Category: Nonprofit Resources

Year- End Funding Tips!

We only have a few weeks left to fundraise in 2017! But fear not, we’re here to help!  Here are few tips to get you ready for your year-end campaign!

Step One: Prepare and Plan!

October may be the beginning of the fourth quarter, but it is not too late to start thinking about those year-end donations!

  • Assess past year-end results and define your goal
  • Evaluate your data and segment your donors
  • Outline your communications based on key dates and donor preferences. Develop a communications calendar for October, November, and December

Step Two: Craft a Compelling Story and Make Giving Easy!

The holidays is a time a gratitude and giving! It is also a great time to share your story!

  • Build your case for support around individual stories of how your nonprofit is making an difference. Put a face on your appeal! A compelling story shows why you need your donor’s help and why the funds are important now!
  • Make giving donations as easy as possible. Show donors how their gift will impact your cause (i.e. – meals served, houses built, or animals vaccinated) and how much is needed to reach your goal so they understand the value of supporting your mission.

Step Three: Plan for a Strong Campaign Push in December!

33% of donations made in December occur on the 31st of the month. Be prepared for last-minute year-end donors!

  • Make sure your website is ready for year-end giving. Update the homepage of your website to feature your year-end giving campaign. Make it as easy as possible for donors to connect to your donation page.
  • Send weekly communication pieces the last two weeks of the year. Most donors know they will make a year-end gift, but some are still undecided about how much they will give. Continue to share your case for support and make it easy for them to give at the last moment.


Keeping up with Fundraising

Written by Maya Cacavas

Fundraising is an important topic to stay current.  With more than 18,000 nonprofits in Los Angeles alone, keeping up with our peers and spearheading new standards can be challenging, to say the least.  Trying to sort through different suggestions of what’s new and what’s working for other may seem a bit daunting.  The good news is we have sifted through some of what’s out there for you and are excited to share a couple of the highlights we found right here.

Branding:  Branding is key to fundraising in any nonprofit organization.  Effective branding can help to instill confidence in your potential donors.  Let’s look at Girl Scouts of America as an example of effective branding.  Most of us know when we see that green and white logo who and what we’re supporting.  We can give our support with confidence, knowing that there is a real organization behind that brand doing real and important work.  A good brand will catch the attention of the people who see it.  It will send donors a strong message that you have an important mission, and a strong group of people supporting that mission.  Build your brand and share it !

Make Donating Easy:  Making sure our websites are user friendly is a point growing in importance today.  A few ways to do this are to avoid the long, laborious forms for donors to complete.  Instead, limit the request for information to only the fields that are needed.  You can also suggest giving amounts which donors can click on to donate (and which have been proven to encourage more giving).  Be sure that there are no promotions around the donation portion of your site; we want to keep the focus on donating or getting involved with the organization.  Make sure fundraising & donations can be easily accomplished through our websites and through those little handheld devices as well.

Many cell phones function like mini computers so ideally our websites should be designed to accommodate them.  I am sure I’m not the only one who has tried to make a purchase or sign up for something using my cell phone only to be met with disappointment when the website does not support mobile use.  If you’ve been there, you know how frustrating that can be, so it is really important to ensure that our potential donors don’t encounter that problem.

We hope you enjoyed our share on fundraising this week!  Stay tuned as we post weekly articles on different topics on all things nonprofit.  Have a great week!

Workshop Highlight: Philanthropy and Individual Giving

By Maya Cacavas 

The number one question we get from our nonprofit partners is “how can we raise more money?”

This question is an important one for any organization looking to raise awareness for their issues and causes. Last week, Social Action Partners hosted a workshop with guest speaker, Laura Ferretti, founder of Impact Philanthropy, who providing some fundraising tips in individual giving.

Check out some of the presentation highlights below!

Form 990’s: A Treasure Chest of Information

 The IRS requires all grant making foundations to file a Form 990, which are available to the public. (Guidestar is a great resource for this).

  1. Identify funders in your area. Because most foundation give locally, identifying funders in your area is a great first place to start.
  2. Review grants given and past grantees. This information is at the end of Form 990. There you will find a list of grants made in the prior year. The jackpot is when they give you each grant line by line and tell you exactly what it was for – program base (youth, community), programs, operating, etc.
  3. Look for organizations and causes similar to you. When you identify which foundation(s) are giving money to causes similar to you, you can start focusing your efforts.

While identifying your target foundations is a critical first step, the most important, is the second step – building the relationship.

 Relationships, Relationships, and Relationships

In many areas of life, what gets us from point A to Z – aside from hard work, passion, blood sweat and tears! – is our relationship with others.  Most of us can recall at least one scenario where we received a promotion, got that cool new job offer, or had some amazing opportunity come our way due to a person’s highly regarded opinion of our work.  There is no denying that relationships are an important component of any business model, and fundraising is no exception.  Here are four steps to follow when working with a donor:

  1. Identify the donor
  2. Cultivate a relationship with the donor
  3. Solicit or ask for money
  4. Steward the donor – continuing to cultivate the relationship after the donor has given to your organization

But how do you cultivate a relationship when donors won’t respond to our e-mails, text messages, voicemails, or personalized, jolly singing grams?

Because donors are more likely to give to someone they know, you have to be proactive in building those relationships. One of the best ways to get in front of a donor is to buy a ticket to an event they are hosting or attending.  Check their website, search for upcoming events, i.e. community events, award dinners or galas, and make sure to attend it is open to the public.  It is important to have a presence so you can make connections with your potential donor.  As Laura said, “To become an effective fund raiser, you have to be a giver.”

Building relationships takes time, and engaging donors who will consistently give to your cause will take time and effort.  But once you have invested in that relationship, the ask (or solicitation) will be much easier and much more likely to result in the outcome you are looking for.  And when your endeavors yield success, don’t forget to continue to invest in and nurture that donor relationship!  We have a much better chance of getting a gift from a recent donor than getting a gift from a new one.


Join our mailing list to receive information about future workshops and learn more about Social Action Partners’ services. If there is a topic related to nonprofit capacity building that you are interested in learning more about, please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know!


How to Handle Organizational Burnout

Is your organization dealing with burnout? 

For nonprofits supporting underserved communities, the work can be long, arduous, and tiring. While these organizations tend to go above and beyond the call of duty, one of the tough side-effects is personal and organizational burnout.

The value minority-led nonprofits’ work is too great to collapse under the avoidable pressure of burnout. Luckily, there are mechanisms that your organization can utilize to prevent this scourge of progress!

What is organizational burnout?

Burnout refers to a state of chronic stress and is indicated by physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. The organizational symptoms may look like poor performance, missed deadlines, and an unhappy culture.

How can this be solved?

Here at Social Action Partners, we have found a few methods to be particularly useful in preventing organizational burnout.

  • Ensure equal value: Try hosting staff appreciation day and awarding team members for their commitment. Take some time once a quarter for staff outings or other relaxing activities. And, consult with your team before moving forward on major projects. They’ll love you for it.
  • Email over Meeting? If it can be solved without a meeting, don’t have a meeting! And when there is a meeting, send the agenda in advance with room for open discussion.
  • No back to backs: Encourage the team not to schedule back-to-back meetings.
  • Social and Emotional Healing: Allocate time for strong interpersonal relationships and create a safe space for staff to share the strengths and challenges of their jobs.

What are some next steps?

  • Assess & Reflect: Have an honest conversation with your organizations team to understand what can be done to increase organizational self-care.
  • Envision & Create: Utilize this assessment to create new systems for organizational self-care.
  • Make it happen: Implement these ideas over a 3-6 month period, before assessing, reflecting, and reengaging.

Get out the Box: Putting Profit in the Non-Profit sector

Nonprofit does not have to equate to long hours with poverty wages. If that is what you thought, rid yourself of that notion immediately. In California, the nonprofit community represents the third largest employment sector. That means that real people and their families depend on the fiscal success of nonprofits.

The functional, technical difference between a for-profit and a nonprofit is only the ultimate goal of the organization. In other words, they can share similar methodologies as long as the outcome is different. Nonprofits seek to raise funds to advance a cause or mission for social good. Most for-profits seek to raise funds to give to their shareholders and well, to raise more funds. In addition, the IRS requires an additional layer of accountability, which limits how nonprofits utilize funds or donations.

What is the point?

Your nonprofit does not have to suffer long, enduring periods of resource deficiency. Here are three proven strategies to increase resources!

Strategy One: Get Earned Income!

You do great work. We know. Just because it is great does not mean it has to be free! There are people, organizations, and entities who can afford to pay for your services. Find a way to turn some of your outgoing resources into INCOME.

Strategy Two: Consider Social Enterprise

A social enterprise is “an organization or venture that advances its primary social or environmental mission using business methods.” The social enterprise is distinct from most nonprofits as it shifts the income framework from external to internal. That is, instead of depending on the government or philanthropic sources, your nonprofit can drastically increase revenue through business operations.

Strategy Three: Diversify & Amplify your income streams

You might remember in business, a fast way to grow is to increase revenue streams, or in other words get more money from more sources. Do not settle for one or two grants. Get more because you deserve it.

Hopefully, these few tips can help you put the profit back in non-profit! Stay away from deficit thinking…the resources you need are near!


To Build Capacity? What Are You Talking About?

We are all about peer-led capacity building here at SoACT, and we’re especially excited about doing this in South LA. But why? What are we really talking about when we say “capacity building?” What does “peer-led” actually mean? And why South LA?

Let’s break it down.

Let’s say that you’re the executive director of a nonprofit in South LA. Your organization does great work building urban farms / supporting families living with mental illness / training young people in martial arts / insert important-work-that-improves-quality-of-life-in-South-LA here.

But you want to take it to the next level. You want the kind of fund development that gives you a base of individual donors, strong support from foundations, and earned income to do this work for the long haul. You want a communications strategy that tells your message well to the right audience, at the right time, in the right way. You want the know-how to evaluate your programs effectively so that you can change what isn’t working and build on what is.

In a word (or two), you want capacity building.

So what do you do? You might ask around, hear that a colleague hired a consultant to address a similar issue a while back, and reach out to that consultant. You might approach one of your funders and say, “know anyone who can help me with…” (or, one of your funders might approach you and say, “we want to keep funding you, and we want to connect you with someone who can help you with…”). You might Google “fundraising consultants” or “communications consultants” or “evaluation consultants” and see what wisdom the Internet returns.

And, as you drift off to sleep at night, you might wonder: “Will they be any good? Can I afford them? Is this really going to work?”

If you do hire that consultant, they might be good, and affordable(ish), and it might work.

But there might be another way. A way that allows you to connect with a different consultant. Someone who has been in your shoes and worked for decades at a well-respected nonprofit in South LA. Someone who has made the same organizational changes you’re hoping to make and knows how to translate that into top-notch training and consulting. Someone whose work with you will make a real difference for your organization that lasts long after their contract ends.

Someone who gets it.

And – to top it off – you can hire this consultant knowing that the money that you give them will go directly to the nonprofit that they work for: an organization in South LA doing great work, just like yours.

In reality, we’re not pointing you to just one person, or just one organization. In fact, throughout South LA, there are consultants and consultants-in-the-making that fit this description. They work at nonprofits that are fiscally and organizationally healthy. They have a strong track record of great capacity building. And they are especially committed to helping South LA people of color-led nonprofits thrive so that the community can flourish.

That’s right! Right now, community-based capacity builders at nonprofits like Community CoalitionJenesse Center and SCOPE are partnering with SoACT to strengthen and expand their training and consulting work. With support and training from SoACT andCompassPoint, these partners and others will provide peer learning sessions and individualized consulting to nonprofits in South LA andgenerate income that’ll go back into their organizations. It’s a win-win, if you ask us.

This is peer-led capacity building in South LA.

Which brings us, finally, to you.

Do you like this idea? Then vote for it here (from Sept 1-16) and help us win $100,000 from the LA2050 Grants Challenge!

Do you work at a South LA nonprofit? If your organization has capacity building skills, entrepreneurial spirit, and an interest in partnering with us, or if it is in need of some quality peer consulting – or both! – We are ready to hear from you. Contact us here.

Do you want to learn more about peer-led capacity building in South LA?

Then stay tuned…