Creating a nonprofit fundraising plan or strategy for your next campaign will help you focus your efforts and guide your day-to-day fundraising efforts when things get tough. It’ll also ensure your fundraising team is aligned on certain tactics or events that may be part of your strategy.
Walk through the steps below to start piecing together your nonprofit fundraising strategy.
1. Set your fundraising goals, mission, and story.
Start with the end in mind. What’s your fundraising campaign goal? Better yet, what’s your overall goal for this year? For the next three years?
This number should be rooted in the needs of your organization. To figure out those needs, return to your mission statement. If your fundraising goal answers the question of “How much money do you need?”, your mission answers “What do you need the money for?”
Defining your mission statement will guide your fundraising “asks”. What do you plan to do with the money from your fundraiser? How will it contribute to your organization’s mission and purpose? Donors will ask these questions, so outline the answers now.
A recent study found that transparency among charities could increase donations by 50%. Also, two-thirds of donors say that understanding the impact of their donation would encourage them to give more. If you’re open about how you spend your funds, people may give more to your cause.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to tell your organization’s story, as well as the stories of those whom you help. A 2010 study found that “charitable choices are largely driven by the donor's own inclinations and preferences, a desire to help people they feel some affinity with, and a partiality for certain causes as a result of personal experiences.” A donor’s similarity to your cause or people you help can also motivate them to give.
Also, 62% of donors research charities before they give. Be sure to publish your story on your website for donors to read and connect with.
2. Identify your fundraising team or specialist.
Fundraising campaigns involve a lot of moving parts. Even if your entire organization will be involved in the campaign, it’s best to appoint an individual or small team to manage the fundraising efforts.
These folks will be in charge of tasks like:
- promoting the fundraiser
- organizing fundraising-specific events
- training and leading any volunteers
- managing and analyzing the funds received
- measuring the fundraiser’s performance and looking for ways to improve
Some nonprofit organizations hire a fundraiser specialist to help with these tasks, too.
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3. Build your prospect list.
Who are you targeting for your fundraiser? What communities, companies, organizations, neighborhoods, and groups of people will you approach for donations? Can your volunteers, board members, and beneficiaries of your organization help you compile a list of potential donors?
This list will guide your campaign promotion. Whether you decide to fundraise via direct mail, social media, crowdfunding, events, sponsorships, in-kind donations or all of the above, having a prospect list will help you know exactly who to target.
4. Create a fundraising campaign plan.
This is your most actionable step and will define precisely how you’ll raise money. First, define which tactics you’ll use for your fundraising. (We cover these in the previous section.) Remember, providing a variety of ways to donate will likely increase the number of donations you receive.
Next, decide how you’ll promote your fundraising campaign as a whole. How will you market your organization and its drive to raise money? How will people hear about your events, sponsorships, commercial co-ventures, and more?
Note: How you receive your funds (fundraising tactics) and how you promote your fundraiser (fundraising marketing) are two separate things. This step of your nonprofit fundraising strategy helps you define both.
Lastly, consider how to establish recurring donations so that your organization doesn’t have to fundraise so actively and so often. Almost 50% of donors are enrolled in a monthly giving program, like this one for Charity: Water. Providing a recurring donation option can actually help you raise more money — the average monthly online donation is $52 ($624 per year) compared to the average one-time gift of $128.
5. Say thank you.
Regardless of how you choose to raise money for your nonprofit, always remember to say thank you. Sending a thank-you note and donation receipt is good practice per the IRS, but it’s also beneficial to build relationships with your donors and supporters.
Donor loyalty is just as important as customer loyalty. Fostering relationships by maintaining transparency can alleviate the pressures of non-stop fundraising. Put your donors first (alongside the people helped by your organization), and your nonprofit will see long-term success.
Over to You
Nonprofit fundraising is critical for charitable organizations. By researching tactics and building a nonprofit fundraising strategy, organizations can set themselves up for long-term fundraising success — and impact.