The Most Effective Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits

What’s the game-plan?  That’s the $64,000 question.  With fundraising for nonprofits, the answer is worth a lot more than that.  Do you have the most effective fundraising strategies in place to maximize the amount of your incoming fundraising dollars?  How do you measure its success?  Can you do better?  Are you looking for new ideas to raise money for your non-profit? We’re here to help! It’s about the most important thing you can do – fundraising.  Your charity doesn’t exist without it.  And neither does all the good work you’re doing changing lives.

Nonprofit Fundraising Blog

Ideas to Raise Money for Charity

So what are the most effective fundraising strategies for non-profits? We at GivingMail have spent 70 years asking, and answering, that question for organizations all over the world. We’ve spent most of those years building mail programs for the largest charities in the world.  Now we’re taking all that experience, all that testing, all that success and we’re sharing it with smaller organizations.  Smaller groups are some of the most passionate, most focused, most effective in the world at doing a world of good.  We’re here to help.

Let’s start by offering one take on answering, “What’s the game-plan?”  How about multi-channel fundraising?    

Donors who give through more than one channel are over three times more valuable than those who only give through one.  Multi-channel donors are also more likely to renew.

Despite multi-channel marketing clearly being a recognized best practice, it can still be quite difficult to implement a true multi-channel program within a nonprofit.  More often than not, online and offline efforts take place in parallel universes, with little to no integration.

Break down the silos

If you have separate direct mail and online teams, you are very likely seeing tension between the two.  While everyone may agree in theory that a multi-channel approach is best, team members are usually thinking about what is best for their specific program. They often see the “other” team as people they are competing against, rather than seeing them as the team members they should be collaborating with. 

If you are able to, consider creating one cohesive direct marketing team.  This team should be responsible for raising a certain amount of money, regardless of the specific channel.  When you align the incentives correctly, team members will start thinking about what is best for the donor instead of what is best for their program.  And that’s when you will see the strongest results!

Plan effective fundraising strategies across channels

most effective strategies for non-profit fundraising

According to the DMA’s Response Rate Report, direct mail has a 37 percent higher response rate than email! 

Want your direct mail to raise even MORE money?  Add digital outreach. According to Nonprofits Source, fundraising efforts that used direct mail and at least one digital communication had a 118 percent higher response rate compared to using direct mail only.

When it comes to planning the most effective fundraising strategies, direct mail often takes the lead, and rightly so.  Don’t just add in the mix as an afterthought. “Oh, we should add an email follow up.”  While that is technically using both channels, it isn’t a truly integrated strategy. 

A better approach is to take a big step back and put together a fundraising strategy for the campaign. Then think about the various channels you can use to reach donors.  What is the best mix of messages and how can they be timed to be the most effective fundraising strategy?

When you combine a direct mail appeal with digital, you need to be sure that your donors (and prospective donors) understand that what you’re sending them is connected to the same specific campaign.  That’s leverage in action.  Your messaging should be consistent, but it does not need to be identical.  Different techniques, images and lengths work better in direct mail than online. Be creative!  You should have the freedom to alter elements to maximize the success. 

Test which combinations and order of channels work or don’t work.  Learn from your experiences, and adjust future campaigns accordingly.

Actively try to add donors from one channel onto another

Let’s talk about retention.  Multi-channel donors have a higher retention rate than direct mail-only or online-only donors.  Direct mail only donors retain at 43%.  Online only donors total just 36%.  That third category of offline-only donors who also receive fundraising emails had a 56% retention rate.*

So don’t bucket donors into “online donors” or “offline donors.”  Yes, donors who have only given online should receive direct mail packages AND online solicitations.  You can test this, and likely you will see that adding another communication channel will lift results, even if those donors never choose to give in the other channel.  That’s the power of multi-channel marketing! 

Acquire donors’ email addresses

It is often easier to move online donors to offline, then the other way around.  Even if donors don’t want to donate online, there is so much benefit to getting donors’ email addresses… for your organization and for the donor. Donors who receive email communication, but only give via mail, give 90% more than those donors who didn’t get email communication.

But getting those email addresses can be harder than you think- not all donors are willing to part with their email address.  You need to give them a reason to do so! What useful information can only your organization provide them with and only through email?  Is there a special gift you can send to motivate them to join your email list? 

Promote your emails at events, donor teleconferences, and in your print newsletters. Consider sending out a special postcard highlighting features on your site and explaining the benefits of receiving your emails. 

Integrated Database for most effective strategy

A major pain point can be integrating online and offline data.  Too often these two sets of data live in two different places. You want to have one main database that houses all data. This likely will mean you need to do regular imports and exports of your data. 

Data integration can be a complex job. The more channels you utilize, the more complicated it can be to have the most recent data and to run reports on overall donor engagement and performance.  Make sure you are properly staffed to handle this challenge. 

In conclusion…The numbers don’t lie; Multi-channel marketing benefits for your donors and your organization. Combining channels is one of the most effective strategies for maximizing your fundraising dollars. But many groups are not doing it.  If you find yourself on the list of “not doing it,” keep pushing for multi-channel.  If you need a partner to help you along the way, just ask us at GivingMail.  We’ll give you and your team members the chance to see how beneficial multi-channel marketing is for donors and for improving overall results.  In fact, we guarantee it.

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