Don’t have enough time to go through your fundraising expert blogs feed?
It would be a pity to miss some inspiring thoughts, now that fall fundraising plans and the increasingly approaching end-year appeals may consume your energy and require longer working hours.
Because you are busy, we’ve decided to gather 21 tips from just as many top fundraising experts. Enjoy!
Fundraising Experts Share Their Tips on How To Raise Funds
#1: Claire Axelrad: “Giving is not always its own reward.”
Are you familiar with Maslow’s theory of human motivation? The famous pyramid can also be used to explain why people make donations.
Claire has identified multiple reasons why donors give, each corresponding to a pyramid layer; your aim must be to determine them to help by fulfilling their highest-level needs: feeling self-actualized. Your nonprofit’s mission and messages should focus around making people happy and helping them to find meaning.
Gail talks about the “dark side of fundraising”, whose characteristics always include inconsistent messages. No matter how pleased you feel with the many materials you have designed to attract donors, not putting up a solid story made from concise messages and effective calls to action leads to very poor results.
#3: Marc A. Pitman: “Donor Fatigue is a myth”
“Donor fatigue” is a common phrase in the nonprofit world and everybody seems to be using it as an excuse when their fundraising plans are not working.
The Fundraising Coach addressed this issue in a short video, explaining that in fact it’s fundraisers who are responsible for donor fatigue by not asking the right way. Even if a donor is passionate about your cause, he or she will stop giving if your messages focus only on your organization and its needs.
The solution? Use “you” instead of “we” in your fundraising appeals and make the donation request about the donors and their merits.
#4: Sandy Rees: “Stay focused on what your nonprofit does that makes a difference and you’ll stop being self centered.”
The same mistake of talking too much about your organization is also being discussed by Sandy Rees on her blog Get Fully Funded.
It’s frustrating to get modest results after all that hard work you’ve put in a donation request letter, but the truth is that donors don’ t care about your organization. If you want donors to see you cause as “sexy” and give, it’s vital that you are clear about the desired action, find out what moves their heart, determine them to take action now, and, eventually help donors become heroes through their contributions.
#5: Mary Cahalane: “Using emotion is the way to raise money.”
Did you know that we use the oldest parts of our brains to make decisions? Logical arguments come only afterwards, usually to justify a decision that’s already been taken. People actually need their frontal lobes and emotional input to be able to make decisions – Mary does a great job at explaining the science behind decision making.
So, fundraising absolutely needs to get in touch with people’s emotional side, otherwise your appeals will not be compelling. Final piece of advice – “Fundraise human instead.”
#6: Julia Campbell: “Get over your assumptions”
Julia offered this piece of advice in the context of mobile fundraising. Many nonprofit leaders choose to ignore statistics on mobile device usage and keep postponing that moment when they’ll use mobile giving for their year-end fundraising. Which eventually doesn’t happen. How many will do this the same in 2015 too?
So what Julia suggests is to stop assuming that your donors don’t use smartphones heavily (like they actually do!) and take a look at the statistics. It’s still time to implement mobile fundraising before the year ends, so make a decision about it now!
#7: Kivi Leroux Miller: “Always Be CALM”
As part of her nonprofit communications coaching programs, Kivi advises nonprofit leaders to always be CALM:
C – Collaborative (listen to people and get them involved in your communication strategy)
A – Agile (pay attention to opportunities and avoid boring messages)
L – Logical (make informed decisions and set your priorities)
M – Methodical (develop good processes and methods and learn how to delegate your work)
#8: Michael Rosen: “If You Want $1 Million, Be Creative”
This piece of advice is particularly useful when you apply for a grant – your submission needs to stand out from the crowd in order to be successful. If you need inspiration, check the example of The City of Philadelphia, which competed for a $1 million grant in the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge – Michael’s comments will help you find the recipe for a unique fundraising appeal or grant proposal.
#9: Joe Garecht: “Perfect Fundraising is Impossible. Raise Money Anyway.”
Are you the kind of person who always does things by the book? You should remember that old saying: “Perfect is the enemy of good.”
The Fundraising Authority, Joe Garecht, understands that the large amount of fundraising knowledge puts pressure on nonprofit leaders and makes them seek the perfect fundraising plan. There is no such thing – so do what you can instead of nothing at all. Stop postponing your plans just because they don’t look perfect and start doing something now!
#10: Vanessa Chase: “You can never really have too many fundraisers.”
Vanessa is well-known in the nonprofit world for her interest in storytelling techniques, but you’ll also find other pieces of valuable advice on her blog.
True – every organization needs more fundraisers, but resources are short and nonprofits often do not afford additional manpower. The solution is often under your nose: board members and staff.
Many people enter the nonprofit world with the false assumption that they’re enrolling to become good-doers while “dirty” jobs like fundraising will be left to someone else. Start seeing fundraising as telling stories that help you emotionally connect with your audience and you’ll become good at it even if you are not a professional.
#11: Mazarine Treyz: “Are you an introvert? Don’t worry! There’s a fundraising job out there for you!”
Another common myth in the nonprofit world is that only extroverts are good fundraisers. If you are afraid your introverted nature will prevent you from raising funds for a cause you care about, think better and consider jobs like grant writer, development associate, prospect researcher, or communications managers.
One extra tip from us – oftentimes, introverts are better listeners than extroverts and may help donors feel more comfortable and encourage them to speak more about their interests and worries. Next time you are afraid you won’t know what to say to fill that awkward silence, stay calm – the person you are talking to will do it and reveal some interesting things instead of pretending to listen to an aggressive donation request.
#12: Pamela Grow: “You can never thank too much”
There’s one thing that will never change in the nonprofit world: donors like to be thanked repeatedly and as soon as possible. Like many other fundraising experts, Pamela advises nonprofit professionals to make a priority out of saying “Thank you” – if you neglect this, you neglect your donors!
#13: Jeff Brooks: “Simple wins”
Does this sound familiar to you – long hours of work on creating a fundraising appeal concept, thinking and re-thinking your donation request letters, and sacrificing lots of time to create an astonishing brochure?
To start with, ditch the brochure – nobody reads it, and always follow the principle of simplicity, especially in fundraising. Paradoxically, it’s easier to create something complex than to use simplicity, but your donors will always prefer short messages that are easy to understand.
#14: John Haydon: “Listen first”
John Haydon shares 3 social media lessons for nonprofits that you can learn from your dog – and the first one is listening. When the wolf was domesticated, only the individuals that could read humans’ emotions and understand if a particular person was a friend or a foe managed to get near people and enjoy their delicious leftovers. The same thing happens in the nonprofit world – you need to listen to your audience and understand it in order to engage with it.
The donor-centered paradigm has already become the norm in the nonprofit world, but what if there’s a better alternative?
Vu Le thinks that donor-centrism has gone too far and led to unhealthy power dynamics in the nonprofit world. What he recommends instead is focusing on the community and its needs. This will also encourage nonprofits to collaborate for the general good instead of competing for philanthropic dollars in a fashion similar to traditional businesses. This is definitely a post that will give you food for thought.
#16: Sheena Greer: “Please. Stop. Auto. Posting.“
Why is social media so important for organizations of all kinds? First of all because it gives a human face to both businesses and charities. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen anymore when you send automated messages and don’t personalize your interactions. Take at least 10 minutes a day to interact with followers and donors personally, besides those scheduled social media updates.
#17: Simon Scriver: “The next big thing in fundraising – and in everything, really – is actually doing stuff.”
Very alarming fact: many people actually work just 2 hours a day. Is this your case too?
Simon thinks you should stop finding new ways of getting rid of the “terribly difficult thing called fundraising” and actually get down to work instead of waiting for modern technology to do the job in your place.
#18: Farra Trompeter: “Make online giving easy”
This tip is among our favorites, because it represents one of the principles guiding Fundlio. Farra Trompeter from Big Duck, a communications agency from nonprofits, regularly blogs on the company website and offers branding-related advice, and we happily discovered a great article on how to get started with online fundraising as well.
#19: Michael Johnston: “Welcome to the longest stage of the fundraising cycle: cultivation.”
Everybody says you should concentrate on building donor relationships, but how can you actually achieve this?
On his blog, Fearless Fundraising, K. Michael Johnson suggests you should fill that gap between your organization and its donors through learning, trusting and engaging – this is what cultivation means. Major gifts will eventually come!
#20: Lori Jacobwith: “Do. Not. Accept. Mediocrity.”
Unfortunately, many nonprofits got used to the idea that things are not working properly, and do nothing to change the status quo. Lori Jacobwith offers advice to both board members and staff. Board members should step out of their usual inertia and always ask why things are done in a certain manner, while always being aware of their organization’s mission.
Staff duties include getting involved in meetings, keeping the board engaged, and treating board members like busy donors. The phrase “Let’s be grateful for what we have” should be banned.
#21: Joanne Fritz: “Get new donors to stay with you”
Do you know what the acquisition costs of every new donor are? Add this to the fact that only 23% of new donors give again and you’ll understand why you need loyal supporters who make recurring donations. Nonprofit expert Joanne Fritz draws attention to a common mistake charities make: ignoring first-time donors (especially if they give small amounts) and trying to attract other new donors instead. Ideally you should determine supporters to sign up for a monthly giving program, thus doubling the lifetime value of your donor base.
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