Although things are on the upswing, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic. Fundraising in 2021 still looks different than it has in years past. Hosting big events to draw in donations isn’t likely to happen anytime soon. Therefore, figuring out how to reach donors in new ways is a vital part of keeping operations running.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals surveyed nonprofits about the impact of COVID-19 and found 56% of leadership believed they’d raise less money this year. About one-fourth felt they’d reach the same amount as in 2020 and about one-fourth thought they’d raise more.
Your outlook on fundraising may depend upon your perspective. If you go into the fiscal year armed with some tools for effectively seeking donations, you’re more likely to have a positive outlook and success. Here are eight fundraising strategies to use in the middle of a pandemic.
1. Seek Organizations
Even though individual donations may make up the bulk of your fundraising efforts, don’t forget about foundations. A report by Giving USA found foundation giving grew by 18% in 2018. However, corporate giving depends upon pretax dollars and may be a little more turbulent.
Think of corporate sponsors as the icing on the cake. Make sure you keep in touch with individual donors but also go after the bigger ones. Create a short elevator pitch and cold call if you must. Look for companies that match your cause. If you help children in need, seek sponsorship from a kids’ clothing company or educational provider.
2. Accept Donations Online
People are home more than ever due to social distancing. You can make it easier for them to donate by accepting online contributions. Online giving rose by 10% in 2019, and people gave 11% more online than in person.
Remind your regular supporters via email and social media. Make it as simple as possible for them to give.
3. Tell a Story
Explain the reason you’re raising money. Share a story about how you helped someone and the difference it made in their life. Think about the animal shelter ads you’ve seen on television that follow the story of a cat or dog that was abused or neglected. They share how the organization helped the pet and found it a new home.
You must do something similar with any piece of content you post either online or offline through fundraising flyers. How can you tell a story and show the value you add to your community?
4. Be Transparent
People want to know their donations go to a good cause. Be transparent about how you spend your money. In a recent survey, 86% of consumers felt authenticity was vital in deciding whether to do business with a brand. It stands to reason it’s even more important from a nonprofit.
Share where the money goes and how much is for administrative costs. People don’t expect you to operate without a budget, but they do want you to be frugal and spend their money wisely. They want to know as much as possible goes to the cause.
5. Listen to Your Donors
Talk to those who support you about what the future looks like for them and your organization. Some may no longer have the funds to donate money, but they can offer their time or connections to help you raise more than in the past.
Be open to fresh, new ideas. Those who have watched your growth over the years may have creative solutions you haven’t thought of.
6. Mean What You Say
Deloitte conducted a survey of 2,447 people in eight different countries. It found people were highly attuned to the negative actions of brands during the COVID-19 crisis. About 66% of survey respondents remembered when a company acted in its self-interest instead of worrying about those in its community.
About 25% of those asked said they walked away from brands that weren’t seen as trustworthy. You want your sponsors to think highly of your not-for-profit company. However, you also must make good decisions in the future. If you make a mistake, own up to it and explain how you’ll do better. Be aware of how others perceive your actions.
7. Ask for Help
Reach out to those who’ve given to you in the past and explain your needs. Ask them to share your organization’s mission on social media and to tell their family and friends. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool that only costs you the time it takes to ask for help.
Those who truly believe in your cause are happy to spread the word. Give them information about your nonprofit to share with others and watch the number of supporters gradually increase.
8. Advertise Online
Advertise on social media, in a newsletter pertaining to your nonprofit, or on Google. Think about who your target audience is and reach a specific buyer persona with your ads. The goal is to drive traffic to your site and convert people into subscribers. You can then share what you’re doing and what help you need to achieve more.
9. Strive to Increase Awareness
When it comes to finding ongoing support, a big part of the equation is increasing name recognition for your organization. Word-of-mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools you have. It costs nothing but a bit of your time.
Be sure to ask your current loyal donors to tell others about your organization and what you’re doing. Host an event where they can bring a friend for free. Encourage them to bring someone who might want to help the cause.
10. Improve Mobile Interactions
More people than ever before are using their smartphones to access the internet. Think about how you can easily increase mobile engagement with your patrons. Provide an app where they can donate, start a mini fundraiser, get sponsors for a walk or run and see updates about your funding.
Make sure your website responds to smaller screens and everything is viewable and functions correctly. Survey your mailing list about the app and find out what you can do to make improvements.
Most of 2021 will likely limit in-person gatherings and the dinners and events many organizations relied on for past fundraisers. Think about how you can offer a get-together online, space people out in warm weather, or reach new donors who don’t need to attend an event to support you. Consider what’s worked in the past and repeat successful endeavors while trying new things that might increase giving exponentially.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.
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