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Knowledge Base

Where can I find emergency funding for my nonprofit?

Even with a clear fundraising plan in place, nonprofits sometimes can find themselves temporarily short of cash, due to unforeseen circumstances like disasters or delays in payments.

The Foundation Center does not provide grants, recommend specific funders, or approach them on your behalf, but we can point you to resources to find possible funders and useful advice.

Here are some tips from consultants Tom Triplett and Alexis Cress:

  • All hands on deck. Reach out to your former and current donors, suppliers, board members, and clients, through as many channels as possible (email, social media, web, phone, etc.). Tell them your situation, and ask them for help. Ask your board members to reach out to their contacts.
  • Increase earned income. Raise prices on good/services. Sell "backroom" services that your nonprofit can provide for others, like office space, human resources, accounting, fiscal sponsorship, or consulting.
  • Ask about discretionary funds. Some foundations allow senior staff to make small grants without having to go through the usual full application process. Call each of your current funders to see if this possibility exists.
  • Ask about emergency loan/grant programs. Call your local United Way, community foundation, or Funding Information Network partner to learn if such funds exist in your area.

For more ideas of revenue sources that can be accessed quickly, usually within 30 days, see their article, "20 Emergency Funding Sources for Nonprofits"

Key points to remember:

  • Use several methods to raise cash.
  • Ask your current donors for help, and ask them to share your appeal with their networks.
  • Give thanks and status updates to your supporters frequently.
  • Revisit your org's finances - lower expenses, increase income, tweak business models, etc. - and communicate your new plans to your supporters to show how your org will avoid cash flow problems in the future.

See also our related Knowledge Base articles:

- How much should my nonprofit have in its operating reserve?

- Where can I learn more about fundraising planning?

- What's the difference between contingency and scenario planning? Where can I learn more about these topics?

Selected resources below may also help.

Web Sites

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Books and Articles

Check title availability at our libraries and Funding Information Network locations or your local libraries.

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