Expand Your Donor Base to Raise More Money

On November 15, we celebrate National Philanthropy Day, a day to honor donors – individuals, foundations and corporations – who give selflessly to make our community a better place to live, work and play. Thank you!


How can nonprofits maximize the impact of this generosity for their organization? Diversity.

Over-reliance on any one type of funding makes the organization vulnerable to the whims of the donors. And we all know that the one constant in life is change ... especially when it comes to grant funding.

The Quad Cities’ funding landscape continues to change. The United Way recently changed their grant program. The State of Illinois finally got its budget passed, but for how long? Meanwhile, Iowa talks about changing its budget priorities as does the federal government. Finally, rumors of other local foundations changing their priorities continue to swirl around the nonprofit community. Taken together, these changes can have significant – and sometimes devastating – consequences for local nonprofit organizations and the people who rely on them for assistance.

Thankfully, the Quad Cities also has an abundance of very generous people and organizations who donate money and can fill the void. Our research found more than 100 local foundations, companies and civic organizations who fund nonprofits that support clients in Scott, Rock Island, Henry, Mercer and Muscatine Counties. These are Quad Citizens helping Quad Citizens meet locally-identified needs and does not even count the large number of national or regional foundations and companies like Best Buy, Gates Foundation or Kellogg Foundation who may support local initiatives.

We have very conservatively estimated that these 100 local foundations, companies and civic organizations invest more than $40 million in local nonprofits each year; likely that number is much higher. With 630 nonprofits in these five counties, each has an opportunity to get its fair share. Add to that the more than $150 million that “How America Gives” estimates that individuals in Scott and Rock Island County give each year, and you see the true measure of the generosity of Quad Citizens.

So how can a nonprofit take advantage of this generosity to better serve their clients?

Two words: Diversity and Research.

Organizations need to diversify their funding sources in order to survive and thrive. If your organization receives more than even 10% of your revenue from one source, you may want to consider broadening the number of sources from which you receives support. Imagine if that source went away tomorrow; will that have a negative impact on your organization and its ability to serve your clients? If so, start working now to find other sources to protect yourself and your services.

How do you find those sources? Research.

Foundations and most corporations publish information on their website about their giving priorities. Foundations also submit annual tax forms called 990s that outline all of the grants they made. You can access these public documents online through Guidestar at no cost. Other databases exist that cull together this information for easy searching for a fee.

Wastyn & Associates offers one of these databases: The Foundation and Grant Directory: Quad Cities Region that can streamline grant research. I have always found the Quad Cities extremely generous with their time and their money. In this time of changing funding proprieties and uncertainty, local nonprofits should consider looking beyond their usual funding sources to tap into some of this incredible generosity to best serve their clients.