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Via 10 Ways to Overcome a Fundraising Drought.
Aug 7, 2014 1:20:06 PM
We’ve all been there: everything seems to be going well for a while, but then suddenly your leads begin to dry up, your income slowly trickles away, and you’re left wondering what you can possibly do to rehydrate your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts and get back on track. It’s tough, and there’s never going to be a magical, perfect solution to solve all of the problems you face in a fundraising drought. But cheesy metaphors aside, everyone has a bad month here and there, even the largest, strongest, and most successful organizations. In fact, many of the more prosperous nonprofits of the world have found ways to turn those negative moments into opportunities to rebound and become the fundraising juggernauts we all wish to emulate.
The fact of the matter is simply this: sometimes, things will slow down. You’ll see your fundraising efforts slow down a bit, one of your events won’t go quite as planned, or perhaps your latest campaign results won’t be where you’d hoped they would. Times like these, while stressful, are not something to be afraid of. Time and again, they prove to be valuable opportunities, where you can be forced to look at the way your organization has done things, leading to change or the development of new strategies that end up keeping you ahead of the curve. So don’t fret – instead, embrace these times of perceived struggle, take a look at some of our rebound strategies below, and then let that bad month begin your journey out of your capital-starved desert, and into a fundraising oasis.
1. Connect With Your Community
Sometimes, your biggest problems are best solved by simply paying attention! Find out where your current and potential donors are talking, and what’s on their mind. If you’re not paying attention to them, they probably won’t be paying attention to you. Get your nonprofit active on social media, run some Facebook ads or promote posts on Twitter, or try having some of your volunteers or board members attend different events within your community. Rarely do people end up at community events or on the same websites for no reason: connect, find shared interests, and then go from there.
A recent 2013 survey of some 2 million potential donors found that 57% of them made contributions to a cause after watching an online video on that organization’s website. That’s not a stat to view lightly. The younger Millennial generation is growing increasingly more relevant in the nonprofit fundraising sector, and trends show that many of them will respond much better to a good video than any amount of written information they need to read. Capture a potential donor’s attention, or you may never get an opportunity to solicit funds from them again. Try developing a short, informational trailer for your cause, and throw it up on your website or show it at future events.
Speaking of putting videos up on your website…how is your website looking these days? If you haven’t made many changes in the past few years, odds are that when it comes to appearance (and functionality), you might as well be in the Stone Age. Check to see if your site has responsive web design, and make sure you’re not compromising on any functionality. There are a lot of great, money-making features available to your organization if your site is built properly, so don’t sell yourself short and settle for less.
4. Kickstart your Blog
If your website doesn’t already have a blog, then make one. Try posting regularly, and target your posts to address specific questions, concerns, or feedback from your community. New and current donors alike love to see what you are doing, and posting that information regularly to your website can help bridge the gap between you and your audience. A blog also helps to keep your web presence feeling warm, and retaining a human element online can be a huge boon to developing long-lasting relationships with your donors.
5. Ask the Board for Help
Your Board exists to help ensure the success of your organization. So when you’re struggling, reach out to them! Sometimes, it can be as simple as asking them to help by donating or reaching out to their networks for new donors. Or, perhaps you can have them help by letting them find and hire someone with those connections to big, potential donors. If you can get one or two new connections, it can lead to dozens more over time.
Events, Events, Events! This is probably the most obvious, but also most potentially effective way to pull your organization out of a rut. Come up with a cool event idea, or take inspiration from other organizations, and then make it happen. Try to schedule it strategically as well: if August has proven to be a slower month for you in the past few years, maybe try having your new event that month to offset it. Or, you can spend more time and effort in August to plan and coordinate your events for the upcoming months.
7. Try Friendraising
Take a look at the way you’ve tried to fundraise in the past. If you’re somewhat dependent on huge donors and government grants, perhaps your cause could benefit from a new, additional method of raising money. Most cause-based or 501-c3 organizations can benefit significantly from utilizing the proper tools to tailor specific campaigns and efforts to large groups of smaller donors to achieve high fundraising yields. After all, $50,000 is $50,000, regardless of whether it comes from 5 people, or 500.
At DonorPro, we call these strategies that focus on grassroots campaigns “Friendraising”, and we’ve helped dozens of nonprofits reach fantastic results already. If you’d like a bit more information, try taking a look at our free infographic.
8. Find a Partner
It’s tough to do anything alone. So why not try partnering up with a local business, or perhaps even another nonprofit, to achieve a greater goal. Host an event in conjunction with other organizations, and share the results. When you work together, you gain access to additional networks and a new audience that you’ll be able to target in the future.
9. Develop New Marketing Collateral
Whether you’re a small, new organization, or one that has been established for a long time, marketing yourself to your donors is absolutely essential to your success. But instead of trying to do all of the work yourself, try by hosting a seminar for your volunteers, and provide them with the materials and tools to continue to share your cause and your story with the community. Create some flyers, brochures, infographics, or other simple materials that they can share with their friends, families and co-workers. Chances are, they’re closer with them than you are, and strong relationships are the backbone to consistent fundraising success.
10. Gift-Matching Program
Finally, try implementing new programs! Similar to the idea of changing the way you target your donors that we discussed earlier, many organizations can reach new fundraising heights by supplementing their existing strategies with new ideas. One such program to give a try could be a Gift-Matching Program, where you allow donors to either provide donations through traditional channels, or give them the option to match someone else’s contribution. Many employers and companies already have programs like this, so take advantage of that if you can!
If you’d like to see more information about implementing this kind of a program at your nonprofit, head over to www.doublethedonation.com.