1. Prepare Thoroughly:
Think things all the way through( from the beginning of the campaign to after its over) and with all due respect to Nike, don’t just do it.
Start by defining the who, what, where, when and why; plot out the course of the fundraising programs you want to offer.
- Why are you doing this? What’s the purpose and goal?
- When do the different campaigns start, when do they end;
- What are the financial,membership, volunteer, etc., targets, specifically?
- Who is in charge, who will prepare the materials?
- Which segments of your membership will receive the solicitation?
- All of them, only some subsets?
- If only some of them, which groups, and why are you selecting them.
2. Know Your Stuff:
Assemble calendars, numbers, key goals and be super clear about what they are. If you can’t name them off the top of your head, assemble all this info in once place that you can easily find.
Do your homework: find out all you can about the donors you will be asking:
- Who are your typical donors: how old are they, what do they care about, where do they live, etc.
- What is the average gift, how long does it take to receive it after the ask?
- How frequently have they donated in the past and what amounts?
- When do most of the funds come in, when do the least?
- Are they are events associated with either of these? ( Eg holiday giving, february doldrums..)
If you don’t have this information now, start now by making sure you begin a file in a donor management or cCMS system. The more of this data you can acquire, the stronger your fundraising planning will be going forward.
3. The Past Can Predict The Future:
- What fundraising efforts have worked really well for you in the past? Do you know why?
- Which sucked? Why?
- What do you know you have to include, or have to avoid?
DId you receive compliments or complaints about past efforts?
4. Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls:
Start close to home, start with those who have already shown their support. Start with the board- it is crucial to have 100% board support. They must set the example for others; they know and care enough to invest in your success with time, effort and money. If they dn’ donate, why should others?
New donors cost 7 times more in time and expense to bring in than it does to nourish an existing donor relationship.
Fundraising is not free, its requires planning and execution time, cost for design and materials, Be thoughtful about how you invest your time and money, consider the return you will get on them both.
No letters to Oprah or Bill Gates, ever.
- Who are your biggest donors?
- What do they need to see and hear to move up to the next level?
- Who are your most loyal and long time donors, even if not the largest?
- Who are your most frequent donors, even if not the largest?
Who are the other stakeholders ( in other words those who have a vested interest in your work) and where are they? What does their contribution history look like?
- Do your donors respond well to challenge grants?
- Do they respond well to special initiatives or causes?
- Are they crowdfunder or peer-to-peer fundraising types?
- What are YOUR donors good with and where is it reasonable to stretch them.
Be realistic, what has worked best for you?
Don’t jump on the fundraising trend bandwagon, lately it has been major gifts. If your organization is not ready or prepared to create this kind of campaign, don’t do it. Understand what you can produce well and what you are simply not ready to pursue.
5. No Man is An Island
It can be helpful include other departments in your development and fundraising planning (but do remain in charge).
Ask for input and suggestions, not just criticism. Ask them what solicitations they have seen at home or outside the office that might be helpful to your plans, in a good way or a bad way. What looks great and what is a turn off.
Ask them to engage and become part of the outcome and success, not simply spectators and critics.
Allow them to be part of the success you achieve.
6. Where Is Your Bread Buttered?
Don’t fall into the corporate trap, remember these folks donate about 5 % of the total dollars donated, versus about 73% from individual donors.
Fondations deliver even less. If you have the time and staff to prepare LOI’s and grants, that’s great; however, if you don’t have a track record her, chasing these funds might need to be lower on your priority list.
7. Speak The Language:
The better you know your donor pool, the better you can design your fundraising campaigns to trigger the responses you want to see from them. Speak their language, show them the results of your work they want to see.
- If they donors respond to glorious pictures of your clients and work in the field, don’t numb them with a bunch of statistics.
- Meet them on their turf, not yours.
- Tell your story in language they understand and use.
3 Important Don’ts
- Be slow to respond to requests for more information. Anticipate the questions that donor might will ask about who you are, what you do and importantly, how the funds are used to deliver your mission. have any necessary documents ready, including your exemption letter, annual report, newsletter. This will speed up your process to develop a good connection show donors that you are organized and responsive.
- Be discouraged if the initial answer is NO. If a donor declines, they have not necessarily rejected you forever! You can make progress by a gracious acceptance and requesting their feedback, request the opportunity to speak with them at a later date.
- Forget that you are competing with other nonprofits and worthy causes who are currently fundraising. Be honest with yourself about how attractive your organization is compared to others. Be aware of campaign with missions similar to yours, what are you doing better, or worse? Make sure you proceed only when you truly believe you will stand out from the crowd and make choosing you both obvious and easy.
The Bottom Line:
You are doing important work, do your best to do it well. You can do this, and you will do it beautifully. If you would like some assistance being your best, call anytime.
310 828 6979
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