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If your organization is like most, you’re finding it harder and harder to bring in donations as the economy slows. Tough times mean that non-profits must get creative in order to keep their important programs up and running. Following are some suggestions to help you find alternatives to your more traditional fundraising methods.

Look for “In Kind” Gifts

You’re likely finding that your cash contributions have decreased as the economy has slowed. But, just because you’re not getting the same amount of cash doesn’t mean your projects are doomed. “In kind” donations – donations of goods, typically from companies that sell those goods, are often easier to come by in a slowing economy than cash.

For example, if you have a building or remodeling project, consider asking the local home improvement store to donate some materials, rather than asking for money to purchase materials. Then, let your supporters know, that they can donate there time and labor to the project as well as cash. Corporations like to give in kind donations because they are less obtrusive to the company’s bottom line, yet they still allow for the company to give back to the community.

Reduce costs

Just like big corporations, non-profits have to trip budgets during tough economic times. One of the biggest expenses is often office space. Consider sharing office space with another organization or relocating to less expensive office space. Do you have employees who would be willing to work from home? Perhaps they could telecommute to avoid needing to rent office space for them. Office space is often one of the biggest line items in a charitable organization’s budget, and finding ways to trim these costs can save a bundle.

You may also want to look at the budgets of specific events you’ve hosted in the past, and consider scaling them down for this year. Hosting a brunch is very chic and often far less expensive than a three course dinner. You could also consider increasing the cost of admission to your fundraising events to reduce the amount that comes from your regular budget.

Look at new fundraising ideas

While you may find that people are not as open to giving cash donations, they may be more willing than ever to purchase items from non-profit organizations. During tough times, fundraising events like silent auctions can be very profitable. Not only are attendees getting something in return for their money, but this is another way to attract in-kind donations from companies. Companies donate their products and services to your organization instead of cash, and individuals pay for those same products and services, feeling good that their money goes to a good cause. If you’ve never hosted such events, this might be the year to start.

It’s important not to lose hope during tough economic times. People are still interested in giving to non-profit organizations, even when they have to cut down their own expenses. Finding creative ways to raise funds and making it easier for individuals and organizations to donate to your cause can help you keep the money coming in during slow times. At the same time, cutting costs will help you fund your programs for less until the economy turns around.

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