Last updated April 21, 2017
No matter how good you are at fundraising, there is always something you can do to improve. Committing to any one of these things will make a difference to your fundraising efforts, and once you have that one thing mastered, you can move on to another.
1. Get your Trustees Involved in Fundraising
In New Zealand, getting trustees involved in fundraising can be like pulling teeth. However, the organisations that do manage to get Board involvement certainly reap the rewards. If you are one of the many organisations whose trustees don’t see fundraising as a part of their role, then you might want to challenge the issue. Not all trustees have to fundraise in the same way, but it is essential that they all contribute somehow. Check out the blog post on Trustees and Fundraising for some ideas.
2. Set Goals
I am amazed by how many organisations are constantly scrambling to raise money, yet they have no clear idea of how much money they need or what exactly they need it for. Instead they simply want to raise ‘as much money as they can’ and usually ‘as fast as possible’. This kind of thinking might give you a couple of big wins, but it won’t help you build a long-term sustainable income.
If you really want to raise more funds, then set yourself some clear goals for your fundraising efforts. When you have specific goals, you can create plans for reaching targets and you can measure what’s working and not working along the way. The simple act of measuring your efforts will ensure you keep working to improve.
3. Build a Team
Whether you are a volunteer or a paid employee, one of the first things you need to do is build yourself a fundraising team. Quite simply – the more hands you have on deck, the more you can achieve.
Start by brainstorming all the tasks that you need to get done in your fundraising role, and be as specific as possible. Instead of saying ‘communication’, break that down into specific responsibilities such as Facebook, Newsletter, Press Releases, Donor Letters and so on. Once you have made a list (and it should be a big one), decide which of those tasks you would be willing to delegate to others. Write up job descriptions for each of the tasks or positions, and then carefully start recruiting. Remember, it’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t care who takes the credit.
4. Educate Others
Every time someone has contact with your organisation there is the potential to ‘raise more funds’, but only if every staff member, volunteer and trustee realises they are a part of the fundraising process. While they might not be on the ‘official’ fundraising team, everyone in your organisation is a fundraising ambassador – how good they are in that role is up to you.
Make sure you take time to educate all team members about key fundraising activities, train them to ‘make the ask’ and support them with as much information as you can – as often as you can.
5. Create a Thank-You Box
Raising funds is all about building relationships and saying thank-you is an essential part of this. Create a thank-you box full of cards and client stories that you can instantly use when a gift is received. Thank-you notes should be sent within 48 hours of receiving a donation, so having everything on hand is an important part of the process.
6. Update Your Website
Many potential donors will visit your website before committing to make a donation. If your website is out of date, it will cast a shadow of doubt on your credibility. Take some time to go through your website page by page and make sure that everything is up-to-date and relevant. Put reminders in your calendar to ensure that your site is reviewed on a regular basis.
7. Use Your Email Signature
Your email signature is a mobile advertisement, so make sure you use it to say something useful. Instead of simply stating your contact details, add a brief message about a project you are working on and include a link through to your fundraising page. For even more impact, make sure your staff, volunteers and trustees include a message in their email signature as well.
8. Become a Regular Giver Yourself
If you are responsible for fundraising in your organisation, you must be committed to making regular donations to your cause. Just as it is important for trustees to lead by example, so too is it for you. Not only will you instantly be raising more funds, you will get an insight into what it feels like to be a donor. By default, you will be more invested in your role. The size of the gift is irrelevant – it is the commitment to giving that counts.
9. Add a Wish-List to Your Newsletter
While fundraising is strictly about raising funds, it’s also about raising support and reducing your costs. There are many people who may not be in a position to give financially, but they may be able to help you in other ways – if they know what you need.
Make sure you include a wish-list in every newsletter and list items both big and small. You never know what type of products or services people have access to unless you ask.
10. Become a ‘Charity’ of Choice
Every year hundreds of event organisers donate a portion of their ticket sales to charity. It’s a good marketing tool for them and it’s an easy way for organisations to raise more funds. Think about the events that happen in your community and look for those that have similar values to your own. Ask the organiser how you can become their ‘charity’ of choice.
Once you have established the relationship, work hard to keep it. Partnering with an event on an annual basis is a good way to raise more funds and increase your profile in the community.
Kerri is a Facilitator / Trainer with Exult and has over 20 years experience working in and for the community sector.
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