If you are a 1-, 2-, or 3-person shop, wearing multiple hats in your nonprofit office in addition to needing to fundraise: this post is for you. Nonprofit leaders are often brought in because of their passion for the cause and ability to run an amazing program for the community they serve--but did we also mention you need to fundraise to keep your doors open? Where do you start? What are the essentials when you would rather be spending your time saving the world? (Psst…it’s not planning a gala.)
Much of the success in a fundraising plan comes from forming good habits. When you figure out the percentage of time you can devote to your development work, divide that into thirds—acquiring annual donors, major gift relationships and stewardship.
Build Your Network
You may already have a constituent base and not even realize it. All of those volunteers, program participants, event attendees—those are future donors! They may not have given yet, but everyone that touches your organization should be a constituent in your donor management software. You may want to even try asking them to spread the word about your organization—one they are already engaged in and have their own story.
These days, social media is also going to play a big role in your community outreach. The great thing is you can come up with your content and schedule it in advance. Commit to posting at least once per week—whether it’s a link to an article, your donation page, a feature on your program, etc.
Keep in mind that donations will not roll in if they are not being asked for. Schedule one appeal per quarter—rather than just your typical “end of year appeal”. This can be an email, letter or postcard. Let it show the impact donations make on your program.
Identify your major donors or business partners and schedule one lunch or coffee meeting per week so you can begin to build a relationship, learn their philanthropic priorities, how they would like to be involved with your organization, and eventually make an ask.
It will always cost more to acquire new donors than to retain those that you already have. One of the most effective ways to do this is to send timely acknowledgements—if not the day the gift is received, at least at the end of the week. You can set up a night once per quarter for volunteers or board members to make thank-you calls. Here are some other ways to say thank you!
When you are able to set up your strategy and create reminders for yourself, these tactics will become second-nature. Eventually you will be able to build on them for even more impact, but it’s important to create your sustainable foundation and internal process before trying to take on everything at once—or nothing at all!
Written by Samantha Shirley, Lead Product Manager