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When you rally around a great cause, it's incredible what you can accomplish. And an effective fundraising strategy ensures you get the most out of the existing momentum.
We operate under the belief that people want to do good. Despite a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic and a stomach-dropping unemployment rate, charitable giving increased 7.5% in the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.
And who do we have to thank for this surge in generosity? Individuals just like you. Smaller donations (less than $250) saw the biggest increase, jumping nearly 20% from the year before.
These numbers show us that individuals can accomplish big things — especially when it matters most.
As a fundraiser, your job is to capture the attention of these individuals, explicitly articulate why they should care about your cause, and make it easy for them to give. Below, we explain how to revise your fundraising strategy to raise money for your cause.
5 steps to perfecting your fundraising strategy
Fundraising isn't for those precious few organizations with a 501(c) attached. An effective fundraising campaign can raise money to renovate your local fire station, send a group of elementary school kids to soccer camp, or preserve a small business hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fundraising efforts can benefit virtually any cause you care about.
Before you kick off your campaign, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Look back to look forward
If this isn't your first fundraising campaign, we strongly encourage you to look at past metrics as a starting point. Looking back allows you to see what worked (and what didn't), set realistic timelines and project plans, and decide which target to set as a fundraising goal.
Most importantly, looking back at past campaigns offers a starting point to build your donor prospect list. Research shows that most new donors make a second contribution within a year of their first gift, and 19% do so within the first three months of their initial donation. To help target (and motivate) individuals who donated last year, try the following tactics:
- Use a CRM system 📊: you should always use a CRM system to keep track of donor's demographics, past contributions, contact information, and other important notes.
- Ask loyal givers to join your squad 🙋: Do you have a short list of individuals who show fierce loyalty toward your cause? Ask these individuals to join your team fundraising efforts so that they can attract their friends and family to your cause.
2. Update your online presence for a modern event
If you expect to host any sort of fundraising event or campaign, you need to ensure your online presence is up-to-date prior to launch. Online donations steadily increased over the past few decades, with total online giving growing 10% in 2019.
This means updating your website, mobile site (half of all nonprofit hits come from mobile traffic!), and choosing a fundraising software built for the 21st century. As you update your online platform, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- People absorb information differently 💡: People have short attention spans and absorb information in a variety of ways — so don't assume adding a paragraph of text to your site will do the job. Instead, make your online fundraising page as interactive as possible, adding promotional videos, images, GIFs, progress bars, or live streams (which helped this hospital raise $92K in a single campaign).
- Make your online platform work for you 💻: One of the best things about modern fundraising management software is it integrates with other services, thereby freeing up bandwidth for your team. Select a platform that can integrate with your accounting software (like QuickBooks), CRM (like Salesforce), or email automation tools (like Mailchimp).
3. Amplify your message across all platforms
A successful fundraising campaign contacts people in a number of ways, whether it be through social media, direct mail, cold calling, or an email campaign. Therefore, your outreach strategy should take place across multiple platforms.
Remember that different demographics prefer different platforms. Here are two tactics that can help improve your fundraising plan:
- Use one-click social sharing 📣: So many conversations take place on social media! Use one-click social sharing to easily share your message across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even WhatsApp.
- Try text (SMS) invites 📳: Text messages have a 98% open rate, while the average open rate for email hovers around 20%. Increase the likelihood that you’ll connect with potential donors and improve donor retention by launching a text message campaign.
4. Allow your audience to become part of your campaign
People give to charities because they feel connected to the cause — so allow them to be connected to yours.
Gone are the days when a donor contributes and you don't speak to them for a calendar year. Now, these individuals can be part of your fundraising team, using peer-to-peer fundraising to spread the word, sharing your message across their social platforms, and being a front-row participant throughout the campaign. Here are ways to engage your audience:
- Run a live stream 🎥: Live streaming your event on YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, Vimeo, or Zoom allows your most loyal contributors to participate in your campaign. The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) broadcasted a televised live stream with star-studded appearances, leading to $4.5 MILLION in major gifts.
- Encourage peer-to-peer messaging �:🎙: Creating a chat feed is one way to deepen your connection with your community. Major donors, potential supporters, and even your in-house staff members can swap GIFs, encourage one another, and help you hit your specific goal.
5. Allow your community to give however they wish
When raising money toward a good cause, you want to make the actual giving part as easy as possible. In other words, allow your community to give however they wish, whether they want to Venmo you, write a check, or swipe their credit card.
Accepting a variety of payments can help improve the effectiveness of your nonprofit fundraising efforts. Here are a few payment options you may not be using:
- Offer text-to-donate 📲: A text-to-donate feature makes donating on the go a breeze. Within seconds, your audience can give using Venmo, PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay, which works well for several fundraising activities (imagine a car wash where you no longer have to accept cash payments!).
- Create special promo codes 🎉: If you're hosting a special event, promo codes can offer supporters an incentive to register early or invite one (or two!) of their closest friends. Or, if you're hosting an annual fundraiser, offering an early bird promo can increase retention rates for next year.
Givebutter helps your revised fundraising strategy come to life
Whether you're raising money for a local group, school, or nonprofit organization, you need to have an effective fundraising strategy.
Your fundraising platform should help rally your community, make it easy to create a gorgeous fundraising page, amplify your message across a number of platforms, and accept multiple payment methods.
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