Best Fundraising Strategies for Your Nonprofit Organization
Best Fundraising Strategies for Your Nonprofit Organization
Funding for your charity or nonprofit programs can come from many different sources. Companies, charitable foundations, and individuals can all contribute in their own way, allowing your nonprofit organization or charity to continue making a positive impact on your community.
That said, each one of these contributors should be approached in a different way to not only ensure they donate generously to your cause but that your fundraising efforts are convenient for them as well. Based on our experiences, the following fundraising strategies are the most effective when dealing with company, foundation, and individual contributors.
How Companies Can Contribute to Your Fundraising Efforts
Many large and small businesses are interested in supporting the nonprofit community and offer several funding opportunities for nonprofit organizations and charities. Here are some of the best ways to raise money with company sponsors and business partners.
Here’s a great way to literally double your profits while helping companies showcase their corporate philanthropy initiatives. Matching gift programs allow a company to make an equal contribution to your organization if one of their employees donates to your programs. Not only is this great for your nonprofit, your original donor will feel good about contributing since their company helped them give twice without having to strain their pocketbooks.
To make this fundraising strategy successful, spend some time researching the corporate philanthropy policies of the companies and businesses your donor pool works for. Let your donors know that they can submit paperwork to their company’s HR department and get the company to match their donations. By regularly reminding donors of this option on your website, email newsletter, and social media campaigns, you’ll increase the likelihood that you’ll receive matching gifts from company supporters.
Incidentally, when it comes time to thank your contributors, be sure to acknowledge both the company and the original donor. Taking time to recognize everyone improves your relationship with businesses, which comes in handy when you need their support moving forward.
Corporate philanthropy can include offering local, state, or national grants to eligible nonprofits. These grants are generally awarded to nonprofits whose values line-up with the company’s vision and policies, so it’s a good idea to build relationships with businesses that match your nonprofit’s values.
Some corporate grants are open to multiple nonprofits who fill out applications and then submit them to a company that will make its selection from the applicant pool. If this is the case for your nonprofit, be sure to submit a professional grant application. Hire professional grant writers if your staff isn’t familiar with the grant writing process — it’ll help your application stand out.
One of the great things about working with companies and businesses is that you can gain access to a large volunteer pool. Many businesses like to have their employees volunteer in the community and can work with nonprofits to provide support during large events.
Even better, once their employees volunteer a certain number of hours with an eligible nonprofit, a company can offer that nonprofit a monetary volunteer grant, providing the organization with both manpower and financial support.
In order to get this money, however, volunteers will first need to learn if their company supports your nonprofit. If they do, volunteers need to submit a volunteer grant application to their company. Since not every volunteer does this, volunteer grants often go overlooked and unrewarded to eligible nonprofits.
To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, your team can do some research and discover what volunteer grant programs your supporters and volunteers belong to. Promote this information in your e-newsletters, websites, and fundraising materials and encourage eligible volunteers to apply for these grants.
Not all support needs to be monetary in order to be useful. In-kind donations include products and services that companies can provide for free or at a discounted rate. This can become very valuable if you happen to partner with restaurants or food companies that can cater your fundraising dinners, supply refreshments for your galas, and offer gift cards for your auctions. Likewise, building a relationship with an accountancy firm can be extremely useful when you need tax preparation support.
To maximize the effectiveness of this fundraising strategy, consider the companies and businesses that can contribute the right in-kind donations for your nonprofit. Reflect on how your organization can benefit the company and then start building a mutually beneficial partnership. Keep in mind that many businesses have policies about who to contact for an in-kind donation and what forms need to be filled out. Your staff will need to have all this information on hand when it comes time to request a donation.
How Individuals Can Contribute to Your Fundraising Efforts
When most people think of fundraisers, they usually think of donations from individual community members. Considering individual donations make up about ¾ of all charitable contributions, this is a fair assessment.
So, it should come as no surprise that there are probably more options for individual donations than any other fundraising method. Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite strategies — but keep in mind there are many more with new ones constantly in development. Choose the ones that will resonate best with your base!
Every charity or nonprofit should have a website that allows visitors to make online donations. As more people get comfortable donating through their laptops or smartphones, online donations are becoming an accepted way of contributing to nonprofit organizations — meaning if you aren’t already offering this option, you’re missing out on a very strong source of funding.
Make sure to use a reliable online platform like PayBee to build customized donation forms that use payment processing tools to directly transfer funds into your nonprofit organization’s bank account. Keep these forms simple and easy to fill out. And be sure to provide multiple links on your website that direct people to your online donation page.
You’ll also want to make sure your website is mobile-friendly, as many people will visit it on their smartphones to donate. Remember: the easier your website is to navigate, the more likely visitors will follow through when you request donations.
In many ways, silent auctions are the bread-and-butter of most successful fundraisers. Not only are these great fundraising activities that help raise a lot of money for your organization, they also help attract new donors and supporters to your main fundraising gala.
To host a successful silent auction, make sure you spend plenty of time building your campaign and securing desirable auction items. Silent auctions can be held several days or weeks before your main fundraiser, so be sure to promote them online and use the auction itself to advertise your upcoming gala. To see step-by-step how to build a silent auction, check out our recent article “How to Plan a Silent Auction Fundraiser”
Constantly expanding your base is an essential part of successful fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising enables you to do this quickly and efficiently by enabling your volunteers to construct fundraising websites of their own and then share them with their own social networks. This connects you with all-new sources of support while also increasing your brand awareness.
PayBee helps create successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns by providing your volunteers with an easy way to construct fundraising sites with our user-friendly platform. Funds raised on these sites are then directed to your main campaign, making it easy to organize and manage this fundraising activity.
Many charities and nonprofits promote their organization by having their volunteers and staff wear T-shirts displaying their logos and brands. People love showing their support by donning custom-made apparel, which is why T-shirt fundraisers make such great fundraising activities.
For this strategy, you either create a design for a T-shirt that promotes your cause or open the process up to your supporters, turning this into a contest where everyone can contribute their own design (and possibly win a prize). You can then use a T-shirt fundraising platform (be sure to choose one with no up-front costs that take away from your profits) that lets you upload your design and create your T-shirt online. Supporters can then place orders for these shirts, allowing you to raise money.
This fundraising activity can be combined with multiple events, including peer-to-peer fundraisers where your volunteers can design promotional apparel and select your nonprofit as the beneficiary of any money raised. The possibilities for this strategy are vast, so don’t be afraid to use your imagination!
We’ve already established that more and more people are donating online and with their smartphones. This includes donating via text, which is why text donations are an excellent strategy to use for fundraisers, particularly when you need to raise money fast.
To request text donations, you can simply send your donors a welcoming text stating your purpose and provide a link to your online donation page. Other text donation options include text-to-give where nonprofits set up a short code, keyword, and predetermined donation amount that donors can give by simply texting the keyword to the short code.
These are donations made during your fundraising galas. As such, they can be made during charity luncheons, walkathons, auctions, and many other events and activities. Since many people are expected to give during these events, this can be a great way to encourage more people to donate.
Since fundraising events cover a wide range of interests, it’s good to consider the needs of your audience before planning your gala. Think about what kind of activities they’d like to participate in and if it would be more convenient for them to attend in-person, virtually, or both. The more you customize your events to fit your audience’s desires, the more attention you’ll attract and the more money you’ll raise.
Good fundraisers can attract hundreds or even thousands of donors, but most of these supporters will only offer a one-time contribution. While this will still help your nonprofit, it won’t provide a regular or stable source of funding.
Recurring donations provides a better option for both nonprofits and contributors. By providing your supporters with the option of making regular donations every month, you’ll secure regular income streams for your programs. In addition, recurring donations tend to be smaller than one-time donations, making them easier on your donors’ wallet.
PayBee makes it easy to offer a recurring donation option for your online donors. We’ve also found that as these regular donations add up, recurring donors tend to give much more than one-time donors.
Direct Mail Donations
Not all your donors will feel comfortable with online donations. Several still appreciate donating through checks. Because of this, launching a direct mail donation campaign helps make donating more convenient for these donors.
These campaigns require you to send a physical letter to your donors explaining your need and politely requesting a donation. Make sure your copy is persuasive and well-written — donors will appreciate the professional, personalized touch. Also, include a self-addressed envelope with your letter to make sending checks easier.
Finally, you may want to limit your direct mail donation campaign to only the donors you feel are the best prospects for sending mailed checks. Sending so many physical letters can get expensive, so study your donor list demographics to know who to send them to.
These contributions are (not surprisingly) some of the largest donations you can expect from a single supporter. Large gifts (or major gifts) come from individual donors with a strong interest in your organization and excellent financial resources. These are donors who won’t hesitate to write you a check for a few thousand dollars or more.
Finding donors willing to give large gifts, however, is a task in and of itself. You’ll want to look through all the records of your past fundraisers (something that can be done easily with PayBee’s automatic reporting features) and search for those donors who routinely give large sums to your organization. Focusing on donors who involve themselves in your nonprofit’s activities and/or express a desire to support your cause financially is also a good way to assemble a list of prospects.
After that, the challenge is in approaching these potential donors and pitching the idea of giving a large gift. To offer incentive, create a major donor club for top contributors and show how their contributions will be used and recognized. Take particular care when coming up with possible donor amounts — you don’t want to ask for too much and risk alienating a donor, but you also don’t want to ask for too little either.
Here’s a fundraising campaign that can involve both your business partners and major donors as well as individual donors. Capital campaigns are generally designed to raise money for a big project, like buying or renovating a building for your nonprofit activities.
Given how much money such projects require, capital campaigns can last for a year or longer. This poses some logistical challenges since you’ll need to ensure you can fund this campaign as you’re raising money. In general, you’ll want to secure money from your big donors first during what’s called “the quiet phase” before opening up donations to individuals and other donors (the “public phase”). Since you’ll raise 60-90% of your goal during the quiet phase, this can motivate individuals to give more generously and help you reach your ultimate goal.
Great donors can be exceedingly generous. Some bequeath a portion of their estates to nonprofits and charities in their wills, providing your organization with substantial funds. In general, it’s best to leave the decision of giving such large donations to the giver. That said, your organization can definitely work with the donor to take care of any logistics.
This can include letting the donor decide what part of your organization receives the funds. It may also involve bringing in lawyers, financial advisors, and other experts to make sure you’re following all the legal and ethical rules involved in planned gifts.
In this age of emails, Zoom calls, and instant text messages, a phonathon might sound a bit old school. However, this fundraising strategy can still work — and helps show your organization in a better light since your callers can make genuine connections with your donors, who appreciate getting a call.
To prepare for a phonathon, refer to the guest lists from your previous fundraisers to get your donors’ phone numbers and contact information. Create a script for your volunteers that includes all the talking points they need to cover, as well as any appropriate responses they can give to questions or comments. Be sure everyone knows how the donation process works!
How Foundations Can Contribute to Your Nonprofit Organization
Charitable foundations are built around the purpose of distributing grants to worthy nonprofit organizations. This makes them excellent sources of financial support. However, since you’ll be competing against other charities and nonprofits for these grants, it’s best to know which grants to apply for and how to present yourself to a foundation. This will optimize the time you invest and help ensure foundations provide adequate support for your organizations.
Community Foundation Grants
Nonprofits helping nonprofits — what could be better? Community foundation grants are distributed by local, state, and national foundations. Depending on the type of grant, your nonprofit could be chosen by the foundation internally or you may have to apply for the grant yourself.
If you need to apply for the grant, make sure you’re familiar with the application process. Many of these grants take months to apply for, meaning you may want to hire some professional help, like a grant writer. You’ll also want to make sure to only apply for relevant grants that match up with your nonprofit’s values and goals. Grant writing can be a major investment of your time, so be sure to focus on the ones you have the best chance of winning.
That said, it’s important to keep applying for desired grants even if you don’t win the first time. Every year offers a new chance to create a better application and show how your nonprofit is qualified for this funding, so keep at it!
Interested in applying for a community foundation grant? You can start by visiting Council on Foundations’ Community Foundation Locator to look up community foundations in your state.
Private Foundation Grants
When you’re seeking out grant support, it’s good to look for help from all avenues, including private and family foundations. These grants can be very substantial and can come from many well-known foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Much like community foundation grants, recipients of private foundation grants can be chosen internally by the foundation or can apply alongside other nonprofits and charities.
In other words, give the private foundation grant application process the same scrutiny and respect that you would a community foundation grant. Again, applying can be a major time investment, so be sure to get adequate support and hire professional grant writers if necessary.
Raising funds for your nonprofit programs is always challenging, but fortunately, funding opportunities are literally everywhere. By taking the time to research and form relationships with the businesses, individuals, and foundations within your nonprofit niche, you’ll be able to secure much larger and more stable sources of funding.
To handle the logistical challenges of dealing with so many different funding sources, it helps to use a reliable online fundraising platform like PayBee. PayBee’s intuitive design makes it easy to not only build fundraising campaigns but also tailor them to the unique needs of the businesses, foundations, and individuals that make up your target audience.
Interested in learning more? Sign up for a free demo of PayBee’s system. You’ll get a first hand look at how easy it is to navigate our platform. You’ll also participate in a mock live auction, letting you experience the excitement your guests will feel when they donate to your causes. Our team of experts will also be on hand to answer any questions you have about the platform and how it can be applied to different fundraising strategies. Sign up today and see how PayBee can make it easy for you to expand your support network!