Entries with Topic Nonprofit Money Management .

February 16, 2023

Fundraising on a Dime

It took a man of vision, optimism, and great will to lead the United States out of the Great Depression and through World War II. Yet, his greatest struggle was a private one, a battle he would win for all of us. In 1921, Franklin Delano Roosevelt contracted poliomyelitis-also known as Polio. Polio was a highly contagious virus that attacked the central nervous system, withering and paralyzing muscles-killing many by robbing them of the ability to breathe.

After being elected governor of New York, President Roosevelt declared a new war—one against polio. He founded the nonprofit National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Popular film and radio star Eddie Cantor dubbed the effort “The March of Dimes” and urged Americans to act, stating, “The March of Dimes will enable all persons, even the children, to show our President that they are with him in this battle against this disease. Nearly everyone can send in a dime, or several dimes.” Over 80,000 letters filled with dimes, quarters, and dollars created a “silver tide which swamped the White House,” totaling $268,000. The March of Dimes carries on to this day.

Today, a dime seems a flimsy means to ignite a fundraiser. A candy bar worth a dime long ago now runs about $2.39. Still, consider the fact that if you were to take an empty two-liter plastic soda bottle and fill it with dimes, you’d have about $700 in donations. Now, what if you put ten of those bottles out in the right places for interested people to fill? That is what The March of Dimes did with their donation cards placed at cash registers everywhere. That is what the Ronald McDonald House does with its collection bins built right underneath the drive-thru window.

New and small nonprofits often have few assets beyond the skills and passion of their founders and volunteers. They may not have the equipment, a regular venue, a budget for props, rental equipment, food, entertainment, video systems, or fabulous prizes but the one thing they do have is determination.  Following are some popular types of inexpensive fundraisers, some of which don’t even cost a dime!

Affiliate Fundraisers

Affiliate fundraisers generate passive income through event-free fundraising. It’s all handled online.  Simply partner with an online shopping program affiliated with retailers that are popular with your supporters and then ask your supporters to make purchases through the program’s app or browser extension. All contributions will come from the retailers, while your supporters do nothing but make regular purchases, taking advantage of the same sales and coupons they normally do. It costs them nothing extra. Amazon is a great place to start since 100,000’s of people shop the site daily.

Kroger, America’s largest grocery chain, offers a community rewards program that you can join for free as an individual shopper.  All you have to do is register your nonprofit. Theneach time your supporters swipe their rewards card at a local Kroger (their stores are everywhere under many different names), your nonprofit gets a percentage of the sale, which is paid out quarterly. It should be fairly simple to persuade your team, your supporters, your friends, and your family to link their rewards cards with your nonprofit.  For more information, click here.

Other companies that offer Affiliate programs include ShopRaise and Beginning this year, Amazon has discontinued its AmazonSmile Program.

Charity Navigator suggests doing your homework to find the right affiliate program for your nonprofit. Most can get started in three steps:

  1. Research programs. Seek an affiliate program specializing in nonprofits. Review each partnered retailers options. The best affiliate program will have participating retailers that meet your supporters’ everyday shopping needs. Find a program that will help save your team time while raising funds. The best programs will set up your page and help create such marketing materials as website banners and email templates.
  2. Market your program. Tell your supporters about this exciting affiliate program. Supporters may be new to using an affiliate service, so be sure your marketing materials provide a detailed explanation of how they can download the right browser extensions and apps. Keep your supporters updated about the program to continue fundraising all year long.
  3. Monitor the results. Once your program is running, track your results to determine how to better promote your program. Affiliate programs accumulate revenue slowly over time, so don’t be deterred if it takes a little while for your earnings to gain momentum.

Bake Sales

Forever popular, bake sales enjoy good ROI because members and supporters supply the goodies. Ask participants to donate their best baked goods (preferably pre-wrapped for sale). Stake out a location or event with good foot-traffic to hold the sale. Pastry sales do especially well around breakfast time.


There are so many great eats to put in contention: pie, chili, BBQ, cookies, tacos, cake, preserves, and more! Invite everyone to enter their fabulous dishes (in very large qualities) in a cook-off event for top honors. Charge participants a fee to sample and vote on the best dishes.  The biggest challenge with a cook-off is advertising and luring chefs to participate. You can put a fork in both problems by offering the contestants an advertising opportunity where you can promote them heavily as part of the event.

Google Ad Grants

Google helps nonprofits raise the visibility of their high-value pages through itsGoogle Ad Grants program. They’ll reward your organization with up to $10,000 in ad credits each month when you apply and get approved. You can use those credits to get ad space on search results pages for the most vital keywords for your mission. Additionally, you can . . .

  • Boost conversions for event signups, volunteer registrations, and donations.
  • Connect with new supporters and inspire them to get involved.
  • Market multiple ad campaigns at once without touching your marketing budget.
  • Better understand your supporters’ needs by tracking what content motivates them to interact.

There are some eligibility criteria your organization must meet to become, then stay eligible. You must also research keywords to connect you with the right prospects. If you want to make the most of your Google Grant money, you might outsource the work to a Google Grants agency, which handles everything including the initial application, keyword research, and account reactivation.

Matching Gift Drives

Matching gifts are a part of many corporate philanthropy practices. Anyone who works for a major corporation, likely  offer this as an employee perk. Through these programs, companies will match a portion (usually 50% or more) of the donations their employees give to nonprofits. It’s smart to partner with a matching gift database provider (such as Double the Donation) to help supporters find their matching gift opportunities.

Coin Challenges

The March of Dimes began as a coin challenge.  Coin Challenges can also be fun. They cost next to nothing to set up, and if today’s coin shortage remains an issue, paper currency is just as good.

One of the cutest is Make-a-Snake, great for school or the next reptile show. Encourage schools to form teams that will collect spare change from around their neighborhood by going door to door with an adult. On the designated day, children bring the cash to the collection event. Then, each team of kids constructs a “snake” with their dollars and coins. The group creating the longest snake wins!

Collection jars or bottles branded for your nonprofit can be left with friendly businesses to encourage donations at check-out.  Schools have issued coin challenges for a variety of charities, often times competing against other schools in the area. Continual updates on social media can keep the fire burning under this contest to the very end.

Timed Campaigns

You can turn your fundraiser into an episode of “24.” Day-long fundraising campaigns, AKA giving days, tend to bring in substantial revenue despite the short timeframe. By sustaining urgency through social media and other announcements, supporters are likely to be inspired to donate. Give the challenge a popular TV or movie action theme to add to the fun. It pays to be suspenseful, whether you do it in the hallways of your high school or online with a web page or app that ticks down the seconds.

Polar Plunge

For the brave and daring, nothing beats a dip in freezing water. How long can you hold out? You and your supporters can take pledges linked to endurance and then during the event, you’ll plunge into the icy water and complete to the be last one out. The longer you stay in, the more money you raise from pledges.

To encourage participation, ask local vendors to provide necessities such as towels, blankets, warm drinks like hot chocolate or cider, hand warmers in exchange for sponsorship promotion and bragging rights.  Also, don’t forget waivers for your participants to sign. For the best results, host your Polar Plunge around the holidays. Each year, this unique fundraiser can draw a larger, more festive crowd. Be sure to leave out donation boxes for thrill-seeking onlookers to put in their two dimes.

These are but a handful of many inspired ideas for fundraising on a dime and we hope you are finding some inspiration for your future fundraising efforts.

This blog post was written by Amélie Frank, consulting copywriter to UST. To learn more about Amélie’s professional portfolio you can find her online at

March 09, 2018

Transforming Philanthropy - A Spotlight on GrantAdvisor

When looking to apply for future grants, GrantAdvisor can serve as a beneficial nonprofit resource for your organization. GrantAdvisor is an online service that allows for open communication between nonprofits and grantmakers by collecting authentic, real-time reviews and comments on the experiences grantseekers’ have when working with funders. Created to encourage a more productive philanthropy amongst grantseekers and foundations.

This service is designed to grant applicants, grantees, and others to share their first-hand experiences working with funders and for funders to respond on the record. With all feedback collected and shared anonymously, GrandAdvisor hopes this will encourage grantees to be transparent.  Once 5 reviews have been collected for a particular funder, the data will be shared publicly. This provides an opportunity for the foundation to respond to comments and to see how they are perceived in their field—not only as grantmakers but also as leaders and influencers. With this service, GrandAdvisor hopes to improve the relationships between grantmakers and grantees while strengthening the fields the funders work in.

GrantAdvisor is an initiative brought together by its’ project partners, Jan Masaoka, CEO of California Association of Nonprofits, Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits and John Pratt, Executive Director of Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. “One of the most important differences between nonprofit organizations, businesses and governments is the way they receive their funds,” said John Pratt. “The goal of is to elevate the reliability and depth of this external grant information through crowd sourcing, pattern recognition and public peer exchange to make the whole process clearer and more transparent.”

With their launch in June 2017, GrantAdvisor is currently available in California and Minnesota—new locations and partnerships are scheduled to be announced this year. We look forward to seeing wonderful things happen for this up and coming organization! To learn more about GrantAdvisor visit
February 23, 2018

Financially Responsible vs. Frugal Tendencies

As a nonprofit organization, working with a limited budget is a common and familiar task.  Any one organization can attest to the financial responsibilities and limitations that come with managing a budget for a nonprofit. In addition, monitoring spending in accordance with strict grant limitations can be challenging and may limit any new business ventures. Instead of pinching pennies, make sure you are reaching your financial goals by monitoring money and allocating funds for future business opportunities that could help your nonprofit flourish.

Most nonprofit organizations are familiar with providing products and services to their membership and or the community with minimal funding. When relying on inconsistent funding sources such as grants, donations, and membership fees, there may be times when money is tight and your organization has to question every expenditure in an effort to make every dollar count. While there is something to be said for being frugal, you also have the ability to stretch your dollars and make the most of every penny your organization spends.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while allocating your budget towards future business objectives:

  • Clearly define needs vs. wants - With the continual integration of all things digital, it is important to make sure that your technology is efficient enough that each employee is able to do their job and reach their best potential.  On the other hand, assuming that each employee needs a third monitor may not be a necessary expense.
  • Purchasing power requires education - People with purchasing power shouldn’t be left to wonder what they can and can’t spend money on. If your staff is unsure and constantly asking for approval before purchasing anything, consider reevaluating your training procedures. Staff members that need to make purchases should be aware of their limitations.
  • Overhead shouldn’t dictate everything - When dealing with overhead, you shouldn’t have to spend your time minimizing costs to stay on your donors good side. To prevent this habit, it is helpful to demonstrate the necessity behind your purchases while being transparent with your donors.

When it comes to being financially responsible, it can vary based on the budget of your organization and the willingness to spend money on new business ventures. It all comes back to having a better insight into your finances and operations, which can help align financial activities with your strategic goals—essentially making your money work harder.

May 03, 2017

UST Uncovers $4.7 Million in Potential Unemployment Claims Savings for 185 Nonprofits

The Unemployment Services Trust UST, a program founded by nonprofits for nonprofits, today announced it has identified $4,781,957 in potential unemployment liability savings for 185 eligible nonprofits.

By exercising their exclusive nonprofit tax alternative, as allowed by Federal law, 501c3 organizations participating with UST have the ability to pay only for their own unemployment claims, which can save them thousands annually. Because they are no longer subsidizing for-profit companies in the state tax system, and are receiving expert claims guidance, UST members can efficiently manage their unemployment claims while mitigating liability.

“Within the last three years, UST has identified over $16 million in potential unemployment claims savings for hundreds of nonprofits across the United States,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “It’s incredibly rewarding to know that the UST program continues to provide financial relief to such hard-working nonprofits and the communities they serve.”

In addition to offering claims support, UST also help nonprofits cut costs further by helping organization streamline their workforce and avoid costly legal fees with robust HR resources built into its program.  These expert tools, including the live HR hotline, online job description builder and award-winning outplacement services, provide UST participants the extra bandwidth they need to strengthen their missions.

As the largest, lowest-cost trust nationwide, UST helps 501c3 organizations save valuable time and money through a host of workforce management solutions that include – unemployment claims management, cash flow protection, certified HR assistance, outplacement services and more.  With the ability to find hidden savings for both tax-rated and direct reimbursing employers, UST encourages nonprofits with 10 or more employees to benchmark their costs.
May 02, 2017

Exercising Your Nonprofit’s Tax Alternative Could Mean Thousands in Savings

Recently, your nonprofit received its first quarter unemployment tax notice from the state.

Have you ever wondered about the gap between what you pay in taxes and what your former employees actually collect in unemployment benefits? Last year, after evaluating more than 185 eligible nonprofit organizations, UST found they were losing a combined $4,781,957.

By Federal law, 501c3 nonprofits do not have to pay state unemployment insurance taxes.

UST helps organizations like yours to keep more money in the nonprofit community without compromising the benefits paid out to deserving former employees. More than 2,200 organizations are already benefiting from a safe, cost-effective way to exercise their unemployment tax exemption and lower the hidden costs of HR, like hours spent filing paperwork.

If you’re a tax-rated nonprofit employer with 10+ employees or already direct reimbursing, please submit the online Unemployment Cost Analysis form and UST will readily determine whether you can save valuable time and money with their program. If you are currently overpaying, a UST Cost Advisor will provide you a custom two-year savings projection for free.

It only takes about 15 minutes to fill out the form—and UST participants often see savings of up to 60%—so we really encourage you to do it today.

When you join UST, you’ll be introduced to your dedicated Unemployment Claims Advisor, and receive access to a live HR hotline and nearly 300 employee training courses within 48 hours. To expedite your free Cost Analysis, go to and enter Priority Code: 2017BLOG.
November 16, 2016

Ready or Not, Here Comes Change

Change can be either good or bad... but if you don’t know what is changing and when , your organization is at serious risk.

UST helps nonprofits efficiently manage such risk through its industry-leading HR Workplace—a cloud-based compliance library that keeps you up-to-date on urgent regulatory changes that can impact your nonprofit’s operations.

Rather than wading through thousands of internet search results, UST participants can readily view which laws are applicable to them by utilizing the HR Workplace’s state-specific search engine. Additionally, the newly added compliance calendar automatically notifies employers of key filing deadlines at both the state and federal level.

Wouldn’t you like the confidence that comes with having the latest regulatory requirements, specific to your nonprofit, at your fingertips?

To test-drive the most popular HR tools, including the live HR hotline, employee handbook builder and compliance calendar, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial today.

If you’re a 501(c)(3) with 10+ employees, submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis online and find out whether UST can help your nonprofit avoid costly legal fees and save significantly on administrative costs for 2017. For more information, contact a dedicated UST cost advisor at 888-249-4788.

November 09, 2016

Nonprofits Win 84% of Protestable Unemployment Claims with UST

With the expert guidance of a dedicated unemployment claims advisor, UST participants avoid missing deadlines and making significant claims overpayments.

Santa Barbara, CA (November 8, 2016) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) today announced that 84% of protestable unemployment claims are won by program participants—an astounding 8% increase since 2012. Because every UST member is assigned a state-specific claims representative, who’s well-versed in the latest unemployment laws and claims filing protocols, these nonprofits are able to contest avoidable claims costs and funnel their savings back into mission-driven initiatives.

501(c)(3) organizations are allowed by federal law to opt out of the state tax system, and instead pay only for the unemployment benefits claimed by former employees. Although these nonprofits no longer share in the excess costs of state taxes that subsidize for-profit employers, they must properly manage their unemployment claims to meet deadlines and avoid costly penalties. UST’s devoted claims representative helps 501(c)(3) employers stay on top of every claim by organizing documentation, protesting improper claims, and providing on-demand support.

“Managing unemployment claims can be both a confusing and draining process, especially for nonprofits that often lack the employee bandwidth to efficiently track their claims,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “By providing our members with claims experts, who walk them through everyday best practices for managing claims from start to finish, our participants are left with a worry-free process and more cash in their pockets.”

In addition to receiving expert claims advice, UST participants possess exclusive access to a robust list of claims management resources, including 100% claims representation at hearings, audits of state charges, consultations for strategic staff planning, e-Filing capabilities, and online interactive training—all of which are designed to lower unemployment costs and alleviate paperwork burdens.

In just 4 years, the number of claims protested by UST members has increased by 5%, leading to more wins and more money for the nonprofit sector. Compared to the national average cost of an unemployment claim, UST members experience an average of 55.8% in savings per claim.

If you’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 10 or more full time employees, submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form by November 15 to find out if UST can help reduce your unemployment liability for 2017.

October 27, 2016

UST Earns a 95% Satisfaction Rating from its Nonprofit Membership

Survey of 2,100 nonprofits reveals that 95 percent of UST members would recommend UST as the preferred unemployment claims management solution for 501(c)(3)s.

Santa Barbara, CA (October 27, 2016) – The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) today announced that 95 percent of its program participants would recommend UST to their fellow nonprofits for the program’s extensive cost-saving resources. Having recently added outplacement services to its list of member benefits as well as increasing education-based webinar opportunities, UST attributes this high net promoter score to its evolving customer service model.

Under federal law, 501(c)(3) employers have the exclusive ability to opt out of their state’s unemployment tax system and instead pay only for the unemployment benefits claimed by former employees. UST helps nonprofits exercise this unique tax exemption status in a safe and cost-effective manner by delivering the latest workforce solutions that ensure HR compliance, reduce cumbersome paperwork tasks and mitigate unemployment claims overpayments.

“We are constantly fine-tuning the UST program to address the sector’s current pain points and shifting needs in managing HR and unemployment liability,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “We couldn’t be more pleased to know the vast majority of our membership is very satisfied with our service, and honored that they would recommend our program to their peers.”

UST offers an extensive list of member benefits, which includes a live HR hotline, online employee handbook builder, 100% representation at unemployment claims hearings and e-Filing capabilities—helping to streamline day-to-day tasks and keep more money in the nonprofit community.

Most nonprofits have a November 30th state deadline to opt out of the unemployment tax system for 2017. UST encourages 501(c)(3) organizations, who have yet to benchmark their unemployment costs, to submit a free Unemployment Cost Analysis form by November 15 to find out how they may benefit from the UST program.

October 19, 2016

Exercise Your Nonprofit's Tax Exemption for 2017

Get your FREE Unemployment Cost Analysis today!

For most 501(c)(3) organizations with 10 or more employees, November is the month to exercise their state unemployment tax exemption for an effective date of January 1, 2017.

What does that mean? Well, by federal law, 501(c)(3)s are allowed to opt-out of paying taxes into their state unemployment tax fund, and instead only reimburse the state if and when they have an actual unemployment claim, dollar-for-dollar.

It can be a savings opportunity for many nonprofits who have lower claims than what they pay in state unemployment taxes—which are often driven up by for-profits and other companies that go out of business, as well as state fund deficits and improper payments made in error.

The Unemployment Services Trust (UST) performed more than 400 free unemployment tax savings evaluations for nonprofits with 10 or more employees in 2015, finding a total of $6,022,190  in potential unemployment tax savings if they were to exercise their exemption and join the UST program instead.

But time is running out to benchmark your nonprofit’s unemployment costs and opt out of the state unemployment tax system. Most states have a December 1st opt-out deadline, so UST needs all unemployment cost analysis forms submitted before Nov 15th at the latest in order to meet the state deadline.

You can view your state’s unemployment tax exemption deadline here:

Unfortunately, if a nonprofit misses the state deadline, they have to wait until the following year to exercise their exemption and join the Unemployment Services Trust. So if you or a nonprofit you know has not exercised their exemption, be sure to share the free cost analysis form before the Nov 15th deadline:
October 13, 2016

Webinar: New Accounting Standards Nonprofits Need to Know

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued the Accounting Standards Update 2016-14, which contains significant changes to not-for-profit accounting standards, focusing on improving, enhancing and simplifying financial statement reporting requirements.

In this 60-minute webinar, Jay Azar, Director of Not-for-Profit Practice Services at Lindquist, LLP, talks about how your organization can begin to prepare your accounting and financial reporting systems for these important changes.

Some of the topics discussed include:

  • Displaying the current three fund categories of Unrestricted, Temporarily Restricted and Permanently Restricted funds has changed to two fund categories of “Funds Without Donor Restrictions” and “Funds With Donor Restrictions.”
  • Requiring the use of a classified balance sheet and allowing for display of assets with limited use.
  • Requiring that information provided about expenses for the period will be presented both by functional and natural classifications for all not-for-profits.

After watching the presentation, you'll feel more confident and prepared for handling the accounting and financial reporting processes at your nonprofit.

Watch the webinar on-demand now.

This webinar series is part of UST's efforts to educate the nonprofit sector. Sign up to receive UST's monthly eNews for more free learning opportunities just for nonprofits like you!

October 04, 2016

Nonprofits Receive Over $6.5 Million in Cash Back From UST

UST R ewards 431 Members for Successfully Lowering Their Anticipated Unemployment Claims within the Last Year.

Santa Barbara, CA (October 4, 2016) – In an era when nonprofits are struggling to stretch their budgets, the Unemployment Services Trust (UST) today announced it is pleased to disperse $6,664,166  to 431 of its program participants. The agencies receiving the funds have demonstrated prudent management of their unemployment costs resulting in a return of funds back to the organizations. This brings participant savings over the past year to a whopping $34,980,275.96 in claims savings, audited state returns and cash back.

501(c)(3) organizations have the exclusive advantage of opting out of their state's unemployment tax system and instead paying dollar-for-dollar for only their former employees claims. Excess payments made into the state tax system are not refunded to employers. UST, however, provides cash back when an organization has had a positive claim history and has reduced its unemployment claims lower than initially anticipated, while also staying well-funded for future claims.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to give money back to these organizations whose core mission objectives are geared towards serving their communities,” said Donna Groh, Executive Director of UST. “It allows them the funds to further expand their programs in areas where otherwise they might not have been able. In a way we’re helping to invest in the future of each nonprofit organization participating in the Trust and that’s a great feeling.”

The largest nonprofit unemployment trust in the nation, UST helps 501(c)(3) organizations nationwide save time and money through a host of workforce management solutions that include - unemployment claims management, cash flow protection,  HR Workplace assistance, outplacement services and more.  The company services nonprofits from all sectors with 10 or more full-time employees. UST encourages nonprofits that are currently tax-rated or direct reimbursing on their own to review their options as they may be over-paying.
September 06, 2016

[Podcast] How to Pay Your Nonprofit Employees More

Through the Noise interviewed Nicolie Lettini and Cathy Galbraith, CEO/Founder and Managing Director of CostTree, to help nonprofit employers better understand the difference between direct and indirect costs and how to accurately anticipate and budget for them annually. Listen below or check out the full library of podcasts.

Podcast Description: This podcast explains the importance of understanding where your nonprofit’s hard-raised money is going, and how you might be able to better allocate funds to your staff’s paychecks. Cathy Gallbraith constantly aims to help nonprofits understand how to create an indirect cost rate, how to use it in everyday strategic development and how to ensure organizational accountability and sustainability.

A cloud-based cost allocation software that simplifies the process of creating an indirect cost, CostTree looks to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of entities that make a difference in our lives and the communities they serve. To learn more, visit CostTree’s website at

Listen to Podcast button- RGB

To stay up-to-date on the latest cost-saving ideas and best practice tips just for nonprofits, sign up for UST's monthly eNews:
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