As an event planning company dedicated to assisting nonprofit clients in their fundraising efforts, we are often asked by many of our clients the perennial question: “How can we do better in our fundraising?” It is no secret that fundraising is a business and as such subject to the same dynamics as many other businesses. The challenge for many of our clients is to evergreen the process in order to ensure that their fundraising goals are met—or exceeded. Here are some golden rules:
Learn About Your Donors
Donors are the lifeblood of nonprofits. Without loyal and dedicated donors, most initiatives of many nonprofits could suffer or be severely curtailed. So, getting to know the principal donors becomes critical in the nonprofits’ ability to sustain viable operations. To get to know the donors, here are some key questions:
What programs do they care about?
What motivates them to give?
What other causes do they support?
How engaged do they feel toward your organization?
What are their views on how you take their views into account?
How important is the cause for them?
What suggestions do they have for your organization [anything].
Clearly, you can’t reach all donors or be able to have meaningful interactions with all of them. In that case, effective outreach tools must be devised to “survey” a larger pool of donors.
It’s All About Retention
Let’s face it, regardless of the cause or the level of efforts you put in producing a fundraising event, there are donors that are “captured” somewhat at random. Maybe it was your celebrity appearance, or the venue, or a friend arm-twisted a donor to attend your gala event and/or make a generous donation. For many nonprofits, to secure a new donor is a challenging task indeed. It is, therefore, far more cost effective to put most of your efforts into retention strategies.
Converting a first-time donor to make subsequent donations is—or should be—the No. 1 task in donor engagement. Take a closer look at your donors—especially first-time donors. They make up a valuable pool of possible regular donors. While only about 20% of first-time donors are typically retained, nearly 65% of repeat donors are retained. To convert that 20% into the 65% pool, a number of steps must be taken:
Reach out to the first-time donors.
Find out why they made their donation.
What in your mission appeals to them?
How can you get them more engaged?
What are their broader gifting goals?
Devise An Outreach Plan
Different donors have different motivations for giving. A blanket fit-all strategy does not work. However, there are still some basic questions that can capture the bulk of most donors’ motivations on the basis of which a cultivation strategy can be devised. Questions such as their capacity, inclination, prior giving, and interests. Every new donor presents your organization with a goldmine that can be a potential source of reliable giving.
Make It Personal
It is no secret that there is stiff competition for any donor’s gifts—and their commitment to any cause. Make your donors feel special. Put in place steps that recognize all major donors. Here are some tips:
Thank them for their donation personally.
Make a point of periodically stopping by to renew your acquaintance.
Ensure that your appeal or acknowledgment make your donor feel great about themselves.
Make all your communication feel personal [i.e., no form letters].
To the extent possible, call your donors to enhance the engagement [i.e., don’t hide behind an email or letter].
Inject genuine sincerity in all your interactions with your donors.
Putting It All Together
Regardless of the cause, nonprofits rely heavily on donors to be able to carry out their planned programs. Donors are one of the key stakeholders; lifeblood of the work nonprofits do; and a source of continuous encouragement and motivation for nonprofit executives. However, the work of nonprofits when it comes to donor cultivation never ends. It is the constant in any nonprofit’s activities. The success of any fundraising event or the wellbeing of the nonprofit depends heavily on how it goes about to secure and retain donors.
Let the professionals at Your Great Event help you roll out a durable and effective donor cultivation strategy.