Photo: fizkes/Shutterstock

How to Fund Your Start Up Org

by Julie Schwietert Mar 11, 2010
You have a great idea for an NGO, non-profit, or small business. Now you need the money to get it off the ground.

One of the most popular articles we’ve published on MatadorChange is How to Start a Successful NGO in 10 Steps. The article, written by photographer and NGO-preneur Ryan Libre, has had more than 200,000 views since it was published in September 2008.

Every day we receive comments on this article, often from people in “developing” countries who are fired up on solving local problems with local solutions. They view starting an NGO as an excellent way to do just that.

They’re right, but the challenge they all face is funding. If dollars were distributed on the merit of good ideas alone, well… you wouldn’t need an article like this one.

If you’ve got a sweet idea about an NGO, non-profit, or small business that could change your community–or the world–here are a few ways you can bootstrap your start up with some funding methods beyond the usual approaches.

1. Set up a blog.

If you’ve got a great idea but no one knows about it, how do you expect to get funding for it? Setting up a blog is almost as simple as having an Internet connection… and it’s free.

Start establishing your Internet presence by setting up a simple blog on WordPress. Matador’s got dozens of resources to help you understand exactly how to do this on our Blogging Tips Focus Page.

Essential information includes: the name of your organization; your mission; who you’re working with and/or serving; what need you’re fulfilling; and why no one else is filling it. Provide a way for visitors to get in touch with you if they want to ask questions. Let them know how they can help.

2. Broaden your web presence.

What evidence can you provide that you’re already working to solve the big social problem your NGO, non-profit, or small business is going to address?

Flickr and YouTube will let you compile and present visual evidence that you are (1) who you say you are, (2) where you say you are, (3) working on what you claim to be working on.

Flickr and YouTube accounts are free and they’re essential to building and broadening your web presence. They also can be integrated into your WordPress blog easily.

Beyond Flickr and YouTube, set up a Twitter account. Connect with other social entrepreneurs who have started their organization or who are in the process of setting one up. Share ideas and contacts; provide each other with support. Connect with journalists and other people who may be interested in your enterprise. Ask for their support.

3. Now, start raising funds.

It used to be the case that starting an NGO or non-profit required non-stop grant writing.

While grants remain a significant source of operating income, the Internet provides many more tools you can use that will supplement your organization’s financial flow:

ChipIn: ChipIn is a free widget you can embed on your blog to raise money for your cause.

People who want to support your fledgling organization donate money using their PayPal account by clicking on the ChipIn button that now appears on your blog. You can also add the ChipIn widget to your Facebook profile.

Matador has used ChipIn to raise funds for our Brave New Travelers scholarship.

Kickstarter: Kickstarter’s a bit like ChipIn, but with a twist- you set a fund raising goal for your project and you have to meet our goal within a certain period of time in order for the donors’ money to be released to you.

There are two other catches: (1) You have to have a US bank account and address in order to set up a Kickstarter account and (2) Kickstarter makes its money by taking 5% out of your funded project.

But if you’re agreeable to those terms and if you have a network of people you can reach out to to contribute, it can be an effective fund raising platform. Charyn Pfeuffer, who was profiled on MatadorChange recently, recently funded her $20,000 international voluntourism project on Kickstarter and Matador contributor Irina Zhorov is currently fund raising for a project on Kickstarter, too.

Grow VC
Grow VC is a brand new venture capital funding platform for entrepreneurs who are launching start-ups with a mobile or web-based focus. If your project falls into that category, read about this new funding option on the Grow VC website or in this article from TechCrunch.

Amazon Affiliate Program
You won’t be able to fully fund your start-up as an Amazon affiliate. You likely won’t even make enough to buy coffee for a week, but if you use this program as part of a diverse set of passive income sources, you might just cover some basic operating expenses, like simple office supplies.

There are all sorts of catches, but if you’re approved, the program is easy to use. Read all about it in Amazon’s overview.

Google Grants and Google for Non-Profits
Google has all kinds of resources that relatively few people know about, and Google for Non-Profits is one of them. In addition to its grants program, Google offers in-kind AdWords advertising to non-profits. All of their relevant resources can be accessed on the Google for Non-Profits page.

Community Connection:

Do you have experience funding a non-profit or NGO? Want to share your tips? Leave your advice in the comments section.

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