Lúgh Studio’s Ultimate Guide to Better Fundraising
Convincing people to give money to a nonprofit can be challenging. They often either don’t want to donate at all, or already have and aren’t looking to give more.
That’s why fundraising campaigns can be difficult.
In order to help you out, we’ve created a master guide to better fundraising. So you can increase the number of donors for each of your campaigns, increase the average donation amount, and hit your nonprofit’s financial goals.
Grab a coffee and let’s get started!
Main Things to Remember For Better Fundraising Campaigns
Before you even start preparing a new fundraising campaign, there are some important ideas to keep in mind. Regardless of the campaign you are running or the people you are marketing it to, these are consistent across all fundraising activities.
Remember them as you start planning.
1) You need to show people where their money is going
This is the name of the game for nonprofits. Because people are donating money without a direct benefit to themselves, demonstrating the effect of their donation is critical.
For this, it can be useful here to really focus on your nonprofit’s mission. What is your main goal, and how exactly is your donor’s money going to make that a reality? Even though people aren’t (usually) getting a direct benefit by donating, they are still driven by the impact that donation can have. It’s your job to show them that impact.
2) Publicity is key
Better fundraising consists of two main things: increasing the amount of donors, and increasing the average amount that donors give. To address the first problem, it’s important to get publicity for your campaigns.
This can be anything from a bigger advertising budget to more efforts on content marketing. The most important thing is that you get your campaign in front of people. After all, how can they donate to your cause if they don’t even know it exists?
Check out our in-depth guide to nonprofit marketing for more information on how to do this effectively.
3) People need a reason to donate
Unfortunately, seeing what their money achieves (point 1) isn’t always enough for donors. Instead, they want a specific benefit for themselves as well. This doesn’t make them selfish or self-centered. Instead, even your biggest donors are asking themselves a question common to us all: what’s in it for me?
Maybe they get exclusive membership benefits of some sort for donating. Maybe they are entered into a drawing to win tickets for a trip. As for one of the best motivators to donating? Tax benefits. If there is even the slightest benefit attached to giving, make sure potential donors know about it.
4) Remove any potential barriers preventing people from donating
If people want to donate, there is no reason to make it difficult for them to do so. In fact, poor website design is one of the main reasons people don’t purchase a product, and it’s no different with a nonprofit.
Make the donation process smooth and easy. There should only be a few clicks before they have successfully given you their money. Navigation on your website should be intuitive. The copy asking them to give should be concise. Anything more and you just lost a donor.
Getting Ready For Your Fundraising Campaigns
Once you’ve memorized the previous four ideas and committed them to heart, it’s time to get organized.
The next three steps are all about preparing for your fundraising campaign. Only when you’ve completed them will you have the kind of fundraising success your organization is aiming for. Check off these steps and you are setting yourself up for success.
1) Establish where you are now
What sort of fundraising campaigns do you already have set up? What sort of success have you had in the past? Do you have content you can reuse for future campaigns? Any partners that might be willing to help you out?
These are all questions you should be asking yourself before your next round of fundraising. Only by learning from the past and seeing what has worked (and what hasn’t) do you set yourself up for success.
2) Set fundraising goals
What are you trying to achieve? What revenue goal do you want to hit, and by when? While ambitious goals are important, it’s essential to be realistic here. It’s also important to know the different goals that are common in fundraising. Check out this post about fundraising KPI’s for an overview.
And remember, if your main goal is for better fundraising, you need to know what “better” actually looks like. How much have you raised in the past, and how much are you looking to increase that by? These are the goals that you will constantly be working with, so it pays to get them right.
3) Develop your typical donor’s persona and “giver’s journey”
For the best campaign results, you need to know what your typical donor looks like. How old are they, what is their profession, and what sort of lifestyle do they lead? Answering these questions helps you narrow your message and raises the effectiveness of your fundraising.
Same thing with the giver’s journey, which is quite similar to the “customers journey.” You need to know how people typically discover you and the sort of information they consume from you before they donate. Only then can you craft a campaign that is most suited to them.
Seven Strategies to Increase Your Fundraising
Moving on to strategies for better fundraising. Pick the ones that you think your nonprofit would benefit most from and dive deep with them. Getting really good at a few strategies is typically more effective then approaching all of them with surface level dedication.
1) Crowdfunding for “social proof driven” campaigns
Putting your fundraising campaign on a crowdfunding site can be an effective strategy. That’s because these sites naturally use social proof: with crowdfunding campaigns, it’s easy for people to see how much others have already donated.
While crowdfunding isn’t the most effective for continuous donation, it can indeed be a good choice for end of year campaigns. People are typically in the giving mood, and if their organization has the funds set aside for donation, are looking for a worthy cause for them to go to. Check out this resource for the best crowdfunding sites you might use for your next campaign.
2) Text campaigns that are funny and intelligent
Text messages have an incredible open rate: often over 98%. This is substantially higher than just about any other channel. As for what this means for your fundraising? Well, you are getting eyes on just about any campaign you run. Your job is then to take full advantage of that.
Unfortunately, most nonprofits don’t know how to fully leverage the benefits of text. While social media sites have taken over the attention, there is still a lot of untapped potential with text campaigns…if you do it right. The problem here often lies with text messages that announce fundraising in a boring way. If you are texting somebody’s private number, you need to make the tone funny, intelligent and maybe even a little surprising. Read here for more information.
3) Segmented email campaigns
Everybody has heard of email campaigns….so why do they typically underperform? The reason has everything to do with segmentation (or lack thereof).
We have covered in previous blog content the importance of segmenting your email lists as much as you can. It bears repeating here. The fact is, if you are sending a one size fits all campaign to anybody on your list, you aren’t going to get the sort of results you are aiming for. People will feel the lack of effort on your part and the messaging will be general instead of specifically appealing to them. That’s why segmentation is so important: it talks to a potential donor in the precise language they need to hear before considering a donation.
This strategy is particularly important because email is often the way you will stay in contact with donors. This is all part of lead nurturing, and it’s just as applicable in nonprofit marketing as any other business. It’s essential to get your email marketing right, and segmentation is a great step towards doing that.
4) Partnerships with other organizations
Having the right partner can be the “make or break” factor in a fundraising campaign. With the right one, you add prestige, a larger audience and potential expertise that you can use to your advantage. The wrong one? Wasted efforts and disappointing results. Plus, any strings attached may very well make a partnership not worth your time.
While it can be difficult to know just how effective a fundraising partnership will be, this is a strategy that is worth a try. Look at other organizations you have either worked with or want to work with. Once you have your shortlist, brainstorm ideas for how you might work together on a fundraising campaign, as well as how you can sweeten the deal for them in helping you out.
5) In person events that have a prize at the end
While events can be difficult to plan, they are worth the added effort. That’s because events give your nonprofit a feeling of “exclusivity.” Your guests are a special group of people, and an event serves to support that. This makes it more likely that people donate. Plus, because an event is also a great networking opportunity for them, people are likely to feel the “social pressure” of donating more than they otherwise might.
Still, because the pandemic has made in person events difficult to plan, give our post about virtual events a read. In it you will find everything you need to know to make an online event that people love!
As for the secret ingredient of event-driven fundraising campaigns? Prizes. That’s right – whoever donates the most gets something in return. If your nonprofit has the budget to host an event (might want to call on the help of a partner), no reason not to reward people for their generosity.
6) Match any donations
Your donors need an incentive for donation. While you might not be able to provide them with something like a tax incentive or free vacation, a “one to one match” often does the trick.
That’s because matching appeals to somebody’s moral side. If they are already on the fence about donating, knowing that their donation is going to be twice as effective can be a good motivator. Plus, like we’ve already covered, running one of these campaigns towards the end of the year when people are more likely to donate can be particularly effective. Check out this guide for how to structure one most effectively.
And one more tip for matching donations: show them how much more double the money can achieve. A cross comparison of the results of 100 dollars vs. 200 dollars, for example, can be an effective and convincing tactic.
7) Creative cold calling
Finishing up with a tactic that puts fear into most nonprofits’ hearts: cold calling. While nobody likes cold calling (either doing it or receiving one), most nonprofits are going about it all wrong.
The fact is, your donors don’t like to be interrupted during their everyday lives. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you are doing with a cold call. That’s why it pays to implement some of the best tactics for better results. It should be personal, creative and maybe even implement a little bit of storytelling. For the best way to approach it, give this resource a read. While it covers cold emailing, the correct approach is similar.
Still, leave cold calling as a last result. Even though it can get good results if approached effectively, the previous six strategies are your best bet. Cold calling simply isn’t personal enough.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that your past donors are the most valuable people in your organization’s network. That’s because it’s much easier to convince somebody to donate again than it is to donate for the first time.
Because of that, it’s essential that you engage with your past donors on a relatively consistent basis. As I’ve mentioned, this is all about nurturing them over time so they are more willing to donate repeatedly.
If you want to learn more about the best strategies for effective donor retention, give this post a read. In it you will learn everything you need to know to keep your contacts engaged, interested in your organization, and willing to give when your next fundraiser starts up.
Better fundraising isn’t the result of some complicated process, but rather the simple fundamentals done well.
Take action on the steps above, and keep this guide’s main ideas in mind, and you’re setting yourself up for better fundraisers for years to come.