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Sources of Funding & Trends in Philanthropy

July 2, 2018
by Amanda L. Ravens, Special Events & Corporate Partnership Manager, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital

In grassroots fundraising, the practice of securing many small gifts--rather than a handful of large ones--is often adopted. In this post, you will find useful information about trends in philanthropy, as well as suggested sources of funding. The graphic below—sourced by Giving USA—illustrates the origin of philanthropy dollars in the U.S., as well as their designations:

Individual Giving Categories for Nonprofits

As you can see above, there are a variety of funders to consider while creating your strategic fundraising plan for the year. Small to medium-sized nonprofits frequently turn to events as their main sources of philanthropy; however, there are many others that should be considered. I caution all nonprofits to analyze their cost per dollar raised(or return on investment) when it comes to events, as often times the hours, resources and dollars that go into an event are not worth the net revenue. Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising, otherwise known as “social fundraising” or “crowdfunding” is on the rise. Just as advertisers are turning to social media, so should you!

P2P allows your existing supporters to tap into their own personal networks to help raise funds. This practice not only generates dollars from people who you otherwise would not have access to, but also creates brand and mission awareness. P2P fundraising can be utilized during annual giving campaigns, or a more targeted campaign. For example, often times you will see individuals participating in an athletic event on behalf of a non-profit. Not only does this give the individual raising funds purpose behind their endeavor, but it also serves as a free--or relatively low cost--marketing initiative. Sites such as Crowdrise, Firstgiving, and GoFundMe offer organizations the ability to have individuals fundraise on their behalf, all the while collecting the donations for a nominal fee.

Contrary to popular belief, social media is not just for millennials! According to , Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers are more likely to be triggered to give via social media and email campaigns, over their more costly direct mail appeal counterparts. The below chart highlights the trends by generation:

Global Grassroots Giving Trends

Other funding sources to consider are: bequests and major gifts, typically tied to your most loyal and involved supporters; grants (research foundations who support your mission by visiting: and corporate partnerships/sponsorships, which are attracted by naming rights of physical—and nonphysical—spaces and/or programs, or public recognition.

There is a wide variety of fundraising opportunities, but all require patience and persistence. It typically takes 18 months to close a major gift, and thoughtful relationship management is needed with all types of fundraising. I encourage you to tap into your existing supporters and ask for their assistance as “door openers.” Whether it be for corporate support, foundation relations or a major gift prospect, your closest allies are your most valued resources. The more that you expand your network—generally sourced from your local community and donors—the more likely you are to utilize a collective package of giving vehicles, thus helping you achieve your philanthropic goals.

Interested in diving deeper into the way that your organization can maximize your fundraising potential? Contact Amanda Ravens at AmandaLRavens@Gmail.Com or 508-274-4739. 

Check out myfull series on Nonprofit Fundraising:

  1. Five Steps for Successful Nonprofit Fundraising
  2. Sources of Funding & Trends in Philanthropy
  3. Developing Your Nonprofit Board
  4. Year End Giving—your Final Push 
  5. How Social Media Can Help with Fundraising

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