Resources Index

For current or potential nonprofit publishers: specific, thoughtful research to help you “identify and develop the right funding model.” Practical guidance to start out or scale up for success.

Finding your funding model (Stanford Social Innovation Review)

In the spring 2007 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, we authored “How Nonprofits Get Really Big,” based on the Bridgespan Group’s research on nonprofits that had been founded since 1970 and reached $50 million in annual revenue. Only 144 nonprofits (excluding hospitals and universities) made the cut, reflecting the steep challenge of raising funds on a large scale…

In the spring 2009 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, we followed up with “Ten Nonprofit Funding Models,” which cataloged distinct types of funding strategies that exist among large nonprofits. We identified 10 nonprofit funding models, further confirming that the paths to growth are not idiosyncratic but strategic.

Since the publication of these two articles, Bridgespan and the Stanford Social Innovation Review have heard from a great many nonprofit leaders. The concept of the funding model—which we define as a methodical and institutionalized approach to building a reliable revenue base to support an organization’s core programs and services—clearly struck a chord. But many of the leaders wanted to know what practical guidance we could offer on how to identify and develop the right funding model. It is one thing to read that Susan G. Komen for the Cure is an extraordinarily successful example of the Heartfelt Connector funding model, which draws on a large grassroots individual donor base with a strong emotional tie to the issue. It’s quite another to figure out if the Heartfelt Connector is the right funding model for your own organization, and if so, how to pursue it.

This article is a response to those requests for the “how” of funding models—the basic principles through which organizations can understand and investigate their long-range funding options and then develop a realistic plan for choosing and implementing them. The principles are born out of our research as well as consulting experience with dozens of nonprofit clients that have sought pathways to growth and financial sustainability.” Source: Stanford Social Innovation Review

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