-staff contact, Jessica Wall, Director of Development and Programs
Once the ARC has secured your chapter Employer Identification Number (EIN), you’re ready to start fundraising for your organization. Not only do you need it to open your bank account, but many donors will only give to your chapter when you are officially recognized as a nonprofit by the IRS through the AMBUCS Group Tax Exemption.
Types of Donors
There are many different sources to consider when obtaining donations. What works for one may not work for all. There are variables that might influence your chapter’s approach to fundraising (i.e., your geographical presence or the size of your chapter).
Your Membership. People within your chapter might be willing to make tax-deductible donations to your organization. They’ve already demonstrated they believe in the AMBUCS mission. It’s possible someone will want to financially invest, too.
Your chapter is responsible for paying quarterly membership dues to National AMBUCS. In the same pattern, some service organizations charge membership dues within their chapter. It provides a source of revenue that can be used to cover overhead cost and/or to fund the mission.
Individuals. Even if your membership isn’t willing to donate, maybe they have friends who will. Ask your members to consider any of their acquaintances who might turn into potential donors. Do they know someone who works for a charity or someone who owns a business? Do they belong to any service organizations, or do they know someone who serves on the city council? If you have a member who is well-connected within the community, consider making this individual your head fundraiser.
Your chapter should consider whether or not you will encourage families to participate in the fundraising process. Who better to give to the child’s tryke than people who know and love him or her? Setting up a crowdfunding account is a wonderful way to provide an online platform to your interested parents. See Crowdfunding section below.
Special Events. The good old-fashioned pancake supper has been a tried and true source of donations. Keep in mind that your chapter will be on the hook to cover the expenses of your event so you should strive to make sure your overhead is manageable. See Corporations to learn more about event sponsorship; this will also help cover any event expenses.
That being said, the local fundraising event has always been a great way to get funds flowing when your chapter is just starting out. It’s also a wonderful way to garner media attention and to introduce your chapter to people in the community.
Please fill out a Proof of Insurance Request Form for each event (even if it is not a new one) just to ensure the event’s activities are covered.
If you decide to coordinate a fundraising event, don’t miss an opportunity to share how your spectators can continue to support your chapter—either through membership, volunteerism or by giving future donations.
Corporations. Area businesses can be a hard donor to capture. Many of them are drawn to incentives—is there a way that you can publicize the business name on your chapter’s website, facebook page or event signage? Corporations are drawn to event sponsorship because there’s potential their business name will be up in lights in front of the many people who attend your event.
One popular corporate gift is Wal-Mart’s Community Grant. Connect with your local Wal-Mart manager. The manager will instruct you to fill out the local giving grant application online. Once you’ve done that, contact the manager to say you’ve submitted the request.
Note: You’ll want to start soliciting to businesses early. Some of them create budgets at the beginning of their fiscal year; if your chapter isn’t in the budget, you’ll have to wait.
Many chapters have had success asking corporations to fund several Amtrykes, built them and then host the giveaway. From the corporation’s point of view, the project is a great team building exercise and can garner great media attention for them (and you).
Matching Gifts. Ask your members and donors if their employers do matching gifts. If so, this could easily double each dollar given.
Other Charities or Service Organizations. AMBUCS (formerly known as American Business Clubs) grew from its service club roots, and along the way, we added the 501c3 charitable status to our nonprofit resume. The 501c3 status makes it easier to fundraise from foundations and corporations.
Service clubs are national organizations with a network of clubs. These clubs volunteer and fundraise to support charitable initiatives in their communities. Ever hear of the Lion’s Club, Kiwanis, Rotary? These are service clubs, and these local community servants might be interested in supporting the good works of your chapter.
Some will write checks and others will be interested in being more involved. Much like the corporations discussed above, they may very well be interested in funding several Amtrykes, building them and then hosting the giveaway. Again this could garner great media attention for both organizations. It’s also a great way to get a group of people bit by the bug and coming back every year for more Amtryke smiles.
Now, other charities are a little more difficult to convince. They are taxed with trying to fundraise for their own mission. You might find that you have like-minded charities in your community, though, who wouldn’t mind partnering to support the need. On the National level, we have had support from the Ronald McDonald House Charities as well as Variety the Children’s Charity. See if they have a tent (chapter) in your area: http://usvariety.org/.
One of the biggest complaints we hear from new chapters is that foundations often request their financials, a budget, the number of people they’ve assisted, etc.—all of the things that come from time and experience. Quite frankly, new chapters should wait for those grant opportunities until you have a resume…a record of good work. In the interim, investigate smaller-scale grants or maybe even charitable trusts. Sometimes these don’t require quite as much proof. When going after large grants, the grantor is going to make sure that your organization is financially responsible and that you have and will continue to provide impact.
Crowdfunding: A method of raising capital in small amounts from a large group of people using social media and the internet.
Viral: Any content or media that becomes widely shared through social networks and online.
What is in your wallet?
Smart Phone 80%
In this tech-savvy age, the immense power of peer-to-peer crowdfunding via social media has roared onto fundraising the scene.
Early Crowdfunding services like GoFundMe or Kickstarter were revolutionary because, for the first time, an average person had the ability to reach millions of potential donors with their ‘ask.’
There’s power in people. When it comes to the children on your chapter’s wish list, for instance, no one cares more about each kid than their friends, family and community connections. Crowdfunding raises money from the people closest to the one benefiting—which makes the message more powerful. It spreads online from one person who cares deeply, to their social connections, and outward in an ever-expanding ring. For instance, 6-year-old Deborah had been waiting on the Wish List for over a year. Her family created a Crowdrise account on a Friday afternoon and the cost of the bike was raised over the weekend!
I urge your chapter to consider creating a crowdfunding account. Not only does news travel fast via the Internet, it’s become a comfortable tool for a lot of people. If you’re not asking for money online in a way that people can respond to immediately, you are missing out!
Now let’s talk turkey. There are about ten notable crowdfunding services that meet the needs of non-profits. Crowdrise and Razoo get my stamp of approval. Both offer a free account and will support multiple campaigns (say, one for Amanda’s tryke, one for Jake’s tryke and one to fund an Evaluation Site at the local children’s hospital). Both platforms automatically send tax deductible receipts to your donors so you don’t have to hassle. And both run on the lower end of associated costs.
Before you run away, let’s not forget that sometimes you have to be willing to spend money in order to make money. These crowdfunding services offer an attractive, secure and easy-to-give platform for you and your donors, and they deserve to be compensated.
If you’re itching to learn more, feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll talk you through this crowdfunding business and share best practices to help make your new account a success!
Steps to Success
Fix Your Chapter Name on Guidestar. Guidestar is the largest source of information on nonprofit organizations. Many donors will look at how you measure up by taking a peek at your Guidestar profile. This information pulls directly from the IRS so, essentially, you as an AMBUCS chapter have a Guidestar profile whether you want one or not.
You should contact Guidestar to claim your charity. At this time, you can beef up or correct the information that is being shared about your chapter. Hint: The more information you fill in, the higher you rank on Guidestar. It’s also important to claim your chapter on Guidestar because it is the source of information for many other platforms that service nonprofits. If you want it correct on your crowdfunding page, you need to make it right on Guidestar first.
The most important reason for claiming your Guidestar page is so that you can fix your chapter name. When we apply for your EIN number under the umbrella of our nonprofit status, we include your chapter name as the dba (doing business as). Because of that, the IRS makes your primary name “National AMBUCS.” You don’t want your supporters to call you by the wrong name or to think they have found the wrong organization.
First, You’ll want to open an account in order to claim your chapter. When searching for your chapter, search “National AMBUCS” and the city, state in which you are chartered. For example, when claiming the Piedmont Chapter, we had to enter “National AMBUCS High Point, NC.” You’ll need to verify by entering your EIN number.
After claiming your chapter, there might be a 1-2 day delay while Guidestar verifies your identity. At that time, you can select to edit your charity (including the name). Again, there might be a slight delay while they update your name, but Guidestar is usually pretty fast to react.
Once you’ve changed your name on Guidestar, you should be able to set up other accounts (like Crowdrise, PayPal, Amazon Smile, etc.) that recognize your chapter name by its actual name. If you jumped the gun too soon, you can send the provider a message requesting that they update your name. Many times, they’ll make you prove it by submitting a link to your Guidestar account, which now should display your actual chapter name.
Develop a Donation Receipt Letter. When someone gives a tax-deductible gift to your chapter, they are entitled to a receipt that documents their gift. Here is a donation receipt letter example that you can easily customize for your chapter.
Note: If a family member contributes towards a person’s tryke, they are not eligible for tax credit because of their relationship to the recipient. According to the IRS, it isn’t a charitable act when you’re helping one of your own family members. However, it is still good practice to acknowledge their contribution with a receipt. You may issue them the same letter you give to other donors; we cover the bases with a note that says, “National AMBUCS, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Your gift is tax deductible to the full extent of the law. However, if you are related to the Amtryke recipient by blood or marriage, per current IRS regulations, your gift is not eligible for tax deduction.”
Keep in Touch with Your Donors. Be sure to keep contact information for the people who have invested in your organization. It’s possible they may give again if asked. Furthermore, many foundations will want some type of correspondence that lets them know how you spent their funding. Mark these deadlines on your calendar. Rest assured, if you don’t, they’ll remind you.
Develop Solicitation Materials. Here are examples of a grant and letter of intent. Feel free to use these materials but be sure to customize them to reflect your chapter. What your chapter has done and accomplished are important tidbits that illustrate how important you are to your community. Ask your chapter president or other officer for the data submitted to the Resource Center for your chapter’s annual report and report of charitable giving. This will give you real, meaty data about how your chapter impacted the community.
Do Your Research. Start looking into who might be a potential donor. In the grant writing materials, you’ll see that we promote foundationcenter.org/find-funding/fdo-quick-start Once you’ve located the grantors in your area through Foundation Center, use Guidestar to obtain copies of their 990 tax records and history of the foundations’ giving.
Also, take a look at other charities or local fundraisers within your community. See who is supporting them by checking out their websites and facebook pages. It’s likely you will find corporations who are interested in sponsoring events or people who are interested in giving to causes similar to yours.
Be a Master Marketer. Marketing and Development go hand-in-hand. How you publicize your chapter will impact how a potential donor perceives your organization. Try to establish an online presence. Even if you don’t have a website, create a crowdfunding page or facebook page. The staff at the AMBUCS Resource Center belong to the Piedmont Chapter; you can check out our Crowdrise page here: https://www.crowdrise.com/piedmontambucs Many donors want to give with the ease of online; make it as easy for them as possible.
And don’t miss an opportunity. When you have an event worth publicizing, like a giveaway, contact your local media. While there, be sure to take pictures, take pictures, take pictures…and then some video. You’ll need these later when promoting your work in the community to potential donors. There’s plenty of great tips for better marketing your chapter in the Chapter Marketing section. Keep in mind, the better marketer you are, the better fundraiser you are.