St. Louis is home to some truly amazing nonprofits. While their missions and dedication are certainly worth applauding, the creativity and consideration they put into fundraising is also very impressive. We’ve asked three local nonprofits to tell us how they approach it and what the future holds.

ronald mcdonald house charities of st. louis
Cultivating relationships with individuals is key for effective fundraising, according to Frank Cognata, vice president of development. “According to Giving USA, charitable giving hit a record $390.5 billion in 2016, and 80 percent was given by individuals,” he says. The nonprofit, which supports the families of seriously ill children, hosts events simply to celebrate major donors and volunteers. “Our intent is to convey our appreciation to these individuals,” he notes. “They are stakeholders and partners in our mission.”

There have been shifts in how fundraising processes are handled, according to Cognata. He says corporations and organizations have changed their approach to grants, which means nonprofits have to research more to attain them. Technology also has changed many things, from communication with donors to one-click donations. “Online fundraising continues to grow in popularity year after year,” he says. Ronald McDonald House uses fundraising to engage the community. Its Recycle for RMHC campaign encourages children to learn about recycling. “It’s a wonderful way we can interact with St. Louis,” Cognata says. “The city’s generosity makes fundraising efforts and finding volunteers a true pleasure.”

girls on the run 
Exexutive director Courtney Berg compares ideal fundraising tactics to a Venn diagram. When you are thinking about following trends versus sticking with tried-and-true methods, it’s important to find the sweet spot in the middle, she says. “We do pay attention to research being done about philanthropic giving, but we also need to make sure what we do resonates with our volunteers and families,” she explains. This approach complements a fundraising trend she says is emerging: intentional giving with a focus on seeing an impact. “People want to see where their money is going,” she says. “I love that. It aligns with our philosophy and deepens personal relationships.” Fundraising for Girls on the Run is about connecting people with the mission of inspring girls to be healthy and confident, according to Berg. She says the organization invites people to be charity athletes through its SoleMates program, and even its Power of ONE gala takes a different approach. “It’s not a plated dinner,” she says. “We call it cocktail attire with sneakers. It’s all about being joyful, healthy and confident.”

st. louis arc
St. Louis Arc provides services, family support and advocacy to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Director of development Jennifer Adams says building relationships remains the foundation of the nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. “St. Louis is so philanthropic and capable of change,” Adams says. “It’s a great place to raise money for important causes.” Emerging technology is an area where she sees exciting new trends. “It’s a great way to educate the community and a new style of relationship development,” she says. “There also has been a trend in anonymous donors giving through Facebook or other online platforms.”

Adams says it’s important that St. Louis Arc tailors fundraising events to its culture and values. One of its major fundraisers is Superheroes for Kids, a cocktail party where guests are encouraged to dress as their favorite comic book heroes. Adams says the superhero spin was a logical choice, combining a festive atmosphere with the nonprofit’s mission. “We see our families and advocates as superheroes,” she says. “Everyone has attended the traditional sit-down dinner program. We created a cocktail party that is fun but still impactful.”