Three Tools to Effectively Fundraise for Your Small Nonprofit 

Working in small nonprofits presents numerous opportunities for creative innovations and flexibility to fulfill their missions. At the same time, smaller nonprofits have to do more with less. Recently the Hive hosted “Fundraising for the Small Nonprofit,” in which several leaders of local organizations shared their best strategies for successful in developing needed resources. 

Our panel of experts included: Max Disposti, Executive Director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center; Alex Goodman, Managing Director of New Village Arts, Inc.; Deb Martin, CEO & Executive Director of ElderHelp of San Diego; Don Wells, Executive Director for Just in Time for Foster Youth.

1. TeeUp Your Time: Set appointments with yourself to cultivate and steward donors. 

Max says that making the time to build and foster relationships is a priority. In fact, when asked how to dedicate the time, Don replied with, “How do you not make the time?” 

The group affirmed that there isn’t a secret sauce to doing this, rather a matter of strategy in time organization when managing your responsibility. 

You have to learn how to do everything before you have staff,”  Max added, believing that wearing many hats helps build intentional relationships with the community and prospective donorswhich can advance your opportunities to acquire sustained giving and diversify your group of donors.  

Designating time up front to plan your development strategies will save you time – and get you the funds you need – later.

2. Story Over Statistics

When your work is cause-driven, it’s tempting trely on statistics when trying to catch donors’ interestHowever, when an identifiable story builds on and reinforces your data, it can shift how people interact with your organization and its mission.  

  • Don started a “Monday Memo” newsletter in which he shares the work that the organization did that past week and what they want to do in the upcoming week, along with some images. Keeping your members, volunteers and donors in the loop like this is an excellent way to bring stories that illustrate your impact. 
  • Deb suggests being mindful of how special events that donors attend can advance your organizational story. Be strategic about which events support your mission. This awareness helps you curate meaningful experiences that align potential donors with your work and catalyze them to give to your organization.  

3. Mobilize Your Members

Your organization has a following of volunteers, board members, and donors who want to help in many ways to see your organization succeed! Creating opportunities for everyone who supports your organization to become an ambassador for the work dramatically increases the effectiveness of your fundraising. It grows your communications efforts exponentially without touching your personnel budget. 

  • Alex shares that their “Artist Advocate Program” gives theatre patrons the opportunity to directly support a cast member’s salary – whether actor, director, or designer – through sponsorship opportunities. In a world where the arts are severely underfunded, this is a great way to give artists what they deserve directly. 
  • Alex also suggests utilizing your relationship with boards, whether you’re on one or your board members serve on others. “Ask yourself, ‘how do we make sure people keep thinking about us?” he says. When you have an abundance of ambassadors sharing your story, it’s an effective way to fundraise without the direct ask. 


Successful fundraising requires a multi-pronged strategy. Some tactics are tried-and-true, and some are completely experimental. Some of the fun and freedom in having a small team is that you get to really find out what works for you. We hope these strategies spark some ideas as you ramp up your fundraising journey.