Are you struggling to raise enough funds for your nonprofit? Have you just begun, unsure where to start?
A nonprofit executive director is someone who isn’t supposed to get bogged down with the day-to-day details, focusing instead on the big picture, shaping and guiding the direction of the nonprofit.
Except when it comes to fundraising. Raising money is the executive director’s primary responsibility. So how do you become a donation-soliciting machine? How do you raise the funds your organization needs to thrive?
Let’s look at traditional methods first.
Charity auction, benefit gala, trivia night—you know what will resonate best with your potential and existing donors. Give your donors a reason to have a nice evening out for a good cause. Make it a no-brainer for them to come on out with a generous attitude.
To keep costs low, ask for donations where you can for the things you’ll need to make the evening successful. But don’t be afraid to spend money on the event, either. A smoothly executed event will reflect favorably on your organization.
If you don’t have an annual event, it’s time to start planning.
Soliciting donations from corporate sponsors can result in larger donations. Larger corporations have a division within their company that looks for deserving nonprofits. Don’t be afraid to scour a few websites and reach out.
Make sure you do your research. Check LinkedIn to see if you know anyone connected to the corporation you’re researching. A personal introduction can be a valuable tool to getting in the door.
Before you go, though, make sure you have the tools you’ll need to give you the best chance of securing donations. Be transparent with your annual report, for example. Post it for download and review on your website somewhere. Make it easily accessible for all of your donors and for anyone researching your organization.
Have you ever seen when a friend on Facebook sets up a fundraiser for their favorite charity? Almost anyone can help you further your cause these days by utilizing the tools native to platforms such as Facebook.
To effectively raise money on social media, your message needs to be very clear. That starts with your getting your digital branding in order. The more on point and consistent your digital branding, the easier it will be for virtual strangers to trust that your organization will really use their hard-earned dollars for good. Keep your posts relevant and on-point too, all year long.
Get the most out of social channels by reaching people’s heart through an emotional appeal. The best way to do that is by sharing the impact your nonprofit has had on the lives of those it is helping. The impact of your efforts should make your target donors want to weep while spurring them on to action.
When making these emotional appeals, keep in mind that less is more. The more adjectives and adverbs you use to describe your organization and its impact, the less impact you’ll have on potential donors. You need to be able to state the facts in a way that emphasizes the heart and emotion behind what you’re doing.
Are you ready for the less traditional methods?
You know the saying—work smarter not harder. A great way you can do that is by segmenting your groups of potential donors and then creating an effective strategy for each segment. A natural starting point is by separating corporate or large private donors from individual donors. Then you can tailor your approach to each group to increase your success rate.
How do you effectively do that? Start with your corporate and large private donors. Approach these donors with a specific ask—to cover the expenses of running your organization. Lay out your budget, financial records, and achievements. Show them what you’ve been able to accomplish on your shoestring budget so far, and outline what you can do with a more robust budget.
And don’t forget to include the impact their contribution will have on the big picture of helping people. If you have a committed donor to cover the cost of running your nonprofit, that means every dollar you receive from other donors will go straight to your cause. Show them how much you received from smaller donors, and correlate that amount to the number of people you can help if 100 percent of those donations had been used to impact the people and community you’re helping.
Take Charity Water as an example. By getting their operational expenses covered by committed private donors, they’re able to better target individual donors with the message that every penny the individual donates will go straight to providing water to those who need it most. How empowering is that for the average person?
This makes every potential donor feel as if they can have a significant impact, even though their budget is small. And the beauty of it is that they can!
There are thousands of competitions out there designed to put money in your nonprofit’s pocket. All you have to do is find those competitions and win them.
Most require a well-written nomination to participate. Something that makes the impact of what you do clear. Then, once you’re in, it’s time to social media like you’ve never social media’d before.
The average competition requires voting via comments on a specific post published by the donor, like this Papa John’s St. Louis competition. The winner of the competition receives a portion of Papa John’s profits for an entire month. And given the size of the business, that number will be in the thousands of dollars at the end of the month. In 2017, Papa John’s St. Louis donated over $150,000 to local charities through this program.
The key to winning is having a large and active following who will take to social media for you to vote. Are you ready to start securing those donations yet?
For a little extra help, check out these other resource articles on funding and grants to keep you moving on the right path to securing the donations you need.