Betsy Burton's 10 Rules to Make Raising Funds for Local First and Independent Business Alliances Easy

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Rule 1) Be clear about your vision and your goals as well as your fit within your community before making any organizational decisions: Decide whether you wish to be an alliance with advocacy powers or an educational organization dedicated to getting the Local First message out to the public. This decision will dictate whether you charge membership dues and file with the IRS as a 501c6 or charge no dues and file as a 501c3 (or create two separate organizations); whether to model yourself after a national organization (and which one); and whether to go statewide.

Rule 2) Think of every piece of paper you produce in your campaign (posters, postcards, directories, advertising for annual campaigns and events, etc.) as not only a PR/educational tool, but also as a way to raise money -- get someone to pay for all of it through sponsorships.

Rule 3) Don't just ask your city, county, and state governments for money -- make yourselves indispensable through programs that reach out to populations they can't easily serve (disadvantaged neighborhoods is a good one) and that further their own goals (tourism, for example) so they want to give you money in order to get your help in doing work they need to do.

Rule 4) When looking for grants, look at the goals of foundations, universities, colleges, and fit your requests to their missions. A school's business department might send interns to a business alliance, a communications department might fund interns for a PR campaign, and programs that address disadvantaged communities fit with the goals of many private and corporate foundations.

Rule 5) Hook one big fish (Amex in our case) and the rest will follow, corporately speaking.

Rule 6) Understand the Community Reinvestment Act, which mandates that banks must give back a certain percentage to their communities. We use the following phrase in all requests for these funds: "We contribute to stable neighborhoods and stable community by strengthening locally owned independent businesses through a public education campaign that influences consumer behavior." They'll give you money, if you have 501c3 designation with the IRS.

Rule 7) Form partnerships with kindred organizations in order to spread your message further and share your expenses. (Utah examples: Micro-loan Fund; Utah's Own, a state-sponsored food program; Utah Department of Tourism; city, state, and county Economic Development departments; City Planning Department; not-for-profits that deal with social issues affecting your community.)

Rule 8) Proselytize wherever you go. If you are passionate and articulate you never know whom you may convert -- or how much money they might have to give your cause.

Rule 9) Have an annual fundraiser: use it to raise public awareness as well as to raise funds; make it memorable and turn it into an event everyone looks forward to each year.

Rule 10) Copy every fundraising letter, grant application, government proposal, and fulfillment report from another IBA or LF, from our ABA website, from AMIBA's, BALLE's, or New Rules. There's a template for everything you'll need to do. Fundraising for your IBA or LF is easy!