Fundraising strategies can be tough, complex, and time consuming. Not to mention stressful! But when it is done right, fundraising is powerful, and does more than just generate income. It also strengthens the donor’s relationship with the nonprofit, and leaves the donor feeling good.
There are so many different ways to raise money for your nonprofit from social media to canvassing to direct mail. It seems every year, there are more and more options, which can be both useful and overwhelming.
Need help? The team at GivingMail is an expert at tried and true fundraising strategies that work and won’t break the bank.
GivingMail is powered by over 70 years of experience in nonprofit direct mail fundraising. We’ve worked with hundreds of the world’s largest charities, raising millions of dollars! We would love to share our knowledge with you and help bring your nonprofit to the next level.
Here are some tried and true fundraising strategies that will bring in money and build stronger relationships with donors.
ABDC = Always Be Donor Centric
Regardless of which method of fundraising you are using, remember that the donor is the hero, not your nonprofit. Your communications should always focus on the donor, and how he or she is making a difference and how incredible he or she is. Your donors certainly like and respect your nonprofit, but that’s not why they are giving. Your nonprofit is really just the vehicle for them to make a difference.
So be sure to view all your communications through the donor’s eyes. Make sure you are using the word “you” throughout all of your donor communications. There really isn’t a more powerful word in fundraising.
When you put the donor first, you will be amazed to see what a difference it makes in your mindset which will improve how your communicate with donors. And ultimately how much they donate to your nonprofit.
Make Decisions based on Lifetime Value
There is so much pressure for nonprofits to meet each year’s budget. Let’s face it, that’s never going to go away! Nonprofits need to meet annual goals in order to keep the lights on.
Unfortunately, too often this leads to short sighted decision making. One example of this is when nonprofits don’t send a newsletter to donors in order to reduce expenses. This type of decisions might make the numbers look better this year, but it will negatively impact future years.
Decisions should instead be made based on what will maximize Lifetime Value (LTV.) Lifetime value can be calculated by multiplying your average gift amount times the number of gifts donors make/year times the average number of years your donors remain on your file.
Lifetime value is the most significant metric for any nonprofit, and it should guide all of your fundraising efforts. So figure out what the Lifetime Value of your donors is, and then focus your efforts on the places that will help bring that number up.
Plan a Mix of Solicitation and Cultivation Communications
Donors want to feel like a partner and a member of your team, not a walking ATM machine.
Your goal as a fundraiser should be to build strong relationships with donors so they continue giving and ideally give even more. That’s why you want to send donors a mix of cultivation and solicitation efforts. Yes, you need to ask them for money, but that can’t be the only form of communication donors receive.
Cultivation mailings will help the donor become even more familiar with your non-profit, and will ultimately build up trust. These mailing won’t bring in money overnight, but they will inspire donors…and that will lead to increased loyalty and ultimately higher giving amounts.
The most obvious thing you should be doing is sending a thank you letter. You want to get the thank you letter out as quickly as you can. Donors want to know you received their gift and that it was appreciated. Keep the thank you simple, but make sure it feels warm, personal and genuine.
You should send a thank you letter for a donation of any amount. Every donor deserves to receive a thank you letter, and to feel appreciated for their gift.
Beyond thank you letters, what other cultivation efforts should your nonprofit consider? There are so many options and opportunities to be creative! You could send anything from a handwritten note or postcard to a thank you phone call or personal email. The goal is to show your appreciation and to make your donor feel like a hero. Show her how she is making a difference.
Be sure to use storytelling to show the difference the donor is making. Humans are naturally wired to respond to stories. They capture our imagination and create a stronger emotional connection. Your nonprofit likely has powerful stories to share with donors. Make it a point to capture these stories, and share them with donors.
Be sure to plan out the cultivation efforts you want to send each year. This will ensure they actually get sent and not put on the backburner. Plot out a good mix of cultivation and solicitation efforts that work well together, and stick with your schedule.
Invest in a Monthly Giving Program
Monthly giving is a win/win for your nonprofit and for donors. Donors appreciate the ease and convenience of recurring giving, and love receiving fewer solicitations. They become loyal donors who will be with you for the long term.
Donors who become sustainers have much, much higher retention rates and give more money each year. Transitioning a donor to a sustainer leads to huge increases in Lifetime value. Plus, your nonprofit is better able to budget for the year because you have a source of monthly income you can depend on regardless of the fundraising environment.
Have a detailed plan for how you will recruit sustainers throughout the year. It really is the key to securing your organization’s financial future.
Use Multi-Channel Communication
The best approach to fundraising is always multi-channel one. Donors who give through more than one channel are more valuable and have higher retention rates. You should be communicating with donors both online and offline, and donors should be able to easily contribute in whichever channel they wish.
Most nonprofits agree in the power of multi-channel fundraising. The tricky part can be implementing a true multi-channel approach.
Many times, online and offline fundraising is handled by a different group of people or separate departments with little integration. This makes it especially difficult to plan and coordinate efforts. If you are able to, you may want to consider having just one direct marketing team.
Put together a strategy for each campaign that involves both online and offline efforts. Time your messages to be most effective. For example, you could send a follow up email the day you expect the direct mail letter to arrive in donors’ mailboxes. Alternating between mail and online is often the most impactful. Each channel has its own strengths and weaknesses, which is why using multiple channels is the smartest approach.
Make sure your messaging is consistent across offline and online channels. It doesn’t need to be exactly the same since what works in direct mail may not work online and vice versa. Use what is most effective in each channel, while following a similar theme.
Mid-level donors get lost in the mix. Many nonprofits focus on their major gift program and their housefile program and accidently forget about the donors in the middle.
Mid-level donors are incredibly important to your nonprofit and deserve their own program. They not only generate significant amounts of income; they are a pipeline for major gift donations.
The goal of your nonprofit program should be for these donors to get a similar level of attention as major gift donors, but on a much larger scale and with a lower cost. Think of it as using the best direct marketing techniques and combining those with a major gifts style of cultivation. Don’t be afraid to use the same copy for mid-level donors that you are using with housefile donors. Just because they give a little more, it doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to messaging.
A well-run program will yield not just stronger renewal rates and increased revenue. It will also create a pipeline of potential future major gift donors.
These are tried and true fundraising strategies that will bring in money for your nonprofit, and most importantly, will help build even stronger relationships with donors so that income continues to grow in future years.
Need help with these techniques? That’s exactly why we started GivingMail! Reach out and let us help you get started on improving your fundraising efforts and results!
GivingMail is powered by over 70 years of experience in nonprofit direct mail fundraising. When you partner with us, you gain access to our time-tested fundraising templates and strategies that will aid your own nonprofit. We take care of the fundraising legwork for you so you can focus more on the important mission of your nonprofit. Reach out today to get started!