You’re in crisis. You need contributions now, just to stay afloat. Surely your donors understand and won’t mind if you tell them to just send money. Now! While they may understand on some level, no one likes to be scolded. Not even in a crisis situation. Yet most nonprofits make a practice of regularly admonishing supporters…Details
During a crisis is no time to be passive. Build a list of audiences, prioritize contacts among those lists, and develop a step-by-step written PLAN to reach out. With updates, engagement opportunities, little gifts of content folks can use, and opportunities to contribute and make a demonstrable difference.
Sharing is caring too. Do you have a plan in place to regularly share what you’re up to, and offer opportunities for donors to engage? Are you communicating with donors as if they’re a part of your family or favorite group of friends? If not so much, what are you waiting for?
Establish templates with talking points in advance of your communications; then let the reaching out begin. First determine your purpose.
- Do you want to say thank you?
- Do you want to simply check in to see how your donor is doing, and whether they have any questions about your organization’s status and work right now?
- Do you want to ask them to volunteer their time?
- Do you want to ask for a philanthropic gift?
- Do you want them to complete a survey?
Figure this out first, because the more you know where you’re going the more likely you are to get there! If you’re light on staff right now, ask your volunteers and influencers for help.
These communication templates can be used for phone (or other online) conversations and emails. Got that? Conversations! Merriam Webster describes a conversation as “oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas.” In other words, you want to prompt two-way participation on some level. This is not about you delivering a monologue or formal dissertation. Think of your communication as you raising an issue for discussion. You want to pique your donor’s interest and ask open-ended questions that invite their engagement.
Start with your top priority donors who have the highest likelihood of making an additional gift to get you through this crisis. I suggestDetails
Generally, I enjoy nothing than writing, writing and writing to share with you everything I’ve been learning from my clients… my coaching… my teaching… my reading…my research and studying… just what I’m absorbing from the ether. I absolutely crafting articles for you filled with strategic fundraising tips, advice gleaned from years of in-the-trenches…Details
What’s the point of a fundraising appeal letter?
That’s obvious, right? To raise money!
But, wait a minute.
I always ask the question “why?” until I finally get to the end – where no more ‘why’ questions need to be asked — and uncover the true purpose behind anything I’m doing.
So… why are you endeavoring to raise money?
Because your organization needs contributed income.
Why does your organization need contributed income?
Because you don’t generate enough earned income to enact your mission.
Why don’t you generate enough earned income?
Because you make your services available for free or low cost to those who otherwise couldn’t afford them.
Why can’t folks afford what you offer without subsidy?
Because they’re … elderly on fixed incomes… vulnerable children… newly arrived immigrants… low-income single parents… families living below poverty level… veterans… unemployed… homeless… devastated by a natural emergency or illness… saddled by debt… or otherwise at-risk, marginalized, overlooked or being in need of a break.
Why else do you need community support?
Because the upfront cost is greater than the market will bear, but worth it for the ultimate community good of… a cure for a terminal disease… relief from devastating pain… ending injustice… saving the environment… preventing violence, abuse, addiction, suicide… restoring faith and inspiration to those whose lives would otherwise lack meaning, fulfillment and hope.
Aha! Now that you’ve answered all these important “why” questions you know the point of your fundraising appeal letter or email. Right?
It’s to get people to understand the benefit of their gift; what will happen absent their generosity.
It’s more than ridding themselves of the dollar they had burning in their pocket.
But wait another minute.
Can you dig still deeper?
Why do you want people to understand the outcome they can create?
These days you’re likely communicating with constituents digitally more than ever before.
That’s terrific, but… I want you to remember one important thing, especially if you’re a small to medium-sized, local nonprofit.
Philanthropy, translated from the Greek, literally means ‘love of humanity.’
Whatever you do that gets in the way of your humanity?
Stop doing it!
I really mean it.
PEOPLE GIVE TO PEOPLE
Sure, sometimes the ‘cause’ alone is enough to drive donations. But generally this holds true only for first-time gifts, emergency response gifts, and gifts to national and international charities with large name recognition. Even in these cases, repeat gifts and major gifts are driven by human interaction.
When it comes to your current supporter base, they tend to want to engage with real human beings.
Want to know what’s not a real human being?Details
“racism requires our silence to perform its wicked dance bigotry carries a golden watch to put us all under its trance prejudice is an old world sailor who tied our tongues into a knot intolerance is an un-blindfolded firing squad who can’t wait to take their shot we say that we’ve changed and now…Details
Is there a best way to raise money?
That question is really at the heart of what most nonprofits want to know.
And recently I was reminded of this when asked a question for a Virtual Summit for Nonprofit Changemakers in which I’m participating in the early Fall. [There will be a ton of useful content presented in this online conference – by 20 of well-respected experts over two days – so please check it out.]
Here’s what I was asked:
What is the best advice you can give to a fundraiser… and does it hold true in times of crisis?
I thought about this long and hard. Because I’ve lots and lots of advice!
But… my best advice? Hmmn…
And then it came to me.
I recalled a favorite quote.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend fifty-five minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about the solution.”
— Albert Einstein
That’s the advice!
You see, one can’t really pick a best fundraising strategy without first fully describing the reason money is not already flowing in. In other words…
You must identify and define your problem before attempting to solve it.
The time you spend doing so will be well spent. And when it comes to fundraising, worth its weight in gold.
I like to go through an iterative process of asking why, why, why, why…. until I’ve exhausted every question. It looks something like this:Details
For at least the past five years I’ve been actively encouraging nonprofits of all stripes to begin or ramp up their monthly giving program. It made sense then. It makes even more sense now.
You need a dependable source of income in order to be able to plan for the future.
If that sounds good to you, please continue reading. I’m going to share some best practices and examples to help you somewhat magically raise more dollars from individuals, both today and tomorrow.
Once donors sign on as monthly givers they tend to stick with you.
So huge, in fact, you’re missing a gigantic boat if you don’t currently promote monthly giving as a key fundraising strategy. In other words, you’re leaving boatloads of cash on the table. If you could use a boatload of cash right now, never fear. All you need to do is…Details
Resist the temptation to throw your hands up in the air because you’re hearing people are giving less now. While it may be true(ish), it doesn’t apply to everyone. And it doesn’t need to apply to your nonprofit.
Also, the fact folks aren’t giving may not be for the reasons you assume. In fact, one of the biggest reasons this is true is because nonprofits are asking less.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Recent research shows:
- Giving is increasingly seen as good – as is fundraising. Even donors who have been hit economically are remaining remarkably generous.
- Charities with little relevance to tackling Coronavirus will still receive support from donors that value them – as long as they ask for help (otherwise they’ll be perceived as not in need of funds).
It all boils down to a need to put together both short and long-term plans to connect meaningfully with your supporters right now, using the correct approach and tone. Towards that end, I’ve put together five ‘to-do’s – one for each day of the work week. I suggest you put aside a little bit of time this coming week to consider how you might actualize each of these suggestions, if not in whole at least in part.
Ready for your five timely tips?Details
Could you be getting it all wrong when it comes to the what, who, where, why, how and when of your nonprofit’s communications and fundraising as this pandemic plays out?
Especially if you’re leading from opinion above knowledge. You know, going with your gut when it comes to what your donors want or need from you right now. Otherwise known as guessing.
That’s never a good idea for someone whose job is to facilitate philanthropy. Because a lot is known about how much joy it brings people to demonstrate their ‘love of humanity’ through philanthropic acts. Your gut telling you donors don’t want to be invited to become heroes? P’shaw.
Now, thanks to the folks at Blue Frog Fundraising, more is known about how donors feel about giving in response to the current pandemic. In the recently revealed Coronavirus Research Findings: What do donors think now? they focus on what donors have told them about how their approach to giving has changed. Or hasn’t.
These philanthropy trends are important to understand, so I’ve selected the most salient among their key findings (highlighted in the break-out boxes) and have grouped them according to the traditional journalist’s rubric of what, who, where, why, how and when.
I’m going to explain what your nonprofit should do to show donors you do, in fact, understand where they’re coming from.
Before taking any marketing message or fundraising appeal off your plate, and before adding anything new, always make sure to ask yourself these six important questions! They will help you assess almost any situation, plus focus your efforts and aid you in telling more relevant, compelling stories.
Let’s get started…Details