How the Bleep do I Fund This?

If you are running a non-profit, start-up or social enterprise of any kind, you know that raising funds is hard, but in the latest Women Giving a Bleep podcast episode, “How the Bleep do I fund this?”, NABU’s development team delves into the 5 key funding models.

We are all living in an unprecedented time and unprecedented times call for creative thinking. With COVID-19 turning our world upside down, now more than ever it is so important to think strategically about funding your organization and the different models by which you can tap into to do so. In this episode, our Women Giving a Bleep podcast host, the Executive Director, and co-creator of NABU, Tanyella Evans chats to Christopher Thompson, the Director of Development at NABU, who has varied experience across multiple organizations, particularly in funding for the non-profit sector.

Tanyella kicked off this episode with a very sobering truth – women-led organizations face difficulties in obtaining funding. While the majority of the nonprofit workforce- more than 75 percent in some U.S. sectors- is female, when it comes to examining the leadership teams of these organizations females are a lot more scarce.  According to GuideStar (an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. nonprofit companies) of U.S. nonprofits with annual budgets of more than $50 million, just 18 percent had a female CEO. In the U.K.’s top 50 fundraising charities by income, just 30% have female chief executives and only 36% of trustees are women.  The Women Giving a Bleep Podcast hopes to be a space for women to learn and collaborate with the hopes to change this static. Our Disclaimer: we are not experts, we are figuring this out as we go along but after winning some prestigious grants, awards,  fellowships and getting over that magical $1,000,000 hump in annual revenue we have some things to share. 

Christopher Thompson, NABU Director of Development
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Tanyella Evans, NABU Co-creator and Executive Director

“Of U.S. nonprofits with annual budgets of more than $50 million, just 18 percent had a female CEO.”

Whether you are a director, entrepreneur, or founder the 5 models of funding discussed in this episode are sure to help you answer the question of

How the Bleep do I Fund This? 

1 – Crowdfunding – The Kickstarter and Indiegogo model which is extremely beneficial if you can achieve 50-70% of your funding from friends, family, and your network. NABU leveraged this when they launched in 2013. For the ultimate Kickstarter Roadmap that Tanyella mentioned in the episode click here.

2 – Grants –  Submitting applications to grantors who are offering funds to support certain projects. These can either be government grants or institutional grants. Christopher mentioned that the key to grant applications is data “many people have a desire to do good, but don’t have the data”.  Data is pivotal and a key element to demonstrate impact and scale. GuideStar has different seals of transparency (Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum) which is recognition of a nonprofit’s commitment to transparency and allows potential donors and funders to make educated decisions. NABU is proud to hold the Platinum GuideStar seal of transparency and provide our donors with the ability to track live data and keep up to date with the impact of our literacy programs. When it comes to grants organizations need data to show how they can scale and why their organization is unique compared to the others applying and increases your chance of winning. 

3 – Board Member Funding – Tanyella described the criticality of taking time to select Board members because of the significant impact they can have on the trajectory of your nonprofit.  Having the right board members means that their financial support and network can help the operational side of the nonprofit so that other donors’ funding can be solely devoted to organizational growth and scale.

4 – Fundraising small amounts with many donors – This is the approach Bernie Sanders took with his presidential campaign. It is a method of garnering a lot of grassroots support from many people in smaller amounts. This approach is excellent for spreading the mission and purpose of your non-profit widely, which can help open up partnership opportunities and build a base of supporters. This can be achieved in multiple ways one example being small recurring Monthly Donations- for NABU a monthly donation equating to the cost of a coffee or monthly Netflix subscription can power 1 hour of reading a day for a child. Another great way to garner smaller donations is through social media fundraising. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have excellent functionality to make it really easy for people to give. Some popular social media donation trends include birthday fundraisers on Facebook or adding the donation sticker to encourage people to give through stories on Instagram. 

5 – High Net Worth Donors –  The opposite of point 4, but equally as important for the far-reaching impact their dollars can have. Chris described the importance of treating this group of donors as investors, regularly communicating with them, bringing them in on strategic initiatives, and providing them with data on the progress. Chris also highlighted 6 important “rights” when it comes to major donors (and donors in general) which include: Asking the right person for the right amount for the right thing at the right time at the right place and in the right way. “Those are the six rights I really lean towards because a no is never a no to the right person, but it might not have been the right individual for the right amount…lining up these different target areas, increases the chances of winning donations…” says Chris. For NABU’s Fundraising 101 guide that delves into how to cultivate different types of donors click here.

Asking the right person for the right amount for the right thing at the right time at the right place and in the right way.”

Nabu Officials Visit Rwamagana Nov 2019 RV0_4619
Tanyella visiting our NABU users at a community center in Musha, Rwanda.
Nabu Officials Visit Rwamagana Nov 2019 RV0_4651
Christopher visiting our NABU users at a community center in Musha, Rwanda.

One key fundraising model which deserves its own episode and is coming soon is the elusive Earned Revenue model this model is all about generating funds beyond philanthropic sources.

NABU started using this Earned Revenue model with the launch of NABU Publishing in October 2019. NABU has a network of authors and illustrators who are creating high-quality children’s stories for the local market to increase literacy amongst children. NABU Publishing creates pathways to global audiences for talented creators from Haiti and Rwanda, translating their stories into bilingual English editions for the US children’s book market with an aim to increase diversity and representation in children’s stories in the US. . To learn more about NABU Publishing until our Earned Revenue episode of Women Giving a Bleep click here and to see our books click here. 

If you liked this episode we always welcome continuing the conversation so feel free to email us at with feedback, questions, recommendations for other topics, or guests you would like us to interview. Make sure to subscribe to our podcast to keep up with future episodes and rate if you enjoyed it. Follow our Instagram @nabuorg to be kept in the loop on all things social impact, culture, creativity, and community. Thank you again for tuning in and please reach out to us and let us know how we can support you in your journey in making a difference in the world.

Key Resources

Author: Vivian Inya. Vivian is a citizen of the world, who believes that we all have a stake in making the world a better place. She is one of 9 incredible professionals part of the NABU Next Gen Leadership fund. To learn more about the Next Gen Leaders click here.