This post is a guest blog by Jay Love, co-founder and current Chief Relationship Officer of Bloomerang
As a nonprofit fundraising professional, you might feel like your fundraising efforts stall from time to time. Maybe you’re experiencing the summer fundraising slump. Or, perhaps you’ve invested a lot of energy into recruiting new donors and engaging existing ones, but your fundraising efforts aren’t yielding the results you were expecting.
Ensuring that your fundraising efforts receive a high return on investment (ROI) is critical for keeping your nonprofit running smoothly. That’s why it’s important to pursue a variety of fundraising strategies to maximize donations as much as possible.
Let’s explore how to do that using the following strategies:
- Strengthening your stewardship strategy
- Planning exciting fundraising opportunities
- Facilitating matching gifts
- Offering suggested giving amounts and recurring gift options
- Connecting fundraising efforts to your mission
Your ability to increase donations will depend on the strength of the relationships you’ve built with your donors, volunteers, and other supporters. Keep that in mind when implementing the strategies in this guide.
1. Strengthening your stewardship strategy
You might be tempted to focus the majority of your fundraising efforts on recruiting new supporters to widen your donor pool. But to earn sustainable support, it’s equally as important to build connections with your current donors.
When you encourage your donors to continue giving to your cause, you can recoup the investment you made to recruit those supporters in the first place. Plus, statistics show that recurring donors contribute more on average than one-time donors.
Your ability to boost your retention rate—the rate that measures how many one-time donors give again—relies on effective donor stewardship. When you build genuine relationships with donors, you’ll increase the chances that they’ll continue supporting your nonprofit for the long term.
Leverage the following strategies to improve your donor stewardship approach:
- Collect donor data. Your donor data helps you learn about supporters’ interests, communication preferences, giving motivations, and more. Use your donor database to store information about your supporters’ donation history, volunteer history, event attendance records, and other pertinent details.
- Personalize interactions. Use a donor’s name and title (if applicable) in your written communications. Also, reference past communications or donations made by the donor to show you’ve been paying attention.
- Show appreciation frequently. Showing gratitude to your donors lets them know that you recognize and appreciate their efforts, encouraging them to continue giving to your cause. Express appreciation in frequent and unexpected ways, such as by calling donors to thank them or inviting them to a special appreciation gala with a fun theme.
Remember, it’s important to steward all donors using the steps above, but it’s especially critical that you have a strong stewardship strategy in place for building relationships with major donors. According to Bloomerang’s major gifts guide, effective donor stewardship lays the groundwork to ensure your major donation requests will be well received. This can ensure that your organization will be able to benefit from ongoing major donations that are crucial to furthering your mission.
Plus, when donors feel appreciated and recognized as individuals, they may tell their family members and friends about their positive experiences with your organization, potentially widening your audience.
2. Planning peer-to-peer fundraising opportunities
Peer-to-peer fundraisers are highly engaging fundraising opportunities that put supporters in the driver’s seat, allowing them to talk about why your organization means so much to them and ask their friends and family members for donations.
When your peer-to-peer opportunities are fun and interesting, your supporters will be more inclined to take time out of their busy schedules to participate.
For example, you can host peer-to-peer campaigns such as:
- Fundraising races: Hosting a friendly competition can be a good way to get supporters to engage with your fundraising opportunities. For example, plan a fundraising 5K or fun run, complete with branded merchandise and prizes for top runners. Ask runners to raise a certain amount of funding from their family members and friends before they compete in the race. You can even have giving kiosks at the event, so supporters can easily give more on the day of the race.
- Giving day challenges: Giving days like Giving Tuesday challenge supporters to raise a specific amount of funds in a short period of time. This sense of urgency inspires donors to give ASAP and promote your fundraising campaign to their family members and friends.
- DIY peer-to-peer challenge: These opportunities might include a Facebook birthday fundraiser or another special-occasion fundraiser where donors solicit funds to commemorate a special moment in their lives.
These types of supporter-led fundraising initiatives tend to be more engaging than straightforward email or social media outreach campaigns because participants can take a more active role. When supporters gather donations on behalf of your cause, helping you reach your fundraising goal will feel much more personal to them.
3. Facilitating matching gifts
In matching gift programs, companies match donations that their employees make to eligible organizations. Businesses with these programs typically match donations to nonprofits, schools, and other community organizations.
Matching gifts can be an opportunity for your nonprofit to increase the impact of each donor’s gift. That’s why it’s important to promote these programs whenever possible.
Invest in a matching gift database that integrates into your fundraising tools. Double the Donation’s guide to matching gift databases describes what this will look like in action:
- A donor goes to your online donation form to contribute and notices your embedded matching gift research tool (usually in the form of a search bar).
- The donor types in their employer’s name to see if they offer a matching gift program.
- The donor reviews the details of the matching gift program, including minimum and maximum donation amounts, the match ratio, and how to apply for a match.
- The donor donates and applies for a match. If their company approves the application, their company will match the donor’s gift, which will double their impact on your mission.
Don’t let common matching gift pitfalls slow you down throughout this process. For example, one of the most common reasons why donors don’t apply for matching gifts is because they forget. If a match-eligible donor hasn’t yet requested a match, send a follow-up message a couple of days after their donation to gently remind them to apply.
4. Offering suggested giving amounts and recurring gift options
Your donation page itself can be an effective tool to maximize donations when you offer suggested giving amounts and recurring gift options.
Suggested giving amounts give donors a benchmark to help decide how much they want to give. Plus, research shows that donors give more when prompted with suggested giving amounts.
For example, let’s say a donor clicks on your giving page not knowing exactly how much they want to contribute. They notice that the page suggests giving amounts of $20, $50, and $100. This gives them a sense of what other donors typically contribute and helps them choose the right giving level for them.
Additionally, recurring giving programs allow donors to increase their support by setting up ongoing donations to your cause. These programs are appealing to supporters who want to take the next step in showing their commitment to your mission but aren’t ready or able to contribute a major donation at this time.
You’ve spent time and energy driving traffic to your online giving form. Including these elements on the form offers donors more flexibility in choosing how they want to show their support and results in a positive ROI.
5. Connecting fundraising efforts to your mission
Donors need a compelling reason to give. When your organization’s messaging is compelling and motivational, supporters will be much more likely to donate and potentially form a long-lasting relationship with your nonprofit.
Marketing professionals recommend using storytelling techniques to align your fundraising efforts directly with your mission.
For example, let’s consider a nonprofit that promotes STEM education to high school girls. The nonprofit is creating a year-end email marketing campaign to raise money for a certain program. To incorporate compelling storytelling techniques into the campaign, this organization should:
- Highlight a specific individual, such as someone their organization has supported or a long-time volunteer. For example, the organization might choose to tell the story of Sofia, a local high schooler who’s benefited from free after-school coding classes and wishes to continue her education at the collegiate level. This gives audience members a champion to root for. They’ll likely want to see other girls succeed too, which will encourage them to donate.
- Explain the problem they’re seeking to solve. This nonprofit might be tackling the issue of the lack of women in STEM careers. Zooming out and placing the main character’s story in the context of the overall mission helps supporters understand the scope of the issue.
- Detail the proposed solution and describe how the donor’s gift will help them solve the problem. This organization might describe how they’re using donations to fund STEM classes and after-school tutoring opportunities. This reassures donors that their gifts will be able to make tangible strides toward solving the issue.
Incorporate storytelling techniques into every aspect of your multi-channel marketing efforts, from your email messages to your social media campaigns, direct mail initiatives, and other channels. For example, you can make a Twitter thread describing one volunteer’s involvement history and what your organization means to them. Or, you can use your direct mail outreach to tell the story of a community member who your organization has helped.
These five strategies for maximizing donations can all be integrated into your nonprofit’s existing fundraising efforts. With a few quick adjustments to your marketing campaigns, online donation page, and event-planning calendar, you can start earning more to support your cause.
He has served this sector for 33 years and is considered the most well-known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly.
Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth.
He is a graduate of Butler University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Over the years, he has given more than 2,500 speeches around the world for the charity sector and is often the voice of new technology for fundraisers.