Fundraising Talks
News and updates from the USM Office of
Advancement Research
In fundraising, the pandemic has forced nonprofits to deliver engagement in new ways. However, the pandemic has not changed the fundamental principles of engaging alumni. Instead, fundraisers must rethink their approaches to the four rules to engaging alumni. GG+A offers tips that will help your office reimagine how to create purposeful engagement, the importance of a complete production schedule, the significance of the guest experience, and the necessity of metrics. Click here to read more.
Ruffalo Noel Levitz has surveyed more than 5,000 fundraisers on their experience with fundraising during COVID-19. Their May/June survey asked fundraisers to reflect on their donor engagement at the end of FY20 and their upcoming plans. They found that most institutions shifted fundraising to support student emergency funds during the pandemic and that most institutions plan to continue to engage digitally in the future via texting, virtual happy hours, personalized videos, and more. Many found that their loyal donors stayed loyal during FY20 and that they were quick to respond to communications. When asked what fundraisers have learned about their institutional leadership, responses varied. Some felt positively about leadership while others were not happy with leadership's cautious donor engagement. Looking toward the future, most fundraisers will have tighter resources but have similar or higher goals than FY20. Read the full findings here.
As you have undoubtedly heard by now, making connections with your donors is extremely important now, more than ever. No matter the size of your organization, you must know your donor and must make communication personal and accurate. Ongoing donor engagement is critical, as well as reaching out in genuine and caring ways. It is also important to remind donors of the impact they can have by supporting your mission. Furthermore, make sure you know your donors--especially your major donors. Lastly, don't be afraid to ask your dedicated donors to give.
Bloomerang urges fundraisers to stop looking for reasons not to fundraise mid-pandemic and to instead ask with clarity, specificity, and relevancy. It is not enough to send a few appeal emails and think that your job is done. Put your organization and its mission out repeatedly to donors and prospects. Send brief but regular updates to keep donors up-to-date with news and services. Use multiple channels such as social media, Zoom, and online events to communicate with donors. Keep making the ask with donor-centered appeals that have singular calls to action and take time to research and qualify formerly back-burned major donor prospects. Be sure to continue to ask online as well. To read all of Bloomerang's suggestions, click here.
COVID-19 has caused budget cuts and staff furloughs that make it difficult to fundraise. However, fundraising successfully is still possible. WealthEngine suggests using automated technology to segment donors, set up online fundraisers, and schedule social media postings and emails. Additionally, you should take time to research, follow up on, and categorize your donor lists so that messaging is tailored. Wealth Engine also suggests that in-person meetings are possible outdoors, with masks if your state and health authorities are allowing it and if you are ensuring appropriate safety measures. Finally, be sure to ask your board members for help and support.
After performing a wealth screening, what is the next step for your organization? How can you turn new-found data into actionable goals? Prospect Research Institute says that your office should have a plan to verify the data you receive. It is unlikely you will be able to verify everything , but segmenting data and verifying the best opportunities is critical. Next, work with leadership to assign prospects into gift officer portfolios. Finally, leadership should have goals set up for new prospects--for example, set a goal of reaching 50 percent of new prospects in one year.
Measuring the results of your annual giving efforts can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be if you start with the five basic metrics. Annual Giving Network encourages fundraisers to focus on revenue, donors, participation, retention, and leadership giving--the most important metrics for annual giving. Although they are just the beginning, starting with these five metrics will help you take a deeper dive into an ocean of metrics. Click here for definitions and examples of these five metrics.