So...you want to start a nonprofit. Fantastic! That puts you in pretty good company. In any given year, as many as 75,000 applications for 501(c)(3) tax exemption are filed with the IRS. Less than half survive the process, but there…
Developing a proactive, comprehensive fundraising plan to make sure your organization is fully funded is just one part of a total plan for your organization. There is another plan you need to create – one that is just as important and could make your fundraising goals easier to reach.
The plan I am referring to is a marketing plan. It is your game plan to communicating with your donors, potential donors, media, public officials and anyone else that matters to your organization.
To effectively market your organization, you must first know a few things about yourself:
Determine what business you are in. Can you boil your mission statement down to something really short and sweet? For example, Habitat for Humanity is in the business of building decent, affordable homes for families in need.
It’s one of those administrative tasks that must be done every year: mailing your donors a year-end statement of their contributions. Even if you are receipting on a per gift basis, a year-end itemized report is a best practice that should be adopted. If you are already doing that, good for you! But let me ask you this…
Is your year-end donation letter making money for you?
Have you noticed that some nonprofits are still doing fairly well in this economy, even thriving, while others have suffered dramatically? What do they know that you don’t? While there are many contributing factors that underlie success in fundraising, I submit that the most important element is effective communication. One of the best places to communicate is in your receipting to donors.
In last week’s blog post, we looked at a set of core principles that are critical for nonprofit organizations needing to raise financial support. If you haven’t read it yet, check that one out before diving into this one. It will make the ideas discussed below more effective.
So, what are some funding strategies that work? Let’s explore four categories of fundraising: direct appeal/pledging, professional programs, self-directed programs and grant funding.
Direct appeal/pledging. With this type of fundraising, you are literally asking people to give money to your organization, either through an individual gift or a pledge. This is the simplest and most direct method of funding your nonprofit and it should be a component of most funding plans. To be effective, however, you must be able to clearly articulate your program’s purpose and why someone should support it. This requires your program to be a more attractive target for someone’s giving than some other cause. I would again recommend you read last week’s blog article for a refresher on getting your pre-funding ducks in a row. After convincing someone to donate, you must maintain a consistent stream of communication with your donors, keeping your program before them on a regular basis if you want them to continue supporting you. That can be done through a variety of creative methods, one of the best being monthly newsletters. Technology has made this so much easier and cheaper, too. Instead of the hassle of dealing with printed material and postage costs, you may wish to consider a number of online communication tools that allow you to send newsletters, promos, etc. via email. We like Constant Contact for this purpose. You can also check out Aweber and some others. All are similar in features and price. They all come with pre-designed templates that make it simple to create good looking communications. Another often-overlooked tactic is to send a receipt/thank you letter for every donation, not just at the end of the year. Just remember that donor cultivation is a never-ending process. As soon as you start letting that slide, you’ll see your support slide right with it.
It is the burning question of every nonprofit organization: "How do we get funding?" With the economy in the dumps, and recovery looking like a distant hope, this question screams for an answer. In fact, we get more requests from…