The title of the post next to a graphic of a man standing on a stack of coins holding a lightbulb.

Funding Your Mission: 4 Nonprofit Financial Management Tips

When you think about your nonprofit’s funding, the first thing that comes to mind is probably fundraising. Your team likely plans and launches multiple fundraisers throughout each year to bring in enough revenue to fund the various initiatives associated with furthering your mission.

However, proper financial management is just as important as fundraising for making a difference in the community. As funding comes in, you have to carefully plan how you’re going to spend it in order to make the most of it. Then, you need to report on your fundraising and spending to demonstrate that you’re using your donors’ money wisely and complying with government regulations for nonprofits.

In this guide, we’ll share four proven tips to help your organization manage its finances more effectively. Let’s get started!

1. Create an Annual Operating Budget

Jitasa’s nonprofit budgeting guide defines a budget as “a planning document used to predict expenses and allocate resources for your organization.” While there are several types of nonprofit budgets you might create (such as budgets for specific programs or long-term fundraising campaigns), your annual operating budget serves as the master financial plan for your entire organization, making it a critical component of your strategy.

Let’s break down the two sides of an operating budget—revenue and expenses—in more detail.


The revenue side of your nonprofit’s operating budget details all of the funds your organization expects to bring in throughout the year. To keep your budget organized and make more accurate projections, we recommend categorizing your revenue by source.

Here is a breakdown of the major nonprofit revenue sources and a few subcategories you might include under each one:

  • Individual donations: Small, mid-sized, and major gifts; event revenue; in-kind donations
  • Corporate philanthropy: Matching gifts, volunteer grants, sponsorships
  • Earned income: Membership dues, branded merchandise sales, fees for services
  • Investments: Endowments, brokerage account interest, stock returns
  • Grants: Government grants, public and private foundation grants, Google Ad Grants

Having a combination of these revenue streams in your budget can help your organization achieve financial sustainability, as you’ll still have plenty of funding you can rely on if one source falls through. And if everything goes according to plan, you may have additional funds that you can reserve for the future or use to expand your organization.


In general, nonprofits find it most useful to organize the expense side of their budget based on how their spending furthers their mission. These functional expense categories, as they’re known, are also consistent with nonprofit tax returns and other required reports.

The three types of functional expenses are:

  • Program costs, which are directly related to furthering your mission, meaning they’re different for every organization. For example, an animal shelter would include spending on pet food, toys, and medical supplies under their program costs.
  • Administrative costs, which are necessary for your nonprofit to operate and include expenses like staff salaries, utility bills, and purchases of office supplies.
  • Fundraising costs, which are the upfront costs associated with fundraising campaigns and include event planning, marketing, and fundraising software investments.

You may have heard of the 65/35 “rule” of nonprofit budgeting, which states that nonprofits should spend at least 65% of their funds on their programs and no more than 35% on administrative and fundraising costs combined. In reality, this breakdown looks different for every organization. Treat this rule as a guideline to help you allocate more funding toward your mission and cut administrative and fundraising costs where possible.

2. Implement Fiscal Policies

Fiscal policies give your team guidance on how to properly handle your nonprofit’s funds day-to-day as they act on the predictions in your budget. Make sure to implement the following regulations at your nonprofit:

  • Gift acceptance policy. This details the types of donations (both financial and in-kind) that your nonprofit can and can’t accept, as well as the circumstances under which you’ll accept each contribution.
  • Expense reimbursement policy. If your employees or volunteers spend their own money on behalf of your organization, this policy outlines whether they can be reimbursed and the procedure for providing reimbursements.
  • Investment policy. This provides guidelines for investing, withdrawing, and spending your nonprofit’s reserve funds so you can effectively save for the long term.
  • Staff compensation policy. This ensures all of your employees receive fair salaries and benefits while preventing overcompensation for leadership (which has damaged some nonprofits’ reputations).

Compile all of these policies in a shared organizational handbook so that your team members can easily reference them as they go about their daily tasks.

3. Compile Financial Statements

Think of your nonprofit’s financial documentation as guiding your organization’s activities before, during, and after funds change hands. Your budget applies before, your fiscal policy handbook during, and your financial statements after, since their purpose is to summarize financial data for easier analysis.

Here is an overview of the four core nonprofit financial statements and what each one reports:

  • Statement of activities: Revenue raised, expenses incurred, and change in net assets
  • Statement of financial position: Assets, liabilities, and net assets
  • Statement of cash flows: Cash movement in and out of your organization through operating, investing, and financing activities
  • Statement of functional expenses: Detailed breakdown of program, administrative, and fundraising costs incurred

These four documents are extremely useful for reporting your organization’s financial history and health on its annual tax return. Plus, DonorSearch recommends attaching your financial statements as appendices to your nonprofit’s annual report so supporters and stakeholders can learn more about how your organization has used its funds in the past year.

4. Hire a Bookkeeper and Accountant

Since bookkeepers and accountants both work with financial data, it’s common for nonprofits to confuse the two roles and only hire one or the other. However, bookkeepers and accountants have different functions within an organization, so you need both to effectively manage your finances.

Bookkeepers take care of your nonprofit’s day-to-day financial needs. Their duties include basic data entry, writing checks, making bank deposits, and running payroll. While bookkeepers need some basic training to do their jobs well, they don’t need specialized education or certifications.

Accountants, on the other hand, need at least a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field and a CPA certification to be qualified for their role. This is because accountants focus on financial data analysis and reporting tasks, such as reviewing your nonprofit’s budget and fiscal policies and filing tax forms. Having a bookkeeper to keep accurate records allows your accountant to focus on the analytical responsibilities they specialize in.

Pro tip: If your organization doesn’t have enough work to warrant hiring a full-time bookkeeper and accountant or the budget to do so, you can invest in outsourced nonprofit bookkeeping and accounting services to gain access to the financial expertise you need at a lower cost!

Every nonprofit has different financial goals, so keep that in mind as you consider how to apply the tips above at your organization. Also, remember to regularly revisit your budget, fiscal policies, and financial statements so that, with your bookkeeper’s and accountant’s help, you can stay on top of your nonprofit’s needs and create the best possible management strategy.

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3 Strategies to Streamline In-Kind Donations for Supporters

Without fundraising, nonprofits would be hard-pressed to fulfill their missions. But monetary gifts aren’t the only contributions beneficial to your nonprofit. Other donations, such as in-kind gifts, are just as useful. Accepting in-kind donations allows your nonprofit to increase support by capturing the generosity of supporters who might not be able to donate monetary funds.

To help you maximize in-kind donations for your nonprofit, this guide will cover the top strategies for streamlining your in-kind gift process. That way, you can confidently solicit and accept a variety of donations from loyal supporters.

What are in-kind donations?

According to Jitasa, in-kind donations are contributions of products or services that companies and businesses give to a nonprofit instead of a cash contribution. This includes:

  • Goods. These are typically physical materials or assets that nonprofits can use to enhance some aspect of their work. It’s a great way for donors to support your organization while staying sustainable by recycling their items. For example, if you plan to host an auction, you might solicit in-kind donations of auction items from supporters.
  • Services. This type of in-kind donation is a contribution of time and expertise to perform a service that your nonprofit would otherwise have to pay for. Donations of services are particularly useful if your nonprofit is still small and doesn’t have the extra budget to hire external professionals. For example, an individual working at a marketing agency might donate their services to design marketing materials for your upcoming fundraising event.

Volunteer time is another common yet often overlooked type of in-kind gift. As volunteer time is estimated to be worth about $32 per hour, it is an incredibly valuable type of donation for your nonprofit.

Much like with any other type of donation, it’s important to recognize donors for their generosity after an in-kind gift. Establish appreciation strategies to specifically recognize donors for their in-kind gifts.

Now that you know what in-kind donations are, let’s dive into the top strategies for streamlining the in-kind donation process for supporters.

1. Establish clear guidelines for in-kind donations.

Have you ever tried making a payment for an item or service and had trouble getting your payment to work? Your first reaction was probably frustration. You may have even decided that you didn’t need that item.

It’s a similar feeling for donors—regardless of their gift type, you need to make the process easy to ensure that they go through with their gift. In-kind donations are no exception. However, their donation process will be slightly more complicated, as donors will need to go beyond inputting their payment information.

To ensure that donors go through with their in-kind gifts, establish clear guidelines. These should include:

  • Type of goods and services. Be upfront about the type of in-kind donations you’ll accept. This may change depending on where you are in your fundraising cycle or your current organizational needs. For example, if you’re hoping to plan several events in the next year, you might request the services of a fundraising consultant.
  • Condition requirements. For goods, specifically, include any requirements you have for item condition. For instance, if you’re looking for auction items, you’ll probably be looking for new or gently-used goods. If you’re looking for lighting equipment, you may be satisfied with functional items that show some wear and tear.
  • Excluded in-kind gifts. If there are any common types of in-kind gifts that you specifically won’t accept, include them in your guidelines. Let’s say that you’re looking for marketing help. You may request specific services to meet your exact marketing needs, such as branding expertise or video content creation.
  • Donation process. For goods, establish a drop-off point where donors can leave their gifts. Or, if you have extra staff time, create a pick-up system. For services, provide guidelines as to the commitment that you’d like the donor to make, whether they need to work with you on-site or if remote is acceptable, and any other expectations you might have.

After you’ve established guidelines for in-kind donations, add them to a landing page on your nonprofit’s website. That way, supporters can easily reference this information if they’re considering making an in-kind gift.

2. Promote in-kind donations to supporters.

If you don’t inform supporters about in-kind gifts, they may not even consider making them. Properly market in-kind gifts by promoting them through multiple communication channels. That includes your:

  • Website
  • Emails
  • Social media posts

In your messages, focus on the benefits of in-kind donations for supporters. You might say that it’s a convenient way to recycle their items while contributing to a great cause. Or, you could say that donating services allows them to give back to the community without any financial commitment. Add a link to your in-kind donation guidelines so that viewers can easily get started with the process.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to seek out local businesses to help promote in-kind gifts or make contributions directly to your nonprofit. For instance, if you run a soup kitchen, you might ask local grocery stores to promote your request for in-kind donations of canned food. Or, you might ask the same store if they’d be willing to donate that food directly.

3. Host an in-kind donation event.

Much like regular fundraising events give supporters a structured way to make financial gifts, an event that focuses on in-kind donations streamlines the gift-giving process.

Two great ideas to consider include:

  • Recycling drive. With a recycling drive, you can make money with in-kind donations of recyclable materials such as metal, plastic, or textiles. Ask supporters to collect these items and donate them to you. Then, sell these items to a local recycling center and put the funds back into your mission. If you don’t have the employee time to spare, Donate This Recycle That recommends arranging for pickup with recycling centers instead.
  • Clothing drive. Clothing drives are flexible events that can serve many different purposes. For example, if your nonprofit’s beneficiaries are people experiencing homelessness or poverty, you may organize a clothing drive to obtain winter clothing for them. Or, you can host a clothing drive fundraiser by selling any donations back to a recycling organization.

There are a variety of other donations that can feature in-kind donations, including second-hand store events and auctions. Don’t be afraid to get creative with events, but be sure to make your donation process clear for each one.

In-kind donations allow you to leverage the generosity of supporters who might otherwise not be able to contribute to your nonprofit. With a streamlined and convenient process, you’ll be able to maximize the number of donations you receive, allowing you to push forward your mission. Be sure to properly recognize in-kind donors to encourage their continued support and secure their future financial generosity.

Tips to Cultivate School Spirit in Your Next Fundraiser

Picture this—your elementary school is bustling with students returning from the summer holiday and your school board is brainstorming how you can channel their school spirit and excitement into your next fundraiser.

By tapping into this collective energy early on as the new school year kicks off, you can establish a solid foundation that not only celebrates the return to school but also builds anticipation and support for upcoming events. 

To keep the momentum going even after your initial back to school event, consider using these tips to generate school spirit and maximize funds.

Choose a memorable theme

A memorable theme will set your fundraiser apart and encourage participation. Therefore, instead of being just another one-off fundraiser, your school can use your fundraiser as an opportunity to reconnect with your community while raising funds. 

For example, let’s say a school decides to use the theme “A Wildlife Adventure” to brand its fundraiser meant to support more hands-on learning initiatives such as field trips and outdoor education programs. With a clear brand, the school can then reap the following benefits:

  • An aligned fundraising purpose ensures that all fundraising activities and promotions directly reflect the theme’s focus on wildlife and exploration. This fosters a stronger sense of purpose, which deepens the engagement and investment of your supporters.
  • Distinct branded merchandise like custom animal plush toys, explorer kits for kids, or adventure-themed t-shirts helps you effectively raise funds while also promoting a sense of fun and excitement around your fundraiser.
  • Multiple branded fundraising activities such as an auction where participants bid on fun, family-friendly experiences like zip-lining or tickets to the zoo. Additionally, you may add in more branded fundraising opportunities such as a bike-a-thon or outdoor adventure day.

A cohesive theme for a school fundraiser can be a powerful tool in uniting students, parents, teachers, and the wider community towards a common goal, generating excitement and participation across the board. Invest time in brainstorming effective fundraising themes and think through all the details—from marketing materials to auction items to merchandise—before selecting one. 

Plan engaging activities

Engaging activities are crucial to the success of school fundraisers, as they significantly influence participation rates by making the event enjoyable and memorable for everyone involved. It’s best to actively involve your community from the planning stages through to the execution of the fundraiser, ensuring that activities are inclusive and appeal to a broad audience.

Here are some ideas for making sure your fundraising activities align with your community’s interests and fundraising goals: 

  • Provide options and survey your school community. Offer a variety of potential fundraising activities and use surveys to gather input from students, parents, teachers, and staff to identify what resonates most with them.
  • Consider timing when planning your events. Take into account the local community calendar, key holidays, and the school schedule to choose optimal times for your event that avoid conflicts and maximize attendance.
  • Offer multiple ways to give or get involved. Various donation formats such as text-to-give, recurring giving, or pledge fundraising could spice up your fundraising events while offering participants the choice to give in a way most convenient to them. 
  • Try different formats. Maybe you’re used to in-person fundraising events but are ready to give hybrid or online events a chance. You don’t have to choose just one.’s guide to online auctions suggests running both an in-person and online auction to maximize funding. 

Research previous fundraising activities and explore what has been successful at nearby schools to gather proven ideas and avoid potential pitfalls. Analyzing these can provide valuable insights into what resonates with your community, helping to tailor future fundraisers for greater impact and success.

Encourage student involvement

Students are pivotal in boosting school spirit as the primary ambassadors of their school’s values and culture. By actively participating in and leading school events, students can encourage a positive culture.

Give them a role to play to bolster their involvement by suggesting they provide any of the following: 

  • Marketing assistance: Students can help create posters, social media posts, and branding ideas. Have them create a content calendar or vote on your fundraiser’s theme. You can provide extra credit to the students who assist in your marketing endeavors. 
  • Friendly grade-level competition: See which grade can raise the most funds and incentivize revenue with a prize like a school field trip or movie day.
  • Event day talent showcase: Highlight school talent by having student musicians or singers perform during your event. This not only provides a platform for students to shine and share their skills but also adds a personal and engaging touch to the event.
  • Planning and coordination efforts. Enlist high school student volunteers for event day set up and tear down. Remember to thank your students and parents throughout the volunteer process for lending a helping hand.  

Involving students in various capacities, such as marketing, organizing, and performing, not only empowers them but also enhances the overall atmosphere of school events.

Partner with sponsors

The right sponsor can take a school fundraiser from good to great. According to Getting Attention, sponsors can help you by providing financial, in-kind, and media support. In a school context, a valuable sponsor could also provide the following:

  • In-kind gifts like food or baked goods for a fancy fundraising gala from a local restaurant. You could even have them offer cooking classes or culinary experiences to further enhance your fundraiser’s appeal.
  • Financial assistance from larger corporate support in the form of matching gifts or through direct donations. This can often inspire other businesses to contribute, creating a ripple effect of support. 
  • Volunteer help from local community organizations. Perhaps a local print shop will offer to print off your fundraiser programs and other organizations could sell your event tickets at their business.
  • A fun and accessible venue from nearby businesses. Utilizing a venue that’s well-known in the community can enhance the event’s visibility and accessibility, encouraging greater participation and support from residents and businesses alike.

By contributing financially, in-kind, and through volunteer help, sponsors can greatly reduce your overhead costs, allowing a higher percentage of the funds raised to be directly allocated toward your school’s initiatives.

Celebrate your progress

Positive communication plays a vital role in the success of a school fundraiser as it directly influences the level of enthusiasm and participation across the school community. By regularly updating students, parents, and staff on the progress and impact of the fundraiser, you can maintain high engagement levels and foster a sense of shared school spirit.

Here are some ways to share your event’s progress:

  • Fundraising thermometer. This is a great visual tool to share the success of your fundraiser as it provides a clear representation of your achievement toward your goal in real-time.
  • Thank you letters. Handwritten notes or quick branded e-cards are reliable ways to show your appreciation and remind every contributor of your gratitude.
  • Final fundraising metrics. Sharing these metrics after your event is a powerful way to underscore the success and collective effort of the community, highlighting the tangible impact of everyone’s contributions.

The strategic use of positive communication methods, such as a fundraising thermometer, thank you letters, and the sharing of final fundraising metrics, is instrumental in amplifying the success of a school fundraiser. 

These approaches not only keep the community informed and engaged but also reinforce a culture of appreciation and recognition, essential for building lasting school spirit.

School fundraising is no small task—leverage the power of school spirit to bring in funds and maximize engagement. The above tactics can be tailored to any school, audience, or fundraising need, just be sure to gather school community input early and often before launching your fundraiser. You’ve got this!

Technology + CSR: How to Get The Most Out of Your Programs

This guide covers how technology can help nonprofits get the most out of CSR programs.

An increasing number of businesses now participate in corporate philanthropy. In fact, 94% of major US corporations plan to increase or maintain their corporate giving over the next few years. While this is great news for businesses, it’s crucial to think about how to empower your corporate partners to keep up their generosity

If you lead or own a running retail store, sports club, or company, corporate social responsibility can benefit your business. For instance, you can get paid for sneaker donations, which helps your community lower its carbon footprint. We all know that sustainability is a top priority for the global population. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of CSR for businesses and the types of technology you should keep your eye out for to create a more cohesive and streamlined corporate giving experience.

The Benefits of CSR for Businesses

As a manager or leader, you’re probably already familiar with the benefits of CSR. Let’s refresh your memory on the main advantages:

  • Increased visibility. Your company can improve brand visibility through corporate giving programs such as matching gifts and payroll deductions.
  • Greater outreach. By connecting with local businesses, your organization gains access to its employees, customers, and greater network, resulting in heightened awareness of your company and its CSR efforts.
  • Elevated volunteerism. Partnering with other businesses or even nonprofits for CSR purposes may result in more fun volunteer projects your organization can do, which is a win for your team.
  • Networking with businesses. Corporations with CSR practices are more receptive to appeals for more significant support, such as sponsorships. For example, a local gym might be more inclined to donate gently used gym equipment to a community center nonprofit if they’ve established a connection through CSR.

There are several key things businesses gain from their generosity. According to 360MatchPro, CSR offers these four main advantages for businesses:

  • Employee engagement. A positive workplace culture motivates employees to work harder and stay engaged. CSR-focused events and initiatives provide excellent opportunities for employers to engage their team members with generosity.
  • Relationship-building. Aside from engaging employees, CSR events also allow employees and leadership to bond outside the office. It leads to stronger interpersonal relationships between employees and management, contributing to a more positive workplace culture.
  • Team member retention. More engaged employees are usually more satisfied with their work, making them less likely to seek employment elsewhere. CSR makes employees feel valued by their companies, as they’re able to give to the nonprofits they care about.
  • New talent recruitment. CSR initiatives add value to your compensation package to help businesses recruit new employees. Plus, with 71% of employees thinking that it’s essential to work at a company that gives back to the community, having CSR initiatives allows businesses to set themselves apart from competitors when it comes to hiring.

CSR Solutions for Businesses

As a general rule, the more convenient something is to do, the more likely it will get done. The same goes for CSR. Since your business stands to gain a lot from CSR initiatives, seek to encourage other local businesses and corporate partners to invest in CSR solutions together to make a greater impact.

CSR software refers to any business-oriented solution that enables for-profit organizations to participate in CSR activities. Here are a few types of CSR software solutions businesses should implement:

  • Employee giving tools. These tools are best paired with a matching gift program, where businesses choose to match donations made by their employees. Using employee-giving tools allows employees to check their matching gift eligibility and access applications so companies can easily approve applications for gift matches.
  • Volunteer matching solutions. For companies offering volunteer grant programs, volunteer matching software can greatly help. These tools may allow employees to track their volunteer hours, making it more convenient to see if they’ve fulfilled the grant’s requirements. Additionally, these software solutions can suggest volunteer opportunities to employees based on their volunteer history and interests, making them more likely to take advantage of the program.
  • Employee engagement platforms. One of the main benefits of CSR for businesses is increased employee engagement. That’s why employee engagement platforms that integrate with other CSR solutions can be a great help. With a comprehensive engagement tool, businesses can track employee engagement and satisfaction while encouraging employees to participate in their CSR programs and initiatives.

When looking into CSR solutions, focus on how these tools benefit your business and make CSR easier to administer. Emphasize how the right tools will make it more convenient for employees to take advantage of CSR initiatives by the business.

How Businesses Support CSR

Aside from investing in CSR software, companies can also support CSR initiatives in other ways. Consider the main types of corporate giving initiatives to get started.

Let’s take matching gift programs as an example. Your business could invest in matching gift software with auto-submission features to make it easier for employees to submit matching gift requests.

This feature will simply ask employees for their corporate email addresses. Then, the tool will collect all the data relevant to the donation and organization and transfer the information to the matching gift management software to send the match request automatically. This process takes the brunt of the effort off of employees, making it more likely that matching gifts will be requested and businesses can make a greater social impact.

Another way your business can support CSR is by promoting creative volunteer opportunities. Let’s say you’re taking Sneakers4Good’s recommendation and running a sneaker recycling program. Advertise this social good opportunity to employees, vendors, and other partners by emailing contacts and asking them to pass the message along to others. Additionally, you can also promote it as a volunteer opportunity, as you’ll need volunteers to coordinate the sneaker collection.

By investing in the right solutions, businesses can see greater brand awareness through CSR programs, taking their companies to new heights. 

This guide lists 10 kid-friendly fundraisers for churches to raise donations and awareness for nonprofit organizations.

9 Kid-Friendly Fundraisers For Churches Helping Nonprofits

To enhance its community outreach and make a greater impact, your church may support local nonprofit organizations. Together, your faith-based and charitable missions can help change lives in the community.

As a children’s ministry leader, you know the importance of engaging families, including your youngest churchgoers, in the church’s mission to reach the community. Kid-friendly fundraisers not only teach valuable lessons to children in your church, but they can also boost your efforts to support a nonprofit by getting entire families involved. 

The right fundraising idea can raise much-needed support and put the “fun” back in “fundraising,” which is why we created this list! Here are 10 kid-friendly fundraising ideas that will help children understand their role in God’s kingdom as they empower nonprofits to help others. 

1. Quiz show

According to Wonder Ink, increased biblical literacy can help kids recognize the Bible as the source of truth, whether they’re reading yet or not. Support children’s understanding of Scripture by testing their knowledge through a fun competition!

Host a “quiz show” where you challenge kids’ knowledge of the Bible. Have them compete to:

  • Locate a Bible verse first
  • Answer a question about a Bible passage
  • Recite a Bible verse

To reinforce biblical lessons, use Scripture from your children’s ministry program as the material for the quiz show. When you charge a small entry fee and sell tickets to those attending, you’ll further kids’ learning and raise money for nonprofit causes.

If you want to involve even more participants, turn your quiz show into a trivia game to test kids on their knowledge of your children’s ministry curriculum content. Create teams and prepare a list of trivia questions from your curriculum’s lessons and key takeaways.

Kids will study the curriculum and memorize Scripture to prepare for the competition. To incentivize participation, offer a prize to the winning team. For example, your church might match the amount raised for the nonprofit in honor of the winning team. 

2. Talent show

The children in your church have active imaginations and big dreams. Give them a chance to be in the spotlight with a talent show!

To raise funds for this event, charge a small entry fee for participants and sell tickets for those attending. Prepare a short introduction to the show to explain the purpose of the fundraiser and how kids are helping those in need by performing. 

3. Product fundraiser

Kids will get especially excited about fundraising when they see tangible results in return for their contribution. Raise donations by selling:

  • Food items: Tasty snacks like cookie dough and popcorn are enticing treats that kids can’t refuse! Keep them in the building or room where your children’s program meets so that they’re always available for purchase. 
  • Branded merchandise: Items branded to your children’s ministry will likely be top sellers because kids and their parents will be eager to represent their involvement in your children’s program by sporting your merch. 
  • Discount cards: Host a discount card fundraiser by selling coupons for goods or services from preferred merchants. These can help parents get discounts on family meals, school supplies, or other items or services.

In addition to selling products to people in your church, you can also encourage older kids to do the selling. Giving this responsibility helps kids become more directly involved in your church’s impact on nonprofit causes.

4. Bake sale

Invite kids and their families to bake tasty treats and sell them at a church-wide bake sale! This fun activity can encourage relationship-building between families as they spend time together baking and selling their baked goods. You’ll also engage the community if you choose to sell outside of your congregation, providing opportunities to minister to others and invite newcomers to your church.

Plus, this fundraiser maximizes the amount your church raises for nonprofits since parents and kids will donate their baked goods to your sale. That way, every dollar raised goes directly to nonprofits and their beneficiaries!

5. A-thon fundraiser

A-thon fundraisers collect donations for an activity completed by participants. When kids sign up for this challenge, their loved ones will donate based on the quantity of the activity completed. For example, a-thon activities often include:

Set an appropriate goal for each activity to make it achievable for kids. For example, collect donations for each page read in a read-a-thon to make the goal more achievable for early readers.

6. Campaign website

As children’s use of digital devices and social media increases, taking your fundraising efforts online is an engaging way for your church to raise nonprofit support. Older kids will enjoy helping you create a campaign page, through which your church can collect donations on behalf of the nonprofit.

Collect ideas from kids in your children’s program for the page’s design, layout, and interactive elements. While considering their input, remember to include the essential elements of a campaign website:

This image lists the essential elements of a campaign website, which are listed in the text below.
  • Social media sharing icons
  • Volunteer sign-up form
  • Your church’s branding
  • Explanation of mission and campaign
  • Donation form
  • Fundraising thermometer

After publishing the page, share the link with parents and other adult church members so they can donate and share the page with their friends. Provide fundraising updates with the kids in your children’s program and be sure to explain that their page design is helping to support an important cause.

7. Scavenger hunt

Create a scavenger hunt for your church’s kids with an enticing prize at the end. You can raise donations through a small entry fee for participating and by selling refreshments to parents as they wait.

You can make each clue a Bible verse reference that leads kids to the next one. For example, the first clue might be Matthew 6:19. When kids find the verse in their Bibles and read, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven,” they’ll be prompted to look for the next clue on the keys of the worship team’s piano.

8. Book club

While book clubs are often free, your church can turn this into a kid-friendly fundraiser by selling children’s books to participants. You can also sell candy and snacks during the book club’s meeting times or t-shirts displaying the book club’s name.

As the children’s ministry leader, you may choose to lead the club yourself or recruit ministry volunteers to lead it for you. Either way, have members of the club explore books that study Scripture or even correlate with lessons from your children’s curriculum

For example, if kids are currently learning about how to Holy Spirit leads them, you could have the book club read The Go-and-Tell Storybook, which explores 30 biblical stories of the Holy Spirit coming. This will help your group remain focused on biblical topics while still raising support for nonprofit causes! 

9. Parents’ night out

Give parents a break by allowing them to take a night for themselves. Recruit children’s ministry volunteers to host games and fun at the church, then charge a small fee for parents who drop their kids off. 

Volunteers may spend the evening doing a service project for your nonprofit partner with the kids who are dropped off. Discuss how nonprofit support ties into your church’s mission and the calling as Christians to “love your neighbor.”

More fundraising ideas can be found on resources like BestFundraisingIdeas, which offers a comprehensive list of unique activities and events. No matter which fundraiser you choose to host, remember to emphasize the importance of kids’ involvement. Show your appreciation and explain how they’re helping others by participating.

Also, consider working with nonprofits that serve children. That way, the kids in your children’s program will feel more connected to the beneficiaries of their donations and resonate more with the cause.

Feature image for blog post on how to avoid perfectionism paralysis in capital campaigns

How to Avoid Perfectionism Paralysis in Capital Campaigns

If your capital campaign is going to be successful, you will need generous contributions from your very top projects.

In fact, according to recent research by Capital Campaign Pro, most campaigns raise more than half their goal (71%, on average!) from fewer than 20 donors. So how you approach those 20 donors matters a great deal.

And if you’re like many people, you may fall into the “We had better be perfect” trap. It’s a natural mistake. Because those top donors are so important, and you worry that you might not get more than one opportunity to ask them for a big gift, it’s got to be right!

As a result, you may be tempted to put off those big donor visits until all of your plans and your materials are buttoned down and look super professional.

In fact, you might feel paralyzed by your commitment to perfection and put off those big donor visits far longer than you should.

Here’s the truth, though. The drive to be perfect before you talk to your big donors, while understandable, is actually the wrong approach. Not only will it delay your campaign, it’s likely to diminish the chances of your success.


Because the essence of getting those large gifts isn’t buttoning down every detail. The essence is quite the opposite. Your task isn’t to make a perfect presentation, it’s to involve those large donors early and often in the planning of your project long before you make your pitch and ask for a gift.

Here are three things you can do to make sure you don’t fall into the perfectionism trap with your next capital campaign.

List of ways to avoid perfectionism paralysis in your next capital campaign, all of which are covered below

1. Mark planning documents as drafts.

Alternatively, get in the habit of using the phrase “preliminary plan.” Make sure to date each version of every draft. You will likely go through several drafts that will shift, change, and improve with each version. Without dating the versions and renaming and dating subsequent documents like your case for support or gift range chart, you won’t be able to keep track of which is an earlier version and which one is current.

2. Share draft versions with your most important prospects early on in the planning process.

Don’t wait until your plans are finalized. Think about it this way: If you don’t approach that local politician or business owner until everything is buttoned down and perfect, then all you have to talk to them about is money.

But if you share your plans while they are still in the formative stage, you can have far more probing and exploratory conversations with them. Those conversations will help you benefit from their ideas and give you insights into their interests and philanthropic motivations.

3. Know that it’s easier and less stressful to talk with donors before you’ve perfected your plans.

The more time and energy you’ve put into making everything perfect, the more likely you’ll find yourself selling and then defending your plans rather than discussing them.

It turns out that not only does trying to be perfect often slow you down, but it’s actually a less powerful approach to engaging your donors. And it is well-documented that engaged donors give more and give more generously.

So, don’t fall into the perfectionism trap. Train yourself to share your plans before they are fully formed and enjoy the benefits of getting wisdom and advice from the people who can help you most.

This guide explores the four ways fundraising software connects schools with donors.

4 Ways Software Bridges the Gap Between Schools & Donors

As a parent, teacher, or school administrator, you’re all too familiar with the challenges of school fundraising, including fatigue and burnout, disengaged students and parents, and a lack of communication. Unfortunately, these are problems that can lead to losses in potential fundraising revenue, and finding the right strategies to address these issues can feel like guesswork.

Choosing exciting fundraising ideas, engaging students, and creating targeted marketing campaigns can help you reach the right audience, but these things can be time and labor-intensive to do on your own. To quickly make impactful changes to your school’s approach to donor and community outreach, consider investing in specialized school fundraising software. 

In this guide, we’ll explore these four ways the right technology will help you connect with your donors to foster deep, loyal relationships:

  1. Better understanding of donor preferences.
  2. More convenient donation methods.
  3. Real-time, accurate data tracking.
  4. Prompt donor communications.

To reach and resonate with those who are willing to give to your school, you first need to understand them. To get started, we’ll cover how to learn about potential supporters and use your findings to inspire donations. 

1. Better understanding of donor preferences. 

Fundraising software tracks different types of fundraising data, including valuable insights about donors’ preferences and giving behaviors. For example, let’s say your school is following 99Pledges’ guide to organizing a read-a-thon, which recommends each student receive a personal donation page where their friends and family can pledge donations. When a donor donates to your read-a-thon, you’ll know:

  • Their first and last name
  • Contact information, such as an email address
  • Their preferred payment method (e.g., ApplePay vs. credit card)
  • The amount they gave
  • Which student they have a connection with
  • When they donated

Using this information, your school can tailor how it interacts with donors in the future. Specifically, you could:

  • Choose fundraising ideas that align with student and donor interests
  • Create targeted marketing campaigns that acknowledge their giving motivations
  • Reach out through preferred communication channels (e.g., offering the option to be reached by text, email, or mail )
  • Make tailored fundraising appeals based on past giving behavior

By creating more personalized experiences for donors, you show that you see and value them as people rather than dollar signs. 

2. More convenient donation methods.

Another way to leverage donor data is to optimize the giving process according to what is most convenient and familiar to your donors. For example, some donors may be most comfortable with writing a check or submitting cash to your school. However, many supporters find it easiest to give online, and fundraising software makes it easy to accept and track online giving.

When preparing for your next school fundraiser, make sure your software can accept popular online payment methods, including:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • GooglePay
  • ApplePay
  • Third-party processors like PayPal and Venmo

Keep in mind that accepting digital payment methods will also make the logistical side of fundraising easier for your school. Financial data will flow into your records, allowing you to track progress in real-time. Additionally, if you’re looking to get students outside through a fundraiser like a walk-a-thon, you can nudge supporters to donate online ahead of time or on-site using QR codes so volunteers don’t have to handle cash and checks.

3. Real-time, accurate data tracking.

When your school accepts more online donations, you can quickly and accurately track your fundraiser’s progress. This not only streamlines your recordkeeping but also opens the door for new donor engagement strategies.

Here are a few ways to engage donors and student participants using data about your fundraising progress:

  • Fundraising thermometers: Fundraising thermometers visually display your campaign’s fundraising progress for donors. When donors can easily check in to see how much money you’ve raised, they may feel inspired to give to push you closer to your goal.
This is an example of a fundraising thermometer (detailed in text).
  • Countdowns: Consider adding a countdown to your fundraising thermometer to create urgency. Keep it simple by adding a headline that says something like “There are only 10 days left in the read-a-thon! Help us reach our goal by donating here.”
  • Gamification: This strategy involves adding gameplay elements to non-game scenarios. In a fundraiser, you might create a leaderboard that shows who the top donors are. Consider offering prizes or incentives to top contributors, such as recognition on your school’s website.

This can also help ensure that your school is on track to meet its fundraising goals. For example, maybe you’ve set a goal to raise $3,000 from your back-to-school fundraiser and know that you need to raise $1,000 per week to meet the goal. With up-to-date revenue data, you’ll know if your school can achieve its goal by the deadline.

4. Prompt donor communications.

Communication with your donors is critically important to building relationships with them and showing your appreciation for their support. As noted by eCardWidget’s guide to thanking donors, it’s best to send thank-you emails within 72 hours of receiving the donation. But, it can be difficult to stay on top of sending these messages while juggling all of your other responsibilities. 

Rather than manually sending each message, you can automate the process with your fundraising software. This way, donors will receive donation receipts, thank-you messages, and pledge reminders on a much faster timeline without added stress.

Your donors will appreciate more tailored thank-you messages that show that your school truly values their contributions. If a donor gave to your sports team’s recent campaign, you’ll want to greet them by name, acknowledge which organization they donated to, recognize the amount they donated, and tell them about the impact that gift will have on your organization. 

Donors are the lifeblood of any successful fundraiser. However, recruiting new ones to support each campaign comes at a much higher cost than simply engaging past donors. By leveraging fundraising technology, your school can foster deeper relationships with its donors to build a robust network of supporters and nurture sustainable revenue streams.

In this guide, we’ll cover five essential skills to master to make you a better nonprofit web designer.

5 Skills to Make You a Better Nonprofit Web Designer

Stories are at the heart of web design. For nonprofits, conveying inspiring stories is critical to securing the necessary support for powering social change. 

With high stakes like these, first impressions matter. In today’s fast-paced world, it takes only 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about a website. Because of this, nonprofit web designers need to hone their skills to impress visitors and motivate them to get involved.

To help you round out your abilities, we’ll discuss five essential skills to develop and sharpen as a nonprofit web designer, including:

  1. User Experience Design
  2. Visual Design and Storytelling
  3. Nonprofit Content Creation
  4. Web Accessibility
  5. Stakeholder Communication

An effective nonprofit website is a valuable tool for marketing, increasing brand recognition, and boosting conversions. Focus on the following skills to stay at the forefront of nonprofit web design and create stunning websites that supporters return to again and again.

1. User Experience Design

Seasoned nonprofit web designers are well-accustomed to approaching their projects from the user’s point of view. Visitors should be able to land on the website and immediately begin interacting freely with your nonprofit’s content. To improve the user experience (UX) of a website, follow these best practices:

  • Avoid pop-ups that block the main content and consider using sidebars instead.
  • Include plenty of white space around text and images to avoid overwhelming users.
  • Improve your website load speed by compressing images and enabling lazy loading.
  • Break up large chunks of text with bullet points and images.

Additionally, make it easy for users to take important actions on your website by incorporating clear, eye-catching calls to action (CTAs) across your pages. For example, according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, making a website’s “Donate” button stand out can result in a 190% increase in donations.

Incorporate high-contrast brand colors and choose urgent, specific language for your CTAs to compel users to click through. For example, a college website might feature CTAs like “Apply Now” or “Take a Virtual Tour” while an animal rescue nonprofit might encourage people to “Donate Now” or “Adopt a Stray.” These buttons will guide users from step to step in their interactions with your website.

2. Visual Design and Storytelling

If a picture can paint a thousand words, then your nonprofit website is full of opportunities to tell readers about your organization’s mission, beneficiaries, and impact. A nonprofit web designer should be able to use captivating visuals to enhance the user experience and weave together attention-grabbing graphic design materials such as:

  • Images
  • Infographics
  • eCards
  • Videos
  • Animations

Set your visual web design up for success by starting with a mood board. In this resource, you’ll compile aspects such as color palettes, icons, logos, illustrations, and typography to use for brainstorming and fine-tuning. Developing a mood board allows you to share your design approach, collect feedback, and make major changes before delving into the actual project itself.

Make your nonprofit website’s visuals stand out by experimenting with animated, interactive, or 3D elements. Keep up with the latest web design trends by moving away from art styles like Corporate Memphis and opting for more custom, textured illustrations that add more specific value to your content. However, the user experience should still be your number one priority when designing your visuals.

3. Nonprofit Content Strategy

A well-rounded nonprofit web designer looks at each website’s content strategy as a whole to determine how to attract and retain visitors. You should be well-versed with content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, and know how to leverage their tools to fill your website with engaging content. Kanopi’s WordPress for nonprofits guide offers these tips for refining your website’s content strategy:

  • Use simple language and avoid jargon.
  • Engage website visitors by using more second-person than first-person pronouns.
  • Follow SEO best practices, such as using logical heading structures and choosing specific keywords for each page.
  • Create a blog posting schedule for consistent content.

All of the content on your nonprofit website should reflect your organization’s voice and tone. For instance, a nonprofit that is trying to come across as more playful and approachable might use more contractions and add emojis throughout its content, while an organization that is aiming to be more serious might include no emojis and limit the use of exclamation points.

4. Web Accessibility

Whether you’re trying to encourage website visitors to sign up for an upcoming event, visit your donation page, or explore the blog roll, make sure that your content is accessible to everyone. This includes people using mobile devices, screen readers, and other assistive technologies.

Keep these considerations in mind to ensure that all visitors have an excellent experience on your website:

  • Add captions and alt text to every image and video.
  • Use a color contrast tool to ensure that your colors have sufficient contrast.
  • Avoid using all caps to improve readability.
  • Ensure that all of your content is mobile-responsive.

To identify further accessibility improvements, your website should undergo a basic audit at least every six months, or following any major changes.

5. Stakeholder Communication

While every well-designed website will share common strengths and features, it’s important to tailor each website to your nonprofit’s audience and brand. To do so, you’ll need to acquire an in-depth understanding of how your target users prefer to interact with a website and what they’re looking for in a high-quality website experience.

One effective way to do this is by creating three to five user personas containing information such as:

This is a template that nonprofit web designers can use to develop user personas to guide their design decisions.
  • Age, location, and occupation
  • Technical proficiency
  • Goals or purpose for using your website
  • Potential barriers they might encounter

As you design your nonprofit website, reference these user personas to adjust your visual and content strategy to meet the specific expectations of your audience. Continue gathering user feedback through surveys and focus groups to stay on top of needs and priorities.

A strong nonprofit website provides a solid foundation for building relationships with donors, volunteers, and corporate partners in the community. Keep an eye on metrics such as time on site, landing page bounce rates, and number of pages visited to determine the effectiveness of your web design efforts. Use this information to make improvements, sharpen your skills, and boost your results over time.

Connect your nonprofit with local businesses.

4 Tips for Connecting Your Nonprofit With Local Businesses

Whether you’re seeking sponsorship, volunteer support, or joint marketing opportunities, establishing partnerships with businesses in your community is a powerful way to enhance your nonprofit’s impact. However, developing these partnerships can be challenging, time-consuming, and confusing without a strategic plan in place. 

In this guide, we’ll explore four tips for connecting your nonprofit with local businesses. From identifying potential partners to creating win-win collaborations, these insights will help you build strong cross-sector relationships that support your mission and drive positive change in your communities.

1. Research and Identify Potential Partners

To identify potential partners in the community, a nonprofit can follow these steps:

  • Define your objectives. Nonprofits often seek partnerships when organizing a large-scale fundraising event, launching a community initiative, or implementing a specific program that requires additional financial resources and support.
  • Research local businesses. Conduct thorough research to identify businesses in the community. Utilize online directories, local business associations, chamber of commerce listings, and social media platforms to identify potential partners.
  • Ensure your values align. Evaluate the values, missions, and corporate social responsibility initiatives of the identified businesses. Look for businesses that have a natural connection or alignment with your cause or mission. For example, a dog daycare business would be an obvious match for an animal shelter since they have similar clients and services. 

Reach out to the identified businesses to introduce your nonprofit and express interest in exploring a potential partnership. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. 

2. Establish Clear Benefits

As you connect with local businesses, introduce your mission and communicate the benefits of a partnership. These may include: 

  • Community development: Partnering with a nonprofit allows businesses to contribute to community development and address social issues, which can have a direct impact on their growth.
  • Elevated brand reputation. Collaborating with a nonprofit allows businesses to align themselves with a mission or social good cause, which can enhance their brand reputation and perception among customers, employees, and influencers in the community. 
  • Increased brand awareness. Add the business’s contact information and logo to marketing materials like fundraising flyers, event invitations, and partnership-related emails to increase their brand visibility. Or, create a personalized video about your sponsor and post it to your social media pages.
  • Employee morale and engagement. Most employees value working for a socially responsible company. Creating matching gift programs, introducing volunteer opportunities, and sponsoring local nonprofits can improve their satisfaction. 
  • Tax benefits. Businesses may be eligible for tax benefits or incentives when they donate or support nonprofit organizations. These financial incentives can provide a tangible benefit to the business, helping to offset costs or improve the bottom line.

Customize these benefits to suit the specific goals, needs, and sectors of the businesses you’re approaching. For example, a pet rescue organization might ask a dog trainer to financially support their upcoming adoption event. In return, the pet rescue will use Gingr’s pet business software to promote the dog trainer’s services, potentially leading to an influx of new customers. 

3. Create Tailored Partnership Opportunities

Develop opportunities that cater to different types and sizes of businesses. Offer a range of options, such as:

  • Sponsorship opportunities: Sponsorships come in the form of financial or in-kind contributions. To incentivize larger gifts, Double the Donation’s guide to corporate sponsorships recommends creating tiered benefit packages that correlate to the level of support given. For instance, when you receive a donation of $10,000 or more, you might mention the business in a speech and display its logo on partnership-related materials. Businesses that give less than this might receive a social media shoutout instead.
  • Auction item donations: Many businesses have relevant products or services that would be valuable items to auction off at your next event. For example, a local hotel could offer a weekend stay, or an airline headquartered in your city could offer round-trip tickets. No matter what the business has to offer make sure you’re thoughtful about how you make your auction item donation request.
  • Joint initiatives: A joint initiative is a collaboration between a nonprofit and a partner organization, in which both work to create a mutually beneficial event, program, or campaign. It involves pooling resources and networks to achieve a greater impact than either organization could achieve alone. 
  • Employee engagement programs: Employee engagement programs focus on involving employees of a business or organization in volunteer activities, fundraising efforts, or other activities that support your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Research collaborations: Nonprofits and businesses might partner together to research studies or projects related to their missions. For example, an animal welfare organization might partner with a dog boarding business to research the safest, most effective accommodations. 

After presenting a business with a partnership opportunity, gauge their interest and thank them for their consideration, regardless of their decision. That way, they will be left with a positive impression of your organization.

4. Demonstrate Impact

If a business agrees to be your partner, take notes throughout the partnership, making note of successes and areas of improvement. 

Then, in your outreach, explain the impact that the partnership has made on your nonprofit and the community as a whole. Share success stories, testimonials, or data that highlight the tangible outcomes of your programs or initiatives. This builds credibility and instills confidence in other potential business partners, showing them how their involvement will make a difference.

Remember, connecting with local businesses requires building meaningful relationships based on shared values and mutual benefits. By taking a strategic and personalized approach, your nonprofit can form valuable partnerships that amplify your impact and strengthen the communities you serve.