“All the knowledge about fundraising can be summed up in ten words: ask ‘em, thank ‘em, ask ‘em again, thank ‘em again.”
– Joan Flanagan
When it comes to nonprofit organizations, we do it for the cause, the mission, and not for money. But let’s be honest, money IS the driving factor that results in the success of a mission. So, we depend on our donors to keep the organization running. And for that to happen, we have to adopt specific strategies and follow plans to reassure the donors that their generous donations are very much needed and valued.
For nonprofits, especially small ones, getting a new donor can be quite challenging. But, worry not, for we are here to help you.
In this article, we will share with you 5 of the best strategies for nonprofits to pull in more potential donors and maintain a solid and lasting relationship with the existing ones.
Now, before we get started, let’s take a look at what a nonprofit is, its different types and importance, and the various types of donors your organization can attract.
What is a nonprofit organization (NPO)?
As the name suggests, nonprofit organizations are those organizations that operate not to make profits but rather to follow their missions through fundings and donations.
According to Investopedia, NPOs are “the types of organizations that do not earn profits for their owners. All of the money earned by or donated to a not-for-profit organization is used in pursuing the organization’s objectives and keeping it running. Typically, organizations in the nonprofit sector are tax-exempt charities or other types of public service organizations, and as such, they are not required to pay most taxes. In a nonprofit organization, income is not distributed to the group’s members, directors, or officers.”
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Different Types of Nonprofit Organizations
- For animals, such as protecting endangered animals, feeding strays, speaking up against animal cruelty, etc.
- For the environment, such as planting more trees, saving water, going green, etc.
- For health, such as educating people about health-related issues, providing financial assistance for the poor, etc.
- For education such as providing free education or scholarships to students who need financial aid, etc.
- International nonprofit organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, The Red Cross, etc.
Importance of Nonprofit Organizations
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- Nonprofits help the government and community by providing education, medical care, shelter, or employment, depending on their mission. This helps in the overall development of the community.
- They play a significant role in speaking up for the voiceless and fighting for the underdogs through their awareness campaigns.
- They provide opportunities for those who want to do more for the world through volunteer work and other duties, which can help them upskill themselves.
Different Types of Donors
Collectively, individual donors will be the saving grace for your organization. However, the reasons for their involvement might differ. It could be because of the following:
Their life experiences.
The wonders of your marketing skills.
They have read a piece about your organization somewhere and are touched and impressed.
They believe in your mission and are impressed with your statistics.
No matter the reason, know that they make a large percentage of your annual income.
Major donors are those who prefer to donate a large sum in one go. For instance, a big wad of cash once every year. Cultivation and stewardship are two donors you would need to update about your spendings and expenses at least once a year to keep them in the loop. We’d advise you to assign each major donor to one of the most suitable board members and correspond with them about how the organization is doing or new plans of action, and so on.
In a world where many entrepreneurs claim themselves to be philanthropists, corporations do lookout for organizations to fund. However, in their world of business, in most cases, this will not be a simple transaction. This is a marketing opportunity for them, and as such, you would need to hold a minor press release or photo session where you could ask newspapers or magazines to print a photo of you and the donor exchanging a big check or maybe name a hall in your building after the name of their CEO or the corporation.
Getting a private foundation in your pocket means you’ve hit a pot of gold. Generally, they need to give away a certain amount of money to charities of their choice as they fall under tax-free IRS laws. So, once or twice a year, they open grant proposals where various organizations can appeal to them to fund their organization.
Now, on to the topic at hand: 5 strategies for nonprofits that work to strengthen your relationship with donors.
Let’s begin, shall we?
1.Communication is key
One mistake that organizations lose their fundings/donations is because they fail to update the donors about the progress of the mission and spendings. This has to be avoided at all costs. In fact, according to a study by Abila (2016 Donor Loyalty Study), millennials expect to receive words from the nonprofit organizations they have funded at least two times a month.
Keeping them in the loop will make them feel like their donations do matter and that they are helping.
2. Don’t forget to thank your donors and show some appreciation.
This is something that shouldn’t need to be mentioned. However, according to Abila’s study, we must because 21% of donors do not get thanked for their donations and contributions. And even if they receive any appreciation, they are generally insincere thank yous.
A simple and sincere ‘Thank you!’ goes a long way in making the donors feel appreciated and motivates them to want to do more. You could start with hand-written cards or send them some of your calendars or bookmarks.
3. Know your donors
Whenever you send content to donors, ensure that you do not misspell their names or organizations and make it personal by adding the mutual interest you and their organization share or something close to their hearts.
The same study by Abila found out that about 71% of donors feel more closely with a nonprofit when they receive personalized content from them. This will help you strengthen the existing relationship you have with them, and they will be more inclined to help you further.
4. Do not hesitate to ask your donors for referrals.
Be it nonprofit or for-profit organizations, the key to finding the proper funding is through networking. And networking includes asking your existing donors to introduce you to potential donors. The more comprehensive your network, the more people will know about you and your mission.
It’s like what Joe Garecht said, “When someone introduces your nonprofit to a friend, it not only helps your message penetrate the marketing clutter and catch the attention of a prospective donor, it gives your organization instant credibility.”
This is an ideal way to find new donors with whom you can hopefully build a long-term relationship.
5. Ask board members for referrals.
Generally, board members of any organization are influential public figures in the community, and they usually have a lot of influence. They are typically connected to people with lucrative businesses and backgrounds. Ideally, these board members are who nonprofits should go to for referrals. However, most organizations fail to do this.
You need to utilize every arsenal at your disposal, including going to the board members for referrals. This way, when you do get a donor through them, the relationship between them and your organization will be vital as, let’s face it, they probably wouldn’t have funded you if they didn’t trust the board member.
Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen!
We sincerely hope that this article helps you strategise and plan on attracting potential donors and building a strong relationship with them and the existing ones.
Remember, the key to the growth of your funds lies in how well you communicate and enhance your relationship with your donors.
“One of the most important things nonprofit organizations need to do is build relationships with their donors. Building relationships should be front and center in everything you do.”