Fundraising Tips Every Tech Nonprofit Needs to Read - Fast Forward

May 15, 2017 | Blog, Accelerate Good Global

Fundraising Tips Every Tech Nonprofit Needs to Read

It’s a misconception that fundraising is just a means to an end, because great partnerships aren’t just about the money. Valuable partnerships embody symbiosis between grantor and grantee. They should be as big of a win for the foundation or corporation as they are for the nonprofit on the receiving end. At Accelerate Good Global, some of the best fundraisers in the sector shared the stage to discuss what it takes to be a true fundraising bo$$ (yes, we can’t help but continue to use the dollar signs).

Each of these fundraisers has been wildly successful, and at the Summit they shared some of the unique strategies that yielded strong results.

Maria Choi, VP of Partnerships at Fast Forward, spoke to aligning values for each of the stakeholders involved. If you are looking for support from companies that compete in the same space, you must build a vision for how collaboration can solve big problems. During her time at, leading Fortune 500 companies came together to support the tech nonprofit. Many of these businesses were direct competitors, which can be an uphill battle in partnerships. She created a work-around by clearly messaging the long-term vision for workforce development. Hiring the best technical talent is a huge problem, and was poised to educate the next generation workforce. For businesses to be successful long term, must succeed in reaching as many students as possible.

Watsi was both the first tech nonprofit to go through Y-Combinator and the first to raise a philanthropic round. Perhaps influenced by the way their for-profit peers raised seed rounds, Watsi created a 3-month fundraising campaign which resulted in $1.2 million raised in philanthropic funding. Grace Garey, Co-Founder of Watsi, said raising in rounds enabled heightened efficiency and streamlined mission support. The first round was in support of proof of concept, the second for scale. By aligning interests early on in the fundraising campaign, Watsi’s objectives were clear and it was easy to stay true to their internal goals.

Kiva’s strategy is different, as 60-70% of their operating budget is actually supported through tipping, an idea first put in action by DonorsChoose. Kiva donors are able to add money onto their loan transactions at the end, and this goes towards supporting Kiva directly. Eventually, though, users tip less the longer they’ve been donating on Kiva. Lisa Hogen, Chief Development Officer at Kiva, said their team is constantly iterating messaging about the importance of tipping to keep Kiva sustainable. While tipping is great for supporting Kiva’s operations, philanthropic capital has been key in R&D. Lisa also advised, exercise caution before tying metrics to a specific grant.

Be sure to watch the full video of the panel, for even more tips and insight from Maria Choi, Grace, Lisa, and Shannon.