Practical & Effective Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits
Fundraising for non-profit NGOs
1. Make a Plan
This step may seem obvious, but you should start off with a clear idea of what you’re raising funds for, your goal, and your work capacity.
2. Create a timeline
Your timeline will help you build your structure, a campaign calendar, and create a sense of urgency with donors. Are you fundraising for an event, in response to something, or is this for evergreen donations?
Also, think about how much of your time you can dedicate to this campaign. Different structures and ideas take different amounts of time. If you and your team have a lot of other tasks, think about extending your timeline to reduce the weekly load.
3. Make a budget
Once you have an idea of how much you want and need to raise, start thinking about how much you can spend to get there. While there are free options with social media and volunteer events, spending money can make a big difference in how much you end up receiving.
While it may seem counterintuitive to spend money when you’re trying to raise money, and it may feel like all funds should go directly towards your mission, you can often make a bigger impact by putting a percentage of your proceeds or budget towards fundraising endeavors .
Ads in newspapers, on social media, and on radio or tv can go a long way in reaching a broader audience, and new potential donors. Events like galas can inspire donors to give more while giving you the chance to tell your NGO story.
Figure out what makes sense for your nonprofit and don’t worry about starting small, but don’t be afraid to aim high.
4. It is very important to know your audience
Before you can successfully reach out to people, you need to know who you’re communicating with and who you’re targeting. What is the typical gender, age, and locality of your audience? Who is most likely to give, and how much? Where do they consume content: on their phone, over email, through physical mail, or in person?
You can find information like this on Google Analytics, through audience surveys, through your staff and volunteers, and by looking around at in-person events. A truly important part, though, is to listen to your audience. You need to be able to meet them where they are, and understand what drives them to attend and support your NGO.
Keep track of information like this so you can refer to it in the future.
5. Create a variety of strategies
Your audience is probably quite diverse. They have different interests and needs and are comfortable on different platforms. Not everyone will respond to the same outreach strategy, so it’s important to be aware of all the ways your donors interact with your NGO and use them to maximum effect.
Social media can be an effective way to spread the word widely. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn are important places to share information about your campaign. Instagram and Facebook even have built-in donation buttons.
Options like applying for a Google ad subsidy can give you outside support that can make a big difference.
Physical mail and email are other important ways to reach people, particularly your dedicated audience. You can also share more information with these methods and get creative with your content and design.
Also think about ways to reach new audiences. Newspaper ads, radio ads, TV promotions, and cross-promotions with sympathetic NGO can help you build a wide network and grow your audience.
Events like galas, fundraisers, or simply having signage and donation options at pre-scheduled events can also make a big difference. When people can really experience what your NGO does and feel personally connected to its mission, they are more likely to support it.
Pro Tip: Use all the tools at your disposal and don’t be afraid to try something new. Givingway pages, text donation campaigns, and QR codes are relatively new fundraising strategies that have become very effective.
6. Be realistic and consistent
A successful fundraising campaign will use several different mediums and strategies, but the language, message, and imagery should be consistent across platforms.
Be clear on what you’re fundraising for, where the money’s going, why people should give, and what your goals are. A descriptive and catchy slogan, as well as a hero image, are great ways to tie your outreach methods together.
You should check out Foundation love your neighbor website for a consistent design packed with great images, impact data, and slogans that elicit emotion.
7.Use a fundraising platform
One of the most important parts of any nonprofit fundraising strategy is the donation landing page on your website. You’ll use it for evergreen donations, you can upgrade it for specific campaigns, and it’s the home base where you’ll direct most of your individual donors. It should be easy, secure and easy to use.
Pro Tip: Choose a fundraising platform that also integrates with your existing tools or website builder you’re using. That way, you can safely keep your data intact without having to migrate or create something from scratch.
Some other key features to look for in your fundraising platforms can be: customizable donation forms, recurring intervals, goal meter, different payment methods, automated donation receipts, etc.
8. Never work alone Ask for help
You are not alone when it comes to fundraising. When you look around your network, you’re sure to find seasoned fundraisers who can help you get started. Most people are happy to share fundraising tips and tricks, explain how they dealt with a similar situation, and support you where they can.
Ask for help with spreading the word, too. Work with sympathetic NGO, leverage community partnerships, organize your team and volunteers, and brainstorm with your board. Plus, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family to spread the word and donate.
9. Don’t complicate it, make it easy
The easier it is to donate, the more likely someone who is interested in donating will actually give. Make the donation process take as few steps as possible, and limit the number of website redirects you ask your donor to take.
First, prioritize your donation page. Make it easy to find on your website or social media account with eye-catching design and bright colors. A pop-up donate now button on your various pages is another effective method. Don’t try to be subtle about asking for donations; this is how your organization is able to do the work that your audience loves.
Look at the below popup donation form that comes up upon clicking the Donate button on the love thy neighbor foundation website. It’s simple and a quick way to make donations.
10. make it feel personal
Why are you doing this? The best way to sell your NGO and mission to donors is to remember why it matters to you in the first place.
How can you help? Tell them about your organization and the difference it’s making. Remind them of the personal difference they make to your NGO as individual contributors. Give your donors a sense of ownership so they feel as personally attached to your NGO as you do.
And don’t forget to remind people about donation incentives. Many countries have tax benefits for nonprofit donations, and you can share thoughtful, personalized gifts with regular donors as a thank you.
11. Use positive and transparent language
The language that you use in your fundraising campaign is incredibly important. You want to let people know who, and how, they’re helping. You also want them to know that they’ll be making a difference.
Use positive language telling them about positive outcomes, instead of negative situations. Tell a story of how things can be, rather than how things are. Also, don’t use guilt-tactics to encourage donors to give more, making them feel bad about not giving “enough.” Focus on what their support means and how a bigger donation can make a bigger difference.
You want them to leave feeling good about themselves and their decision so that they’ll want to give again when they can.
12. Express impact
Encourage potential donors to give, or give more, by showing them how you’ve used previous donations. Give specific examples, like a new program, building, or initiative that was funded through individual donations. Highlight previous donors on your page, in your building, or during events.
Show people how others have made a difference to help them visualize how they can make a difference.
13. Place a sense of urgency
If you have someone’s attention with a donation plea, they are most likely to follow through if they do it at the moment. Ease is one way of encouraging people to donate when they first consider it, but another is urgent.
Why should someone donate today? Is there a specific goal with a deadline, like a new building? Do you think the need is immediate, like a relief effort? Is there a company or individual match that has an end date?
All of these tactics can effectively create a sense of urgency. Services like Donorbox can help you build this with options like crowdfunding, fundraising thermometers, and company matching.
14. Use attractive images
Many people respond better to images and video than language. It creates an immediate, visceral reaction to actually see what your NGO does. While your language can build positive futures explaining what this support can do, your images can help illustrate your story and build sympathy for your cause.
Make sure you select images or videos that reinforce your message, tell a story, and feel consistent. Visually arresting images, either with color, backdrop, or activity will draw the eye and encourage people to read your content. It also helps to humanize your campaign by selecting images that include people.
love thy neighbor foundation uses images on its donation page to show people how homelessness hurts and what they can do to help.
15. You should always follow up
One of the most important fundraising tips is to follow up with your donors. Whenever you send personal letters or emails, you should always follow up. Everyone is busy and many people appreciate a reminder. If someone has pledged a donation, donated in the past, or has been an active member of your nonprofit’s community, a second personal message is always worth sending.
You can even follow up with your bulk newsletters and mailings. Plan to send more than one message on any and all platforms, spacing them far enough apart to be memorable without spamming. This will vary based on your timeline, but monthly physical mailings and bi-monthly emails leading up to a deadline can be effective.
16. Offer Recurring Donation Options
If a person has donated once, they’re likely to donate again. Make recurring donations easy and affordable so that donors only have to fill their information out once and don’t have to remember to donate again.
Pro tip: Give donors the freedom to manage their recurring donations and amounts. This helps build trust in them, also makes it sound convenient right away. More people will feel comfortable giving on a recurring basis.
17. Track Donations
Keeping track of donations is important on a few levels. It will help you remember who donated, when, and how much, which will help you with personalized outreach in the future. You can also keep track of donor’s emails to build an email list for future outreach. Tracking what platform they donated through will help you learn which ones have better completion rates, and thus better know your audience for the future.
Givingway is an effective donor management tool that includes software that will help you gain insight into your donors’ habits, track metrics, and improve your campaigns based on your audience. You shouldn’t have to build every campaign from scratch. Instead, learn from each campaign to make the next one better than the last.
18. Show your gratitude
Fundraising is about relationships. You want to make people feel like their donation was special and made a unique difference because it did.
Send thank-you letters out after campaigns and fundraising events. For major donors, send out gifts, remember their birthdays, and recognize special events. If you keep up with donors and show that you appreciate them as individual supporters, rather than sources of income, you’ll make them want to donate again.
Also, send out surveys and ask questions after events and campaigns. Let your donors know that you care about their experience and opinions. Not only will this help you build better campaigns in the future, but it will also show them that they matter to you.
Pro tip: A physical or virtual donor wall is an elegant way to make donors feel appreciated while encouraging your audience to donate as well. You can build it into your building or website design and use your NGO’s brand to make it unique.
19. Involve your volunteers
Volunteers are one of the most important assets of fundraising. They not only help you on the ground but also enable you to raise funds in more than one way. It could be through peer-to-peer fundraising, social media promotions, writing solicitation letters, and even advocating your cause to their network.
Their skills and experience can truly enhance the way you fundraise and engage with your donors. Hence, what’s obvious is that you need to attract the best volunteers.
But that’s not all. Motivating them and finding ways to retain them is even more important.
Pro tip: Create a well-researched volunteer engagement program once you’ve started to attract volunteers. Know what motivated them to join you, what their strengths are, and what might turn them off. A great way to achieve this is to run a survey or take their feedback. We have discussed these points in detail in our blog here..