Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fundraising Stocking Stuffers

Recent news and polls have decidedly mixed messages for nonprofits right now; some predictions are gloomy, others surprisingly hopeful.

The unemployment picture continues to be bleak and people are still being cautious about spending. Yet according to an American Red Cross survey, only 20% of those polled planned to reduce charitable donations this year. In fact, 68% of respondents agreed that it is even more important to give right now because of the economy; 59% said that making charitable donations gets them into the holiday spirit. And folks who had their salary and/or work hours reduced this year were no more likely to cut back on donations than those whose employment has remained secure.

Even so, these continue to be challenging times for fundraising that call for creativity and extra hours in order to raise the money for your good work. Here a few simple and inexpensive Christmas "stocking stuffers" for your fundraising program:
  • Use free social media. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? if not, now's the time. It's a great way to get the word about your organization, send invites to events, and ask for donations.
  • Try new internet-based tools. Check out this website about a way for supporters to contribute $5 to your organization when they give someone a gift card: http://www.givecard.com/. Consider registering your organization for a possible donation at http://facebook.com/ChaseCommunityGiving. If your organization serves school-age children, take a look at http://www.escrip.com - donations come from participating merchants, and all your supporters have to do is sign up.
  • Seek out corporate matching gift programs. Many local corporations - including Charles Schwab Company, Autodesk Inc., and Wells Fargo Bank - will match employee donations. Publicize and take advantage of these opportunities (for a list of businesses with matching programs, email me at cjay@horizoncable.com).
  • Ask your local bank to help out. Many banks have charitable giving programs. Tamalpais Bank contributes to a customer's chosen nonprofit based on account balance; Bank of Petaluma dedicates money annually for the management of each branch to make gifts to nonprofits of their choice. Talk to the place where you do your banking; ask members and supporters to do the same.
  • Reconnect with lapsed donors. It's likely that you have lost a significant number of donors in the past two years, but don't give up. Try reconnecting them to your organization by asking them for modest donations via a phone-a-thon or a focused email/snail mail appeal.
Whatever strategy you use - whether it be personal contact, email, snail mail, or the internet - continue to speak from your heart about the importance of your mission. Every dollar counts, and every donor counts.