How to Achieve Sustainable Growth as a Small Nonprofit

By Chelsea Alves
Reading Time: 3 minutes

The Emilio Nares Foundation (ENF) operates with one core belief: no child should miss their cancer treatment due to a lack of transportation. On top of the emotional toll childhood cancer places on families, there are often financial hardships that make it difficult to receive treatment.

Richard and Diane Nares became aware of this issue while their son Emilio was battling cancer. Two years after Emilio passed away, they decided it was time to help those families struggling to simply get their children to the hospital.

Since 2005, the Emilio Nares Foundation’s flagship program, Ride with Emilio, has provided low-income families with transportation services to hospitals in San Diego and Orange County. They provide about 3,885 trips annually and this number is predicted to grow given their recent expansion into Imperial County.

As a small nonprofit with four staff members, every dollar raised counts. Each year ENF calculates the cost of operating the Ride with Emilio program and then sets out to fundraise. Over the past 10 years ENF has expanded the number of ways they ask donors for support and they have been able to meet their fundraising goals. Online fundraising, in particular, has become a priority, and technology has helped streamline and scale their fundraising efforts.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Helps Small Nonprofits Grow

In the early days, ENF used a standard payment processor to manage their online donations. It wasn’t until they joined Classy that they realized the limitations of their old system. Even without a large scale marketing plan, ENF was able to re-engage supporters by simply giving them a new platform on which to take action. Peer-to-peer fundraising offered a personalized way for ENF’s community to support programs like Ride with Emilio.

Heidi Cramer, ENF’s development director, explains that they really did not know how easy it would be for individuals to get involved and spread the word about their small nonprofit through peer-to-peer.

ENF continues to see a year-over-year increase in online fundraising since joining Classy in 2012. They’ve also seen the tremendous power of the individual network effect. One supporter launched a birthday campaign that raised over $1,000, and another hiking group raised over $30,000 by reaching out to friends and family. These are just two of the many success stories that help ENF reach their yearly goals.

Recruit New Supporters Online

On top of seeing their community rally behind new ways to fundraise, ENF has also seen their online donor acquisition rate nearly double since partnering with Classy.

To capitalize on the influx of new donors, ENF has been working on ways to nurture these first-time donors and turn them into committed supporters. Classy’s integration with their constituent relationship management system, Salesforce, has enabled the organization to track each donor’s interactions with ENF over time. This information allows Heidi and her team to tailor their communications based on a person’s giving history, and personalize everyone’s experience with their brand. These new processes have improved ENF’s donor retention and has helped them evolve into what Heidi would describe as a more sophisticated nonprofit.

The recruitment of new supporters is incredibly important as ENF looks to expand the Ride with Emilio program to new cities such as San Francisco. Online fundraising will continue to play a critical role as ENF grows and looks to both new and old donors for support.

Learn more about the Emilio Nares Foundation and how online fundraising continues to support their growth.

How to Achieve Sustainable Growth as a Small Nonprofit

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