The following is a guest post from Aly Sterling Philanthropy.
It’s crucial that you build a strong foundation for your organization, giving your staffers the best possible chance for fundraising success going forward. This could mean smoothing rough edges in your current strategy or conducting a complete overhaul if more work is needed. When you’re ready to start strengthening your foundation, we’ve put together five fundraising tips to help you succeed.
Ultimately, the effort you put into planning today will make a substantial difference down the road.
To get started, you need to:
- Clean up your donor data.
- Revisit your fundraising collateral.
- Check in on your long-term goals.
- Bolster your internal operations.
- Plan out your year.
As you navigate these tips, consider how you can proactively incorporate them into your fundraising strategy. This could mean updating your donor database for easier management or even hiring fundraising consultants for an outside opinion.
Let’s get started!
1. Clean up your donor data.
In today’s busier-than-ever landscape, it’s considerably more difficult to reach supporters. At the same time, your nonprofit is operating in an economy that is concerned with overhead, so efficiency is key.
That’s why donor data is so essential. Each interaction your nonprofit has with a donor generates a data point, and each of those data points gives you insight into your relationship with that individual. Add up those many, many data points and you’ll recognize things such as:
- The donors most likely to respond to you.
- The initiatives they’re most likely to respond to.
- The best way to contact those supporters.
This data will allow you to increase your success and decrease the time it takes to reach that success. However, if this information is cluttered, scattered, and generally unorganized, it will be more of a headache than helpful.
Start by cleaning up and organizing your donor database. No judgment here—but let’s be honest, you probably need it! Look for duplicate, inconsistent, and even outdated entries. Are they serving any purpose? If not, get rid of them.
After conducting your clean-up, communicate your database best practices to your staff to try to keep things in tip-top shape as the year progresses. For example, outline uniform data entry practices and the procedures for handling incomplete and duplicate entries. In a few months, you’ll appreciate the effort.
2. Revisit your fundraising collateral.
When revisiting your fundraising collateral, consider two things:
Are these resources still representative of your organization’s mission?
Are they clearly articulating why supporters should give to your nonprofit?
With this in mind, we’re going to examine two key pieces of fundraising collateral that you should optimize:
Your Case For Support
articulates what your organization does and why it deserves donor support. It’s helpful in a variety of situations—whether it’s your staffers using it as a reference or your donors consulting it before making their decision to give.
Often used as a print collateral piece and integrated throughout your website, your case should include:
- Who your organization is, as well as its mission, programs, and impact on the community.
- Why your organization is needed in the community.
- Why charitable funds are essential to carrying out your mission and how donations will be used.
- A call to action asking donors to give.
- Easy ways to make a gift—online giving links and giving envelopes are great options.
You may think that you can re-use last year’s messaging or document, and that may be true in some cases! But it’s worth checking to make sure this information is up-to-date with the efforts you’re planning. As you begin emailing your case for support to donors and sending staffers out armed with it in their stewardship efforts, you’ll be thankful it’s updated.
Your Fundraising Letters
Once your fundraising efforts kick into gear, your staffers are going to be contacting a lot of donors each day. By now, you’ve probably realized that some of these communications can be just as effective when done with a template.
Revisit the fundraising letter templates your organization is using to inform supporters about your organization’s opportunities. There are few things worse than having a typo in a fundraising ask! Visit Fundraising Letters for 70+ templates to help you get started.
3. Check in on your long-term goals.
Revisit your long-term goals, making sure to:
- Check on deadlines. Were any deadlines missed or moved?
- Check on progress. Are any efforts in progress and can you get an update on how far along they are?
- Refresh your calendar. Is the calendar of those activities updated to reflect changes in progress and deadlines?
Revisiting your goals ensures you’re aware of how much work needs to be done and that you’re not wasting time on less time-sensitive activities. Further, if something has fallen to the wayside, you can send a friendly reminder to the committee in charge of that task to make sure it gets done!
4. Bolster your internal operations.
You can have the best fundraising collateral and a pristine donor database, but it won’t really matter if your staff doesn’t feel excited and prepared!
Your nonprofit’s staff is doing an incredibly important job, one that can be just as difficult as it is rewarding. Revisit your internal operations to make sure the various facets of your staff are working well together and not struggling through the process. When your internal procedures are functioning according to plan, you’ll keep your fundraisers happy and your efforts more productive.
This may sound vague, so let’s break it down. When examining your internal operations, ensure there is:
- A clear delegation of activities between leadership and committees.
- Procedures for communicating between team members.
- A culture of philanthropy within your leadership and staff.
- Outlined incentives for fundraising efforts.
Evaluating how your organization is working can be difficult to do with inside, biased eyes. It’s hard to see the full picture when you’re standing too close to it!
This is yet another point where enlisting a consultant may be the path to success. This third-party team member can spot places where your internal operations can be improved and give pointers on how to strengthen your staff.
5. Plan out your year.
Create one master calendar that hosts all of your nonprofit’s activities so you can start the year with a full view of what needs to be done. This doesn’t necessarily mean including every single time you plan to contact supporters—just some general goals and key dates and deadlines.
For example, if you know you want to start the quiet phase of your capital campaign in June and start planning for year-end giving in August, mark those general dates in your calendar. Obviously, each of those goals will involve many smaller goals along the way, but those will fill in as you progress.
The idea is to get a general picture of what you plan to accomplish this year and the outer parameters around the timelines you have to do so.
Include Important Societal Dates & Occasions
Of course, this doesn’t just mean including your nonprofit’s internal dates and deadlines. Those are important, but it’s just as necessary to remember that you’re not operating in a vacuum. Society can have just as big of an effect on your nonprofit’s operations as your staff can.
For example, you’re probably aware that this year is a pretty major election year and that soon enough two presidential candidates will be battling for the White House. Did you also know that presidential elections can have a huge impact on fundraising efforts?
Note important information like this in your master calendar, as well as religious and national holidays, tax deadlines, and other key dates. Then, when you’re wondering why a digital donation hasn’t arrived on Labor Day or why you’re experiencing an influx of gifts after the first two-candidate presidential debate—you can quickly piece it together!
As the year progresses, your nonprofit’s calendar is going to get fuller and fuller.
That said, it’s worth taking time to make sure your nonprofit has a strong foundation as the year progresses. With the above fundraising tips, you’ll be ready to tackle this year with gusto!
Visit Aly Sterling Philanthropy to learn about the consulting services they offer to nonprofit organizations.
Schedule a live demo with our team, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.