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4 Tips for Taking Nonprofit Fundraising to the Next Level

Jay Love
Jay Love  |  September 19, 2019

Your nonprofit may be backed by many generous supporters, but are you making the most of their contributions? 

Your organization should take advantage of every possible opportunity you get to maximize your revenue.

It’s no surprise that many small nonprofits struggle to raise money they need. Gathering enough support from your community through major marketing initiatives can be a challenge for your already-stretched team members. You’re passionate about your cause, but without sufficient fundraising, it will be harder for your nonprofit to succeed and thrive.

Fundraising tips for nonprofits

When you feel as though your organization needs a bit of a push to improve, it may be time to re-evaluate your fundraising plan

By targeting your weak areas by taking advantage of existing improvement opportunities, you can ramp up your fundraising and strengthen your nonprofit’s ability to raise support for its mission in no time. Let’s get started!

1. Practice effective communication 


Reach out to your existing supporters. As a nonprofit professional, you know how important it is to show your appreciation after a donation. Letting donors know that you value their gifts and the time they devote to your organization can boost relationships more than you’d initially expect.

However, it’s also important to make sure the conversation isn’t just one-sided. Encourage supporters to provide feedback. Then, make sure your organization acknowledges their concerns.The communication process can even be simplified by conducting outreach through the right donor database software

Make sure you effectively hold up your side of the conversation with supporters. Approach any communication with the intent to grab the attention of your audience. According to last year’s Trends in Giving Report, 54% of donors worldwide prefer to give online, which means they’ll likely also read your messages online.

So, carefully craft your emails with the following best practices:

  • Don’t overlook the subject line. The subject line is what convinces people to open the email in the first place. Put some thought into it!
  • Personalize the emails. People respond more positively to personalization. Don’t use a generalized introduction like “to whom it may concern.” Use your donor’s name to leave a positive first impression.
  • Include a button. Call readers to action and link them directly to your donation page. Taking them directly to it streamlines the donation process. 

Direct mail donations represent about 11% of all charitable donations. Therefore, you’ll want to put as much care into direct mail as you do for emails, so try the following:

  • Try a template. This will save you time in creating the letter itself. Spend the rest of your time customizing and personalizing it based on your specific needs and per recipient.
  • Provide an addressed and stamped return envelope. This eliminates a step in the donation process and makes it much easier for them to send you a contribution. Plus, it eliminates their need to purchase stamps, a step that will be much appreciated by supporters. 

While most gifts are given online these days, most of your largest donations are given after a face-to-face conversation. Make sure to frame your conversation correctly by first asking about the philanthropic impact they want to make, then focusing on the effect the person’s donation will have on your organization. 

Don’t overlook any form of communication, because you want every last charitable donation you can get. Even though 69% of donors prefer to be thanked via email, you’ll miss out on a large number of donations if you only focus on email communication. The remaining 31% is accounted for by print letters, text messages, postcards, social media messages, and phone calls.

Entice mid-level donors

Building an effective communication strategy for your fundraising campaigns will also require you to target your messages towards a particular segment of your donor base. For instance, mid-level donors are frequently overlooked by nonprofits. 

TIP: Learn how to communicate better and more effectively with all types of people from all walks of life with our free downloadable tip sheet. 

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Generally, nonprofits focus heavily on stewarding their major donors or acquiring new supporters, both of which are great strategies! However, it leaves your mid-tier donors without much attention. These are the donors you want to cultivate to reach those upper-level donation amounts.

The first step in better targeting this segment of your donor base is figuring out who your mid-level donors are. Run a report to find out who falls between the categories of your largest and smallest donors. The second step is engaging them.

You should create a unique mid-level donor experience by doing the following:

  • Stewarding your donors. Coordinate a specific outreach strategy for your mid-tier donors just as you would for major donors. You’ll want to maintain consistent contact with them in order to boost donor retention and prove that you’re responsibly handling their donations.
  • Cultivating reciprocal relationships. How can you create the same spirit in motivation in this group as you do for the major donor level? Just like how you value your major stakeholders' opinions and input about your organization, invite your mid-range donors to join the conversation. Give them the opportunity to provide valuable feedback.
  • Increasing their access. Invite your mid-tier donors to some major donor events, like your major end-of-year gala or auction. You’ll give them an inside look as to how they can contribute more

When you use your communication platforms effectively, you can more deliberately cultivate your relationships with mid-tier donors. No matter where exactly they fall within the mid-tier range, show them how their support helps further your mission, and as always, say thank you. 

As you get started implementing more effective communication strategies, remember that not all donors respond the same to the same communication platforms. Get to know your donors and their preferences, and always keep an open line of communication. That way, they’ll feel valued, and you won’t miss out on any fundraising opportunities.

2. Focus on donor retention 


Listen to your donors. This is the simplest donor retention technique. When you listen to their feedback and concerns and then take action, you’ll gain your supporters’ trust and make them feel respected and appreciated. 

To simplify the feedback process necessary for strong donor retention, create a questionnaire to gauge areas of improvement. Instead of posting the survey on your website, send it directly to donors via email. Keep open-ended questions limited so as not to bore participants, but including one to two can add immense value to the questionnaire.

Consider the following: 

Why did you first give to our organization?
Why is this cause important to you?
If you had 5 minutes with our director, what would you say?

By collecting information directly from your supporters, you can better personalize the messages you use to communicate with them. Donor management software allows you to store personalized information about each and every one of your donors, including relevant documents, demographics, relationships, and notes. Plus, with the right software, you can even create these messages within the CRM.

Donor database software simplifies every step of the communication process and creates a positive, customized donor experience. 

For instance, donor management software allows you to manage your entire list of supporters, create email newsletters, track individuals’ engagement histories, analyze your data through its generated smart reports, and much more.

With strong donor management software in your tech toolbox, you can also more easily conduct prospect research to further personalize interactions and identify prospective major donors. Look into your supporters’ philanthropic and wealth indicators to determine how much they can give as well as how likely they are to give.

Some of these indicators to look for are:

  • Previous donations to your nonprofit.
  • Donations to other nonprofits.
  • Full history of engagement with your nonprofit.
  • Professional and other public relationships.
  • SEC holdings, real estate records, or political giving history.

When selecting the right prospect research technology, keep an eye out for features that allow you to conduct social discovery. Social discovery is one type of prospect development that focuses on donors’ social factors. Factors like personal passions and social media followers can effectively indicate affinity, capacity, philanthropic interests, and professional stability.

Related: Learn about how GoFundMe works and alternatives to determine the best fit for your fundraising campaign. 

The more publicly-available data you gather, the more effective and natural your asks for support will be as you grow your relationship with that prospect. Remember that when choosing the right donor database software, look for a solution that integrates with your donor database. This makes it easy to store the information you collect for the future.

When your donors feel as though you’ve taken the time to get to know them, they’ll be more likely to stick around and continue contributing. 

3. Look into corporate giving opportunities

One often overlooked revenue source is corporate giving programs. They stem from employees’ engagement with specific nonprofits and aim to multiply their contributions.

According to Double the Donations’ matching gift statistics, 65% of Fortune 500 companies offer matching gift programs, but an estimated $4 to $7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year. Think of all the money you could miss out on by not taking advantage of these programs.

Different types of corporate giving opportunities include:

  • Matching gifts. Matching gifts allow supporters to maximize their impact and nonprofits to maximize their donation revenue. When someone donates to your nonprofit, they may be eligible to participate in their company’s matching gift program, which matches their donation. This is a simple way to boost their impact and takes little effort from donors, companies, and nonprofits! You’ll just need to show donors how to check their eligibility.
  • Volunteer grants. You can benefit financially from your volunteers just as much as you can from donors. When someone volunteers with your organization, you might be able to receive a matched grant from their employer. Volunteer grants come in 2 forms: a set monetary donation for every hour volunteered or a set grant amount once employees have volunteered a certain amount of time. Not all companies offer volunteer grants, but it’s worthwhile to ask your volunteers to check their eligibility.
  • Fundraising matches. Fundraising matches are very similar to matching gifts, but they typically occur in the context of fundraising campaigns and pre-arranged sponsorships. With fundraising matches, a company agrees to financially match all of the donations a nonprofit receives during a set time period. These fundraising matches are usually arranged with the sponsor ahead of time and are heavily promoted when the match period starts. 

Educate your supporters about these opportunities. When you tell your supporters about these opportunities, they’re much more likely to give and, in some cases, even give more. In fact, 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered.

Offering tools and resources for your supporters to check their own eligibility is a smart move. By implementing a tool like this, you educate your supporters and make it easier for them to multiply their contributions. This is an easy way to bridge the gap in knowledge about employee giving opportunities.

4. Explore peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to get your supporters engaged, acquire new donors, and boost revenue all at once!

Any nonprofit can benefit from peer-to-peer fundraising but only if they think through their approach. While smaller nonprofits might be able to have a successful peer-to-peer fundraiser with limited tech resources, larger nonprofits may find investing in more comprehensive fundraising software to be helpful in their campaign efforts. 

See the Easiest-to-Use Fundraising Software →

While it is a cost-effective way to raise more money, it can take a lot of effort from everyone involved. In order to have a successful peer-to-peer campaign, you’ll need to:

  • Thoroughly plan ahead. While these campaigns are fairly straightforward, they take just as much planning as any other fundraiser. Start by picking the timeline for your event as well as the end goal, and go from there. The deadline encourages a greater level of participation and creates a sense of urgency in fundraisers and donors alike.
  • Find passionate supporters to participate. Your volunteer fundraisers are arguably your most important asset. If your campaign isn’t armed by eager supporters, you won’t see as much benefit from the campaign as you can. Look for supporters with high engagement rates, like volunteers, frequent event attendees, those with soft credits, and those who talk about you on social media.
  • Train your participants. Host in-person training sessions for those who live nearby, but also host webinars for those who can’t make in-person sessions. Distribute info packets that explain your campaign and its goals via email. That way, everyone has an equal chance to train. Be sure to include sample social media posts, including text, images, and videos. Give your fundraisers the tools they need to succeed, and they will!
  • Have a great closing event. Most social fundraisers conclude with some kind of big event that everyone looks forward to attending. It incentivizes your supporters and makes them want to earn it. Your event can be something like a walkathon or a celebratory dinner. Choose what best fits your organization, your campaign, and your participants!
  • Follow up. Always say thank you! Let your fundraisers know how much your campaign raised and also request their feedback. By asking for their feedback, you’ll learn what works best for your organization, and you can adjust your future peer-to-peer fundraisers. 

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a powerfully effective way to revamp your fundraising strategy while also engaging your supporters. Plus, when your supporters are reaching out to their friends and family to support your organization, your nonprofit reaches new and exciting audiences (great for donor acquisition!). 

TIP: Learn more about peer-to-peer campaigning so that you can implement it in your own organization. 

Making small adjustments can make a huge impact on your organization’s fundraising, so cover all your bases by practicing effective communication, focusing on donor retention, and exploring corporate giving programs.

Remember, peer-to-peer fundraising requires careful planning, but the process can be simplified through fundraising technology. Any nonprofit can benefit from peer-to-peer campaigning, so find out what it can do for your organization! 

Every donation matters, so make use of all available information about your volunteers, donors, and other supporters to personalize your outreach. By taking advantage of all opportunities, you can take your fundraising to the next level. 

Curious about creating the perfect fundraising plan? Take these tips and read on to see how to make an unbeatable nonprofit fundraiser for your company. 

Learn more about fundraising plans →

Jay Love
Author

Jay Love

Jay B. Love is a Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang.

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.