Saturday, February 1, 2014

Top Three Fundraising Tips for 2014

According to Atlas of Giving, preliminary reports indicate a 12.9% increase in charitable gifts in 2013. Here are three suggestions for ways to keep your fundraising momentum going in 2014:
  1. Market monthly donations: Do you have an easy option for donors to make monthly contributions? Your supporters - especially those who are younger - might have a hard time coming up with an annual $100 donation, but if you ask them for $10 a month it instantly becomes doable. After all, that's about the cost of two lattes at Starbucks and less than it costs to see a movie. Of course, you'll want to provide plenty of giving options, listing dollar amounts from large to small. And don't forget to thank your monthly donors at the end of the fiscal year with a personalized letter acknowledging their total annual contribution. The best two things about monthly donations? They are unrestricted and provide secure ongoing cash flow.
  2. Know your donors: Does your donor wish to remain anonymous? Hate phone call asks? Love to give funds for scholarships? Volunteer regularly? Only like to give once a year? All of this information - and more - should be noted in your database. The more you know about your donors, the more effective your fundraising efforts will be. And here's the other thing - you also need to know your donor personally, through regular contacts via phone, email, meetings, invites to events, conference calls. Building a donor is like building a friendship and should be treated as such.
  3. Tell your story: Face it - it's a digital world, and people have short attention spans. If you want folks to contribute to your cause, you need to capture them quickly and personally. And the best way to do this is with a (very short) story. People quickly tune out when you're reciting facts and figures; a personal story draws them in, invites their empathy, and motivates them to take action. I started using storying as part of my fundraising training sessions after a conference in which I was asked to recount how I got involved in the nonprofit world - in 90 seconds. It's amazing how focused you get when you have a time limit, and how much information can be packed into that minute and a half. It's also amazing how engaged the listener comes. Now I use this technique to train nonprofit boards and staff in making fundraising asks. I have participants practice telling a story about why they care about their organization or about a special success story. You should use the vehicle of story not just in direct personal contacts but also through video on your emails and website.
One crazy note: Atlas of Giving and Giving USA are in the midst of an amusing internet quarrel about who has bragging rights for charitable giving statistics. So - we may see different numbers in upcoming weeks, though both agree that giving has indeed increased. Stay tuned...

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