Now that the 2015 giving season is over, you’re probably knee deep into planning your fundraising calendar for 2016. 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 2016 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 Chronical 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?
Fist things first. Have a plan.
This seems like the 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 backwards 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 reasons 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 mind 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:
• Increases communication
To be effective, each of your funding catalysts need 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 for people and causes they care about. Alsogoing 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 are some other ways organizations can improve their fundraising in 2016?
Make use of matching and challenge grants.
- Improves the response regardless of size.
- Plant the seeds with donors now.
- Use during each of your funding catalysts.
Ask your supporters for noncash gifts of value
- Donors can give when they have limited cash flow, and these gifts are processed and turned into cash gifts for your organization if you have the iDonate Fundraising Platform.
- Noncash gifts have seasonal cycles. For example, new car season is the spring and people upgrade to new smartphones in the fall – which are both great times to ask for their now-outdated items.
- Low voltage communication.