You’ve often said, “You have to spend money to raise money.” But how much is enough? What’s the ideal ratio of fundraising expenses to income?
Most of the time organizations offer donors reciprocated value. They send thank you notes in response to donations, preprinted labels in the hopes of receiving a donation, tickets when purchased, or other tangible things received either in response to or in anticipation of a donation. This isn’t bad, but it’s very reactive. It assumes the organization has a quid pro quo relationship with its donors.
To start thinking proactively, it’s important to work on non-reciprocated value. This is something that you can offer to your donors for free without asking for a donation or any other consideration. When it holds real value for them, it becomes memorable.
In previous blogs we’ve spoken about reaching out to donors and how many times and how often you should contact them. However, it’s important to think about ways to keep in touch. With so many communications options available to your organization, start thinking about moving beyond mailed letters or even emails into different ways to reach out.
One of the important things to keep in mind is that with today’s busy lifestyles, it’s vital to meet your donors where they are. This may mean moving to virtual communication or even using letters (or cards/postcards) sent through the mail for a special touch. Though social media outreach can have pitfalls and requires tending, it is a viable way to communicate with potential donors as well as your existing ones and with the ability for people to share your posts, they can go quickly viral and bring new people to your cause as well.
When your organization receives a gift, you send a thank you letter. Perhaps the donor has requested to be subscribed to your newsletter, which is sent maybe once a quarter. Other than that, do you reach out to your donors? Are you afraid you’re talking to them too much?
It’s a fine balance between too much outreach and not enough. On one hand, you don’t want your donors to forget about you, and it happens in even those with the best of intentions. People’s lives are busy. In the hustle and bustle of juggling jobs and family along with everything else, something as simple as sending a check slips through the cracks.
I am wondering about texting our current and lapsed donors to ask for money? We have a donor base that tends to be young and we have lot of phone numbers (sometimes we have a cell number and not a snail mail address). I think this would work well because it is much more efficient than writing and calling and a lot of people don’t use their phone for calling anymore. My ED wants me to check with someone else. What do you think?
Now that the busy holiday giving season, as well as end of the year tax letters are completed, it’s time to look at ways to bring donors back who perhaps missed out on giving during the past year (or longer). Even if your organization doesn’t consider a donor lapsed until they haven’t given for a much longer time frame than 12 months, it doesn’t hurt to put some enticements into your letters to bring these donors back.
Once you’ve identified your lapsed donors, it’s time to contact them. A primary reason why organizations may not reach out to lapsed donors is an uncertainty about what to say. There are two things that you can do to help entice these donors to return to your organization.
I have taken many fundraising workshops, including from you, and I always find that I learn a lot. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I am hardly ever able to implement anything I learned because I have no time. Someone suggested just trying to figure out one thing I could do differently for a short period of time, so I am asking you: what is one thing I could do between now and the end of the calendar year that will make a big difference to our fundraising?
I am the ED of a medium sized organization (budget just over $3 million). We raise $1 million from government (we hope that continues), $1 million from fees and rentals, varying amounts from foundations and about $600,000 from individuals. I recently solicited and got a gift of $50,000 but the person made me swear I would never tell another soul where the money came from. I did, but later wondered if that was the right thing to do. What are the protocols for anonymous donors? Can you have a donor that only one person in the organization knows about? If not, should I go back to this person and explain that I made a mistake?
With the start of a new year, there’s a good chance that you’re already well into strategic planning for 2019. No doubt you have a list of goals to achieve such as a certain number or percentage increase in new donors, more consistent donor acquisition, and an increase in total giving or perhaps getting your major donors to increase their giving by a certain percent. No matter your goal, FundRaiser Software has reports which will help you track and reach these goals.
Increasing the Overall Number of Donors and Prospects
I've been thrilled with my explorations as a volunteer fundraiser for a small all-volunteer nonprofit that I support. Four years ago, I moved donor information from Excel spreadsheets into FundRaiser's simplest program, FundRaiser Basic. At that time, I had no hands-on experience raising money, and I was eager to try out some of the things I'd learned from talking to customers in my work at FundRaiser.
As it turned out, success was relatively easy. Yes, it's true what 'they' say: sending thank you letters, following up with donors who gave last year but not this year, and making sure that donors don't fall through the cracks does result in more stable incoming donations. I've learned lots of good lessons in fundraising and what's more I've really enjoyed the work. Now, on our 5th year using FundRaiser Software, the organization is more financial stable than ever before, all funded by grassroots giving-- loyal donors who believe in our work and aren't likely to move on as a grant or foundation often does.
Dear Kim,As a new fundraiser for a mental health provider, I would like to know the etiquette and proper mode of thanking someone for either an in-kind gift or a monetary donation. It is bad form to send a pre-printed card to acknowledge the gift? I am referring to monetary gifts under $100. ~Ms. Manners, Jr.
Dear Junior Ms.,
Dear Kim:You are often quoted as saying things like, “Thank before you bank,” and “The thank you note is the most important element in a donor relationship” and other pro-thank you note statements. But how do you make a thank you note interesting? And do donors really read them? And what if I think the gift the donor gave isn’t really what they could afford so I am not that thankful? ~Dubious Dear Dubious:.
Your letter poses several questions, and I will quickly dispatch the last one first. You need to change up your attitude toward the gifts that are given to your organization. Any gift is more than nothing, and donors are making all kinds of choices. You really don’t know what people can afford and you need to thankful they thought of you.
As we draw closer to Giving Tuesday, you may be thinking about how to make highly targeted appeals to your donors based on information like their giving history or other factors. Luckily, FundRaiser software makes it easy for you to select groups of donors and then send them correspondence based on your selections. Let’s look at three different ways you can target your Giving Tuesday prospective donors.Based on past giving
A motivation code tracks what motivated your donors to give a specific gift. This could be an appeal letter, a campaign, an event, or the fact that they gave to Giving Tuesday last year. Perhaps you want to reach out to donors who haven’t yet given this year or ones who have lapsed. Use your criteria to target your communication directly to these donors.
Melody Arnst, Administrative Assistant at Meta Peace Team, says her specialty is diving in and figuring out how to make things work better, primarily in the office. “That’s why I am working in the database. Things need to work and be streamlined there,” says Melody.
First thing as she started working at Meta Peace, she found herself untangling database issues. Meta Peace, FundRaiser Software users, had decided to give another donor database a try. “We attempted to move to Network for Good. It was a frustrating experience. As the process unfolded, I thought, ‘maybe we shouldn’t have done this,’ " says Melody.
You can create a #GivingTuesday campaign that brings in donations and increases the visibility of your nonprofit, even if you don’t have much time. Cindy Hassil, Development Director of Ijams Nature Center, quickly created a campaign even in the midst of other year-end fundraising plans last year that did just that. Using resources she adapted from the Giving Tuesday website and some new and existing photos of the nature center, she created a personalized effort that raised awareness and brought in additional funds and new donors.
“The Giving Tuesday website has almost everything you’ll need to create your own campaign, from various logos and images to sample news releases and a planning calendar,” Cindy said. “We used our website, weekly e-newsletter, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to let people know about our campaign, and used graphics I created in Publisher by adding the Giving Tuesday heart image and several hashtags to photos. You don’t have to have graphic design software; you could use PowerPoint or just keep it simple by using hashtags with your own photos and the images you download from the Giving Tuesday website.”
Giving Tuesday is just 2 months away, on November 27 and it is not too soon to start preparing for it. This year, we want to give you some extra help by creating an online donations page that is integrated with FundRaiser. Our Donor Portal can play a key role in the success of your Giving Tuesday campaign.Your custom Donor Portal page for online donations will
• look & feel like your website• accept online donations using Authorize.net• seamlessly stream donor and donation records directly to FundRaiser
Fund-raising has many engaging and inspiring sayings. Three that give insight into donor cultivation are:People give to people.You don't raise funds; you raise friends.Fund-raising can be summed up in just three words - relationships, relationships, relationships.
At its heart, donor cultivation is about an organization's staff and leadership developing relationships with those capable of giving support and making them friends of the organization. I define donor cultivation as an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor. I can't stress enough how important this definition is - how important it is to the future of an organization's fund-raising efforts. Every successful fund-raising operation cultivates its donors - builds relationships with them. The most successful do it constantly and systematically. Let's parse this 48-word statement and examine its key components. Again, the definition, this time with its key components in bold type: Donor cultivation is an organization-wide strategy and process to learn more about each donor's interests, desired professional and social contacts, lifestyle, and philanthropic desires so that we can better initiate and respond to contact with a donor in order to develop a stronger relationship with that donor.
I work for a small statewide arts advocacy organization, and by small I mean in staff size rather than geographic size. We receive funding from our state agency and membership but realize the need to diversify our funding sources. We are finding it difficult to approach foundations and corporations for funding because we are statewide and we do advocacy. Any advice on how to solve this problem?
When it comes to solicitors, most organizations think of them as something only major donors have, and if the organization works primarily in smaller dollar donations, then they might not use solicitors. However, solicitors are an excellent idea if you like to track your donors’ influencers. Our solicitor code and report will make it easy.
The Donor Solicitor Code can be found on both the Codes tab as well as the Name Details > Misc. tab and is traditionally thought of as a way to show which volunteer or board member is assigned to solicit, or encourage, donations from that particular donor. Because most organizations don’t have someone working with each and every donor, the donor solicitor code is often used only for major donors.
The Opening: How It’s Handled Will Determine Its Outcome
The first meeting should not take place in a public space such as a restaurant with its distractions and interruptions. Solicitors should begin by talking with prospects about professional and personal interests, mutual friends and acquaintances, places and times where their lives may have crossed. However, solicitors should not forget why they are there. Quickly, but naturally, discussion of the campaign should be worked into the conversation. Solicitors should mention their own personal involvement and commitment to the organization as a way of explaining why it is of such great value to the community. They must convey how important the current fund-raising campaign is to the organization’s future. When appropriate, a tour of the organization’s facilities and the opportunity to meet others involved with the organization should be offered. Finally, solicitors should ask prospects to consider supporting the organization by making a pledge in the suggested amount.