Are you prepared to fundraise in the New Year?
Will you meet, or even exceed, last year’s fundraising goals?
How much more could you raise with a few changes to your plan? Follow these 10 steps and I guarantee you’ll leave last year in the dust.
1. Start by setting some goals.
As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you’ve arrived?
Your goal should NOT simply be 5% more than you raised last year, OR the gap in your budget, which is the way so many organizations decide on their target.
Instead, your goal should be the amount you estimate you can raise based on the prospective donors you’ve identified and the fundraising activities and campaigns you have planned. Once you’ve figured out what that number is, if there’s still a gap between what you expect to raise and what you need in terms of your budget, then you’ll want to look into an alternate strategy to raise even more.
2. Next, focus on individuals.
If you’ve been in fundraising for a while, you may already have heard Giving USA’s all-important statistic: 80% of donations come from individuals (70% during their lifetime and 10% via bequest). If corporations and foundations are your fundraising focus, then you have a huge opportunity to raise a considerable amount from individuals. Make next year the year of face-to-face giving for your organization and you should significantly increase your fundraising revenue.
Remember, fundraising from individuals doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience, persistence, and a plan. Start by identifying your top 20 individual prospective donors (include your best donors and board members on your list whenever appropriate). Develop a one page cultivation plan (relationship building) for each person on your list. Then, set a date to ask!
3. Ask for planned gifts.
Planned gifts are the best way for organizations to start or grow an endowment fund. Asking your closest donors and board members to consider a bequest is the easiest way to start a planned giving program. Creating an endowment fund helps alleviate the burden of fundraising on future fundraisers. Furthermore, it will help ensure the stability of your organization in the future. The time to start is now.
4. Start a monthly giving program.
If you have the technology (to automatically charge or withdraw monthly donations) you should start or work to increase your monthly donor program. While it may be slightly more expensive to administer, most donors will give more through monthly giving. For example, a $100 annual donor might consider contributing $20 per month, which brings them up to $240 for the year.
You want to focus on increasing the number of individuals who participate, as well as increasing any current participant’s giving levels. Be sure to include an option for monthly giving on your website and make it easy for donors to choose this option. Advertise it in your newsletter. Lastly, include monthly giving as an option as part of your annual appeal materials.
5. Bolster your social media presence.
According to a 2012 Chronicle of Philanthropy study, online giving is on the rise. Organizations that are focused on using the power of Twitter, Facebook and other online channels are seeing big gains of ten percent or more. How much did your online giving increase this year?
6. Utilize volunteers.
Would you ever open a can without a can opener?
That’s my favorite analogy for fundraising without volunteers. Volunteers that fundraise for your cause have the power to broaden networks and leverage resources in a way that most staff members could never dream of. Think of your volunteers as a fundraising army, and use them as such. Provide them with specific tasks, training and tools so they (and you) can succeed.
7. Plan a board retreat.
Board members set the tone for fundraising at any organization. If you want to raise significantly more money next year, you will want to make sure you’re engaging your board members in the most meaningful way possible. Board retreats provide wonderful opportunities for networking and socialization, strategic planning, and fundraising training.
For better or for worse, board members listen more carefully to an outside facilitator. Consider hiring an experienced consultant (such as myself) to facilitate your next board retreat. Benefits of using an outside facilitator include a fresh perspective on your organization’s issues, an impartial mediator of disputes, and a professional who can bring best practices to your retreat.
If you cannot afford an outside facilitator, consider swapping executive directors or development directors with another organization. It will expose you both to new ideas and methods.
8. Try something new.
Plan one new fundraising activity for next year. It could even be from this list. For example: fundraising from individuals in a face-to-face way, soliciting planned gifts, starting a monthly giving program, or even fundraising online.
I’m not recommending that you add one more “event” to your already event-laden schedule. Step out of your comfort zone and try something you haven’t tried before to help you raise more money this year. You may discover gold in the process.
9. Attend a few conferences and workshops.
In order to fully understand the best practices and latest techniques in fundraising, it is essential to invest in continuing education.
Try to attend workshops or conferences at least twice per year. Investigate your local nonprofit center or Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for a wide variety of topics and sessions.
10. Be sure to measure your results.
Let’s say you surpassed your goal last year and you’re feeling pretty good about that. You report this exciting news to the board, and they’re feeling confident about fundraising income. However, you neglected to pay attention to the reason you surpassed your goal, which was due to two large one-time gifts.
If you had looked at the numbers more closely, you would’ve realized that even though you surpassed your goal, the actual number of donors was down. In fact, if it hadn’t been for the two unexpected gifts, giving would have been way down.
Be certain to measure results in several ways to get a complete picture, including number of repeat donors, lapsed donors, new donors, average gift size, and median gift. Total giving is not the only or ultimate way to measure fundraising success.
The steps above are not simple, but they will work wonders for your nonprofit. If you need a hand, don’t be afraid to ask. Contact me — I’m ready to help.