In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid Events?

In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid Events?

Just like many other sectors, the fundraising and engagement world is grappling with the challenges posed by the pandemic(s) – medical, economic, and social – over the last 18 months. Fundraisers everywhere are continuously looking at how best to bring together their respective communities in ways that are engaging, welcoming, and above all – safe. If your organization finds itself struggling to land on the right event format for the fall and beyond – you are not alone. Many organizations are looking toward in-person events with equal parts optimism and caution.

Virtual events, in-person events, or a hybrid of both models are the options that many organizations are weighing as they approach navigating the new normal. While a recent report indicates that 40% of organizations may already be meeting with donors and other constituents in person, there is still lots of uncertainty around what this can mean for in-person events.

What remains clear is the nature of the challenge that lies ahead as organizations navigate the next few weeks and months. On a more positive note, I have seen all 3 of these event “venues” – in-person, virtual, and hybrid – carried out exceptionally well resulting in well thought-out, fun, and safe events. It may take some creativity and an honest look at what is or is not possible, but this work is worth it. Here are a few things I have seen work well for many mission-focused organizations:

  1. An outdoor event in a large field where gathered community members can spread out
  2. Small in-person groups with real-time virtual tie-in for remote participants.
  3. Smaller in-person events with digital replay and engagement opportunities for all community members.
  4. Completely virtual events with engaging features for participants using tools such as Padlet and Slido.
  5. In-person events with scheduled groups of participants assigned to attend and leave at staggered, non-overlapping times.
  6. A rotation of participant groups where participants go through various “mini-event stations” at the event, keeping the total number of people at any given station low.

I know that many of us are burnt out, and still looking with uncertainty at the months ahead. Even so, donors are still planning to give! Throughout the challenges of the last year and a half, we have seen donors become even more loyal to mission-driven causes, particularly those that address immediate needs. Your creativity, persistence, and resilience will be well worth it! Do you have any in-person, virtual, or hybrid event tips to share? Comment below!

How to Fund My Mission-Driven Business or Organization

How to Fund My Mission-Driven Business or Organization

Disclaimer: It is always a good idea to connect with your own legal counsel for personalized recommendations as you think about how best to structure your organization. 

Now that you’ve launched your mission-driven business or organization, you may immediately be turning your attention to grant funding. But before you start Googling “grants for new organizations and businesses,” know that grant-making institutions want to see a financially stable organization before they award you with funding. There are a few exceptions to this, and that will be for another blog post. You may immediately start asking for donations to those around you, and while your idea may generate lots of interest and celebratory kudos, you may find that others are perhaps hesitant to jump in as financial supporters of your cause. Rest assured – this does not make your cause any less worthy, or any less mission-driven. It does however, mean that you need to be creative in how you approach fundraising and raising capital.

Mission-Driven Non-Profit Organizations

If you are thinking about establishing a non-profit organization, this designation with your state has a number of tax-related benefits. For the purposes of this blogpost, we will focus on one: any donations made to your organization can be claimed as charitable donations by your donors. This means that in addition to supporting a great cause, donors to your organization get the added benefit of choosing to claim their donation to your organization on their taxes. While most donors are not motivated to give for tax purposes only, it is an additional incentive for some donors. 

If your organization is registered as a non-profit, here are some ways you can approach fundraising:

  1. Establish and grow a strong Board. Your Board should be a diverse group of individuals who are fully supportive of your organization’s mission and are committed to its success. In many organizations, the Board takes the lead in fundraising efforts and contributes financially to these efforts.
  2. Leverage your Board’s connections. Your Board can give your organization access to spaces and people that you would not have been able to approach otherwise. 
  3. Host a fundraising event. Silent auctions, fundraising dinners, virtual fundraisers are all examples of events that can help bring in funds.
  4. Hold a fundraising campaign. If your organization is working towards a larger, more expensive goal, planning and launching a campaign to reach that goal is one way to clearly share to donors what your organization’s needs are, and a nice way to celebrate them when your goal is reached.

Mission-Driven Businesses

If you are considering establishing a mission-driven business, you will need to think a bit more creatively about raising capital. Even though your business may be doing great work, you cannot raise donations as you would if your business designation were that of a non-profit organization. Not to discourage you, but it is a well-known fact that it takes a while, even a few years, for newly established businesses, mission-driven or not, to make a profit. This can be a challenge, but this is where creativity comes in. If you need funds for your mission-driven business, could you consider any of the following?

Create something to sell. Just because your business is mission-driven does not mean you do not need a sound business plan or that you do not need a clear path to making money. You are probably thinking, “I’m not an expert,” or “I don’t know how to create products.” Don’t overthink it – just start small. Essentially, the question is, what problem am I trying to solve? What solutions do I propose to help solve it? How do I communicate this solution to the world – a book? a class? a video series? A guide? It is your choice! But one thing is sure, in order to raise working capital, you need to have a product or service to sell that will help you bring in these funds.

Give a little. If you are in a position to contribute perhaps a small portion of your own money into your business, this would help give you more working capital for your mission-driven business. This may not be possible for everyone, but owner’s contribution is one of the ways that many startup business owners start to grow their business. This does not have to be an exorbitant amount. Many mission-driven business owners have a set amount of money each week that they allocate to their business. 

Spread the word. Are you telling people what you offer and what you are selling? This can be done via social media, your website, in person, etc…but if you don’t promote your services, how will people know to purchase them?

At this point, you may be wondering, where does grant-funding come into play with all this? Stay tuned – Innovative Solving has got you covered!

I’ve Started My Non-Profit. I Just Need Funds…

I’ve Started My Non-Profit. I Just Need Funds…

Congratulations! You’ve officially started your non-profit organization. You’ve come up with a creative name for your organization — perhaps a combination of your names, a clever way to honor a beloved friend, parent, or your journey to this point. You’ve told all your friends, coworkers, family (anyone who has ears, really) that you. finally. did. it. Your non-profit is live! Motivated by wanting to give back to your community, solve a local problem, or serve others, you moved forward in faith that if you could only get started, things would fall into place. The joy you felt was indescribable – you are over the moon. Remember that feeling. Hold on to it. We’ll revisit it soon. 

You know there is a “but” coming, right? There always is. Except this time, you probably know the “but” before I even say it. Let’s say it together…3…2…1….FUNDING. Creating your non-profit, perhaps even filing for your 501c3 designation, are important and steps you should be proud of. However, they are just the beginning of the journey. Something many people forget is that just because you are doing work on behalf and in the community, does not mean that the community will immediately be paying for those services. “Fine, Shaïnah,” you may say, “I get that. I don’t expect the community I am serving to pay for my programs. The reason why I even stumbled onto your site is because I am looking for grant funding and grant sources.” First, welcome to the site – it is wonderful to have you here! Second, while I have no doubt in my mind that your organization will be awarded grants, what many non-profit founders do not realize earlier on is that, those grant awarded funds may be months, even years, away.

At this point, you are probably feeling a bit defeated in your pursuits. You are probably thinking you will never read this blog ever again. Wait! Before you make up your mind, remember that feeling I suggested you hold at the start of this post? The one of pride, accomplishment, and pure joy at starting your non-profit? That’s the one. Find it and breathe. All is not lost. Rather, you are just getting started and I am going to let you in on a little secret that many Founders have never heard. I promise, this secret will change your (funding) life.

You ready? Here it goes: there is such a thing as being “grant ready.” If you are not grant ready, well, you guessed it, you are not going to be getting any grants. Except perhaps funding specifically intended for emerging organizations, but that is a topic for another post.

If at this point in the post your question is, “Shaïnah, how do I get my organization grant ready?” you are absolutely in the right place. This blog will be chock-full of resources, tips, tricks, and even news about upcoming funding sources. Together, we can put the “fun” back in “funding.” Oh — there will be plenty of puns, “dad” jokes, and overall Shaïnah-ness over here. Welcome, so glad to have you in the Innovative Solving family!