Individual contributions make up a large portion of nonprofit funding. Maximize donations from this revenue source with these 5 tried-and-true strategies.
Nonprofit funding comes from a variety of sources, the top four of which include individual giving, fee-for-service, corporate philanthropy, and grants.
These top revenue streams are what make it possible for your organization to work towards your mission. However, there’s one that we want to focus on in particular: individual giving.
According to the Giving USA report, the total charitable contributions made in 2018 were equivalent to about $427.71 billion. And, 68% of that amount was contributed by individuals.
With such large sums contributed from individual donors each and every year, doesn’t your nonprofit want to maximize those donations?
There are several ways to go about increasing your revenue from individual contributors. We recommend the following strategies to take your nonprofit’s fundraising to the next level:
- Use targeted messaging to market opportunities for donors.
- Ask your donors about their motivations to give.
- Employ gamification techniques for fundraising campaigns.
- Use multiple channels for your outreach and giving strategies.
- Promote matching gift opportunities to donors.
Ready to dive a little deeper into strategies to maximize your nonprofit’s fundraising? Let’s get started!
1. Use targeted messaging to market opportunities for donors.
If your nonprofit is sending the same emails out to all of your donors, you’re not maximizing the use of your outreach strategy. Ensuring you hit the mark with your marketing strategies comes down to one vital element: data.
Collecting and storing data about your nonprofit’s donors is the first step to success.
Storing information about past interactions, giving metrics, and prospect research in your donor database can give you a 360-degree view of each of your supporters.
The next step for success is using that data to better target the interests of your donors.
Segment your supporters by their commonalities and then craft your messages around them.
For example, take the following (sample) donor metrics:
- 75% of your donors have stated they prefer email as their primary communication platform. Make sure you’re reaching donors through the platforms where they are most likely to see your messages.
- 58% of your donors primarily give through your online donation page. Include a button in your emails to these donors making it easy to link them to your online giving platforms.
- 17% of your donors also volunteer with your organization. Instead of pestering them for money all the time, reach out to these supporters and tell them about your upcoming volunteer opportunities.
If you’re unsure about your email outreach strategy for certain groups of donors, you may try A/B testing to see what strategies work best. Make sure to record this information in your CRM so that you have it for future outreach opportunities.
If your donor database isn’t up to par, it may be time to invest in new software. Check out Bloomerang’s donor database buyer’s guide for more information about purchasing the best solution for your nonprofit.
2. Ask your donors about their motivations to give.
Most nonprofits are really good about creating ample opportunities for face-to-face communication with major donors in order to learn more about them. However, have you considered the benefits of also asking smaller donors questions about why they give?
Your major donors have likely been giving to your nonprofit for a while. If you look back over their historical interactions with your organization you’ll likely see that they first gave a smaller donation, and (after much stewardship and research) their donation amounts grew over time.
That’s why it’s important to also engage your lower-level donors at the beginning of the relationship to see what drew them in.
When asking your lower-level donors about their motivations to give, be sure to ask questions like:
- How did you learn about the nonprofit?
- Did you see any of our marketing materials? If so, which ones?
- Why are you passionate about our cause?
- What can we do to improve our outreach and engage you more?
When you ask these questions to someone who is new to your supporter base, you’ll see a couple of important results: first, that supporter will feel valued and you’ll likely retain them for a long time; second, you’ll hear important feedback about your current marketing strategy.
This feedback will help you craft your future outreach to best engage your donors and retain more of them.
Make sure you record the answers you’re provided in a location where you can draw on the data in the future. For instance, fundraising software that is designed to help nonprofits retain donors is a perfect place to draw on the data. You can see a direct impact of having these conversations on your donor retention rates over time.
3. Employ gamification techniques for fundraising campaigns.
Gamification is a strategy to implement an aspect of friendly competition into your fundraising campaigns. This strategy shows donors their (and others’) impact on your campaign to motivate them to give more.
For instance, some of the favorite gamification techniques your nonprofit might implement into your next campaign include:
- A fundraising thermometer. A fundraising thermometer provides a visual representation of how close your nonprofit is to reaching your campaign goal. Include updates of this thermometer in newsletters, outreach, and directly on your donation page so that donors can easily see the impact they make on your progress.
- Fundraising badges. Badges are especially effective for peer-to-peer fundraising platforms. When a fundraiser reaches pre-determined giving benchmarks, they’ll receive a badge recognizing their achievement. Make sure they know what the next badge is so they have more motivation to keep improving!
- A donor recognition wall. Showcase your top donors on a donor recognition wall to encourage others to also make their way to become a top supporter. This shows your appreciation for your donors and provides an element of competition among supporters.
Humans are visual-oriented beings. Therefore, giving and seeing a direct impact of that gift is immensely satisfying. Plus, being rewarded for that gift with a prize or with recognition gives donors that warm fuzzy feeling that encourages them to continue supporting your nonprofit.
4. Use multiple channels for your outreach and giving strategies.
Multi-channel marketing and giving is all the rage. Because we have so much technology available to us today, we also have many more opportunities to directly reach donors where they are.
When it comes to outreach, we mentioned earlier the importance of segmenting donors by their preferred communication platforms. This doesn’t mean exclusively reach out to them via those platforms!
A multi-channel marketing approach is the best way to make sure your messages reach your donors. The idea is that you can use separate channels of communication to guide supporters down the funnel towards giving. Make sure it’s easy to give no matter which channel you use to communicate. For instance, consider the following marketing channels:
- Direct mail. When you send out direct mail to your supporters, make sure you provide your donors with an envelope that is already addressed to your organization and stamped. This will make it that much easier for them to give to your organization.
- Email. When you send email outreach to your supporters asking them to give, insert a link back to your well-optimized online donation page. Include this link as a colorful button or other call-to-action to draw the attention of your readers.
- Events. Conversing with donors face-to-face at an event or at a scheduled lunch is a great opportunity to provide them with details about how their gift will help you succeed. Make it easy for them to give through text-to-give, mobile-optimized donation pages, or by collecting a check on the spot.
- Phone call. Cold calling donors gives you the opportunity to explain in your own words the impact their donation can have. But make sure you’re prepared! Be ready to collect credit card information or to direct them to your donation page at the end of the call.
Be sure to use a variety of channels to reach out to your supporters and track in your CRM the most impactful ones. Then, when it comes to year-end-giving and other time-based campaigns, you can use the most effective outreach platforms for marketing leading up to the campaign.
5. Promote matching gift opportunities to donors.
We mentioned at the beginning of this article that charitable giving is one of the top funding sources for nonprofits. Another funding source we mentioned was corporate philanthropy.
These two funding sources are directly related through one major fundraising element: matching gifts. Matching gifts are donations provided by companies to support their employees’ charitable giving.
When an employee of a company with a corporate giving program gives to your nonprofit, that company may also give a donation to the nonprofit according to a predefined matching gift ratio. This ratio is usually 1:1 but can be 0.5:1, 2:1, or even 3:1. No matter the ratio, your nonprofit will see a larger donation amount if your donors work for these companies!
However, many donors aren’t aware of their own eligibility for this “free money.” That’s why it’s important to promote matching gift opportunities to your donors. There are several ways you can do this:
- Include a database search tool on your giving pages. This allows donors to quickly search the name of their employer to see if they have a matching gift program.
- Invest in an automated matching gift solution. This software will search for match-eligible donors in your system based on their email domains. Then, you can reach out to them informing them of their eligibility.
- Launch a matching gift email campaign to inform all of your donors of their potential eligibility. Give them directions as to where they can find out more about their eligibility status and where they can apply for a match.
Lots of companies (especially big companies) offer matches for their employees’ gifts. You can see some of the top companies here.
Don’t leave free money on the table! Matching gifts augment your donations and take them to the next level without ever asking donors to dig deeper in their pockets.
Charitable giving is one of the major funding sources for nonprofits. Take your fundraising strategy to the next level with these five ideas. Good luck!
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About the Author
Steven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to “Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition” and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member.
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