Funding Your Organization

Social Enterprise

Applying market-based strategies to social problems

For profit alternatives to the traditional nonprofit corporation

In 2012 the California legislature created two new classes of corporations for businesses that seek to pursue both profit and purpose: Benefit Corporations and Flexible Purpose Corporations.  Here are some articles that explain what they are and how they work: offers powerful tools for start-up social enterprises, an extensive library of compelling video interviews with a diverse group of thought leaders, and a way to connect with others in this movement

seToolbelt is an open content resource hub that helps social entrepreneurs plan, launch, manage, and grow successful social enterprises

Social Enterprise Alliance is a membership organization for social entrepreneurs


Raising money from individuals

According to Giving USA statistics, donations from individuals, ordinary people like you and me, provide 85% of the private (non-government) funding that supports nonprofits. In this section you will find tools and techniques you can use to raise money from individuals.

Direct mail fundraising is simply soliciting funds through a mass mailing to potential donors.   Tools you can use.

Major gift programs raise more money at less cost than any other fundraising approach. There is no standard amount that’s considered a major gift. A major gift to your organization will be determined by the needs and giving patterns of your donors. For some that may be $25,000 and up, for others $1,000 is a major gift. Major gift solicitation depends on a committed team of volunteers. These volunteers can be board members who may also recruit a committee of supporters to help. Cultivating and keeping major donors can result in ongoing support for your organization. Take a look at this excellent article from Grassroots Fundraising on starting a major gifts program.

Online fundraising, asking for donations online,  is the fastest growing area of fundraising and is impacting direct mail fundraising.


Who They Are and How to Find Them

Clubs & Organizations  Professional societies, trade associations, labor unions, cultural and religious organizations, and other groups of all types offer support to nonprofit organizations.

  • The first step in accessing these resources is knowing your community well.

Corporations  A number of corporations and local businesses donate some of their profits or resources to nonprofit organizations. The business may give grants directly, or through a separate, company-sponsored foundation.  Unlike foundations, corporations do not exist to give money away.  Your proposal needs to show how support for your project will help the company achieve its own goals.  Corporations also provide in-kind support like donated goods, services, use of corporate facilities, and access to staff expertise.

  • Like clubs and organizations, the first step in accessing corporate giving programs and local businesses is knowing your community well.  The Foundation Directory Online also provides information on corporate foundations and some (not all) corporate giving program.

Foundations  A foundation is a nonprofit organization whose primary purpose it to give money (grants) to organizations for scientific, educational, cultural, religious, or other charitable purposes.  It’s important to note that you can’t assume that an organization with the word foundation in its name is a grantmaker.  Foundation is not a legal term, and is used by a variety of organizations.

  • Foundation Directory Online  As a member of the Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network the Impact Foundry offers access to the Foundation Directory Online, a comprehensive tool for researching foundations.   Search for free at the Impact Foundry office.

Government  Government funding can come from city, county, state and federal agencies.