Part 1: Funding Pathways for Technology
Finding funding can be one of the biggest obstacles that nonprofits face. While new, creative ways to raise money have popped up with the creation of technology like crowdfunding platforms, less than 25% of crowdfunding campaigns are successful.
These are the methods we’ve observed to be most consistently effective for clients in the past. Some might be new to you and some you’ll recognize.
Applying for grants from foundations, corporations, and government agencies is a tried-and-true way for nonprofits to fund their projects and programs. Explore unconventional sources for grantors; seek out programs that align with your organization’s mission, have a history of funding tech projects, and view tech as a strategic priority. Many grants are created specifically to support technology projects.
2. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programs
Many companies have CSR programs that focus on social and environmental issues and offer grants, sponsorships, or donations to nonprofits that align with their values. Large software companies like Microsoft and Google often have grants, scholarships, and discounts for nonprofits to upgrade their tech. Research companies that are a good match for your organization and reach out.
3. Corporate Partnerships
In addition to CSR programs, nonprofits can seek out partnerships with corporations that are willing to donate money, in-kind services, or volunteer time. Corporate partnerships can take various forms: a company may “sponsor” a specific fundraising event, program, or technology project, or it might provide skill-based volunteers according to your needs.
4. Fundraising Events
Hosting fundraising events is an excellent way to engage new and longstanding supporters who can contribute towards your technology needs. Events can include auctions, galas, walks/runs, or charity concerts. Be creative and think of events that will be meaningful to your supporters. Make some time in the schedule to thank guests and highlight the impact that the new technology will have on the community.
5. Donor Cultivation
Building strong relationships with individual donors is critical to sustaining a nonprofit’s funding over time. Continue to find fresh ways to engage with your regular donors, and inform them about your plans to make significant upgrades to your technology infrastructure. As with any funder, help them understand how these changes will impact your mission.
The key to success with any of these methods is building a campaign that integrates multiple strategies. Consider having a corporate partner sponsor a fundraising event or using smaller grants in tandem with other funding sources like a CSR program to raise enough funds for a substantial investment.
Part 2: Make the Case for Technology
Once you have identified potential funding sources, the next step is to underscore the value to funders and decision-makers, demonstrating that technology is the right investment for your nonprofit. Here are some strategies to help you make the case:
1. Know Your Numbers
While your knowledge of your impact by the numbers may be limited by the very technology problem you are trying to solve, gather the information that you have. Use available data, or emphasize the lack thereof, to illustrate the need for new technology and its potential impact on your organization and the community you serve.
2. Get Everyone Involved
Rally support from the whole team. It’s important to help all stakeholders, from staff and volunteers to board members, understand how they can benefit from new technology. An inclusive approach not only helps to address potential challenges early on but also fosters a sense of ownership among those expected to use the tool daily. The more support you have within the organization, the stronger your case will be to funders.
3. Showcase Successful Case Studies
Seek out nonprofits that have successfully implemented new technology and spotlight their success stories. Use these case studies to show how new technology can help your organization, and potentially other nonprofits in your ecosystem, achieve their goals.
4. Highlight the Long-Term Benefits
When making the case for technology, emphasize the long-term benefits of the investment. Highlight how the technology will save time and money in the long run, improve your organization’s efficiency, and elevate the level of impact you can achieve.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of the strategies you use, it’s essential to showcase the impact that the new technology will have on your organization and the community you serve. While the impact of technology on nonprofit work may be clear to your team, it’s not always apparent to others. Clearly present your case, provide evidence, and appeal to funders’ values.
We hope these tips help you in your fundraising efforts. Let us know whether any of these or other creative strategies have worked for your nonprofit!
Looking to learn more? See how other nonprofits have leveraged technology as a differentiator here.