5 Tips for Successful Nonprofit Fundraising in 2012
Last week, I featured the 2 key findings impacting nonprofit fundraising from the latest edition of the Blackbaud Index and followed that up with an overall review of the results and their potential impact on the coming year. The report was released in January 2012, and it forecasted cautious optimism for growth in nonprofit fundraising in 2012. However, there are steps nonprofits can take – regardless of size and scope – that will optimize their engagement and contribution opportunities in 2012 while remaining true to their cause and keeping their mission at the forefront. I have compiled the following 5 tips through my ongoing research of the latest studies, reports, podcasts and webinars relating to nonprofit and (to a lesser degree) for-profit business and marketing strategies that are worth considering.
- Social Media & Online Giving. Many of our past blog posts have focused on the importance of Social Media and Online GIving due to the tremendous growth seen in these platforms. In fact many nonprofits are embracing these channels as a cost effective way to engage socially connected supporters. According to the latest Blackbaud Index, from July to November of 2011 online giving saw growth in the double digit percentages over 2010. Although these are positive results, there are still many nonprofits that are intimidated and overwhelmed by venturing into this relatively new and always changing arena. The key is to ‘FOCUS’. Considering we are now entering the fifth year of challenging economic times, budgeting time and resources to 1 or 2 of the bigger platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and developing a strategic Social Media Marketing plan can net excellent engagement results and ultimately more donor dollars.
- A Clean & Cohesive Website. A nonprofit’s website is the face of the organization and first impressions will make or break a supporter’s perception of the nonprofit and can impact whether or not they chose to support them. Review your existing site and ensure that the following key components are integrated: i) Ensure that your ‘DONATE’ button is easy to find, functions properly and is on the first page. Without it, an organization can potentially lose donations if supporters have to search how to make their gift. A clear call to action is crucial; ii) Make the purpose, mission and urgency of your organization obvious with engaging stories that will put a face to your cause on the first page, with links to additional experiences and stories; iii) Keep it organized and easy for supporters to navigate and explore what your cause is all about. It must have a clean, professional and polished look that will validate the authenticity and instill supporter confidence and loyalty in your nonprofit. Make sure the most important messages are “above the fold”; iv) Optimize your website for viewing on mobile devices. In 2011, more people spent time on their mobile device than on their PC and it is expected by 2013, more consumers will access the web from a mobile device than a PC or laptop. More and more (potential) donors will be accessing your site via a smart phone, tablet or other mobile technology and if their experience is lacking, they may find an accommodating competitor; and v) Include interactive components such as an option for supporters to sign up to receive regular newsletters about your organization (see next tip) and polls.
- Regular Communication. Communicating with your supporters regularly through newsletters that highlight your organizations’ accomplishments, updates, new campaigns and fiscal transparency will engage supporters and build loyalty while keeping your cause at the forefront of their minds. Ask supporters for their newsletter frequency preference as you don’t want to come off as “spammy” and turn them off your cause. Generally one to two carefully timed issues every 4-6 weeks is acceptable. While every newsletter can include a “click to donate” button, not every newsletter should contain a formal ‘ask’ as supporters may grow tired of frequent requests and feel badgered.
- Strengthen and Grow Your Volunteer Community – Volunteers are the backbone and local face of your organization. They are a highly engaged group and studies show most give financially along with time spent. They are great advocates for your cause in the community and can reach out to potential volunteers and donors to grow both bases. Take care of this important group and encourage and listen to the valuable feedback they accumulate from supporters.
- Saying Thank You. Thank you goes a long way and can be used in more ways than on a tax receipt issued for a financial donation. You can thank supporters personally through your Social Media platforms like your Facebook wall or Twitter account. You can also thank the volunteers that worked on your last event or the new ‘Like’ers and ‘Followers’ and even the supporters who shared your content to their community. Showing appreciation for even the smallest acts not just furthers your mission, it will also leave a lasting, positive online impression.
There are many more tips that could be added to this list and I’m sure we will explore them as the year progresses but these are a few important enough to make the early 2012 to-do list. As has been the case in these economic times, increasing donor engagement will require effort in 2012. With a strategic plan that considers diversified nonprofit fundraising channels, social media and emerging technologies you will be giving your organization the best opportunity for success. What is on your to-do list for 2012?
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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery services, donation caging, donation processing and other donor management services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all contact centre services and mail house operations and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.