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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Why Do Charities Ask Me for Money?


Charity Navigator is here to help donors make more informed, data-driven donations. But why do charities ask for donations in the first place? Keep reading to learn more.



You’ve probably received a letter from an organization asking for a donation. Perhaps you’ve received a phone call asking for a contribution. Or, maybe a charity has sought a personal meeting with you or your family. Why are charities so persistent when it comes to raising funds and asking for money?

Private contributions from individuals and families provide charities with the flexibility to spend funds where they see fit and respond to changing needs and demands for their services. Most organizations seek to have a balanced fundraising strategy that includes raising funds from foundations, corporations, government grants (if appropriate), major donors, and individual contributions. 

Typically, foundations offer large programmatic grants to charities to fund their work. These large gifts can jump-start a new program or help the organization iterate on its existing work to meet new needs. Foundation grants, however, usually require an investment from the organization. Often, charities must build and cultivate a relationship with a foundation before they are awarded a grant. And, most foundations require structured reporting on how funds are being used throughout the term of the award. These grants can also be very competitive.

Like foundation grants, most organizations seek some corporate support. This may be through a company’s own foundation or through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. Often companies look for organizations working on issues related to their business or charities that are addressing needs in their local communities.

Some charities also look for government grant opportunities to fund their work. Like foundation grants, these awards are competitive and require extensive reporting, but can provide organizations with generous resources to work on a particular issue or program.

Unlike foundation, corporate, and government support, private contributions tend to be more flexible sources of funding for charities. Organizations often seek large gifts from donors with more means and a deep connection to their mission and supplement them with smaller gifts from “everyday donors” who care about the issues they are working on. This is arguably the most stable source of revenue for charities. Passionate donors are likely to stay loyal to the organizations they support and share their love for the charities’ work with their family, friends, and networks.

At Charity Navigator, we aim to help donors find those organizations they can support passionately. Our Advanced Search Tool and Discover feature are great tools for that.

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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