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Fundraising Ideas That Will Make a Difference for Your Organization

All members of an organization need to go beyond establishing only transactional relationships with donors.

By University Alliance
Fundraising Ideas That Will Make a Difference for Your Organization

Nonprofit organizations usually bring together diverse groups of people with a wide variety of talents. Fundraising may not be everyone’s strong suit, but it should be everyone’s responsibility. But it’s possible to engage your entire organization and make fundraising less daunting.

Get Everyone Involved in Fundraising

Shifting to a fundraising culture can only benefit the organization. Here are some ways to get everyone engaged:

  • Administrative and program staffers, as well as volunteers, can help run fundraising events, spread the word about the organization on social media and seek fundraising opportunities.
  • Communicate to board members that they will be expected to not only personally donate to the organization but assist with fundraising as well. 
  • Board members can make personal requests of friends and colleagues, cultivate relationships with potential donors, share their contacts for email marketing lists, spread the word about the organization and its fundraisers and sell tables or blocks of tickets for events.

When you require this level of participation, be prepared to provide any necessary training to help people become more comfortable with fundraising. Here are some best practices to employ:

  • Make sure everyone understands the organization’s mission.
  • Share information on where the money goes and what is needed to sustain and grow the organization.
  • Hold in-depth sessions on fundraising ideas, training and strategies for board members, as well as for staffers and volunteers.

All levels of the organization can benefit from examining how to work with donors, according to Mark C. Germano, instructor for Nonprofit Executive Program at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business and an expert in fundraising and grant strategies.

“One of the things that I’ve seen repeatedly within the nonprofit sector, both from leadership as well as entry-level staff, is that they focus on a transactional relationship. They think about the donor as giving one gift and only one gift. And they try to get that gift as fast as they possibly can, when in fact, most donors want to give to an organization because of the mission of the organization,” Germano said.

With the right training, each person tied to the organization – from program managers and administrators, to directors and board members – can be a fundraiser.

Make Your Fundraising Efforts Scalable

Raise funds with limited staff by making things scalable, or creating fundraising ideas once and then reproducing them. For example, make it easy for board members and friends of the organization to hold fundraisers in their homes. Set up the guidelines, offer ideas for themes, provide graphics templates and help them organize it and get the word out. Whether you’re looking to raise $500 or $25,000, the basics can be scaled to any size event.

Or, focus on asking different groups, such as young professionals, health care providers or artists, to officially support your organization. This “affinity approach” can easily bring in more like-minded members and supporters to donate, get involved or help raise funds.

Scalable fundraising makes it easy for others to do your fundraising for you.

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The Importance of Relationships in Fundraising

Raising funds for an organization can’t happen without carefully cultivated relationships. Nothing in fundraising is more vital, Germano said.

“The most important strategy in raising dollars is to really focus on building relationships with those organizations and individuals and families that support you, because philanthropy is a voluntary action fueled by emotion and justified by logic,” Germano said. “It’s the head and the heart coming together to really try to do something meaningful. So building those close relationships is absolutely critical.”

All donors are important, and even a small gift can become the basis of an ongoing and supportive relationship. But it can be difficult to find the time to properly nourish and grow these relationships. Try these tips:

  • Say “thank you” right away: It’s important to reach out immediately after receiving a donation.
  • Be honest about the need: People want to donate to causes they care about. Make sure they see the need as well as the impact of their gift.
  • Don’t ask right away: Build a relationship first. Invite the donor to volunteer, attend events or give advice. Help them become part of the team.
  • Identify the ideal donor: Make sure that everyone understands the types of donors you’re seeking. Create a profile that will help staffers, volunteers and board members recognize prospective supporters when they see them.

“What do you know about your donors? What information would you like to get? Once you have that information, how do you build a plan that will really help you expand your ability and not only connect with more donors, but also expand the number of people that know about your organization,” Germano said.

Simple Fundraising Ideas that Really Work

Strengthening your organization’s coffers doesn’t have to be a struggle. Try these simple fundraising ideas that can make a big difference:

  • Kick-start the process: Ask people to help you improve and expand your relationships with donors. Get board members and volunteers to invite their friends and colleagues to events or for open-house tours of the facilities.
  • Use what you have: Invest in your core support group of donors and volunteers. Show them your appreciation and ask them to do more. If they are passionate about the organization, chances are they will.
  • Test and repeat: Try something new, but test your results. Focus on efforts that pay off; if one of your strategies or ideas doesn’t work out, move on to something new.
  • Focus on big and small: Pay attention to both big and small donors. Small donors will create a strong base while large donations help you grow.

Create a Fundraising Culture

Focusing on fundraising can make your organization stronger and sustain it for the long run. With the right training and a little effort, everyone in your organization can become a fundraiser. “The thing I like to say is more money, more mission, more mission more money. They’re hand-in-hand,” said Germano. When you create a fundraising culture, you’ll have a financially stronger organization with much less effort.


Category: Nonprofit Leadership