Fundraising, obviously, provides the lifeblood of most nonprofit organizations—unless you benefit from an endowment large enough to sustain your entire organization, pay your employees, complete your mission, and continue to grow, you literally need to fundraise to survive.
The rule we mentioned in our last New Year’s post about member retention can also be applied to fundraising: there is no one size fits all approach. Every organization has different needs, a different donor base, and new challenges lurk around every corner. But there are certainly some steps that all groups can take if they want to up their fundraising game in 2014.
Data, Data, Data
While not the sexiest aspect of fundraising by a long shot, maintaining accurate data on your donors is probably the number one thing that most organizations should try to improve on in 2014. Donors of gifts of all sizes won’t do you much good if you have no way to keep track of them. A high quality donor management system is only the first step (although an important one to make, if you haven’t already).
Make sure you are regularly ensuring your donors’ contact information is accurate and up to date. Additionally, think about ways you can build on the data you already have, particularly for those organizations with extremely large donor databases. Micro-targeting and behavioral targeting has become a hot topic, particularly with the ways it has been deployed in political fundraising in recent election years. Nonprofit organizations can absolutely benefit from these methods, but high quality micro-targeting efforts require high quality, in-depth data collection and analysis.
Recognize Major Donors
Certainly, no organization can rely solely on its major donors, but keeping them engaged and satisfied with their role in your nonprofit should be among your top priorities for 2014. Major gifts should continue to be a focus of new donor recruitment, and maintaining solid ongoing relationships with your best donors is a constant priority. There are several new approaches you can try, but begin by conducting an internal audit on how major donors are recognized and cultivated. Do they receive enough personal attention?
Personal attention means more than just contacting a donor regularly by phone or conducting in-person meetings. Make the recognition of your donors more personal by taking the time to tailor how you interact with them based on their specific preferences. Perhaps give them an “experience” by letting them have a more hands-on role in your mission if possible. Some organizations allow major donors to visit the site – for example a well-digging in Africa. Many donors are happier to remain behind the scenes, while others thrive when given the chance to shine in the spotlight. This of course leads back to the importance of good record keeping. Knowing up front that Donor A prefers a single annual phone call to renew their commitment while Donor B prefers monthly contact and a seat on the board is crucial.
Show Your Work
Do you only ever communicate with your donor pool when you have a major fundraising drive happening? Do they get regular emails or other communications from you without a dollar ask attached? If not, make a new communications plan for 2014. One of the joys of giving back is seeing the results behind a donation. It’s not just donors who want to see the fruits of your work: volunteers, employees, peer-to-peer fundraisers, everyone involved should be included.
Make it a point to include donors, volunteers, and others involved in your efforts when successes occur. Did the latest fundraising drive for your education-focused nonprofit result in better classroom supplies and improved test scores at that struggling rural or inner-city school? Share it! If nothing else, we are in the Age of the Over-share—social media, email, and mobile apps have made sharing big news easier than ever. Think about how you can better demonstrate the wonderful results of even the smallest donation, and your fundraising results will respond in kind.
Are you adding any new fundraising strategies in 2014? Tell us about them in the comments!