Large charitable organizations typically keep experienced fundraising professionals on their staff to jump-start and drive their funding efforts. Small organizations and local groups can’t necessarily afford such in-house assistance.
For them, fundraising can often be as a massive undertaking that’s laced with question marks. Learning how to approach this challenge effectively will likely prove to be an a crucial step in your pursuit of funding for your operations and the ultimate success of your team.
Try These Six Fundraising Tips
Though fundraising objectives can differ from one organization to the next, people are the constant. Any time you’re targeting human individuals and seeking to motivate them toward being generous to your activities, you may be able to employ similar principles and strategies. So think about focusing on the following tips.
1. Find the Right Targets
The first step is to make sure you’re targeting the right folks. This is the lead generation portion of the process. If you don’t target the right people —meaning those who (1) believe in your cause and/or can be emotionally persuaded to support it, and (2) have the financial means to furnish significant support—then the best fundraising campaign in the world won’t do you much good.
Obviously, you have to start with your own personal network: mutual friends, family, colleagues, and anyone else you know who might be likely to align with your cause. In addition, you can use Facebook advertising to target specific users that align with the demographics and/or interests of your ideal donor.
2. Communicate a Clear Message
Once you have the right prospects in your funnel, you’re ready to send them a message that should resonate with them on a meaningful level. Most people are hesitant to part with their money unless they feel emotionally stirred or inspired for a specific moral, ethical, or sociopolitical reason.
You have to design and communicate a clear message that convinces your targets that you’re worth listening to. Don’t beat around the bush. Get right to the point.
3. Avoid Copy-and-Paste Outreach
It’s tempting to send out a mass email to your list of prospects with the hope of saving time and getting a reasonable percentage of people to respond. Unfortunately, copy-and-pasted email blasts rarely accomplish much of anything.
Unless you’re a world-class copywriter with a hot audience, you’ll be lucky to get a three to five percent participation rate.
Instead of copy-and-pasting, take the trouble to send out custom emails that will show you’re thinking about your prospective donors as specific individuals. Sure, this will take more time, but you could easily double or triple your results with this approach.
4. Offer Value in Return
In fundraising, you’re almost always better off if you can offer clear value to your donors in return for their financial gift. This may be something tangible, or it could be something more spiritual or emotional.
PrintingCenterUSA.com suggests giving donors a custom-printed calendar with imagery that reinforces the value of their donation. For example, if you run a charity that supports disabled veterans, each month could feature a specific veteran and a small description of how your organization has helped that person.
If you can’t afford to give away a tangible gift —or are unsure how it might resonate —you may choose to express your gratitude through a hand-written note that lets the donor know everything your organization might be able to accomplish with a gift in that amount.
5. Leverage the Right Partners
Any time you can build trust with your community, you should. Try forming strategic partnerships with local businesses, figures, and groups in the area. This will give you the positive associations you need to bring in donors who might otherwise be outside your reach.
6. Stay in Touch
Finally, don’t forget to stay in touch. Fundraising isn’t a one-time effort or seasonal activity.
Though there may certainly be times of the year where you’re more prone to mount a fundraising effort, maintaining a solid stable of donors is a year-round endeavor that requires constant lead nurturing.
Stay in touch throughout the year by sending an occasional hand-written note or email update. For big donors, you might find it suitable to send a holiday gift or give them tickets to an occasional sporting event or concert.
The key is to stay at the front of their minds so they’re more apt to loosen the purse strings repeatedly over the years.
Adding it All Up
Fundraising is far more challenging than most people understand. It’s not as easy as going out and asking for money, period. It demands a certain finesse and orderliness to do it well.
But it’s not an innate skill, either. By implementing some of the techniques described in this article, you can improve your results right away. The key is to stick with these new habits and to continue learning and improving as you go.