As a nonprofit professional, you know that you can’t just rely on the same old fundraising strategies year after year. Doing so drains the excitement and passion out of your employees’ work and disengages your donors and volunteers.
Instead, you should be willing to mix things up, because truly effective fundraising demands consistent innovation and experimentation.
Experimentation looks different for every nonprofit. Maybe you’re a growing organization that is looking to try more sophisticated strategies, like creating a major giving program. Or perhaps you want to start educating your supporters about how they can help your nonprofit leverage corporate giving opportunities.
In this article, we’ll help you brainstorm a few new ideas for boosting your nonprofit’s fundraising success including:
- Seek out major gifts.
- Launch a crowdfunding campaign.
- Host a unique fundraising event.
- Work with a nonprofit fundraising consultant.
You can assess the effectiveness of your new ideas by tracking your fundraising metrics and evaluating your progress toward your organization’s vision and goals. It might also be a good idea to survey your supporters to find out what they think of the new approaches you’re trying. Let’s get started!
1. Seek out major gifts.
Major gifts are the largest donations your nonprofit receives from individual donors. Of course, what constitutes a major gift will look different for every nonprofit organization, depending on the organization’s size and fundraising capacity.
These gifts can make up a major portion of your organization’s funding, so it’s well worth it to pursue them deliberately. But if you’re new to creating a major gifts strategy, where do you start?
According to Donorly’s guide to major donors, you can find major gifts through wealth screening and prospect research. Let’s look at how both of these processes work:
- Wealth screening consists of looking at the data you have for your current donors, specifically the external financial indicators (like real estate ownership and stock holdings) that show they may be in a position to give a large gift to your nonprofit.
- Prospect research is the process of looking for new donors who have both the capacity and an affinity to give. You’ll look for capacity markers similar to the ones used in wealth screening and affinity markers like past involvement with similar organizations or connections to your current supporters. When you find a potential donor that exhibits both kinds of markers, you’ll have a new prospect to reach out to.
As you research your new prospects and begin the process of cultivating relationships with them, make sure to check if their employers offer gift matching. This is an easy way for your major donors to increase their impact without having to spend more.
2. Launch a crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding is a type of fundraising that involves gathering small donations from a large number of people, usually via the internet on an external fundraising platform (like GoFundMe or Kickstarter). These campaigns are easy to contribute to, making them a favorite for donors!
Once you’ve created a campaign page on a crowdfunding platform, you can share it with your community. To boost your results, feature a prominent fundraising thermometer on your campaign page where your supporters can track your progress towards your funding goal.
The power of social proof can drive more donations, so encourage donors to share the link to your campaign page with their families and friends. In fact, according to YouGovAmerica, 39% of Americans have donated to a nonprofit campaign because someone in their personal network asked them to.
You can also put a fun spin on crowdfunding by offering your donors a little something in return for their donation. Branded merchandise like t-shirts, water bottles, cinch sacks, or bumper stickers are often popular with donors and provide you with additional publicity every time they use their merchandise.
3. Host a unique fundraising event.
According to CharityBids’ guide to nonprofit event planning, a well-planned fundraising event empowers your organization to raise awareness for its cause, pull in fundraising dollars, build relationships with donors and volunteers, strengthen your brand image, and create long-lasting memories with your community.
To tap into all these benefits, you’ll need to experiment with different types of events that will get your nonprofit’s community excited about attending and supporting your cause. Here are a few fun options to consider:
- Walk-a-thon: This is an event that gets people exercising for a good cause. To pull in money, you’ll rely on your participants to conduct peer-to-peer fundraising. Participants will collect pledges before the event based on a set distance that they’ll be walking (for example, $5 per mile walked). On the big day, participants walk as far as they can, collecting their pledged donations afterward. As with any physically strenuous event, make sure you have your participants sign a waiver beforehand.
- Charity auction: An auction is an exciting event that harnesses the power of friendly competition. You’ll need to plan for your auction well in advance, collecting items that your community of supporters will want to bid on. Invite an auctioneer to direct the bidding, or host a silent auction if you think some attendees will want a less intense auction experience.
- Telefundraiser: Simply picking up the phone and asking for donations is an oft-overlooked method of fundraising in the modern nonprofit world. But with video conferencing software, you can easily turn the traditional telefundraiser into a full-fledged event where volunteer or paid fundraisers have genuine conversations with supporters and issue sincere fundraising asks.
Besides trying out new types of events, don’t be afraid to try out different ways to host your events. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that nonprofit supporters are eager to attend not just in-person events, but also virtual and hybrid events. Lean into the flexibility of these formats and adjust one of these event ideas for the digital space!
4. Work with a nonprofit fundraising consultant.
If you’re looking for a more holistic solution to refreshing your nonprofit’s approach to fundraising, you may benefit from working with a fundraising consultant. These professionals provide a variety of services, such as transitional staffing, prospect research help, and capital campaign support.
In general, a fundraising consultant can also help you take stock of what is and isn’t working for your nonprofit when it comes to fundraising. They’ll also help you come up with new strategies and coach you through implementing them.
Here are the steps you should follow to hire a fundraising consultant:
- Define your organization’s needs.
- Develop a request for proposal (RFP) that tells potential consultants what projects you need assistance with.
- Begin researching various consultants that you’ve considered retaining.
- Submit your RFPs to the consultants you’re considering, giving them roughly two weeks to complete a proposal.
- Once you receive completed proposals, review them with your team and then reach out to your chosen consultant to begin working with them!
To get the most out of working with a fundraising consultant, take the selection process seriously. Find a fundraising consultant who can serve as a true partner to your organization and who respects your team as the ultimate authority on the direction your nonprofit wants to take.
Sometimes the best thing your nonprofit can do for its fundraising efforts is to dust off the cobwebs and try a new idea. Use these four suggestions as inspiration to look at your organization’s current fundraising strategy in a new light and to try new ways to get your supporters excited about giving to your cause. Happy fundraising!