If you're a nonprofit, chances are, you're constantly looking for ways to better your fundraising strategies to raise more money for your cause.
Look no further. We're here to help with the 22 strategies that will take your fundraising to the next level.
- Mobilizing Donors:
- Marketing and Advertising:
- Fundraising Digitally:
- Forming Partnerships:
- Hosting Events:
The key to successful fundraising is to find the best way to engage your donors and excite them into action, but figuring out how to do so isn't always easy.
Here are some strategies for mobilizing your donors to amplify your fundraising:
- Incentivize Your Top Fundraisers
- Launch Donor Recognition Programs
- Facilitate Grassroots Fundraising
- Exert Influence on Public Opinion
- Get to Know Your Donors
The more passionate your donors are about your cause, the more likely they are to contribute.
Fundraising really starts with your staff.
They're the ones who will help you identify lucrative prospects and cultivate these prospects into donors.
So why not reward them for it?
There's a big divide in the nonprofit world in terms of compensation. On one side you have large organizations, like hospitals and universities, who have embraced incentive pay for top fundraising pros.
On the other side, you have everybody else--the ministries, animal shelters, human services agencies, and more--who feel that it's inappropriate for employees to receive bonuses or other incentive-based compensation models.
If you were against them before, maybe you should reconsider compensation structures at your organization. When it comes to compensation, here are six tough questions you need to ask about your nonprofit:
How will we attract and retain outstanding talent in the future?
Is our mission alone enough to motivate employees?
Should we fundraise separately for our cause and operations?
Can our compensation structures be flexible enough to meet generational expectations?
Would the added productivity/motivation/loyalty make up for increased compensation?
Would annual incentives for all employees lead to more widespread commitment?
The conclusions drawn will vary depending on your organization's size and leadership.
But it's worth noting that while higher education and healthcare are leading incentive pay structures, charities in other nonprofit verticals are testing it as well.
Here are a few impressive examples of organizations who have all awarded bonuses within the last three years:
Whether or not your organization decides to update your current compensation structures, it's worth investigating.
Discuss it with your directors and your board, and consider surveying your employees. Ask them what would motivate them more or make them more committed longterm.
Their answers might surprise you! Even small incentives may really motivate your employees to go the extra mile.
Still don't believe us? Take the eye-opening results recently released in The Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual survey of fundraising compensation, and see for yourself.
Why do donors give?
Donors give for many reasons. Some common ones include:
- They believe in the mission
- Someone they love cares about the mission
- They've been personally impacted by the cause
- They feel guilty
- They feel it's their duty
- They want to feel good about themselves
- They want to leave a legacy
But wait. There's one I left out, and it's a big one. Recognition.
Many donors, especially major donors, love being publicly recognized for their philanthropic efforts. The problem is, many organizations, big and small, don't have donor recognition programs in place to adequately recognize their contributors.
Here are 7 variables you need in place for a successful donor recognition program:
An adequate budget allocation, starting at 1% of total money raised
A detail-oriented person to lead your manager of recognition programs
Program parameters (major gifts above a certain amount, consecutive giving, total lifetime giving, etc,) to determine which donors should be recognized
A stewardship activity for each program. In other words, how you'll recognize donors who qualify for these programs
Branding for programs that create exclusivity and make it known to donors what each program is, why they matter, and how they can qualify
Incentives for moving up in giving societies. For example, donors who give for five or more years are invited to exclusive events, while those who've given for twenty-five years or more gain direct access to senior staff members
And here are 7 ways you can publicly recognize donor contributions:
Naming on buildings, rooms, lockers, plaques, or bricks
Including donors' names on your website in an "honor roll"
Inviting donors to large or exclusive events and highlighting their contributions
Mentioning donors in printed monthly newsletters or annual reports
Highlighting donors and the impact they've made in a video piece
Submitting articles on your donors' career accomplishments to publications
Featuring donors on an electronic billboard in your home city or at your headquarters
Everyone loves a little spotlight now and then. By carefully implementing a recognition strategy, your organization will take a huge step toward boosting donor retention rates.
Incentivizing your employees and recognizing your donors will go a long way in terms of fundraising results, but your cause awareness will never grow exponentially unless you have an army of grassroots supporters well-equipped to spread the word.
Many large organizations have adopted peer-to-peer fundraising or grassroots fundraising for their campaigns and events.
For those of you who haven't tried them yet, peer-to-peer campaigns take mobilizing your donors a step further by encouraging them to fundraise for your organization on your behalf.
To get started executing a successful grassroots campaign, you'll want to purchase peer-to-peer fundraising software, complete with an event/campaign microsite and unlimited personal fundraising pages.
The cost for a system like this varies, but most robust systems are between $500-$2,000 for an event.
Although it might seem like a hefty investment, your growth potential will be unlimited. Therefore, this software is priceless, even if you're starting with just ten or fifteen supporters.
With this type of software, each grassroots supporter can form their own fundraising page, complete with personal cases for support, photos, videos, and fundraising trackers.
Your supporters can advocate for your cause and raise funds online from their friends, family, and personal networks. All these individual pages tie back into the main event microsite, where you can:
- Track goals
- Register for an event
- Create your own supporter page
With grassroots fundraising, you'll exponentially increase your cause awareness and gain a host of new donors who already have a connection to your cause.
For some nonprofits, reaping political change is a bigger priority than raising funds.
There are many types of organizations that seek to sway public opinion, such as:
- Human rights organizations
- Healthcare organizations
- Environmental protection organizations
- Animal rights organizations
- Political groups
- International, foreign affairs, and national security organizations
To impact public opinion, these types of organizations need a way to be seen. When the public rises up, the press covers it. When the public and press are loud, politicians and decision makers listen.
In other words, if your nonprofit wants to be heard, you need to reach the public, the press, and the politicians.
Luckily, these types of organizations are more equipped than ever to quickly sway public opinion with online advocacy software.
Advocacy software allows nonprofits to more easily mobilize their supporters to take action, with features to accommodate:
- Emergency email appeals
- Targeted messages to politicians
- Social media posts
- Collecting contributions.
With software, you'll have all of the right tools to pull off successful advocacy campaigns. However, you still need a little bit of strategy.
Jamie Ray-Leonetti, Staff Attorney at the Disability Rights Network of Pennslyania and contributer to Nonprofit Pro, shared advice on lobbying without getting in trouble with the government. Here are her 6 tips for advocacy:
- Look for specific restrictions, such as those on grants
- Keep a checklist of advocacy activities
- Record your time lobbying
- Know your state lobbying rules
- Review your organization's communications
- Check for local lobby rules
Perhaps the best strategy for mobilizing your donors is to get to know them.
These days, more and more supporters are expecting an individualized approach when it comes to their relationships with organizations.
They don't want to see the same message over and over. As people who are investing money in your cause, what supporters really want is for you to get to know them and present your cause in a way that's personally compelling to them.
Although it sounds easy enough in theory, you're probably wondering:
How am I supposed to get to know a base of X number (dozens, hundreds, thousands, etc.) of donors?
Don't worry. Taking a personalized approach to each of your donors is easier than ever, thanks to the help of donor management software.
Donor management software allows nonprofits to centralize all donor data sources for the greatest insight into their donors.
With this type of platform, you can track valuable donor information such as:
- Biographical and contact information
- Familial, household, business, and other bidirectional relationships
- Interaction history including donations made, event attendance, + volunteer work
- Social media accounts
Organizations can even take these profiles a step further by supplementing them with customizable fields and notes or attaching documents.
With this information on hand, you can get to know your donors better and segment them into criteria-based lists, targeting them with individualized outreach strategies that feature more relevant content, such as email marketing or direct mail campaigns.
More relevant content equals higher engagement levels, which equals a greater likelihood that supporters will contribute to your cause.
Although it requires more effort to execute multiple outreach campaigns, trust that the time you spend will be well worth it.
There's a misconception floating around the nonprofit world that marketing and advertising are solely for businesses.
However, this could not be further from the truth. Organizations frequently rely on marketing and advertising to help them raise awareness of their cause and bring attention to their campaigns.
Using them to increase your fundraising results does require some strategy, though. Here are some tips on how to use marketing and advertising to help you rock your fundraising:
- Explore rebranding
- Run sophisticated advertisements
- Don't forget traditional media
- Make the ask explicit
Marketing and advertising might not bring you better fundraising results in and of themselves, but they definitely increase the likelihood you'll reach more potential donors to raise more money for your cause.
NonProfit PRO writer Sean Norris said: "With so many nonprofits focused on development through fundraising methods with measurable ROI, it's easy to overlook something as abstract, as seemingly cosmetic, as branding."
Branding is often misunderstood, and many struggle to see the value of a full rebranding effort. In reality, here are four times rebranding is not only advisable, but necessary:
Name change: Many organizations experience name changes or changes to their acronym over time. Rebranding efforts can help you marry your new identifier with your existing operations.
Updated messaging: Over the years, your mission and audience may have expanded or changed. By refreshing your messaging, your fundraisers, employees, supporters, and marketing efforts will more accurately express the goals of your organization.
Updated look and feel: Since the last time you built a website and made a logo, design standards have probably evolved. Taking a second look at your website and reviving it with a new look or logo can bring you to the modern age and do wonders when it comes to attracting traffic (i.e. potential donors).
- Updated marketing strategy: Since your last brand building effort, a host of new marketing opportunities have likely arisen, especially online. A rebranding effort will bring you back to square one by asking: "Who are my target prospects, and how can I reach them?"
No matter when you choose to return to your branding, remember that a truly great rebranding effort must resonate with your donors and compel them to give or keep on giving.
However, also keep in mind that this 'abstract, seemingly cosmetic' activity called branding doesn't always lead to immediate results. New messaging takes time to catch on and reach fresh audiences, but over time more and more nonprofits are noticing the benefits.
In fact, Sarah Dunham, president of Big Duck, commented in Norris' article that "50% of nonprofits that rebrand report an increase in revenue over a three-year span."
Below is an example of PMP Research Foundation's recent branding overhaul.
PMP's old website is archaic, as is their general look and feel. Over time, they have evolved from a research foundation into an organization focused on three things--informing, researching, and curing--so they needed to find a new approach.
NEW, HOPEFUL BRANDING
This refreshed brand is a hopeful one, with goal-oriented messaging that is sure to excite a new generation of donors.
If you rely on using the same advertisement to cater to every person in your audience, you'll miss your fundraising goals.
Fortunately, as we touched on earlier, segmenting your constituents and audiences is easier than it's ever been for nonprofit marketers and digital fundraisers, thanks to the rise of nonprofit donor management software.
Now, we're going to take segmentation a step further.
Not only can segmentation help you better target your donors when it comes to your outreach and marketing campaigns, but it can also help you advertise smarter.
We already discussed nonprofit CRM software, but here are two other ways that organizations are succeeding with hyper-targeted advertising:Facebook:
According to a recently published report in Nonprofit PRO, Facebook now reaches 81% of the US digital population.
The sheer size of its user base alone means that, when managed correctly, the site is a powerful advertising method.
Luckily, Facebook's advertising platform is inexpensive and simple to use, yet another reason why it's an ideal medium for nonprofit advertising.
With Facebook, you can create Custom Audiences by segmenting your user list based on any number or demographics, locations, and interests.
Once you've published your post, you can watch it grow naturally, or expand its reach with Facebook's ad boost tools.
Although boosting your post does cost money, it's priced in a bidding format based on the number of people you want to reach, giving your organization total control over how much you spend.
Because your ad is already reaching a targeted audience, it can be a very worthwhile investment to spend even a few dollars boosting it.
The leads you gain here are likely to be warmer, increasing the chances that they'll soon be converted into donors.
For more info on Facebook advertising, click here.With Retargeting:
With retargeting, you can programmatically run targeted online advertisements to people who have visited specific pages on your website.
Basically, when someone visits your page, an inconspicuous piece of script is placed on that visitor's browser.
When they leave your site to visit other web pages, the retargeting platform takes note of that script and shows them ads for your organization.
This is a highly valuable way to reconnect with a number of potential supporters, including:
People who visited your donation page but abandoned it before they made a contribution
People who read your volunteer or membership sign-up forms but didn't complete them
- People your mission serves who investigated your programs, but didn't sign up for help
Retargeting is an excellent advertising strategy, because it caters to your inbound leads.
Although retargeting sounds complex, with the guidance of a Google Account Manager, it's not. You can get up and running in no time at all, so you never run the risk of a missed opportunity.
With all the focus on digital nowadays, it's easy to overlook more traditional advertising methods like flyers, direct mail, and print advertising.
Although these will do little for your organization when used by themselves, using them in conjunction with your digital strategies can really bring your fundraising to the next level.
In fact, studies have suggested that donors who are prompted to action through both direct mail and online channels are 50% more likely to give than those who are just prompted online.
And it makes sense. Just think of it this way: the more channels you're using to spread awareness of your organization, the more potential supporters your organization is going to come into contact with.
Not only that, but people also have different preferences when it comes to how they communicate.
While one younger donor might love being addressed through social media, a donor in an older demographic might prefer direct mail.
Using more channels to reach out to your base means increasing your chances of reaching donors in the way they want to be reached.
And contacting donors through their preferred communication channels means they're more likely to engage with your organization.
The number one rule when running advertising for your fundraising campaigns?
Always ask for donations.
Although this tip might seem obvious, a surprising number of nonprofits make the all-too-fatal mistake of forgetting to ask for donations outright.
As someone who's so close to your organization and its efforts, it can seem that any piece of content you send out about your fundraising campaign is obviously requesting donations.
However, even though donors might subconsciously understand that this is the message you're trying to convey, they're much less likely to contribute to your organization if they're unclear on how to take the next steps.
That's why, no matter what channel you're using to engage your donors, you should always include a call to action.
A call to action lets supporters know exactly how they can contribute and directs them to where they can do so. Because it's clear and convenient, there's a greater chance they'll donate.
Your calls to action don't necessarily have to be asks for donations. They're just as effective when it comes to prompting supporters to take other actions, such as:
Signing up for your email newsletter
Following your Facebook page or other social media sites
Completing an advocacy action like signing a petition or sending a letter to a legislator
Participating in an event
Signing up for a membership
They'll never know unless you ask. No matter what action you're requesting, make sure it's clear so your organization never misses out on a valuable fundraising opportunity from something as avoidable as poor communication.
As most nonprofits already know, these days digital fundraising channels are really where the money's at.
With more and more people browsing the web, using their smartphones, and signing up for social media, your organization would be remiss if you didn't incorporate at least a few digital strategies into your fundraising campaigns.
Need a good place to start? Here are some digital fundraising strategies to help bring you to the modern age:
- Master video
- Split-test online donation pages
- Tweak your website
- Go social
- Be mobile responsive
With these tips on your side, you'll have a good place to start rocking your digital fundraising efforts.
According to Cisco, by 2020, video will account for 82% of all internet traffic.
How will your cause own a percentage of that exploding traffic over the next two years?
In the July 2015 issue of NonProfit PRO magazine, Joe Boland's article "Video: The Communications Channel Every Nonprofit Must Master" highlighted video as the fastest growing and most impactful type of content for nonprofits.
Boland continued, "Part of implementing a strong video strategy is knowing how to make a good video. It's not about studio quality or budgeting dollars. It's all about storytelling, just like everything else when it comes to nonprofit fundraising or advocacy."
If your nonprofit doesn't have a strategy yet, here are a few ideas to get started.
Want to give supporters a live peek inside a day at your organization?
With the arrival of Facebook Live and the stories feature from Instagram and Snapchat, you don't need a professional camera and a tv network. All you need is your smartphone.
With incredible live video streaming apps like Meerkat and Periscope, you can broadcast live video to your network of supporters wherever they are!
Learn more about live video:
- The Marketer's Guide to Facebook Live - Hubspot
- The Beginner's Guide to Periscope - Social Media Week
You have more video resources to connect with your audience now than at any time in history.
Using that same iPhone or Android, you can record short videos and publish them to your YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, or Twitter accounts.
Here are a five things you might want to record and share:
- Emergency fundraising appeals
- Relief trip updates
- Thank you videos from those you're helping
- Volunteer stories
- Campaign or fund progress updates
With amateur video, it's important to remember that "good enough is good to go."
No video is perfect, much less one shot on an iPhone. It's more important for you to get your message out than it is to spend time editing your video.
The benefits of smartphone videos are that you can connect with your audience on social media on a daily basis.
However, there are definitely certain videos that require a higher quality and call for the help of a professional videographer.
Here are four instances when professional video production is the most impactful means of fundraising:
- Your background video on your nonprofit website home page
- Cause impact stories at galas, dinners, or events
- TV commercials
- YouTube advertising
If your budget for professional video is tight, look to partner with talented local college students or freelancers who want to give back!
Finally, always keep your target constituent personas in mind when you're making a video.
As Boland said, "Video is especially useful for donor retention - thus you must think about how to use video in every phase of the donor cycle."
The best digital fundraising operations are vigilant about their online forms, a sampling of which includes:
- Donation pages
- Membership pages
- Event registration pages
- Volunteer sign up pages
- Contact pages
Organizations with the most successful pages make sure they're designed in a way that will encourage visitors to complete the forms (aka convert).
Let's take donation pages as an example. Here are the 6 steps you can take to optimize your online donation pages:
Research: Discover what makes high-converting landing pages great by looking at a few examples.
Build two versions: Finding the most successful page is all about experimenting. Build two pages with two different looks, so you can see what works best.
Set conversion rate goals: Your conversion rate will vary depending on the action you want your visitors to take. For example, for a donation page, start with a goal of converting 25% of page visitors into completed donations.
Split-test your pages: The simplest way to test your two versions is by publishing one page at a time and waiting until enough visitors have been to the page to make the results statistically relevant. Another manual way is to publish both and send some of your web traffic to one page and some of your web traffic to another.
- Analyze the results with technology: Once you've tested, analyze the results to start honing your donation pages. Here are three analytics tools you can't go without:
- Optimizely: Not only will Optimizely automatically serve up your two versions, it will provide performance analytics in real time.
- Google Analytics: The free option that will give you the statistics you need on each landing page version.
HotJar: For only $29/month, HotJar analytics and feedback will let you track conversion rates, record visits to your pages, and view heatmaps of how visitors were browsing the page.
- Repeat: Based on your findings, you should make adjustments, reset your goals, keep testing, and keep educating yourself on what factors influence conversions.
That means designing your donation pages to be quick and responsive.
Consider this: 65% of nonprofits are still using an online donation form that requires three or more clicks to submit a donation.
If you can bring that number down to one, your organization will have an advantage over all of them!
We already touched on websites a little when discussing rebranding, but as the home base of your organization's online presence, they deserve a second visit.
Your website will likely be the way that most supporters first come into contact with you online, so it's important to make a good first impression!
Here are a few keys to designing a compelling and convincing website:
Create cohesion: All aspects of your website should reflect your brand, so users are always aware of your organization while they're browsing. Stick to one color scheme, formatting, and font throughout to avoid confusing your visitors.
Tell your story: Websites that feature a heartfelt story are more likely to engage browsers. When readers understand why you're so passionate about the cause, they'll trust your organization and want to follow suit.
Include engaging content: The best marketing strategy is providing users something of value. Include informative articles, videos, case studies, audio, and more to let users know about your campaign and cause and to help them see the value in it.
Keep content easily readable: Avoid overwhelming your readers with huge blocks of text. Content that's broken down into short and punchy paragraphs is easier to digest, increasing the likelihood that visitors will stop and read your message.
Use visuals: Visuals create interest, break up chunks of text, and are a proven engagement strategy. Although you should incorporate them wherever it's logical, avoid incorporating too many or they'll lose their impact.
Make it user-friendly: Nothing is a bigger buzzkill than a complicated website. Make sure your navigation is clear and that you feature the most important links (like the one to your donation page) in an obvious place, so that when people want to find them, they can.
Include calls to action: As is the case for any channel you're using to promote your cause, you should provide users the opportunity to keep interacting with your organization. Including a clear call to action lets them know the next steps and engages them for longer.
Restrict your funds: On your website's donation page, it can be more effective to give your donors multiple defined donation options. For example, if you run an animal shelter, they could make a $15 donation for leashes, a $30 donation for pet food, or a $20 donation for toys. When they know exactly how their money is helping your cause, they're more likely to give.
- Analyze: As you do with your donation pages, you should keep testing your website to see if it's working effectively. Run analytics, adjust your strategies, and continue refining your site to see improved results.
Remember, your website is not an island.
It's one piece of your overall fundraising strategy that must be supplemented by other efforts to be truly effective. That being the case, make sure your website is cohesive with the rest of your efforts and can help you support and develop them.
In 2016, 78% of all adults use at least one social media site. That number continues to grow year after year.
So, what does that mean, exactly?
If your nonprofit wants to stay up-to-date with the latest trends, you should consider developing a social media presence if you haven't already.
Although social media has a low conversion rate, it's an excellent place to identify potential donors and start engaging them.
But that doesn't mean social media won't bring you results. Studies have suggested that a strong social media presence raises organizations' overall fundraising results by around 40%.
The beauty of social media is that there are many different sites to help you with your fundraising efforts. Each of these sites has unique capabilities, allowing you to share your message in unique ways.
Let's briefly discuss the two of the most popular social media sites--Facebook and Twitter-- and explore the ways that nonprofits can utilize them to enhance their fundraising strategies.
In terms of number of users, Facebook is the most popular social media site out there.
With over 1 billion daily users, Facebook is an ideal place for nonprofits to reach new donors and begin the engagement process.
The main benefit of Facebook is that, as a social networking site, it gives donors many opportunities to interact directly with your organization.
Here are only a few of the fundraising strategies the site's platform is good for:
- Creating a group page that provides users with information about your organization.
- Running peer-to-peer campaigns
- Making shout outs to donors, highlighting their contributions
- Directing traffic to your website by sharing compelling articles and posts
- Targeted advertising
- Establishing relationships with other nonprofits by sharing their content
Your overall Facebook fundraising strategy should be to build a community that can grow your reach farther and wider and lead prospects to different channels that will continue to engage them and seal their conversion.
As another social networking site, Twitter can be used for many of the same efforts as Facebook, but its platform also caters to a different approach.
With a character limit, Twitter forces your posts to be more immediate and to-the-point.
In the days of information overload, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, with short, digestible posts, it can be much easier to engage and keep your message fresh in supporters' minds. Here's how:
- Give brief campaign updates, highlight supporters, and retweet content from other organizations to build a community
- Use strategic hashtags to engage with your supporters
- Build your authority on twitter by using a developing a branded hashtag
- Tweet at leaders and legislators to put public pressure on them
- Live tweet your fundraising events to give supporters updates
- Tease longer articles and posts to create intrigue and keep supporters interacting with you
- Encourage followers to tweet their donations in hopes of motivating others
When it comes to your overall social media strategy, keep your website best practices in mind. Your pages should be easy to navigate, include compelling and informative content, and complement the rest of your fundraising strategy.
Most importantly, because these are engagement channels, always include a call to action.
Defining the next steps is the best chance you have of converting your visitors into donors.
In 2015, 51% of consumers used mobile devices to consume digital media. Yet a survey from Nonprofit Hub found that that less than half of nonprofit websites are mobile responsive. It sounds crazy, but it's true.
Far too many nonprofits are missing out on an entire platform for engaging their donors, and thus missing out on countless fundraising opportunities.
Because so many people are browsing from their smartphones nowadays, it's crucial to incorporate mobile into your fundraising strategy.
Accepting mobile donations is the pinnacle of convenience, because it allows your supporters to contribute from wherever, whenever the fancy strikes.
You can optimize mobile giving in two main ways:
Mobile responsive online donation pages: The donation pages you spent hours so carefully crafting for your donors to view from their computers? With the right fundraising software, these donation pages will automatically be mobile responsive so they'll look great no matter which device contributors access them from.
Text-to-give: As its name suggests, text-to-give software enables donors to contribute by simply texting a donation amount to a giving number that's unique to your nonprofit. It's super quick and easy for donors to give from their phones, and it's ideal for nonprofits because donation processing takes seconds.
With mobile giving options, you'll have more responsive donors, because they'll be able to give on their terms.
There's power in numbers.
Strategically pairing up with sponsors can be an excellent way for your nonprofit to expand its reach.
Here are a few ways that teamwork can help you make the dream work:
- Form strong corporate partnerships
- Leverage celebrity endorsers
- Surf the web
- Find matching gift opportunities
With multiple allies on your side to help you work towards your goals, you're sure to see increased fundraising results.
While individual contributors will likely account for the majority of fundraising support, there are a host of nonprofit partnership opportunities with the corporate and for-profit world that will support your mission.
Forming a corporate partnership is mutually beneficial, so many companies will jump at the chance to team up.
Here are 9 types of corporate partnership relationships worth exploring:
Corporate Event Sponsorships: With corporate sponsorships, the company gets free advertising and the good name that comes with supporting a good cause. Nonprofits raise more money by getting paid to advertise. Start selling sponsorships 15 months in advance of your event. If you're hosting annual events, try offering multi-year sponsorships.
Corporate Donations: The most basic of all corporate partnerships? A large check to the organization with no strings attached! This often takes having an inside contact at the company.
Corporate Foundation Grants: This strategy takes a bit more paperwork than a pure corporate donation, but corporate grants can be enormously beneficial. Almost every large corporation has a grant program. Wal-Mart, Target, Macy's, Lowe's, and Wells Fargo are just a few of the big names.
Fundraising Drive: Take a nod from longtime partners Boston Red Sox, WEEI/NESN, and The Jimmy Fund who hold an annual Radio-Telethon to raise funds towards beating cancer. Read about it here.
Make-A-Wish: If you're an organization that works with kids, consider partnering with Make-A-Wish. The organization grants all sorts of wishes to kids who have been diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses to make their days a little brighter.
Co-Advertising: This strategy is similar to corporate event sponsorship, just without the event. The corporation pays your nonprofit money to include them in your advertising. For example, MLB pays for $25M/year in advertising with the Boys & Girls Clubs.
Free Advertising: Radio or TV stations may offer free ad spots to your cause as long as you agree to work with them exclusively.
Naming Rights: Offer companies naming rights to certain rooms, buildings, or vehicles in exchange for a donation.
Success-Based Donation: Oftentimes, you'll see a partnership where every time a baseball pitcher strikes out 10 batters, a corporation will give $1000 to a certain charity. Success-based donations can be applied to anything if you get creative enough. See if you can come to an agreement with a local company.
Corporate Champion: Empower a corporate champion to post flyers, put up a table near the cafeteria, ask colleagues for donations, assemble volunteer groups, or form corporate teams for your next 5k. Get creative, but don't be so persistent that you annoy your supporter's colleagues.
The nonprofit and for-profit world have more in common than you might at first expect. Finding ways to help each other will only benefit you both.
In Nonprofit PRO's August edition, Sean Norris explored the dichotomy of celebrity endorsers.
Associating your cause with an athlete, entertainer, or politician can be highly rewarding for your organization, but it can also be risky.
On the one hand, Norris highlighted the example of cyclist Lance Armstrong, whose endorsement turned out to be a good a scenario gone bad for Livestrong. On the other, he pointed to golfer Jack Nicklaus as a pretty sure bet that did end up paying off for Miami Children's Health Foundation.
So, how do you ensure that your organization's celebrity endorsement is successful?
The organizations with the most successful celebrity endorsements establish or discover a personal connection between the celebrity and their cause.
If the celebrity is personally impacted by what you do, then you'll have a much better chance of winning long-term support.
Along with Nicklaus, the article highlighted Leonardo DiCaprio's support of ocean conservation as a case of authentic, organic celebrity support.
The takeaway here: Don't just seek out a celebrity for their name. Make sure there's a true connection.
Let's be honest. We all probably spend too much time surfing the web.
So why not turn that online browsing time into a fundraising strategy?
Often, you can form partnerships without even leaving your computer. Many popular websites have programs in place that allow them to give back by splitting a portion of their earnings with nonprofits who help them advertise or conduct research.
Although these are generally not a way to raise big bucks, if you keep up with them consistently, it can add up to bring in a nice chunk of change without you having to exert much extra effort.
Let's look at a few examples of how you can use the internet to increase your fundraising.
What if you got money just to search the web? We know it sounds too good to be true, but that's exactly what Goodsearch does. The site pays nonprofits a portion of their advertising earnings each time your organization makes a search.
All you have to do is download their search bar onto your browser and continue surfing the web as usual. Each time you type a query into your searchbar, Goodsearch will put a penny towards your cause.
Although that might sound miniscule, when you think about how many daily searches your organization makes, it really adds up. You can also urge supporters of your cause to download Goodsearch, too.
Plus, your organization would be searching the web anyway, so you might as well raise a little extra money in the process!
Amazon's Affiliate program will pay nonprofits commission to help the site advertise certain products and drive traffic to their website.
How this works is that your organization starts by picking out the products it wants to advertise. As the king of online marketplaces, on Amazon you're sure to find a bounty of products related to your cause.
Then, to advertise you simply copy a link that the site has generated and share it on your website, social media pages, or other outlets. Any time someone makes a purchase from one of the links you shared, you'll get up to 10% of Amazon's advertising earnings.
10% may not seem like a lot, but with hundreds of thousands of users shopping on the site daily, your portion should be considerable.
With Welzoo, your organization gets money for simply opening your web browser.
To sign up, all you have to do is select the organization of your choosing, then set Welzoo as your homepage. Every time you open up your browser to search the web, the site will bring you to a random website based on your interests.
Your work stops there. For each day you come to the site, Welzoo will automatically donate 3 cents to your organization.
Again, it might seem like your organization is getting chump change, but again, this is extra money you'd be getting for doing something your organization already does and isn't yet getting rewarded for.
Urge your supporters to download Welzoo, too, and watch the change add up.
These are just a few ideas for how you can make money online, but there are many out there with similar program, so do some exploring.
Using these sites alone will bring in a few extra funds, but when you combine their power, you'll see impressive fundraising results from minimal extra effort.
One way for nonprofits to significantly increase their fundraising results is by seeking out matching gift opportunities.
Matching gifts are a relatively easy way for organizations to raise more money, if they know where to look. Just think about it: all the effort you put into soliciting donations will be doubled with virtually no extra work on your part!
The problem here is that many organizations don't have the right tools to help them successfully identify and process these gifts.
For a matching gift to work, first you have to find a prospect who's willing to provide one. Usually, the easiest way to do this is to seek out donors who have relationships with companies that offer matching gift programs.
With this software, your donors enter their employers' names to see if their companies offer matching gift opportunities. Once they do, this information will automatically be recorded in your database so you can track this information and pinpoint your best prospects.
Now that you know where to look, you can promote matching gifts to your donors and give them all of the tools they need to successfully submit these gifts.
Oftentimes, donors are more likely to give if your fundraising efforts include events.
Events motivate your supporters, because they reward giving with a fun experience and connect supporters to the greater community.
In order to really be successful with your event fundraising, just as in any other effort, you need to have a solid strategy in place.
Here are a few of our tips for running world-class events that will help you blow your fundraising out of the water:
- Enlist help
- Host a major event
- Start a tradition... but remember that it's ok to mix it up
- Reduce your costs
Fundraising events are easy in theory, highly time-consuming in actuality, and a true logistical nightmare for many.
It's hard to do events well, but you don't have to do them alone. There are several tools that organizations use to help them pull off world-class events. Let's look into a few.
For attendees, nothing is more annoying than a cumbersome ticket purchasing experience. And as for your organization—be honest—ticketing is often one of the most manual, laborious tasks in the event process.
Luckily, technology is here to make it less stressful for everyone.
Ticketing management software such as ShowClix helps you manage general admission, reserved seating inventory, marketing, memberships and more. You'll be able to keep your VIPs happy and easily handle last minute or walk up registrants.
If it seems counterintuitive to invest money in a process that you're supposed to be collecting money from, perhaps you need to value your time more highly.
If you're the event manager (which probably means you're also the development director or executive director), you should be worried about selling sponsorships and marketing the event, not tallying up VIPs in an spreadsheet.
Event Management with your Nonprofit CRM
Don't just stop at selling tickets!
ShowClix integrates with Salsa CRM, so nonprofits enjoy an end-to-end solution that can oversee all steps of the event-planning process, including:
- Task reminders
- Auction checkout
- Payment processing
- Donation tracking
- Event reporting
Now, not only will your events run smoothly, but you can also collect valuable data from them that can inform and help you hone your other fundraising strategies.
Now, that's the ultimate!
Hire Event Coordinators
What would happen if you outsourced the event coordination process to a professional?
Although you would miss out on some of the planning, let's be honest. Would you really miss decorating, set up, vendor logistics, etc.?
If you really want to run a world-class event, there's always the option to hire an outstanding event company.
This way, you'll spend less time on logistics, so you can focus on delighting your donors and supporters and maximizing the event ROI potential.
Speaking of ROI, here are the events that statistically are producing the highest ROI.
Why host one event when you can host four or five or six, etc.?
Although it sounds like a lot of work, with a major event, you can kill two birds (or four or five or six, etc.) with one stone.
A major event is one big event that includes many smaller events.
With this strategy your organization will technically be hosting only one event. It will just include many different components to help you raise the maximum amount of funds.
For this one to work, you need to schedule a bunch of mini-events around your city to take place on the same day.
For example, you could plan a carnival at the local park, an art exhibition at the local museum, and ask local shops and restaurants to give you a portion of their proceeds while the event is taking place.
The amount and type of mini-events are up to you. Just make sure you have a volunteer or staff member in each place to take contributions and help you oversee the effort.
Major events can be challenging to pull off, but they can be immensely rewarding if you have the resources.
The more events you have going, the more opportunities you have to raise money and increase your funds.
Plus, by diversifying your activities, you'll be able to cater to more of your supporters' interests and entice a wider audience.
If your organization has already found a fundraising event that works, why not stick with it?
Hosting an annual events can be an excellent fundraising strategy for nonprofits for a number of reasons, including:
Recognition: Hosting an annual event establishes consistency and gives supporters something to associate with your cause, making your organization more recognizable.
Greater chance of success: Remember that old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"? The same could apply to your fundraising event. If you know something has worked in the past, it's likely to work again.
More possibility for growth: The more times you throw an event, the more experienced you'll be with that event. Because you're not as focused on the logistics, each year you can make it bigger and bigger to attract more supporters.
Easier to improve: When you throw the same event year after year, you get an idea of what works and what doesn't. Unlike with single occasion events, you can keep honing your event over the years to see improved results.
If your organization has yet to find the right annual event, first do some brainstorming and think about your supporters. Based on your cause, what type of event would most likely speak to their interests and compel them to attend?
Once you've found the perfect event, you're bound to rock your fundraising for years to come.
Many nonprofits fall into the all-too-easy habit of running the same, predictable event year after year, inviting the same people and hoping that it will be better.
But that's the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over, expecting a better outcome.
In other words? Annual events are excellent fundraising strategies, but their success will be limited if you don't constantly work to improve them.
There are a couple of ways you can continue optimizing your events:
Well, that's not all that fundraising software is good for!
Because it's collecting all of your data sources in one place, software can give you better insights into your events and help you keep improving them over the years.
For example, say you were hosting an annual auction. With software, you could insert into your database all of the gifts-in-kind donors gave as auction items, then track their success over the years and raise the prices of any bestsellers to increase your fundraising results.
You can also track who bid what and who attended, so you can better target your donor outreach for your next event.
Auction software can even help you keep track of donors’ bidding and giving habits. If you see that, over time, your auction attendees vastly prefer one type of item over another, you can tailor future events to suit their preferences.
For instance, let’s say that after two auctions over the course of two years, you see that arts-based auction items do very well. They receive the most bids, and the average closing bid is far above what other items sell for.
Now, you wouldn’t want to go completely overboard and only sell art pieces at your next auction, but at least you know that, in general, your supporters enjoy bidding against each other for paintings, sculptures, and other works of art.
Make sure that you take donors’ preferences into account when planning your auction (or any fundraising event for that matter!).
Try Something New:
Your annual event doesn't always have to be exactly the same.
In fact, it shouldn't always be exactly the same. In order to keep donors coming back for more, you want to keep exciting them with new surprises.
Keeping the basic flavor of your annual event intact, mix it up by introducing a new twist.
For example, if you've always held a gala year after year like PHN Charitable Foundation, then mix it up with a city wide mini golf tournament. If an annual dinner/auction is the norm, why not bring in some slot machines and gaming tables and make it a casino night?
With this strategy, you'll still get the benefits of an annual event, but without running the risk that your event will become so predictable that your supporters will lose interest.
When it comes to the costs it takes to put them up, not all fundraising events are created equal.
The big moneymakers often require big investments to pull them off. While other events might not bring in quite as much, they cost little if nothing to run. Other events fall somewhere in between.
So, one of the best way to maximize your event fundraising results? Host the events that are most affordable to run.
Although you might not technically make more money hosting these types of events, reducing your costs will allow you to save more money to put towards your cause.
Here are a few ideas for affordable events.
50-50 raffles cost next to nothing to put on and are an easy way to raise some funds. Basically, all you need to pull this one off are raffle tickets.
During the course of the event, your organization raises money by selling $1 raffle tickets to supporters. Once the allotted time is up, you and the winner will split the proceeds evenly.
You can host this event on its own or in tandem with another event to quickly raise some extra cash.Money is an excellent incentive for winners, especially since the amount that's raised depends on the amount of tickets they buy. Offer deals for multiple tickets to make the pot bigger and increase your winnings!
The Don't Come Event:
The don't come event is a paradox that works.For this event, your organization will forgo holding an actual event and instead invite supporters to donate.
In order to pull this one off successfully, it's important to be completely transparent and heartfelt with your donors when making your appeals.
As simply and straightforwardly as possible, explain that your organization is cutting the expenses of hosting an event to maximize the funds raised for your cause.
Since you're really relying on your donors' trust for this one, it helps to provide supporters with a clear and quantifiable goal so they know exactly how their money is furthering your cause.
The only thing you need to spend money on are your invites. Print them out on nice paper and send them to your donors by mail to make them feel special.
The rest is up to them!
Skills-based events are fun because they bring your community together and allow everyone to have their fifteen minutes of fame.
Some ideas for skills-based events include:
- Talent shows
- Battle of the bands
- Spelling bees
- Trivia competitions
- Comedy nights
All you need are an event space and people who are willing to volunteer their talents for your cause. To raise money, charge an admission fee and put out buckets for each participant so people can cheer on their favorites with their dollars.
A skills-based event won't cost you much, and your supporters will love seeing their peers' talents shine.
There are many different approaches you can take to enhance your fundraising.
Although any one of these strategies by itself can help you improve your results, the best efforts incorporate strategies from all of these categories for the most effective and comprehensive fundraising.
No matter which strategies are right for your organization, it's important to remember that your fundraising is always a work in progress.
Keep honing your strategies, and you'll continue to see amazing results for years to come!