4 Fundraising Best Practices for Raising Money Effectively
4 Fundraising Best Practices for Raising Money Effectively
Fundraising is the backbone of any successful nonprofit. It’s what allows your organization to continue to help people and make a difference in the world. If your fundraising efforts are lacking in any area, you won’t be able to efficiently complete your goals on schedule.
That’s why effective fundraising practices are so critical—by giving your organization a greater fundraising boost, you can keep your nonprofit afloat and continue working toward your mission. Whether you’re looking to refresh your fundraising ideas or reinforce ongoing campaigns, it’s never a bad idea to assess your progress and check if you’re adhering to current fundraising best practices.
At GivingMail, we stay up-to-date on the latest trends and ideas in the fundraising field to help nonprofits maximize their fundraising capacity. We’ve compiled a list of four top tips for raising money more effectively:
- Choose high-ROI fundraising campaigns
- Promote upcoming fundraisers with direct mail
- Advertise matching gift opportunities
- Keep donors updated with campaign progress
Fundraising is more than just earning donations—it’s about meeting supporters where they are and developing relationships to secure ongoing support. These tips will help you make the most of your campaigns this year while fostering relationships in the process. Let’s jump in!
1. Choose high-ROI fundraising campaigns
Nonprofits usually operate with tight budgets and don’t want to spend too much funding on soliciting donations. Plus, as a nonprofit professional, you want to prove to your board that the funds you put into carrying out fundraising activities are justified because of the value they create for your nonprofit. Therefore, search for fundraising campaigns that have the highest return on investment (ROI). Some fundraising ideas with a high ROI include:
Product fundraisers such as popcorn, face-mask, and discount card fundraisers are all fun and unique ideas to help your organization raise more. With these fundraisers, you offer supporters something valuable (or delicious!) in exchange for their donations.
Plus, with a partner like ABC Fundraising, you pay no upfront costs for most of their fundraising programs and gain access to fundraising opportunities that have been proven to be successful. These programs have helped raise millions of dollars for nonprofits, schools, and other fundraising organizations.
Although digital marketing and fundraising channels are gaining traction, direct mail continues to be the greatest source of individual donations in the U.S. And, as our guide to direct mail for nonprofits shows, individual donations account for about 70% of total giving, representing roughly $309.66 billion in 2019.
In the fast-paced, frenzied virtual realm, it’s easy for your nonprofit to get lost in the fray and for supporters to miss your message amid all the other online interactions. However, with direct mail appeals, you can speak directly to supporters without the interference of other notifications. You can share compelling stories that appeal to their emotions and influence them to give to your mission.
By partnering with a direct mail platform, your nonprofit can solicit these individual donations and grow its funding from a limited investment. Direct mail vendors actually allow your organization to save more by bundling all mail services, from printing and packaging to sending your appeals, and offering an all-inclusive package.
In addition to product fundraisers and direct mail appeals, there are also a number of other ways to garner critical support for your campaigns. Other tried-and-true fundraising ideas include virtual a-thon-style events where people are challenged to walk, bike, or run a certain distance and raise donations throughout the challenge.
Further, virtual events and experiences such as classes, concerts, or trivia nights can be productive fundraisers as well. These are higher-ROI events because they take place virtually which lowers event overhead costs but engage supporters in an activity or challenge that generates greater fundraising support all the same.
With these high-ROI options, you can revamp your fundraising practices this year and raise more for your organization.
2. Promote upcoming fundraisers with direct mail
Direct mail is successfully used by nonprofits to not only solicit direct donations but also get the word out about other fundraising opportunities.
For example, say you decide to host a product fundraiser, selling face masks with your organization’s logo. You can send out direct mailings encouraging recipients to check out your online store and purchase your custom branded face mask to support your organization.
In these letters, be sure to fully describe the purpose of your fundraisers and what the money raised will support. If your organization is planning to launch a new after-school gardening program for kids, for instance, you should describe your fundraising goals and how you’ll use the donations to purchase garden supplies and set up an outdoor pavilion space for kids to learn in a socially distanced environment.
These specific descriptions help make your fundraisers more real and urgent for supporters and give them a greater understanding of your overall nonprofit mission.
In your direct mailers, you can even place a QR code on your letters to direct readers to your online store to make it as easy as possible for them to get involved. This way, you can use these tangible, physical letters to supplement and enhance your digital fundraising strategy. By using these platforms in tandem, you reinforce your message without overwhelming supporters.
3. Advertise matching gift opportunities
In corporate matching gift programs, companies match donations made by their employees to eligible nonprofits. According to Double the Donation’s matching gift guide, an estimated $4-$7 billion goes unclaimed in matching gifts every year, making this a largely untapped fundraising source for many nonprofits and other fundraising organizations.
To take advantage of matching gift opportunities, promote these programs to your supporters. Ensure your donors are aware of the opportunities and empowered to check if their own companies offer these programs by sharing information across your direct mail messages, website, social media, and email newsletters. To get started, Double the Donation offers a matching gift database you can embed on your website that allows supporters to search if their companies offer matching gifts.
This type of fundraising revenue not only brings in a large number of funds for your organization, but it improves your donors’ experience as well. Supporters will be amazed that their initial donations can have an even greater impact on your mission than they realized.
4. Keep donors updated with campaign progress
Donors want and deserve to know how your fundraising campaign is coming along. They’re not only interested in learning about your organization and your activities, but also want to ensure their investment in your organization was worth it. Donors use this assessment to decide if they should continue to give their support in the future, so you should keep donors updated on your fundraising progress in a few different ways:
- A fundraising thermometer: A fundraising thermometer is an easy and free way to keep supporters informed on how close your nonprofit is to reaching its fundraising goal. You can type in your target amount and the amount you’ve raised so far to create an updated thermometer. Frequently share your thermometer across your website and social media pages to remind supporters to give and celebrate your progress so far.
- Your nonprofit database: Your nonprofit database system contains supporter information like donor names, contact information, and giving history. You can use this information to reach out to donors and share progress about the specific campaign they gave to.
- Your marketing platforms: Keep supporters informed about your progress across all your marketing channels—including your direct mail letters, website, social media pages, and email lists. Taking a multi-channel approach ensures you can speak to all supporters and properly inform them about your nonprofit’s activities.
Keeping donors updated on your fundraising progress shows supporters that they’re more than just a number to your organization. They’ve donated some of their hard-earned money to you, and you’ll show your respect and appreciation for their gift by keeping them in the loop.
Your nonprofit’s approach to fundraising doesn’t have to be complicated. By reaffirming your commitment to donor relationships and choosing campaigns with the greatest returns, you can maintain and even boost your fundraising efforts for long-lasting, continuous success. Happy fundraising!
Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.