4 Tips for Nonprofits Dealing With Budget Restrictions

by Danielle Bloom

3 min read

Budget restrictions are commonplace in nonprofit organizations and charities. After all, a good portion of a nonprofit’s operating budget may be restricted due to limitations of grant and government funding, economic situations, and even factors such as natural disasters. There are an unlimited number of influences that can impact your bottom line. But, tight budgets don’t have to limit your strategic planning and implementation. You just have to be creative. If your nonprofit is dealing with budget restrictions, follow these four tips to maximize your resources.

1. Mobilize Locally

Focus your attention on the donors, volunteers, businesses, and associations in your nonprofit’s backyard. Here are three ways to mobilize your local community:

  • Hold fundraisers such as bake sales and donation drives to draw attention to your needs and raise awareness
  • Ask local businesses to sponsor a program or initiative
  • Meet and organize alongside similar nonprofit organizations with similar missions. If possible, work together to share marketing and fundraising materials

By mobilizing locally, you’re giving your community means for engagement in the resource development process. The added support isn’t just padding your nonprofit’s budget, it’s also creating a strong bond between supporters and your cause.

2. Research and Write Grants

Nonprofit grants are a great way to supplement your budget. But, require additional resources like significant time and effort to properly research and apply for grants. Use grant databases featuring both private and public grant opportunities such as Grantwatch or the Government of Canada’s grant database. If you don’t have a grant writer on staff, consider hiring a freelance grant writer. To fund the position, ask major donors to step in with sponsorships or large gifts.

3. Start a Recurring Giving Program

One of the easiest ways to bring in unrestricted income over the course of a year is by focusing on recurring giving campaigns (also called monthly giving). Unlike traditional fundraising campaigns, when a donor gives one large gift, recurring giving involves donors giving a smaller gift on a monthly basis throughout the year. This helps to maintain a steady stream of income over 12 months, while also keeping your nonprofit at the top of your donor’s mind. To promote a recurring giving program, offer the option to give a monthly gift on your website’s donation page. Likewise, make monthly giving the primary option for donors when they first arrive to your website or social media profiles.

4. Host an Online Fundraiser

Online fundraising is an affordable way to raise money and bring new donors to your nonprofit. Although fundraising online takes many forms, the easiest way to get in front of a large audience of current and potential donors is through a crowdfunding campaign. Most often, nonprofits work with a fundraising platform like CauseVox or Kickstarter for a streamlined experience. After setting up a donation website, ask current supporters to share the campaign with their online friends on social media and through email. Or, take it one step further and run a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign where those same supporters fundraise themselves for your nonprofit. One great aspect of hosting an online fundraising is the potential for social sharing. As more of your supporters share your campaign, it gets in front of an exponentially large audience. Handling budget restrictions is difficult in the nonprofit world. To improve your situation, focus on the areas where you can improve your financial status without too much overhead or administrative cost. By mobilizing locally, submitting grants, running recurring giving campaigns, and fundraising online, your nonprofit can work through those budgetary limitations.

References & Resources

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