It's no secret that for the most part, many nonprofits operate on a shoestring budget. Over the years, we've been lucky enough to work with some amazing nonprofit organizations, and as a result, we've learned a lot about the art of fundraising. This crucial process can be the lifeline of an entire organization, which makes devising a solid strategy, and maximizing your efforts, that much more important. We recently helped a nonprofit client to raise over $400,000 during an annual fundraiser event - these are the tactics that proved most successful.
1. Rally your community
Whether you're hosting a large scale, national campaign or a more modest regional event, connecting with your community is key. This means building a loyal and invested community online with the help of social media, as well as actually hitting the pavement and engaging face to face with your local tribe. For the social stratosphere, create event or campaign specific hashtags to be used for the entire process from kick-off to post event wrap up. Keep your online community involved by hosting giveaways, and sneak peeks throughout the weeks leading up the event. This could be anything from free tickets to the event itself, to gift cards donated by in-kind sponsors. Next, hit the streets - literally. Attend local community events, and even ask local businesses if they'd be willing to hang your event flyer in their window. The goal is to get your mission in front of as many eyes as possible.
2. Nurture your advocates
Every cause-driven organization has a band of advocates. These are the people who whole-heartedly believe in your cause and show up to support your efforts time and time again. They may not have a direct connection to your organization, but they always seem to pop up at every event or volunteer opportunity - ready and willing to roll their sleeves up and pitch in. For example, if you run a no-kill animal shelter, you may have volunteers who are always ready to work adoption days, even if they don't work for you directly, and may have never even adopted an animal from you. These are your advocates, and when it comes time for the serious fundraising, you'll want them in your corner. Start by considering your advocates when it comes time to appoint your planning committee. In the weeks leading up to the event, offer them insider perks, like maybe being the first to get their hands on newly designed merchandise. Don't be afraid to ask if they'd be willing to snap a photo of themselves in a freshly branded shirt and post it to social media to show support for your cause and help raise awareness.
3. Subtle, but impactful storytelling
In the months and weeks leading up to the fundraiser deadline, or culminating event, it's important to keep your cause at the forefront for everyone involved. Schedule weekly email blasts to your network, each one updating your fundraising progress, but also telling a "heart strings" story. Take this time to remind people why you're doing this in the first place. Back to the no-kill shelter example, share an update of dog or cat who recently was adopted and be sure to include photos of them with their new forever home. These subtle reminders keep the mission top of mind, while also motivating your tribe of fundraisers and supporters to continue forging ahead. Side note: don't be afraid to mix a little friendly competition into these weekly updates. You can also use this time to publicly praise the top producers for the week. Wrap each email with a shout out to the planning committee team member who secured an awesome sponsorship this week, or raised the most funds so far!
By curating a steady but powerful mix of these top three tactics, you'll be able to keep your community engaged and your advocates singing your praises - all while keeping morale at an all time high. Maximize your fundraising efforts by gaining visibility and building a strong bond with your tribe. After all, they're a huge part of your success!