Non-profit organizations are in the unique position of having to rely on grants, donations, and other forms of funding for their livelihood.
While some may see this as a difficulty, others see it as an opportunity. What's clear is that running a non-profit requires an intentional fundraising approach. Those organizations that simply wing it are doing themselves and their cause a disservice.
Whether you are planning on using an online strategy or you're looking for more offline fundraising, a good non-profit manager will always have a plan that works toward the broader strategy of the organization. Here are five tips to help managers put together their fundraising plan.
Make giving as simple as possible
One of the biggest mistakes that non-profits make is having a complex donation process. There are people out there with money and with the desire to help. The key is to make the process easy for these individuals. What this means will be slightly different for each non-profit. The key is to offer as many options as possible.
Some people would prefer to be able to give right online using their Paypal account or a credit card. Others are distrustful of online payment portals and would like to send a check. If your aim is to make giving simple, then you should have a number of simple options that are very clear to your benefactors.
Ensure that your online portal is intuitive and requires as few steps as possible. If you're soliciting offline donations, ensure that your address is easy to find and that the benefactor knows precisely who to make the check out to.
Legitimacy is king
Understand that even though you are in the non-profit field, you are still in competition with other organizations. There is a finite amount of resources to pull from, so you need to convince potential benefactors that your organization and your cause are worthy of their time and sacrifice.
While there are many ways to do this, legitimacy should be your primary concern. Today's donors are more concerned than ever about where their money is going and how it is being used. Everything about your organization should reflect professionalism. This means that your website should be clean and functional.
Your communication should be proofed before it's sent out. These things will help signal to your donors that your organization is serious and trustworthy.
Build trust and appeal through traditional media
For smaller organizations, it is especially important to utilize local media to get the message out. There are two reasons why traditional media are important for fundraising purposes.
For one, television stations and newspapers can provide the kind of free advertising that non-profit organizations need. These are entities that are almost constantly looking for good stories. They create a win-win situation when they share the good news about what your organization is doing. Perhaps more importantly, you will be building trust by associating with local media.
Many potential donors recognize these media sources, and your connection to them will signal that your organization is legitimate.
Act local, but think global
Even if you run an organization with local or regional pull, you can still fundraise globally. Many donors today are looking to donate to good causes, and they do not necessarily care where your organization is located.
As you look to raise funds, don't simply focus on your own community. Focus on drawing from a larger community of individuals that may be personally invested in your cause. The Internet is a powerful tool for reaching broad audiences. While giving attention to local donors is important, know that the Internet provides the ultimate fundraising tool, which is scale.
If there is a way to tell the story of your organization through the vessel of a human being, then do so.
People connect to personal stories more than just the story of an organization itself. Whether you are running a homeless shelter that helps to keep people out of the cold or you're heading a society for the arts, tell the story of a person you've helped.
This will make your cause more personal, putting a face on the work you've done. Potential donors will understand that they are helping actual people, and they will feel a real connection to your cause.