Has your nonprofit made a resolution to try something new this year? Are you looking for an exciting new fundraising idea to get your donors 110% engaged in your cause? This is the year to take a chance, right?
Before you get too far ahead of yourself, take a second to evaluate your options. Instead of jumping directly into something completely different, why not ramp up the fundraising strategies your donors are already excited about?
Big, public-facing changes can be exciting for your donors, but sometimes, getting the word out about a completely new kind of fundraising channel, event, or strategy can take more effort than it’s worth. Instead, this year, focus your efforts on big behind-the-scenes changes that take existing strategies to the next level.
To help you out, we’re going to dig into backstage techniques to boost your fundraising in the following areas:
- Mobile giving
- Corporate philanthropy
- Prospect research
- Fundraising events
- Volunteer management
Ready to take on the year with a vengeance? That’s the spirit! Let’s get started.
1. Mobile giving
Nonprofits love mobile fundraising, and it’s no surprise. Practically everyone brings their mobile phones with them wherever they go, and 99% of mobile subscribers will open your text message (and 90% within three minutes of receiving it!).1 That’s an incredibly high engagement rate, especially when compared to email marketing’s average 25% open rate.
You know that mobile communications are highly likely to reach your donors. But what happens after they read the text message, email, or social media post?
This year, it’s time to get serious with your ROI for mobile giving, and that starts with data.
First, make sure you’re using software that allows you to gather engagement data from your text-to-give campaigns, social media clicks, and online donation form responses. You can’t analyze data you don’t have.
Then, start collecting open rates and engagement/donation rates for the following segments of your donor base:
- Gift size
- Area code or location tag
- Day and time of donation
- Age of donor
- Payment method
Combining these data points can give you a fuller picture of your mobile giving community. With this picture, you can make future fundraising efforts more effective.2
For example, if you discover that your older donors are texting to donate mostly in the evening after they get off of work, while your younger donors are clicking on social media donate buttons during lunch. That information will save you money and time as you more efficiently schedule messages to segments of your supporters.
2. Corporate philanthropy
There’s nothing quite like corporate philanthropy when it comes to efficient fundraising. You can support your cause without asking your amazing donors for anything else.
On your end, corporate philanthropy comes in many forms, from corporate matching gifts to volunteer grants to event sponsorships. On the company’s end, corporate philanthropy comes down to the positive publicity that comes with supporting a charitable cause.
No matter what variety of corporate philanthropy you tackle in the new year, social media offers you a wealth of opportunities to build a reputation among charitable companies that your nonprofit offers the highest ROI.3
Consider your profile and cover photos. They probably feature your logo or a photo of your staff or volunteers. Before, during, and after an event or campaign, consider adding the logo(s) of your corporate sponsor(s), too.
Tagging your sponsors is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have. Sponsors will be more aware of your posts, allowing them to share with their social networks, and your donors can directly connect to those corporations.
These strategies are only useful in securing future corporate sponsorships if you can measure their impact. Keep up-to-date statistics about your reach and impact on partners’ social media following so you can share them with potential sponsors in solicitation letters.
3. Prospect research
All seasoned fundraising professionals know that a different level of solicitation is required for different levels of donors. The higher the chance that a prospective donor can give a major gift, the more time and care should be spent crafting a respectful major gift solicitation.
Of course, the question then becomes: what are the chances of any individual donor becoming a major donor?
Prospect research provides the answer by building donor profiles that include markers of wealth and philanthropic inclination.4 From employment information and educational background to familial relations and hobbies, prospect profiles contain the information fundraisers need to identify the most likely major donors for their specific nonprofit.
But did you know that you can use prospect research for even more? This year, take a look through your donor database for the following trends:
- Recurring donors: If a donor has regularly given a small gift, consider asking them to get more engaged by either upping their gift amount, volunteering, serving on a council or event planning team, or representing the organization.
- Promotions: A donor who recently got a promotion is likely to have the means to give a larger gift than they have in the past.
- Changes in location: If your donor moves, provide them with information about volunteering in their new area, as well as campaigns that directly affect the community they just moved to.
If you’re keeping robust information about your donors housed in your CRM, then these trends don’t take long to find!
4. Fundraising events
A fundraising event is a tried-and-true way to get your supporters extra excited about your mission. The energy of an in-person event with food, prizes, performances, auctions, and networking can’t be matched. And when all the planning has come to a spectacular close with the event itself, all the planners want to do is get a good night’s sleep.
This year, don’t let up so soon. To keep your nonprofit at the forefront of your donors’ minds and to make sure your next event is even more successful, you have to follow up.5
Here are a few surefire ways to keep your donors engaged after your event ends:
- Prioritize personalized “thank you” emails, letters, and phone calls.
- Publicly thank major donors and sponsors on social media and press releases.
- Post statistics and photos on social media, tagging sponsors, performers, and attendees
- Send a survey asking for feedback about the event and suggestions for your next one.
The last tip is particularly important. Your donors want to know that you care about their feedback, and if you incorporate any good suggestions, you can emphasize them when marketing your next event.6
Especially in the past year, crowdfunding has come into the fundraising spotlight. Because of its wide reach and social-friendly format, large nonprofits and individuals alike can fundraise for the causes and communities that mean the most to them.
Part of the reason why crowdfunding has exploded in popularity is because of how easy it is. Simply find a crowdfunding platform, enter some basic information, click “launch,” and start sharing and collecting funds.
Because they’re so easy to set up, the internet is awash with crowdfunding campaigns. So how can you make your nonprofit’s campaign stand out?
If you take a look through some highly successful crowdfunding campaigns, you can see some patterns of seemingly small details that will guide your campaigns to the top.7 One of the most important elements is the human aspect, whether you communicate that through emotional photos, video interviews with beneficiaries or your fundraising team, or compelling stories written in the description.8
After you’ve gotten donors interested and invested, you can also encourage them to give by showing them how seriously you take your campaign. Post frequent updates and spend time customizing the crowdfunding page with your nonprofit’s branding.
If you show that you can craft a webpage with care, your donors will be more inclined to believe you also attend to your mission — and their confidential contact and payment information — with care.
6. Volunteer program
Nonprofits couldn’t exist without volunteers, that much is for sure. Sometimes, donations can’t do the work of a dedicated supporter willing to put their time into your organization.
But are you using your volunteers as effectively as you could be? Consider these types of volunteering from Double the Donation’s volunteer management guide:9
- Event volunteering: One-time volunteers show up to help with a special event, whether it’s staffing a fundraising event or participating in an organized team volunteering initiative.
- Skills-based volunteering: Instead of hiring a staff member to help with specialized tasks like accounting, nonprofits can rely on volunteers with specialized knowledge in the area.
- Long-term volunteering: From tutoring to leading other groups of volunteers, long-term volunteers support your mission on a regular basis. Nonprofits usually establish programs with clear guidelines for these types of volunteers.
- Administrative volunteering: Your office needs people to take care of everyday tasks like filing and reception. Administrative volunteers take care of these tasks so your nonprofit staff members don’t have to.
- Volunteer committees: The most common form of a volunteer committee is your nonprofit’s board, but you can form other committees to organize events and plan outreach for campaigns. These committees should also include a member of your nonprofit staff.
- Volunteer advocacy: Volunteer advocates spread the word about your mission and collect donations, whether that means setting up checkout charity donation buckets or posting flyers around their neighborhoods.
- Volunteer grants: Some companies offer to donate to the organizations their employees volunteer at. Usually, it’s on the nonprofit and the volunteers to discover if they are eligible to receive these grants.
This year, make an effort to incorporate a new kind of volunteering.10 But don’t just post the news on your website and be done with it — you can reach out specifically to donors who might be interested in these specific programs.
Rely on your CRM to identify donors who have volunteered before or who have job titles that would indicate the types of skills or amount of time they could bring to your organization.
The new year is all about reflection and progress. So take the time to evaluate which of your fundraising strategies could use an extra behind-the-scenes boost, then implement these strategies to kick off your best year yet!
And don’t forget to check out these additional resources to learn more about the topics we covered in this article: