It is no secret that the COVID pandemic and the rise of virtual work from home culture has made lasting effects on the way that we fundraise. While direct mail and annual paper-based marketing campaigns continue to trend towards retirement in lieu of eMarketing, organizations that are open to savvy and new fundraising approaches have found opportunity in the shifting field of nonprofit fundraising events and 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!
Be open. Too many organizations, Executive Directors/CEOS and Boards (Board members are the guiltiest of this) look first at past tactics they have tried and failed at as a measuring stick for what that can do today. This is thinking in the past. In addition, if your organization takes this route, you will be sure to be trending down in your donated income and grant portfolio. Things have changed, and the environment is very different today. Limit the amount of neigh saying towards new ideas because of any past difficulties. 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, and trend backwards in fundraising, is a lack of investment. Too few organizations set the 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 would not happen as frequently in the for-profit sector. For-profit organizations know that they have to have fully functioning sales teams and marketing approaches to be successful. Unfortunately, most nonprofit organizations under invest in their Development department, have overworked staff, who do not have enough time to leverage all the corporate, major gifts, grant and event-based income potential out there. 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 the following guidelines. 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) ultimately the reason donors, partners or corporations will be compelled to give to your organization. Without an understanding of where you are, and where you are going, fundraising is not fully effective. Even if a rough draft, make sure to write down these key points and have organizational awareness about what you are trying to all achieve together!
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 the capacity of their major donors. In addition, organizations generally underestimate the potential connections, dollars, and opportunity each major donor brings. 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. The 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! Car, property, planned-giving, stock, cryptocurrency – 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 awards 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) show 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, start a free publication for an area that donors are interested in that also 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 fundraisers, online Galas, and also look to partner and reach out to other organizations who would like to put on joint events! They 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.
In the end 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. Start now and don not be apprehensive about visualizing where you want to be. Identify your weakest points and start there. But do not get trapped in historic thinking that stops your organization from realizing your full potential. Still not sure where to start? We would highly suggest hiring a Fundraising Consultant to review your organization and make recommendations on a new strategic fundraising plan.