Fundraising for Rural Nonprofits

My nonprofit is in a poor, rural community. What type of fundraisers work well in areas like this?


The basic step of fundraising is to start from within and work out. Start with your Board and ask them to write a letter requesting donations from 5-10 of their family and friends. This can be a handwritten letter by your Board members. You can get a SWIPE file of a Board letter I’ve used in my blog post, How to Get Donations When You Are Starting Out. You may want to consider branching out of your community to surrounding communities to help you get donors.

Pay Attention.

Pay attention to what kind of fundraisers you get asked to donate to in your community. Every community likes different kinds of fundraisers. Some find garage sales and car washes bring in lots of money. Some are all about food and anything food related draws a crowd. It really depends on the community’s own personality. Start paying attention to what is going on and what people say about the fundraiser. Once you know what works, do some research to find a variation you can try. The main thing is to connect your mission to the fundraiser. Advertise the why of your fundraiser and your nonprofit. Also, make sure you are fundraising for something specific. People give more when there is a specific purpose and desired outcome.


I want to say a little something about giving here. Just because you are in a poor, rural area doesn’t mean people won’t or can’t give. Generosity doesn’t come from money. It is an attitude, a spiritual, deep-down-in-your-soul belief. Truly generous people give because they have a sense of purpose and connectedness. They often decide they will give a certain amount every month and that is what they do. It doesn’t matter how much they make. Pay attention, and make the connection with these folks. It reminds me of a time I was in donor relations at a larger organization. I was tasked one day with helping process the mail. I opened an envelope with a check for a penny. Yes, that is right- one. whole. cent. It cost more for the check, envelope, and postage than the donation! We marveled at how angry someone could be with us. I told my boss about the donation. He then proceeded to call the donor to find out what we had done wrong. Braced for an angry donor, what he found was not what he expected. The woman was an older one and living on a fixed income. She once lived near the organization and felt a connection to its mission. Every month she paid her bills, got groceries, and took care of her necessities. She had exactly one penny to her name and that was what she gave to the organization. It reminded me of the Biblical story of the Widow’s Mite. She was truly generous. And her income had nothing to do with it.

So don’t worry about your geographical location. Find ways to connect your nonprofit to your community and the donations will follow.


About Alesha Mathis and Mathis Nonprofit Services

Alesha Mathis of Mathis Nonprofit ServicesAlesha Mathis has been in the nonprofit world for ten years serving in Administration, Marketing/ Fundraising, Program Coordinator, and Board Officer. Alesha worked for nonprofits with over 400 employees and multi-million dollar budgets and nonprofits with less than 10 employees and under a million dollar budget. While working for smaller organizations, she realized the professional fundraising and marketing skills of the bigger nonprofits at affordable rates was needed. Her solution was starting Mathis Nonprofit Services. Mathis Nonprofit Services takes on the two big challenges small nonprofits and churches face when it comes to marketing and fundraising/stewardship- professional solutions at affordable rates.