When someone comes into our office for consultation, one of the very first things we ask is – what are you doing in the community? Creating a foundation of sustainability is reliant not only upon fundraising but on the effectiveness of your programs impact on the communities you aim to serve.
There are many ways you could engage your target population. One of the first ways you could find your community is to look into events posted and attend those events. It may take you out of your comfort zone but its important to know your target communities and how they live, celebrate and learn.
Serving in your target community first will provide evidence of your desire to help those in need and a foundation to which you can report to those who want to contribute to your cause. People giving to your organization, no matter the size want to see your organization in the community working towards it’s mission. They also want to see that what your doing is making real impact in the area your mission serves. For example, if you are providing an after-school program for teens, they want to know that your program model provides those teens with enough substance to not only keep them busy and give them something to do, but also add value in their academic outcomes, character, and overall behavior in a positive way.
Once you move into action in the community your mission is aimed to serve, you can then begin working with a development consulting firm such as The Empowerment Center, to create a system and strategy to seek funding next. Getting funding for a starter nonprofit is tough in the beginning, this is why working within the community actively is so important. The more you work with the community, the more evidence you’ll have to show in building your case for funding to grant makers. However, grants are not your only option and should not be your sole funding source. You want to reach out to your community and get donations from individuals, corporations, businesses, and other philanthropist as often as possible as well.
Written by Samoine Flanagan, Founder of The Empowerment Center