It is no secret that the Covid pandemic, technology innovation, and the rise of remote work and social media has made lasting effects on the way that we fundraise. Modernly, annual giving, telemarketing, phone campaigns, and direct marketing approaches continue to trend down in effectiveness and return. Conversely, organizations implementing new fundraising approaches and investing in technology have found new fundraising opportunities in social media fundraising, online events, merchandising, corporate/community partnerships, video engagement, and web marketing tactics.
If you find yourself, and your organization, in an absolute need to find a revolutionary way to bring in new income, the following ideas could help you to start the creative ideas flowing. However, before we discuss specific nonprofit fundraising strategies and ideas, it is imperative we set the stage for the mindset your organization will need to embrace in order to charge forward successfully into the future!
Visualize success and be open to change. Without a commitment to a different way of thinking and willingness to achieve it you will not grow your organization effectively. Too many organizations who are stagnating in growth fall into the limited thinking of looking at past attempted strategies as a measuring stick for what their organization can and should do today. Do not fall prey to negative or limited decision making which will make it very difficult to achieve new and better results. This can occur frequently at the Executive Director/CEO and Development Director/CDO level and is extremely harmful when held at the board leadership level. In this scenario the organization is thinking in the past.
If your organization falls into this category now is the time to change. Choose to do otherwise, and it is most likely that your organization will start or continue to trend down in your donated income and long-term grant portfolio. Growing an organization demands the need to be agile and adopt new thinking and processes. Things are changing in the nonprofit sector. The environment is very different today and every year. Limit the amount of neigh saying towards new ideas because of any past difficulties. Use the history to inform your direction, but don’t be afraid to explore new solutions. You will need a positive and open mind to choose, create, and leverage success of a new campaign or fundraising event.
Be willing to invest to make your success a reality. No matter your budget size, be ready to commit to invest your available resources to improving your organization via expanding your fundraising. The number one reason nonprofits fail or trend downwards in fundraising, is a lack of investment. Too few organizations set their fundraising department as their main priority. Nor do they realize that the more staff, and better outfitted this department is, the more impact they will be able to make towards their mission. This mistake does not happen as frequently in the for-profit sector in sales departments. For-profit organizations know that they have to have fully functioning business development teams and robust marketing approaches in order to be successful. Unfortunately, many nonprofit organizations underinvest in their development department or have overworked staff who do not have enough time to even start to leverage the corporate, major gifts, grant and event-based income potential they are already aware of. In addition, organizations that pay competitive wages to their development staff have considerably less turnover. They can attract staff that have a record of accomplishment and will be more successful. If your organization is under market on your fundraising salaries, this will highly correlate with limited growth of your current fundraising success and will slow the potential growth of your organization and mission impact.
Visualize success and know where you want to go. No fundraising event, plan, or individual strategy should ever be created without an established vision/goal and what it takes to get there. You should establish the (1) the amount you are trying to raise, (2) how this fundraising fits into your strategic plan and organizational goals, (3) what the funds will be used for, and (4) how may donations and or grants you will need to gain, (5) what resources you will need to achieve this, (5) a timeline and benchmarks, (6) the approaches / reasons donors, partners or corporations will be compelled to give to your organization, and (7) who is responsible for delivering the outcomes. Without an understanding of where you are, and where you are going, fundraising plans are not fully effective or achievable. Even if only a short plan, make sure to write down these key points and have organizational awareness about what you are trying to all achieve together! Consider what other organizations like yours are being successful at. Who is making waves and growing the most? Who is fundraising the best in the sector? What are they doing you can learn from? What about other types of organization in the nonprofit sector?
Commit and execute. Choose a plan or strategy and stick to it. Realize your goals through completion. Do not be swayed off course and do not allow the organization to invest less than the amount of funds and resources that would bring success. Be smart and see your strategy through to completion.
Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies
Following are ideas for new fundraising strategies your organization may want to consider over the traditional fundraising strategies.
Revitalize your major donors and expand your reach. Organizations rarely fully understand or leverage the full capacity of their major donors or their connections. In addition, most organizations generally underestimate the potential connections, dollars, and opportunity each major donor brings. Too few organizations assume their major donors to be fully leveraged already. Having a strong onboarding, engagement plan, and capacity review process for your major donors is essential to expand new donation levels.
Find new grants and explore the capacity of your institutional donors. Building real relationships and having meetings with foundation and corporate partners is a very important element in your grant income process. Real relationships equal true income growth. Candid has amazing information and data available on local, national, and international grants available in their database as well as classes that free on how to use their tools! Make sure your organization is not stuck in limited thinking about only going after the same grants year after year. Amazing opportunity exists for all nonprofits no matter how specialized your mission is.
Create, improve, and make your online donation strategy shine! Are you using marketing automation to automatically send campaigns of emails and mission appropriate content to each and every donator to grow their passion about your organization? Are you using Zapier or other automation tools to feed your database and utilize automation? Having a compelling online donation strategy is more than having one amazing page and a donation button on your site. You need to create and showcase video, and real landing pages that bank donations to help build your annual budget.
Make it easier for people to give! Utilize text-to-give methodologies and explore making the types of donations you accept more visible! Cars, real property, planned-giving, stock, cryptocurrency, reoccurring donations – make it easy and well know about the many ways people can support your cause! Promoting your organization’s text-to-give number and alternate methods of donations can help to expand your reach!
Leverage donor recognition and award programs! Giving out community awards to business leaders is an amazing tool to bring in new corporate support to your nonprofit. Match your mission to a local leader or celebrity who has created wonderful impact and ask to give them an award for their work and service at you next online event or gala! Choose a leader who is mission appropriate and well connected. Ask them in invite their company staff, colleagues, and family so they can also be part of the momentous occasion! Doing so can create an incredible bond with the prospective donor and can also be extremely effective as a community awareness tool. Lastly, such awards are wonderful to promote on social media and for getting views.
Leverage social media influencers and the video stories of your organizational publicly on social media, your website, newsletters and email marketing. How well are you showing your mission and the impact you are making every day to the outside world? Create videos with your cell phone, or hire an inexpensive videographer to showcase your story! The costs to create this content have been going down year after year. Make sure you take advantage of this! Need an influencer to help you promote your story? Check out Upfluence, Fivver or Grin if you need leads on influencers in your space.
Get the word out with Google Ad Grants to get free robust AdWords campaign to promote your organization! It is not hard to do and can make an incredible impact to get your organization message and fundraising out in the local, statewide and national community! Or if you are in education, leverage the amazing technology offerings part of Google Grants for Education.
Make a landing page that convinces people to actually give. For-profit companies know how to showcase the benefits of their services to get you inspired! Make sure to do the exact same thing for your nonprofit. Your donation landing page should: (1) tell your story, (2) showcase your mission and the impact you make, (3) clearly state what the donation will impact and what it will do, (4) have video and images to engage your audience and pull at their heart strings, (5) be simple and only have one click to donate, (6) show them the people that your work directly impacts and share their impact stories. (7) leverage reoccurring contributions as a default, and a check box for the donor to cover the transaction fees for the donation if they desire! See these great online fundraising pages as examples of where to start! Add even more than these examples for best results!
Get creative with e-marketing to drive organizational awareness! Host chats on twitter, host a live event on meta, or start a free publication for an area that your donors are interested that showcases your organization. Use MailChimp or Constant Contact to start sending compelling stories about your organization to your contacts and donors. Include ‘sign up for our newsletter’ on your website and promote it on social media when promoting your free publication. Create Facebook/Meta fundraisers, online Galas, and also look to partner and reach out to other organizations who would like to put on joint events! Online events can be magic for expanding your long-term donor pool. Try product fundraising and promote a product that you can get a percentage profit of. Get creative and break out of what you traditionally have done in the past!
Engage your donors and contacts! Offer a sign up for virtual tours of your organization on your website. Online Galas are extremely successful and even bring saving on venue costs! Get an exciting host or live music to make it pop! There are wonderful things being done with virtual dinners and online events. Hosting a Ted talk, and Lunch and Learns and matching gift drives can be fun ways for your donors to reengage with you! What gets your donors excited? Make sure to ask them. The best fundraisers create programs they already know that they donors would be excited about! Also, virtual happy hours with free swag and contests and concerts can work magic in today’s social media marketing climate.
The ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg. Start from a place of effectively telling your story and elevating your mission and programs in the public’s eye. Consider adding some new techniques and approaches that can add to our already existing fundraising approaches. Think carefully about what you can expand and how you can drive new and better results. Start now and do not be apprehensive about visualizing where you want to be and dream big. Also, identify your weak points and seek to improve all your fundraising impact. Even small wise changes can net big results. But please do not get trapped in historic thinking that stops your organization from realizing your full potential. We believe in you!
Still not sure where to start? We would highly suggest speaking with hiring a Fundraising Consultant to review your organization and make recommendations on a new strategic fundraising plan.
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