What are the latest and greatest approaches to nonprofit fundraising
February 1, 2016 11:45 AM   Subscribe

What are some new creative fundraising strategies that a large national non-profit should be considering?

The bulk of our current fundraising is from our mail campaigns (three per year) and a large national Board, which has a suggested donation amount to serve on the Board. I am wondering what are the major other campaigns we should be considering to go along with this. We also have a, likely underperforming, email campaign to complement the mailing that we do.

As examples, we are considering a more active social media presence, as we currently use our social media for communications and advocacy, but not much for fundraising. We are also looking at building out a peer-driven fundraising strategy, which would train some of our key donors and supporters to begin fundraising on our behalf.

What other plans, strategies, or ideas could we consider implementing? I'm new to non-profit fundraising, and the organization is kind of stuck in its ways, so I'm looking for some new ideas to explore in more detail.
posted by davidstandaford to Work & Money (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
One of the most surpsing, slightly uncomfortable, and impressive fundraising strategies I've seen was when I was attending an event at a local nonprofit, and their development director announced, "I'd like to get $1000 in donations right now. Who is willing to donate any amount right now to get us there?" I don't remember the exact amount she was raising, and this was someone with a very charismatic and authoritative personality. My guess is they planted or prepped one or two people to call out that they'd donate a specific amount. It was sort of a weird auction vibe where people were yelling out, I believe the amount they wanted to donate, and the development director was doing the math right there out loud until they got the specific target amount. The peer pressure was intense, the effort was successful, and the whole thing was over in a couple minutes!
posted by latkes at 12:02 PM on February 1, 2016

I wouldn't spend many (maybe any) resources on social media fundraising. The response rate is lower than email (and email response rates are terrible.)

Are you running test packages on your direct mail? Are you doing A/B testing on your email campaigns?

If you're only doing 3 direct mail campaigns a year, does this mean you don't have a monthly renewal series?

I would make sure you've got best practices locked up before you latch onto the latest hot fundraising theory.
posted by Automocar at 12:17 PM on February 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is a slightly disturbing question because it reveals that you don't need the latest creative fundraising strategies: you need to cover basic fundraising strategies. Email campaigns and social media fundraising are fundamentals and should already be delivering for you.

The kind of fundraising that will work well for your organisation depends entirely on your charity's profile. I just launched a sponsorship program and a store for this charity. My friend runs a national charity that uses entrepreneurship to keep students in school and they hold an annual fundraising gala honouring an entrepreneur. I'm hosting a fundraising ball and auction for another charity. The profile of the donor base and the annual fundraising target means that for that last example, street collections and supporter-organised coffee mornings are big drivers. For a charity along the lines of the EFF, we ask people to sponsor an issue that's important to them, and then encourage them to Tweet or FB their sponsorship to grain traction, and that works well.

Another donor-led organisation I know of goes on strike and stops delivering services until their funding goal is met. They're very transparent about this: "We need to raise Z this year to stay open; we've raised Y. If we have not raised Z by the first of the month, we're closing services until the money needed to run them for the rest of the year turns up." (They've only had to actually strike twice in 16 years.)

Are text donations a thing wherever you are? One of the charities I work with raises fully 40% of their annual donations target through text donations, €4 at a time, driven entirely through Facebook. (Again, how well social media delivers for you depends hugely on what kind of charity you are and what your donor profile is.)

If you don't know what your donor profile is, that's the biggest value you can bring to this org right now: donor management reporting. Razor's Edge is popular; I like Little Green Light.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:31 PM on February 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Planned giving is the biggest bang for your buck. You should also be identifying and cultivating high level donors. Basically, your annual gifts program/social media exist to bring these two groups to your attention.

Sponsorship can be very good if you can give sponsors visability in exchange.

It's great that the Board donates! If the Board is interested, you can do a peer screening where they identify others who would be interested in supporting your organization's mission.

Free feel to memail if you want specific feedback on your tactics.
posted by betsybetsy at 4:57 PM on February 1, 2016

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