Non-Profit Fundraising Strategies
When non-profits are raising funds for their organization, having effective non-profit fundraising strategies is a key element to success. Before you begin to organize any fundraising events, it's important to first develop a clear vision with a specific goal in mind. Many fundraising professionals find that it's helpful to start with an impact-oriented goal when starting to develop a vision or strategy.
Example: Your organization's goal might be to clean up a local park. Cleaning up the park is the impact you want to have on the community. Once this goal has been established, you can assign a monetary amount to go along with it, by calculating how much money you need to accomplish that goal. When developing non-profit fundraising strategies in this way, it becomes easier to communicate with donors. They easily see what your organizations mission is, and how their donations will help you to accomplish it. This also promotes donor advocacy, which is vital to steady, secure funding.
Once your vision is in place, you can start to build your fundraising strategy. Don't rely on just one source for all your funding; instead, diversify your funding sources. This reduces risks, and increases the chance that you will be able to secure the funds you need. If possible, organizing multiple fundraising events can further this diversification. It gives donors and prospects to donate multiple times throughout the year, and allows you to create more awareness around your mission.
While raising funds is important, non-profit organizations often have other needs as well. For example, volunteer labor might be needed to help organize an event. A key in successful non-profit fundraising strategies is to identify all of your organization's needs, and then develop programs that help to fill these needs. Give donors the chance to assist your organization in ways outside of donations. This could be volunteering with your mission, at events, or even donating supplies or other items.
Below we list some considerations to keep in mind when building your non-profit fundraising strategies:
- What is your budget? This is obviously an important question to ask. If you have little up-front budget then a fundraising event is probably not the answer. This type of fundraiser does require some initial investment (securing a venue, paying for permits, paying for marketing/promotional expenses, etc.) Be sure to look at your current finances before you embark on large-scale fundraiser. Remember your goals it to raise money, not spend more than you have.
- How big is your team of "fundraisers"? If you have a number of participants that can help you raise funds, a peer-to-peer fundraising event such as a walk-a-thon fundraiser might be the perfect choice. Here each participant can help raise funds by creating a personal fundraising page they can share throughout their personal networks. Whereas a small team of people planning the fundraiser may lend itself to something a bit less labor intensive such as an online charity auction or fundraising raffle.
- What about your database? Perhaps you don't have a lot of volunteers to help out at a fundraising event, but if you have a huge database of previous donors and potential supporters. Maybe an online donation drive is the right answer for you? You can easily send an email message to your database where you invite them to click to your donation website and make an online donation. It makes it really easy for donors to give back without having to obligate much time or energy by attending an event.
- How can you leverage your resources? Perhaps you have a large board of directors, volunteers, donors groups, etc. On the other hand, you might be a small nonprofit with only a few very dedicated supporters. Regardless, tap into those who do support you and see how they can help. Not just by making a donation, what else can they do? Can their business match their donation? Can they host a small coffee group to introduce your organization to their friends and neighbors? Can board members send fundraising notes to their rolodexes? Can individuals post announcements in their social channels?
- Who can take on leadership role? It is impossible for one person to do it all. So if you are nonprofit with a small development staff, see if you can delegate some roles to trusted supporters or friends. Perhaps there are people with connections into large organizations that may be able to help with sponsorship proposals. Or maybe someone is interested in taking the lead for scheduling volunteers. You'd be amazed to find out how many people may be willing to lend a hand...especially if they are passionate about your cause.
- How much time do you have? Is it Q4 and you've realized you are 20% shy of your annual goals? If so, you need to do something quick! With little lead-time, you'll likely be looking at more of an online fundraising initiative that could possibly be spread with the help of all of your networks. You have little time to facilitate planning a fundraising event or securing prizes or donations for a raffle or auction, but it doesn't take long to get a fundraising website up and promote your online fundraising campaign via social networking.
- Is your fundraiser scalable? If you find a fundraiser that works, why reinvent the wheel? Try to find a successful fundraiser that can be planned once and then used over and over again. This will help you save valuable time and resources, and provide an expectation for your supporters. As time goes on, people may end up coming to you to offer their time and support rather than you seeking their help. Business sponsors and donors may end up budgeting for your fundraiser well in advance if it's something they can plan on year after year.
- Fish from multiple pools - Some organizations only focus on the "big donors" - they figure if they can get thousands from one donor or business is it worth it to focus on the groups who bring in smaller funds. Others have a contrary view, thinking they will do better with smaller, more frequent donations and don't waste their time selling big-pitches. The best plan to try both! Never limit you reach. You have no idea where one small donor supporter can lead you to (perhaps they have a connection to one of those big fish that will come on board later) Similarly, not targeting businesses or large-donors could result in missing out on a great opportunity.
- What tools do you have to accomplish your goals? This is an important question. How do you intend to execute your fundraiser? Fundraising software for nonprofits can be extremely helpful, especially if you are low on resources. The easy-to-use tools take a lot of the legwork off your administrators, while simplifying the process for your constituents. Participants can easily register for events, donors simply click a button to make an online donations, event details are seamlessly updated and shared via a fundraising website, and communications are automatically pushed out to your supporters. In addition, numerous reports can be generated to help with tracking progress, database management, and evaluating the success of your campaign.
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