In order to become and remain a viable nonprofit organization, you’ll likely need to start fundraising pretty quickly to support your philanthropic goals. Although fundraising can seem daunting, GVNG is here to help make the process a little bit easier.
Let’s back up and start at the beginning to gain a deeper understanding of the basic fundraising methods...
It’s common, especially in the early days of an organization, that support in the form of donations will come from individuals. Whether giving $10, $100 or $10,000, individuals often give money to nonprofits to support specific charitable work that they are passionate about. For example, one donor might be interested in funding a research study to better understand a particular disease because it personally impacted their life. Individuals may also be motivated by other benefits of charitable giving, such as receiving a tax deduction or becoming a member of a nonprofit organization.
As a result, the key to individual giving is to understand the motivations of your donors, thank them for their support and then strengthen the relationship over time so that it continues to be rewarding for both parties.
Here are some fundraising methods for attracting individual donors:
- Online Giving and Crowdfunding
- With most nonprofits using online giving — sometimes as their only method of collecting funds — it is easier than ever for people to support the nonprofit sector. In order to participate in this exciting new era of fundraising, your nonprofit will need a compelling story, a well-established social media presence and a clearly defined case statement on your website. And, you should always have your “donate now” button live on your site.
Crowdfunding is usually done using short-term campaigns to raise the money needed for a specific project or initiative. Crowdfunding can also appeal to new donors and often consists of smaller donations.
- Your friends have friends and their friends have friends. Leveraging your network provides you with the opportunity to outsource your ask. Just be careful that you don’t use this as your only method of fundraising. Donor fatigue is an important consideration. This occurs when donors become less likely to give as a result of prolonged solicitation attempts.
- Direct Mail
- Each generation responds differently to various fundraising techniques, so it is important to have a multichannel approach to fundraising. Although digital appeals are often more cost effective, direct mail should still be taken into consideration depending on your audience. When crafting your appeal, keep these tips in mind:
- Tell a story about a single beneficiary of your organization. Make it relatable, compelling and emphasize the sense of impact.
- Make a clear CTA (call-to-action) and provide clear directions on how you want the recipient to respond to your appeal.
- Think long-term and update your donors with results. This will help you for your next major campaign.
Another type of support for nonprofits lies in the private sector, with corporations. The key to unlocking corporate gifts for your nonprofit is identifying for-profit organizations whose brands align with your mission. Most corporations that engage in philanthropy have already identified criteria for their giving program, so it’s not worth targeting companies that are not interested in supporting your cause area.
Here are some corporate giving methods to consider:
- Sponsorships & Partnerships
- Corporate sponsorships are a great way for organizations to grow their audience and support their philanthropic agenda. Cultivating corporate sponsors should start with you— look within your organization’s network and your own relationships in order to get a personal introduction to any prospects.
Before you begin, check out these quick tips:
- Do your homework. Make it make sense for the business to support your nonprofit over another. Pay attention to their philanthropic goals.
- Don’t make them guess what you’re after. Make a clear ask.
- Create value-add opportunities.
- Think long-term partnership opportunities, and go beyond a one-off sponsorship.
Professional nonprofit fundraisers often talk about major giving. Wait, isn’t all giving major?
Generally, a major gift is one that really moves the needle. They can be up to four, five or even six-figures, depending on your organization and your donor. These gifts may take longer to cultivate, but result in a larger donation as compared to traditional individual giving that comes in quickly, but tends to be in smaller increments.
- Cultivating Major Gift Donors
- First, always consider any donor relationship to be an opportunity for increased giving over time. Someone capable of a major gift may start out by giving $10. To cultivate major gifts, identify those individuals with capacity and interest. Then, strive to understand what specific projects or initiatives they might be interested in supporting with a significant gift. Finally, attach a dollar amount to your ask. The less ambiguous you are in your ask, the more likely a donor is to enter into partnership with you and your organization.
Whether engaging individuals or corporations, here are some additional fundraising approaches…
- Whether you’re planning a silent auction, black tie gala or community picnic in the park, events are a great way to fundraise and create greater awareness for your cause. Events provide the opportunity to fundraise from individuals via ticket sales and silent auctions as well as from corporations in the form of corporate sponsorships.
- Create a written fundraising plan with clear goals that leverages several fundraising methods.
- Remember that gifts of any amount and donors of every kind are impactful.
- Track, monitor and evaluate your progress.
- Activate your volunteers to support you in your fundraising efforts.
- Know your donor audience(s) and tailor each method to appeal to their interests.
- Keep it “donor centric.” Don’t just talk about your nonprofit, talk about how the donor makes a difference.
- Never underestimate the follow-up. Even if the answer is "no", be grateful and say "thank you." It may not be a "no" forever.
GVNG users with premium features may receive customized advisory services and strategic planning guidance. To get more information, please contact us.