There’s no daily grind quite like that of nonprofit fundraising. While working at a nonprofit is intrinsically rewarding in countless ways, most industry veterans can recount horror stories of months (or even years) where their nonprofit was barely hanging on and that next grant or big donation meant the difference between keeping the lights on or closing down.
It takes gumption to keep fundraising at all costs and to push yourself out of your comfort zone – reaching for bigger grants or approaching intimidating mega-donors. The philanthropic space is built on relationships and reputation, which means the best way to expand your fundraising is to strategize, demonstrate impact, and have a plan for how to make that big ask! If you’re ready to grow your fundraising efforts, then check out these four strategies that will engage and widen your donor pool.
- Focus on your mission (this is your story)
It’s no secret that a nonprofit’s mission is its biggest selling point. Nonprofits drive incredible change in the world – so lead with that! A good mission statement is: clear, concise, and powerful. Once you have a powerful sentence about your mission, you can add a description that tells more about the communities you serve, and how donors and volunteers can help. It should take no more than 30 seconds for someone to understand what you stand for, who stands to benefit, the impact you’ve made, how people can help, and why it matters.
An easy and clear way to help donors visualize impact is with simple math. Tell your donors exactly what a $50 donation will provide. Ex: Your $50 donation will provide classroom supplies for 20 first graders at your local elementary school.
- Be emotive (lean into video)
Content comes in many forms – and one of the most captivating is video! Use video to share your story across your website, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure that each video (even the short 30 second clips for social media) focus on your mission and tell the story of someone you’re helping. There’s no better combination than that of your mission looped in with creative content.
Give your cause a face and name, let people identify with your work and give them a clear call to action (CTA) – whether it be donating, volunteering, or something else. If you don’t mention a call to action in your video there is no way to further inspire people to share and spread the word!
- Network (expand your community)
So you’ve clarified your mission and provided creative content that explains your cause. Now it’s time to find more donors.
Finding new donors can be tough, especially if you spend most of your time entrenched in communities who are benefiting from your good work, but aren’t necessarily your donor base. It’s important to push yourself out of your comfort zone and meet donors where they are. That means lots of networking; a great place to start is Eventbrite or LinkedIn.
Scan for local fundraising events that might gather a similar donor base. Look for other organizations hosting events in your area and see if there are opportunities for partnerships. Attend networking events hosted by local businesses. Many companies are on the hunt to expand their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs or simply would like to give back to their local community more often. This research can be time intensive, so don’t be afraid to pass this research along to a volunteer for help.
- Piggyback (Thank then ask)
One of the best resources you have at your disposal are the people who are already passionate about your work. When you receive a donation, be sure to acknowledge your donor's contribution with a heartfelt thank you card, and when you do, ask them if they have a recommendation for you should reach out to next. If they’re a mega-donor, ask them if there is anyone in their network who would also be interested in learning more about your work. And of course always encourage your current donor base to forward your latest email, video, or fundraising campaign.
Most importantly, ask your donors about their employers! Is their organization looking for new ways to give back? It never hurts to ask (politely of course), and it’s likely that donors may not have considered these simple options. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own lives, donate only when we remember to, and forget about the power of a simple introduction or question. And know this, a piggyback isn’t intrusive, it’s simply a way to continue the conversation.