The heart of a nonprofit is its mission. Donors are an indispensable part of fulfilling this mission and the competition is fierce. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, as of 2015, the US is home to more than 1.5 million charitable organizations. Thinking about your competition in this way is certainly overwhelming – and unrealistic. Consider these fundamental factors as your nonprofit develops its fundraising strategy for a bright and prosperous new year!
- Keep a mission-centered focus – Illustrating to potential donors what your nonprofit does and why will go a long way. Believe in what you do and others will, too. People are motivated to give to organizations that support a cause they believe in and feel connected to. Whenever possible, back up what you say about mission fulfillment with metrics. (For information on how to share performance metrics with donors, read here.)
- Put relationship-building front and center – Donations do not begin and end with a monetary (or voluntary) contribution. Knowing your donors and understanding the connection that binds them to your organization has the potential to build essential long-term relationships. Both before and after a donation, continue to interact with your donors. This can be as simple as a personal phone call or hand-written note or an invitation to an event especially planned to show your gratitude.
- Resist comparing yourself to the ‘competition’ – While it is certainly important to know what other organizations are out there, remember that each nonprofit has its own cause and offers those it serves something unique. Your responsibility is to tell your story, why it matters, and the difference it will make for those you serve.
- Transparency is key – Maintaining an appropriate level of transparency builds trust with your donors by demonstrating a level of accountability that is necessary, appreciated and expected.
- Your nonprofit’s story (and mission) is not just about the organization, it is about your cause and the clients you serve – While you can exemplify an exceptional nonprofit by checking all of the operational boxes, to cultivate that necessary bond with your supporters, be sure to share generously and creatively what makes your nonprofit special – your cause and the clients you serve.
- Never underestimate the power of local donors – Resources are plentiful at the local level. Donors value knowing that their dollars make a difference locally. Additionally, donations of time and talent are most easily solicited and cultivated in the neighborhoods and communities directly served by the organization.
What are your plans for reaching donors in 2016? Please feel free to share your ideas here….