As part of our monthly Morning Buzz workshop series, the Delaware County Community Foundation (DCCF) recently wrapped up a four-part focus on Fundraising for Nonprofits. The major topics covered were
Developing a Fundraising Plan;
Making Your Best Case;
Annual Giving; and
Individual/Major Gift Cultivation.
So what did we learn? Here are a few fundamentals from the sessions:
It starts with a PLAN - if you don't have a plan, you'll go nowhere fast....
Taking the time to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan ensures that you know what your organization needs, how you're going to achieve your goals, and who needs to be involved in the process.
TIP: try organizing your action items like a calendar to help keep you organized
Fundraising is about RELATIONSHIPS first...the money comes second...
Cultivation and stewardship are about building RELATIONSHIPS between your organization and donors that result in sustained financial support. Fundraising is cyclical by nature: cultivation leads to financial gifts, which leads to stewardship, which leads right back to cultivation. Taking the time to nurture donor relationships can have a transformational impact on both your organization and your donors.
TIP: keep the ball rolling by entering donor contact information in your database so that you can track how and when you've interacted with your top prospects
Don't ignore your small donors...
Your small donors can be your most loyal donors and your best prospects for major gifts...if you steward them properly. Analyze your giving data to see who has given to you year after year. Consider doing personal outreach to those who give consistently. You'll likely get some useful feedback that can help you engage with your regular donors more substantively and sustainably. Donors who give small amounts in regular intervals can also be great prospects for planned giving.
TIP: regularly run and analyze reports from your database to identify individual prospects and giving trends
Using data to tell your story is important-but still make it personal...
In an outcome driven world, funders want you to demonstrate your impact with data to prove that your model works. But particularly when cultivating individual prospects, one person's story might resonate more than numbers. It's important to know how to tell your story through both data and anecdotes. For example, it's great to know that 70% of kids in your program improved their reading level by two grades after coming to your after school program. But it FEELS better to hear that Tommy is now reading at a 9th grade level and was accepted to the magnet high school of his choice, which seemed like an impossible dream before your program.
TIP: get permission from a few people impacted by your organization to use their likeness and story on your website, in newsletters, grant applications, and when meeting with donors
These were just a few things we learned in our Morning Buzz Fundraising Series. DCCF is now moving on to a four-part series on Marketing for Nonprofits. Check out the schedule on our website.