For many nonprofits, donor contributions make up a large part of their fiscal year budget. Over the years, we've been lucky enough to work with some amazing nonprofit organizations, on both a national level, as well as a local level. As a result, we've learned a lot about the magic of fundraising. In recent years, we’ve helped a nonprofit client bring in over $400,000 fundraising dollars, year after year, during their signature annual gala. This single fundraising event is responsible for bringing in the funds needed to sustain the nonprofit’s day to day efforts over the next 12 months, until they do it all over again. Proof that the process of procuring donors, locking in corporate sponsorships and raising funds amongst community members can be the lifeline of an entire nonprofit organization.
With so much at stake, nonprofits have to be mindful of maximizing their fundraising efforts in order to set themselves up for success. Devising a solid fundraising strategy to supplement your media outreach efforts is key when it comes to making an impact. Working with nonprofit clients over the years, these are the tactics that have proved most successful.
1. Rally around your local community
When hosting a local or regional fundraising event, connecting with your community is key. This means building a loyal and invested community online with the help of social media, while also deploying your team to engage face to face with local community members. For the social stratosphere, create event or campaign specific hashtags to be used for the entire process from kick-off to post event wrap up. Keep your online community involved and engaged throughout the process by hosting online giveaways, and sneak peeks during the days and weeks leading up the event.
Giveaways might include anything from free tickets to the upcoming live event, or maybe offering VIP access and first looks to your highest community fundraiser. Next step, it's time to hit the streets - literally. Attend local community events, and ask local businesses if they'd be willing to hang your event flyer in their window. The goal is to get your mission in front of as many eyes as possible, while creating meaningful relationships with local community leaders along the way.
2. Nurture your advocates
Every nonprofit or cause-driven organization has a band of advocates. These are the people who whole-heartedly believe in your cause and show up to support your efforts time and time again. They may not work for your organization directly, but they may be a valued volunteer who is always ready and willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in. For example, if you run a no-kill animal shelter, you may have volunteers who are happy to give up their Saturdays so they can help out during adoption events. These are your advocates, and when it comes time for the serious fundraising, you'll want them in your corner.
Start by considering your advocates when it comes time to appoint your event planning committee. This select group of people will be thrilled to take the lead and help delegate all of the moving parts that come with a large-scale fundraiser. Be sure to show your appreciation and continue to nurture these advocate relationships along the way by offering them insider perks. This can be something as simple as being the first to get their hands on newly designed merchandise. Anything that lets them know they are a valued member of your team and you genuinely appreciate their commitment to the cause at hand.
If you do decide to offer branded merch as a "thank you", don't be afraid to ask your advocates if they'd be willing to show off their new gear by sharing a photo of themselves on social media. Chances are, they'd be more than happy to show support for your cause, while also raising awareness. This special group of community members will be motivated and invested. Spreading the word for your cause will come naturally when advocates are happy to share what they're working on with their own network and inner circle.
3. Subtle, but impactful storytelling
In the months and weeks leading up to the fundraiser deadline, or culminating event, it's important to keep your cause at the forefront for everyone involved. Schedule weekly email blasts to your network, each one should feature a timely update regarding the progress of your fundraising efforts. This is the time to remind people why you're doing this in the first place, so remember to share impact stories of the work you’re doing. Using the no-kill shelter example, you might share updates of animals who have been recently adopted. Be sure to include before, and after photos of them in their new forever home. These subtle reminders keep the mission top of mind, while also motivating your tribe of fundraisers and supporters to continue forging ahead.
Side note: don't be afraid to mix a little friendly competition into these weekly updates. You can also take this time to spotlight your top-producing fundraisers for the week, or consider wrapping each email with a shout-out to the planning committee team member who secured an awesome new sponsorship!
By curating a steady, but powerful mix of these top three tactics, you'll be able to keep your community engaged and your advocates singing your praises. Keep morale at an all time high while maximizing your fundraising efforts by gaining visibility and building a strong connection with your community. After all, they're a huge part of your success!