*Note: All these tips and more can be found in Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals.
1. How to get your board more involved in fundraising:
Stage a Board Member Thank-a-Thon
Tons of nonprofits experience frustration with getting their boards to fundraise; in fact, it’s the second biggest reasons why E.D.s leave their post according to
CompassPoint’s “Daring to Lead” study. Any easy way to give board members a
chance to dip their toes in the waters of donor engagement is staging a thank-athon. The key is to make it easy for board members to participate, and to help them understand that fundraising is much more than making an ask. By inviting your board members to come together one evening or weekend to call and thank recent donors, they will get exposure interacting with donors and will leave feeling empowered and connected to your organization’s work. This will also help to improve relationships with your donors, who will be delighted to receive a thank you call without an attached ask. Read more from Bob Zimmerman in Chapter 31, “Getting Your Board to Fundraise.”
2. How to increase your chances of getting a grant:
Never Apply for a Grant Without Contacting the Foundation First
As much as you might want to believe that grants are awarded simply due to the fit of the program and the excellence of the application, it simply isn’t true. In fact in our experience the odds of getting a grant that you send in without contacting the foundation are about 5-10%. Just as in individual (and all!) fundraising, developing relationships is critical. There are people at these foundations, called program officers, who are directly responsible for deciding who gets money and who doesn’t. They care deeply about the work they are funding, and consider it an advantage to be able to scope out potential grantees. In person meetings with program officers are ideal, but even a short phone call with a grant manager or administrator can still yield the basic information you need, as well as getting your name in the mind of someone at the foundation. Sometimes these initial conversations can save you valuable time in applying for a grant program
that was not a fit—always do your homework on their funding goals ahead of time! But often, they are valuable knowledge gathering sessions: use the call or meeting to
identify their key priorities and desired language, which many times cannot be found on their website; figure out which of your programs or initiatives is the best fit, and determine how much money you should request. Finally, go out on a limb and ask if they would be willing to preview your LOI (Letter of Intent) or proposal before your official submission. This will give them a sense of ownership over your request and provide you with valuable feedback. Start today by calling the offices of your top foundation prospect and seeing if you can get on a relevant program officer’s schedule. Read more from Tori O’Neal-McElrath in Chapter 20, “How to Seeka Grant.”
3. How to secure a donation:
Make Specific and Direct Asks for Money
People give because they are asked–if you don’t ask, the answer will always be “no.” It can be tough to look someone in the eyes and ask for money, but somewhere in your pitch, some variation of the words, “I’d like to invite you to invest $100 in our work” need to find their place, ideally followed by as long a pause as it takes to get an answer. For fundraisers, you can’t make the mistake of not asking because you feel greedy or you think they will know what you want. Ask with pride for the cause you are so committed to raising money for, and be honored to be the potential bridge for that donor from need to impact–donation to solution. Be sure to ask for a specific amount (something that’s a stretch, but not unrealistic), and be clear on exactly what you will spend the money on and the impact it will generate. Tell the story of someone you’ve served who enjoyed the impact of these types of donations. Start today by calling a lapsed donor and asking for a small renewal gift, even if it’s $25! Practice this type of direct and specific ask on your board members, fellow co-workers, family, and friends, and in no time you will be a master fundraiser. Read more from Andrea McManus, CFRE in Chapter 18, “Fundraising: Knowing When to do What” and check out Tip 4 for more on this important topic.
4. How to build loyal, happy donors:
Map Donations to Impact
People don’t give to you because you have needs; they give to you because you meet needs. Donors and prospects don’t want to hear about the woes of the economy or your organizational struggles—no one wants to join a sinking ship. Instead, they want to know exactly where their donation will go, or has gone, and what impact your work is having on their community and the issues they care about. Use the power of personal stories to demonstrate how critical and important their support is to your work. Emphasize impact and stories in all your communications with donors, both in person and in your written materials. Make sure that you send timely thank you notes, reports on progress and success, and ongoing communications to build loyalty and trust with your donors. Start by sending a handwritten note to your best donor today! Read more from Kay Sprinkel Grace, CFRE in Chapter 19, “Individual Donor and Major Gift Strategies: The 83% Solution to Fundraising.”
- Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals.
Darian Rodriguez Heyman is the former Executive Director of the Craigslist Foundation and is Co-Producer & MC, Social Media for Nonprofits , Editor, Nonprofit Management 101: A Complete and Practical Guide for Leaders and Professionals , and author of the article seen in the Huffington Post, “The Two Keys to Social Media Marketing Success”
Darian will be speaking at NEW’s October 18th Get Connected, Top Ten Tips for Fundraising. If you have questions contact Dan Robin, email@example.com, 313-887-7788 ext 300. For more information about NEW’s programs and other training opportunities, sign up for NEW’s Notes.