Five Things To Do Locally Before Fundraising Globally

Several times a month, I receive a message from somewhere far, far away.

They all want to raise money in America. And they all want someone else to raise it for them.

While these organizations could benefit from a trusted counselor, they rarely have the resources to pay for one.  And since no legitimate fundraising consultant would accept work on a commission basis, they appear stuck.

But are they really?

Emerging organizations can take several simple steps to bring them closer to their goals.  And they begin right at home.

Here are the recommendations I find myself sharing with early stage charities weekly:

1) Start locally: People raise money all over the world. The key is to build support first in the community in which you work, then to work outward to the region, the nation, the continent and the world. Having local support both makes your work more sustainable and lends credibility as you seek support from people and institutions far away.

2) Start with your leadership: Every real nonprofit organization has a board. This board must be comprised of people who both give and get. Start there, making sure that your organization is their highest giving priority. Then you can find out who they know, asking each board member to reach out to their network on behalf of the organization, whether through letters, phone, email, in person, or all of the above.

3) Engage Partners: Private and public companies, foundations, local governments, and local offices of international NGOs are all potential partners, potentially reducing operational costs, increasing revenues, and expanding the network of individual contributors. Ask them to donate goods. Ask them to give or to match gifts by their employees. Ask them to help advertise your work. Ask them to donate volunteer hours. Ask!

4) Use social networks to expand your reach: Rather than trying to find fundraisers for hire on LinkedIn, you can identify and reach out to those with an expressed interest in the mission of the organization.  You can search LinkedIn for groups devoted to similar issues. Search Twitter for people talking about the same cause. Search Facebook for companies, foundations, groups and individuals interested in the same things. Engage in conversation. Find out how they want to be involved. Provide those opportunities. Then–and only then–ask for their financial support.

5) Get training: Find out what successful peer organizations in the community, country and region are doing in the area of fundraising. For example, there are fundraising associations throughout the African continent, including the West African Institute of Fundraising, the Kenya Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Southern Africa Institute of Fundraising. Fundraisers in the Middle East now enjoy the newly emerging Pan-Arab Fundraising Association.  Asia boasts such organizations as the South Asia Fundraising Group and the Japan Fundraising Association.  And the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and the Resource Alliance also offer training around the world.

There are many tools and techniques of fundraising but fundamentally it is a matter of defining your market, making your case, and asking for support.

For emerging charities hungry for resources to meet their mission, it may seem natural to look far away for money.  And sometimes, using some social platforms, an organization might attract some donors that way.

But growing a sustainable organization always starts where you are and with who you know. Because, just as little Dorothy Gale discovered, there’s no place like home.



  1. Mr: Frost we followed all the 3 steps as illustrated in your 5 steps advices and we are currently on stage 4 in terms of your criteria. The current challenges are as follow:
    1- We are based in a deep rural area of LIMPOPO PROVINCE, with 75km distance to the nearest small town of TZANEEN there is no place for fundraising locally.
    2- The South African ruling party has mobilized GOVERNMENTAL INSTITUTIONS, COOPERATION’S, NATIONAL LOTTERIES, COMPANIES to only provide funding, training programs and other facilitation’s, only to those are aligned to the ANC living all of us aligned to opposition political parties suppressed.
    3- Our focus is to establish 15 community project centers for job creation across LIMPOPO PROVINCE AT A COST OF USA$ 3 600 000 EACH. BECAUSE ONLY SUSTAINABLE JOB CREATION CAN ALLEVIATE POVERTY.
    12.1- Agriculture.
    12.2- Carpentry factory.
    12.3- Bakery and confectionery.
    12.4- Chicken farming and eggs reproduction.
    12.5- Welding factory.
    12.6- Cement brick making.
    12.7- Dress making
    12.8- Bird work
    12.9- Art and designing
    12.10- Atchar and juice factory processing.
    12.11- Pigs, goats, sheep’s and jersey cow milk farm

    We are conducting social awareness programs as additional activities.


  2. Elias, it sounds like you are encountering some significant structural barriers. I can’t comment on the political environment in which you work, but I would be curious to know if you have been successful in mobilizing and perhaps expanding your board. They must be giving and soliciting. All your board members should be leaders with both wealth and wisdom and they should be willing to lead by example. Now that you are moving on to points #4 and #5, i hope you will find a growing audience for your work through social media and that conversations with colleagues throughout South Africa engaged in fundraising will inspire and inform your own resource development efforts.

  3. Dear Ma Flore, 501(c)(3) status refers to your organization’s structure and tax status in the United States. It confers legitimacy in the US. This would not be important unless you are trying to raise money in the US. Assuming that you are located elsewhere, have you taken the opportunity to go through all the other steps we’ve discussed above prior to trying to raise money in America?

  4. Good evening Mr: Jay Frost
    I acknowledge the receipt of your e-mail and its content.
    1- Regarding the expiation of the board, it is the prerogative of the annual general meeting to elect the board to serve for 4 years based on the provision of our constitution.
    2- On subject of the identification of wise and wealth individuals, with due respect I beg you to understand that.
    (a)- We are based at Limpopo Province the second most rural area of South Africa.
    (b)- The literates and academia’s of our society have emigrated to industrial cities living behind the orphans, the illiterates, those infected by HIV&AIDS, the disabled ‘s and the most vulnerable behind.
    Mr: Jay Frost we believe that you understand that very few educated individuals may reside in a deep rural area without job opportunities of any kind.

    Mr: Jay Frost we plead for your assistance, your end-ever shall not be in vain.

    May GOD bless you and through his mighty HOLY SPIRIT indorse compassion into our situation.

    Yours faithfully:


    Rev: Elias Mathebula

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