We invited special guest Brad Davies, Fundraising Expert from NextAfter to share his experience and talk through a specific strategy on how to grow your organization this year and turn your fundraising goals into a reality.

Brad Davies is an online fundraising expert who was the project director of the “Online Fundraising Scorecard” which looked at the online giving habits of 250 charities, 100 of which are on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 400 list. Brad has consulted with hundreds of organizations around the world, some of which are the largest charities in America, on their online fundraising. 

1. What are the keys to developing a fundraising strategy? 

First things first. Have a plan.

This seems like common sense, but let’s start with the basics. If you don’t have a plan, you won’t perform well and you won’t achieve your goals. You want to set an outline for the course of the year with what you want to communicate to your donors. Once that outline is set, work backward towards a plan of logistically executing and getting the plan accomplished with the current resources you have, or what you will need to go get. Your plan is best if it is written down and clearly communicated across your organization so everyone is aware and can get on board with the direction.

Within the plan, drive towards four different “funding catalysts”.

• Calendar year end

• Fiscal year end

• Local giving day

• Internal campaign

A funding catalyst is a reason why people want to give to your organization. Normally there are two easy milestones built into the year – the calendar year end and your organization’s fiscal year end, which is hopefully sometime around the summer. These are natural times to rally your supporters around the message of ending the year well, or what funding is needed for next year’s goals.

Logical deadlines help drive urgency in the minds of donors.

I’d also suggest coming up with two other two catalyst time periods to help frame up the rest of your year. These could be a local giving day that’s already being sponsored or promoted, or you can come up with your own internal campaign. Maybe intentionally drive a summer campaign to offset the seasonality slump. You want to have logical, important, time-sensitive campaigns to get your donors involved all year long.

Each funding catalyst has three elements:

• Deadline

• Goal

• Increases communication

To be effective, each of your funding catalysts needs a time-sensitive deadline with an impactful goal you want to accomplish. Once those are set, you’ll need to communicate those elements to your supporters. Donors don’t know what’s important or going on within your organization unless you tell them with increased communication. Typically at year end, we ramp up communication, and we can do the same thing at these specific points within the year to keep donors informed and engaged.

2. How do organizations balance their communications so donors don’t feel like they are constantly being asked for money? 

Have a cadence to your communications so that it doesn’t feel like there is always an ask going on.

That is one thing that most organizations are concerned with – donor fatigue. While this might be somewhat true, it might be because the communication lacks important parts of the overall story, including inspiring stories and sharing what their money has accomplished within the organization. Here is a suggested model for how to structure your overall message:

  • Show them what the problem is and how they can get involved
  • Ask them to participate and how to be part of the solution
  • Tell them what happened with their money and what impact it had
  • Inform them about the topic

Using this cycle of message themes, donors can see the whole picture of what your organization does, what it needs to do those things, and what specifically their money has gone towards. Donors love to see what impact they have on people and causes they care about. Also, going back and telling them other relevant information and different aspects about your cause or organization helps keep them informed and helps to balance out the communication.

3. What other ways can organizations improve their fundraising strategy?

To truly set your fundraising calendar up for success, you need to be willing to experiment and explore new avenues. From adding donation methods to trying new marketing channels, there are plenty of impactful avenues nonprofits can explore to boost fundraising results.

Consider branching out with the following strategies:

  • Expand your nonprofit’s reach with Google Ads. Using paid search ads, you can promote your nonprofit to new audiences who are already searching for terms related to your cause. Your advertisements will appear at the top of Google’s search results page and lead interested audiences right to your website. Plus, you can access this valuable advertising for free by applying for a Google Ad Grant!
  • Leverage matching gifts to increase revenue. Many businesses have programs in which they’ll match their employees’ donations to nonprofits at a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio, allowing your organization to easily boost your fundraising potential from individual donors. To prioritize these donations, spread the word about matching gifts to your support base and provide them with tools to easily check if they’re eligible to get their gift matched.
  • Provide noncash giving options for high-capacity donors. Offering additional giving options aimed at your higher-capacity donors can encourage them to give more often and in larger amounts. When donors give noncash donations like stocks, cryptocurrency, or donor-advised fund grants, they get better tax benefits than they would from donating cash and they can make a larger impact on your mission.

Whenever you choose a new fundraising approach to try, use your donor data to make sure that it aligns with your target audience. If your donors are mostly older and less tech-savvy, for example, don’t put all of your effort into a new social media strategy.

These tips are just the beginning of the fundraising insights we discussed in the webinar. You can watch the full, on-demand webinar here to learn more about setting your fundraising calendar up for success this year and beyond.

About Author

Amy DeVita

Amy DeVita is managing partner at TopNonprofits. A publisher, entrepreneur, mother, wife, social media enthusiast and fan and avid supporter of the do-gooders in the nonprofit/ for-impact sector. She has written for TopNonprofits and Third Sector Today; she has been quoted on pieces about social media and social impact on The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast. She was named to the Leading Women Entrepreneurs in NJ Monthly and was a member of Social Media for Nonprofits’ Leadership Council. In her spare time she enjoys kayaking, yoga, hiking, traveling, and playing Scrabble. Amy lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and three dogs. In 1984 she earned the “Most Improved Average” honor on her bowling league.

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