Effective fundraising for nonprofits is a balancing act. It takes a bit of patience and a lot of experience to create an effective campaign. And, with over 300,000 nonprofit organizations in the United States competing for funders’ dollars and attention, it also requires a smart and effective campaign strategy. Having a well-thought out plan to raise money makes it easier for your team to align on strategy, solidify messaging, and measure fundraising success.
Today, we’ll be discussing how to develop an effective campaign in the first of our two-part series on fundraising for nonprofits. Be sure to check back for part two tomorrow.
Find Your Why
Understanding the motivation behind your organization’s campaign will help rally potential donors behind your cause. Before coming up with a fundraising strategy, sit down with your team and get everyone on board with one question. “Why are we trying to raise more money?”
For instance, maybe your organization specializes in improving K-12 education and wants to raise funds for a new after-school program. Or, perhaps your campaign is more event-based. Meaning, you’re raising money through an event or celebration. For example, many organizations ask for donations on a dedicated day of giving such as #GivingTuesday or their own annual fundraising event. If this is the case, make sure you explain what the event is for and how it ties back to a larger goal or outcome that will resonate with donors.
Effective fundraising for nonprofits means viewing donors as part of your community. Donors don’t want to just write a check. They want to feel like they’re part of your cause and helping you deliver on your mission. So, explaining how and where your organization will use their contribution gives donors transparency and helps to manage their expectations. Most importantly, it gives them a reason to donate.
View Technology as Your Ally
Coordinating a campaign with the right technology can do more than help you collect donations, it can also help you be more efficient. Tools like donor and case management software can save you time while boosting team productivity and efficiency.
For instance, let’s say a donor made a contribution to a programmatic campaign. The campaign aimed to raise funds for a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program. At the end of the year, you can use case management data to show donors the number of children that now have access to a STEM program and how they are performing. Showing how contributions made a real-world impact is an important part of effective fundraising for nonprofits.
Donors are looking for insight into how you used their contribution. So, using different technologies throughout your campaign planning, execution, and follow up will give funders the data-driven insight they want.
Preparation is Key
There’s no replacement for preparation when trying to build an effective fundraising campaign. You can have the best ideas in the industry, but if you don’t prepare properly, your efforts will fall short. Luckily, with a little bit of advance planning, this won’t be the case for you.
The following touch points are important when planning a successful fundraising campaign. Discuss these with your staff ahead of time to ensure your bases are covered (and that everyone understands their role).
Designate Task Leads
In short, understand who is doing what. Who is in charge of social media updates? Who’s owning email communication? If your campaign is event-based, do you have enough staff members to handle check-ins or manage attendees? Having a designated lead for each task empowers your staff and ensures you aren’t duplicating efforts. Your team is your best resource – make them your champions.
Effective fundraising for nonprofits begins with thoughtful messaging that will resonate with your prospective donors. Ensure your campaign’s rallying cry uses language that’s inclusive and respectful. If you were a potential donor, would your organization’s messaging inspire you to make a contribution? Whether you’re hosting a bake sale or setting up peer-to-peer fundraising, a strong message can have a positive domino effect. If your campaign resonates with people, they’ll stand with you and help support your cause, constituents, and community.
Put Your Plan Into Action
You’ve discussed and you’ve planned. Now it’s time to do your thing (and have some fun while doing it).
During this step, recruit your best advocates to begin fundraising your campaign. This could include your friends, local businesses, or social media influencers you know. The idea is to get the support of your organization’s “inner circle” first to generate buzz within the larger community. Think about this as putting a few dollars in your own tip jar to encourage others to do the same.
The hard launch is your nonprofit’s big unveil, release, or event. And, depending on the type of campaign you’re running, what this looks like will vary. For instance, if it’s a fundraising event, the hard launch is the event itself. On the other hand, if it’s an online donation campaign, the launch might just be the total amount of time the donation page is live. Whatever your campaign is, the hard launch is the culmination of all of your planning and hard work.
Don’t Forget the Follow-Up
Following up with your donors is one of the most important parts of effective fundraising for nonprofits. First you gave them a reason to contribute to your cause. Now give them a reason to do it again – by thanking them. The number one reason why donors stop giving to a nonprofit is because they weren’t thanked after making a contribution.
From emails to phone calls and social media recognition, there are numerous ways you can show your gratitude. Whatever you choose, be sure to drive home one clear message: your organization couldn’t have launched a successful campaign without their help.
While you should always follow up with a thank you, never pair this communication with another donation request. It’s a good idea to wait at least seven months before asking them to donate again. For major donors, this period may extend even longer.
Effective Fundraising For Nonprofits: Time To Get Started (And Creative)
We’ve covered the basics of forming an effective fundraising campaign, now let’s get a little creative. In part two, we’ll discuss some fundraising event ideas to help you kick start your next campaign.