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January 17, 2020

5 New Ways to Approach Fundraising

Historically, nonprofit organizations have relied on end-of-year appeals to fund the majority of their budgets. But with recent changes in the tax law shifting the benefit away from nonprofit donations in favor of individual and family deductions, end-of year giving has taken a hit.

Nonprofits are feeling the pinch, but don’t despair. Donors still love to help. It’s just that instead of concentrating your efforts on bringing in end-of-year gifts, it’s time to shift your focus to engaging donors differently and boosting fundraising year round. This is actually a good thing. With the right strategy, you can end up with more engaged donors and a more consistent revenue stream.

How do you do that?


1. Focus on donor retention.

While the number of donors and overall donations are down, the number and dollar value of individual donations are up. This means that your core constituents are still supporting your mission . . . and doing so more than ever. So keep those core donors, grow them, and bring in more like them.

  • Develop a donor retention strategy.
  • Create donor profiles. Identify your most frequent and committed donors, and go out and find more like them.
  • When you do get new donors, shift them quickly into an engagement and retention strategy, as well.


2. Focus on mid-level donors.

While donations have been impacted every level, mid-level donations have been hit the hardest. Develop a strategy specifically for reaching these donors.

Mid-level donors tend to be “impact givers,” which means they want to see where their money is going and what causes or projects they are supporting. Talk to them using specifics — number of lives impacted and progress toward goals achieved. In your communications, whether print or digital, use charts and infographics to show how their donation dollars are furthering your mission in quantifiable ways.


3. Send mail, mail, mail! But add other channels, too.

Donations continue to come in primarily through direct mail. While the average online gift and the revenue per donors were down 6% and 3% in 2018, the average gift and the average revenue per donor through direct mail were up 5%. Don’t stop sending those direct mail appeals! But add in other channels, too.

Which channels should you focus on? Two critical ones are video and text. According to Google, 75% of donors use video to understand the impact a nonprofit is having and more than half (57%) of those who watch those videos go on to make a donation. Use video to tell your story!

Text is under-utilized, as well. Do more than use “text to subscribe” or “text to donate.” Use text to maintain engagement through updates to important building projects, families served, or the progress of legislation. Use text to keep donors engaged with and excited about your mission.

This goes for direct fundraising, too. Donors may be more likely to respond to appeals through direct mail, but many prefer to actually give online. Add “text to give” and other digital options to move them from intent to action.


4. Embrace peer-to-peer fundraising.

As peer-to-peer fundraising through third parties like Facebook continue to grow, many nonprofits are concerned about the drain this will have on their fundraising. Rather than fearing third-party and peer-to-peer efforts, however, embrace them.

According to Facebook, almost half of donors (46%) are prompted to give unexpectedly if a family member or friend asks them to do so. These are people you might not have otherwise reached and donations you might not otherwise have gotten. Encourage your donors to use peer-to-peer tools to benefit your mission. Think of these donations as additive, not subtractive.


5. Promote giving models.

Have you considered memberships or monthly donation models? Instead of asking for $250 at the end of the year, for example, ask for $25 per month instead. It makes it easier for your donors to budget, and it creates a more stable and predictable source of revenue for you.

To encourage repeated, committed giving, attach specific impact metrics, such as how sustained giving helps do more than provide immediate disaster relief, but helps rebuild communities and lives over the long term. Network for Good found that setting up a recurring giving plan can increase a donor’s value by 42%.

Other giving models include the membership model, where donors can “join you” and receive perks, insights, and access that tie back to your mission, and setting up your own day of giving.


Fundraising is changing. Traditional giving strategies may not be as effective as they used to be, and that’s okay. Every strategy needs a refresh now and then. Retool your approach to creating year-round, steady revenue streams. Place more focus on supporters becoming lifelong investors rather than one-time donors. Embrace peer-to-peer opportunities.

Donors are still committed to your mission. Their motivators for giving are just changing. Opportunity awaits fundraisers who can identify those new motivators and change along with them.


Source: Inspired by material provided by MobileCause.


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