A healthy future for Michigan requires a strong network of organizations that can deliver solutions for our state’s health needs. Michigan has plenty of outstanding institutions and nonprofits already doing this work, and the Health Fund is proud to count many of them among our grantees. 

While grant support can be an effective way to launch new initiatives, test big ideas, and tackle specific challenges, we know that grants are just a piece of the financial picture for our grantees and other organizations. 

That’s why we’re working with Bonterra to provide an intensive fundraising coaching and support program to a group of community-based organizations through our Capacity Building program. Our goal is to help participants improve their fundraising infrastructure and results so they can plan for a stable and sustainable future. 

Outcomes from our first cohort of participants suggest it’s making a difference. 

A jumpstart toward sustainability 

In 2022, the Health Fund invited 16 organizations to receive coaching and support from Bonterra through an intensive fundraising program called Jumpstart. The initiative paired members of this group with experienced fund development coaches to help in acquiring, retaining, and upgrading their pool of individual donors.  

In addition to targeted coaching, the program includes technology tools, communications resources, and technical assistance to help organizations strengthen online fundraising and execute their fundraising strategies.  

After six months, half of participating organizations reported varying levels of growth and reflected that the intensive coaching through Jumpstart improved their overall development efforts.  

Success stories provide encouraging signs 

Of the 16 participating organizations, eight reported increases in fundraising outcomes in the first six months of the program. There was consistent positive feedback about the digital fundraising tools, communication templates, fundraising plan development, and coaching support offered through the program.   

A few examples help illustrate the impact: 

Growing Hope, Inc., an Ypsilanti-based nonprofit focused on strengthening and supporting the local food system, set an organizational record by raising over $88,000 through their 2022 year-end appeal, far exceeding an initial goal of $50,000.  

“It has been incredibly helpful to have a fundraising coach at this time,” said Growing Hope Executive Director Julius Buzzard. “The Jumpstart program gave us a way to review everyone we are communicating with in one place and provide quality, targeted messaging to each individual.” 

Meanwhile, the Alpena Senior Citizens Center successfully raised $30,000 through their year-end campaign with support from Jumpstart, after raising $5,000 the previous year. 

“When I applied to be part of the Jumpstart Program, I wasn’t sure what to expect. From the very first meeting, it has been an amazing experience,” said Program Manager Betty Jo Sander. “Because of the support of our coach, the software, and the support staff, we did quite a bit of fundraising. Raising $30,000 to support Alpena County seniors was exhilarating.” 

And the Allen Neighborhood Center, which provides health resources and a wide range of other services to residents of Lansing’s Eastside neighborhoods, used the Jumpstart opportunity to more clearly define fundraising goals, build a fundraising plan, and adopt multi-platform digital fundraising strategies. With these resources in place, the organization doubled the amount raised in its annual campaign over the previous year.  

“We benefited so much from the Jumpstart program… what a great platform this has been for us,” said Outreach and Engagement Director Denise Paquette. “The coaching sessions helped us generate ideas and set goals. We look forward to completing our fundraising plan and then working the plan.” 

Among the organizations not reporting early growth in dollars raised, several saw progress in building their donor engagement efforts to set a foundation for future success, while others noted ongoing challenges with staff turnover, limited donor pools, and a lack of staff time to engage with coaches. 

Critical infrastructure for health 

The Jumpstart project is one of several capacity building support programs the Health Fund offers free-of-charge to health-focused nonprofits in our state, which have varying eligibility and processes for enrollment.   

Please contact Health Fund Program Manager Veronica Marchese at [email protected] to learn more. 

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