Even before the pandemic, nonprofit organizations were being challenged by major demographic, economic, technological, and social shifts outside their control. These small nonprofits, which are those often closest to serving our most vulnerable populations, have historically lacked an investment in their capacity and by extension have struggled to run their organization effectively and efficiently. Compounding this challenge is the understanding that traditional approaches to building fundraising capacity are fragmented, costly, and inequitable for organizations who are already short on time, staffing, and resources.
After many conversations with non-profit partners and after evaluating the results of the Illuminating Perspectives Report, commissioned to better understand the impact of Robins Foundation’s signature innovation focused Community Innovation Grant, it became clear that capacity building is an area where targeted investment could be better leveraged. Robins Foundation believes that this could be key to creating long-term and lasting change in the Richmond community.
To better understand how best to support nonprofits with their operational challenges, Robins Foundation partnered with Network for Good, a hybrid organization with a focus on fundraising software and services, to conduct a Nonprofit Sustainability Assessment of over 120 Richmond-serving nonprofits in late 2019. Through this landscape survey, staff learned that Richmond nonprofits report raising money as their single greatest operational challenge, prioritized over all other areas of organizational capacity. Moreover, they discovered that the average Richmond-area nonprofit is raising between just 10% – 18% of their operating budget from individual donors, indicating a major reliance on grants and single-source revenue.
“We are a small, although very dedicated staff with a strong fundraising and messaging culture. We need to add dedicated fundraising staff (currently a shared responsibility led by one person) and build the fundraising infrastructure to fully support and implement an otherwise well developed fundraising plan.”
— Mark Hierholzer, President and Founder, Art for the Journey
The Jumpstart Program was created to provide nonprofits with the integrated tools, plan, and one-on-one coaching over a 12-month period to build their fundraising capacity, diversify revenue, and sustain and grow their programs.
Jumpstart not only gives nonprofits the opportunity to survive, but to thrive. Each nonprofit participating in Jumpstart progresses through the program at their own pace, which is right-sized to their unique priorities and constraints, and is paired with a Personal Fundraising Coach. Their coach provides them with fundraising guidance, education on technical infrastructure, and ongoing, collaborative peer-learning opportunities to help assess needs, opportunities, and readiness.
A Collective Impact Model is implemented, evaluated, and refined, at scale, and the Jumpstart Program promotes equity and inclusion while improving the financial sustainability of small nonprofits in greater Richmond. As an outcomes-based program designed for growing organizations, Jumpstart provides comprehensive capacity support needed to diversify revenue streams, empowering organizations to lay groundwork for long-term financial sustainability during the yearlong program.