10 Ways to Stretch Your Small Nonprofit's Development Budget

Bring in More Friends and Funds

Audience behind smiling speaker with microphone at community center
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How can a small local nonprofit simultaneously spread the word about its organization - and ultimately get more donors - with minimal impact on the budget?

Tap local pools of talent

With a small staff, it's likely you neither have the time nor all of the expertise needed to accomplish your marketing, fundraising, and awareness campaigns. As you tap into local pools of talent, you'll not only find that knowledge but also spread the word about what you do along the way.

This leads to more donors.

1. Nearby college or university: Ask department heads for class projects. Example student assignments are:

  • Journalism: Writing PSAs, press releases, OP-EDs, and cover live events.
  • Art or graphic design: Creating an infographic for your annual report; images for the website; graphics for an appeal; etc.
  • Film & Photography: Creating videos and taking action and compelling photos from an outsider's viewpoint (a prospective donor).
  • Computer science: Enhancements to your website. Or convert all or parts of the site to a content management platform so you can quickly revise and add content on static pages.

2. Chamber of Commerce: Attend events. Join a committee. Find people interested in what you do and partner with them. For example, a choral group and a music store. At a choral concert, the music store sponsors light refreshments or helps pay for the programs.

3. Speak at civic clubs: Do not promote your nonprofit.

Instead, speak about topics business people are interested in such as leadership, finding enough help, or stretching your budget in challenging economic times. Pull examples from your nonprofit which is an indirect way of promoting your organization while helping the audience.

4. Join Toastmasters. Practice speaking as you spread the word.

5. Community calendars. Post event and other info to both online and print calendars.

6. Other ways to spread the word and find talent

  • Stay-at-home parents often have incredible work experience and skills. And don't forget your current donor pool! Could be lots of talent there as well.
  • Negotiate with radio stations for PSAs or event promos. Consider non-peak times. For very short time slots they may not charge at all.
  • Local high schools often need community service activities for students. It all depends on your mission, but two examples are landscape cleanup, and reading to seniors in elder care facilities.
  • Have fun and intriguing booths at community events. Get college students to create engaging posters, infographics, super short videos or fun puzzles for the kids.

Whenever using students, stay-at-home parents, or other pools of talent, realize it's doubtful they have professional fundraising experience. So give them quality examples. For instance: No video examples? Select three or four from YouTube. Specify what you like about each and what you want for your nonprofit video.

All these efforts will support your current development efforts and lead to more donors. Also, you'll simultaneously spread the word and find people with more of the skills you need while having minimal impact on your budget.

What ideas can you add to this list?