organization's image in the community (how it's perceived will affect financial support by community)
  • evaluate past fundraising efforts to determine successful strategies (learn from your mistakes)
  • ensure that the membership is fully in support of the project - internal apathy may be harmful to fundraising results
  • investigate eligibility of organization for charitable status through Revenue Canada. This would allow donations to be tax deductible.

Fundraising Committee

  • make up of committee should be reflective of needs
  • working members and honorary members of committee should have profile, credibility and personal support for the project
  • chairperson (and/or directors) of campaign coordinates the project to avoid duplication of effort and contact
  • chairperson acts as official spokesman for the campaign
  • goals and targets are set by committee
  • roles of each person are determined and clearly defined to each individual
  • training is provided for volunteers - everyone must know their job
  • provide regular update session with volunteers who will be doing the work
  • encourage feedback sessions and evaluation of progress
  • design a fundraising kit to fully explain their role and campaign
  • consider all potential questions and have answers designed and readily available

Other Things To Consider

  • make it easy for the donor (i.e. pick it up, postage paid, bank deposit)
  • know who it is in the organization that decides on donations
  • know when budgets are established
  • make appointments for your interviews
  • if they don't give - don't be discouraged, leave with their moral support and accept rejection gracefully
  • keep records of all contacts, comments, history of donations - this helps to prevent duplicate contacts (i.e., recipe card file or notebook may be useful)
  • offer receipts on the spot
  • ensure follow-up and thank you from the organization
  • ensure progress of project is made available to all supporters
  • if you don't know the answer to a question, ensure an answer is forwarded promptly
  • inform media of your project and ensure maximum recognition of all major contributors


Since there is no perfect or ideal model for fundraising, community groups are encouraged to share their techniques. Remember the five key ingredients to successful fundraising are:

  1. Know what motivates individuals/groups to donate
  2. Know your project
  3. Be aware of potential sources of funding
  4. Develop a strategy
  5. Be familiar with your own organization

Good luck with your fundraising project and have fun doing it!

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