Archive for the ‘Non Profit Organizations’ Category

Five Tips to Starting a Successful Non-Profit

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Starting a non-profit requires careful planning and thorough execution. It is a challenging endeavor, and not everyone succeeds in creating a sustainable and successful non-profit.

Here are 5 useful tips before you start your non-profit:

Make a realistic assessment of your idea

Being passionate about a non-profit idea is one thing, and being realistic is another. You need to assess the potential and viability of your idea in the prevailing economic conditions and environment. Financial sustainability of your non-profit is critical. You need to ask yourself tough questions such as: Is there a real gap or need that the proposed non-profit going to help fulfil? Do extensive research before going ahead with the implementation of your idea.

Make a detailed business plan

The more thoroughly you plan your non-profit in advance, the better the chances of its survival. Create a comprehensive business plan for your non-profit that includes the expected sources of funding, the central mission and purpose of the non-profit for which the funding will be utilized, and the estimated overhead expenditures, both fixed and recurring. Apart from financial budgeting, your business plan should also incorporate the marketing plan and strategies that will be used for fund-raising.

Determine how your idea will qualify as a non-profit

You not only need to have a great idea, but you also need to determine whether that idea is acceptable as non-profit or a charitable cause in the eyes of the authorities. You need to acquire information about how an entity gets qualified as a non-profit, how it may attain a tax-exempt status, and what procedures are required for its incorporation.

Fulfill all legal obligations before launching your non-profit

There are stiff regulations that govern the establishment and operations of a non-profit, both at the federal and the state levels. The government’s top concern is to ensure that any unscrupulous people may not succeed in duping the citizens in the name of a non-profit. Therefore, it is very essential that you fulfil all the legal requirements carefully before going ahead with your non-profit operations.

Initiate necessary alliances and tie-ups
Your non-profit may not be able to operate in isolation. You may need to collaborate or partner with other organizations in the pursuit of your non-profit’s mission and goals. Therefore, short-list the probable entities with whom it may be suitable to create mutually beneficial relationships. Initiate communication with them to know their response and their requirements. It will keep you well prepared so that by the time you launch your non-profit you can get going with your mission quickly, without losing much time and money.

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Location-Centric Raffle Prizes

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Well here’s a fantastic idea: The Red Sox Foundation is raffling off a chance for golfers to take a swing at Fenway with Hall of Famer Jim Rice. The opportunity has to be darn near irresistible for Bostonians with a penchant for putting. The proceeds of the raffle go to the foundation itself, plus, if the golfer can hit a target out in center field a $50,000 donation will also be made to the charity in the winner’s name.

While this particular prize may not be one your organization can manage to offer, you can certainly generalize the prize IDEA and come up with something great along the same lines that you can offer. Is there a local landmark in your area? Or just a place that’s iconic to local residents? Offer them a chance to do something really unique in that location. Something that they wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to try. You’ll be selling raffle tickets like there was no tomorrow.

Double Win for Police Association Raffle

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Loving this story today. The Centralia Police Officers Association recently raffled off a truck in hopes of raising a small amount of money. But guess what? The man who won the truck (a business owner from out of town) donated it right back! That’s right–not only did they get some money by selling their raffle tickets, but they got to keep the truck for their own use in the community. That’s some serious generosity on the part of the towing company owner who won the raffle.

I really love this idea. I like to buy raffle tickets from charities when I can afford it. They don’t usually cost any more than $20 at most, so I’m not really out much when I don’t win (and who ever expects to?). But say I did win a prize from an organization that I really cared about? It never would have occurred to me to donate the prize right back, but what a great thing it would be. Say the prize is worth something like $1000 (or even more like the truck in this story). That’s like being able to donate all of that money to a cause that I care about for only $20. It doesn’t hurt my budget, and could do so much for an NPO.

Attracting Sponsors

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Unlike with some other forms of fundraising, in order to host a raffle you need to have some money budgeted to begin with. If you really want people to buy your raffle tickets, you need to be able to offer attractive prizes which means spending some cash long before you see any return on your efforts. However, if you put some careful thought into your raffle beforehand, you can often find ways to reduce this initial outlay.

One significant way to save money on your prizes is to find sponsors for your raffle. Individuals or organizations willing to donate their time, money or products to your cause. Of course, the more worthy they consider the cause, the easier this will be. If you’re a non-profit organization, it’ll probably be a lot easier to find sponsors. But you can also create incentive for sponsors by giving them something more in return for their generosity than just your sincere thanks. One very easy way to do this is to include your sponsors’ names on the raffle tickets themselves. This shouldn’t cost you any extra, and it gives your sponsors free advertising. Their name will reach as many people as your fundraising does.

Attention Sports Fans!

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Just in case there are any Lakers fans out there who haven’t heard yet (perhaps you were in a cave all weekend?), Ron Artest is raffling off his 2010 NBA Championship ring! Artest announced the raffle last Wednesday night on Larry King Live, and the raffle winner will be chosen on Christmas day, December 25. The announcement was followed by a record-breaking $120,000 of ticket sales in just 24 hours. You can buy tickets on Artest’s own site, www.ronartest.com, or an alternate site set up by CNN, www.netraffle.org. (The alternate site was apparently set up because Artest’s site crashed with the heavy inflow of traffic!)

Tickets for the Win My Bling raffle cost only $2.00 and the proceeds will fund mental health services for youths who can’t afford the care. Artest has been a celebrity supporter of making mental health services more easily available ever since apologizing for a fan/player brawl he was involved in in 2005. In that apology, he publicly thanked his psychiatrist for the help he’d received. This raffle therefore appears to be part PR, part personal. In any case, don’t miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime chance for a Lakers’ fan.

Cow Chip Raffle

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Oh, in my posts on raffle twists, how could I have forgotten the time-honored cow chip raffle? Running across this article this weekend reminded me of this unique way of picking raffle winners. The middle school I attended used to hold one of these yearly. Basically, the raffle organization paints a grid on a big field, numbering each space in the grid and selling tickets with corresponding numbers. Then you simply let some well-fed cows loose on the field, and voila! They choose your raffle winners for you by their own natural processes.

This is just another example of how creative you can get with your process for choosing raffle winners. Come up with some innovative way of picking a winner, tying the method to the organization you’re raising funds for. If you’re an agricultural or animal rights organization, the cow chip raffle’s a great choice.

Earning Raffle Tickets

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

The political raffle I wrote about back in August got me thinking about other ways for people to earn raffle tickets rather than buying them. No one ever said that a raffle ticket needs to be given in exchange for cash. For that political raffle, people earned raffle tickets by handing in names of prospective voters. What other types of effort or information might be worth offering raffle tickets for?

It occurred to me that sometimes more than money, non-profits and other organizations need man-hours. For example, do you have a community garden project that you’re trying to get going, but just don’t have enough people working on it to get underway? Offer raffle tickets in exchange for a certain amount of work. The prize could be garden tools, produce from the garden, seeds, or something completely unrelated. Or does your company need market research information? Offer raffle tickets to people who fill out surveys for you.

Conducting a Home Raffle

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of news articles about organizations raffling off homes–everything from Brazilian castles to typical suburban single family homes. Now, in the case of a raffle being run by a huge organization or wealthy personality, I have no problem imagining where they got the funds to do such a thing. But I’ve seen a ton of references popping up to smaller non-profits raffling off houses. This peaked my interest, so I started to look into it.

Apparently, in some states individual home owners can work with non-profit organizations to raffle off their houses. The idea is that, if you can’t sell your house on the regular market (presumably because your buyers can’t get mortgages and not because the house is a disaster), rather than selling it off for way less than market value and not being able to pay off your own mortgage you can sell raffle tickets so that both you and the NPO get a good deal.

If you’re interested, you’ll have to look up the laws in your own state. But in general the way it works is that you draw up an agreement with an NPO under which they agree to buy your home from you at appraised value once they have sold a predetermined number of raffle tickets. If they don’t sell enough tickets, the house stays in your hands. But if they do, they buy the house and get to keep an raffle proceeds that exceed that price to fund their organization.

It sounds like a pretty sweet deal, if you can pull it off. Especially in this real estate market. Do you know anyone who’s done it successfully?

Raffles and the Law

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Before you go ahead and start planning your raffle, make sure to look into your state’s gambling laws. I just read an article about a Utah community that was planning to raise money for a new police dog by selling raffle tickets. Unfortunately, they failed to take into account that the state’s strict gambling laws forbade raffles. Now, these folks had the best of intentions. Their county needed a new drug-sniffing dog and this seemed like a harmless way to raise the necessary funds. But the law is the law.

So do a little research before you launch your raffle. In many states, raffles for charities are legally allowed, considered on the same level as state lotteries. In other places, like Utah apparently, they’re a no-go no matter what the cause. The relevant laws are legislated by the state. Simply Google your state and raffle laws. The information is often on the website of the state attorney general, though in some states, like Kentucky, a separate government department may exist to handle charitable gaming laws.

Political Raffle

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Here’s a new one to me. I just read a news article out of Austin Texas about a political candidate who’s trying to use a raffle to glean information about likely Republican voters. The campaign is offering raffle tickets to supporters who submit contact information for voters who might support the campaign. The idea is an innovative one.

Of course, it’s not far off from all of those raffles for cars you see in malls that are run for the sole purpose of getting consumer contact information. An interesting twist is that the campaign is tailoring the prizes to their constituency, hoping to narrow down the type of information that is submitted and weed out random submissions in that way. The prizes include meals with prominent Republicans, a lesson in marksmanship and a calf-roping lesson with a lieutenant-governor.

This could be turned into a good strategy for many organizations hoping to raise money through a raffle. Take a lead from this campaign and customize your prizes to your audience. Say you’re environmental group trying to get the word out about buying locally. Offer prizes like a membership to a CSA, a personal tour of a local farm or a year’s supply of locally-raised, grass fed beef. Not only could you sell more tickets to those who are already interested in your cause, prize winners who are not as familiar with locally grown food will get a first hand experience.