Starting out in Fundraising – The Essentials
Author: Javier Heitz, CEO, S4G Consulting
If there’s one thing that is said time and time again, it’s that planning is fundamental to getting the results you want!
And for nonprofits it’s especially important, particularly in fundraising. Whether you’re a small charity looking to kick-start your first fundraising program or a global organization looking to grow your existing programs, defining your strategy is the only way to ensure you develop a scalable program that can deliver the results you’re after.
There are a number of steps you can take in building your strategy. I’ve put together a small list that will help you start to think about your strategy and develop an approach that will best suit your particular organization.
Firstly, you’ll need to look at the figures. How much do you need to raise in order to manage and scale your programs?
Some questions to ask yourself:
- How much do we need to raise each year?
- How many average sized donations do we need to secure to reach this?
- How many people do we need to reach this?
- How many companies do my fundraisers need to reach out to?
- How many companies do my fundraisers need to meet with?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can start to develop a fundraising and marketing strategy that will allow you to achieve these goals and objectives.
Define your Target Audience
This is perhaps the most important step of all. If you don’t have a good understanding of your target market, you could end up spending a lot of money marketing and adverting to people who will never donate.
Are you targeting individual donors (B2C) or corporate donors (B2B)? Who is your sweet-spot donor, and who could you build relationships with over time?
Do your market research; look at the current economy, people’s charitable habits at the moment, changing trends in giving and any other factors that might make one group more profitable than another.
Designing the Donor Journey
The donor journey can truly impact your fundraising income. If you can create a donor journey that not only engages your audience but also motivates them to act then this will be one of your most valuable assets.
Think of the donor journey as a roadmap detailing how a donor becomes aware of your brand, their interactions with your brand and any method of relationship building or communications that follow. These touch points will guide your donors perception of your brand, the cause you are working for, and the impact they are making through their donation.
Get this right and you’re half way there!
Segmenting for the donor journey
When you start out, you will be able to broadly segment your donors into 3 groups: those interested (e.g. subscribed to your newsletter), those who have donated, and those that have an active recurring donation.
Each of these 3 groups is in a different stage of the customer journey and therefore should receive communications tailored to their historical actions.
Person subscribed to newsletter: Send email showing what you are using donations for and how important each X USD/EUR/GBP donation is.
Person who has donated once: Send people who have already donated to your organization a piece of communication about how recurring donations make more of an impact to an individual cause.
Person who has set up a recurring donation: Highlight the impact they are making – perhaps share stories with them of where their money went. Also, you can show what an increasing recurring donation would mean to the cause.
Maximizing Marketing Actions
Never underestimate the power of good data! Making decisions based on poor data could mean money down the drain and resources misplaced.
For each donor, you should know things like; how much they have donated over time, their average donation, the donation split over the last few years, and their interaction with your marketing emails / SMS, etc.
Once you have this 360º view of your donors, you can make informed decisions on how to further engage with them, in a way that’s personal and that drives results.
For example: Let’s say you want to organize a fundraising event; maybe an auction dinner for VIP guests. You plan to hold this event at a venue that seats 250 people and your social base is 20,000. Who do you invite?
It seems ideal to start with the people most committed to your cause – those that have donated more over time, and/or in recent years. If you have this information, it is quite easy to contact them and try filling most of the seats with the people more likely to make a larger donation.
There are few very few nonprofits who can boast a large donor base that don’t have a large headcount to match. However, all these larger nonprofits were once small too.
The key to steady growth is a solid foundation and, of course some great technology supporting you. Make sure you choose an IT system that’s scalable and can grow with your organization and try to experiment with automation early on. Automation greatly reduces the time needed for administration duties and helps to improve consistency and data quality.
What automation might look like:
- Prospect donor lands on your website.
- They fill in a form to become a recurring donor.
- This triggers a series of emails that the new donor receives over time.
- The donor’s details are stored in an account on your database.
- You can track their engagement with your communications over time.
- Now you can make informed decisions based on their historical action.
Sounds good eh? And not too hard to do! There are plenty of tools available to manage this process. Salesforce has a couple of really good ones, like Exact Target and Sales Cloud – other companies offer similar packages too. Read some forums, talk to peers and decide for yourself which tool you’ll use to help scale your fundraising and marketing operations.
Good luck on your fundraising and automation journey. Remember, the importance of building a solid foundation for scalable programs cannot be overstated.
About Javier Heitz: Javier is a Co-founder and CEO of S4G Consulting. He has over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, 13 of them in the CRM area.
About S4G Consulting: In January 2013, S4G Consulting became the first and only Salesforce Gold Partner in Spain and Portugal. Their mission is to increase efficiencies and improve relationships for organisations of all sizes. To achieve this, S4G implements solutions that provide insight and optimized processes for lean operations.
In 2009, S4G Consulting joined the Salesforce Corporate Philanthropy ‘Power of Us Program’ and offers a 20% discount on its services to nonprofit organizations. They also do volunteering activities, mainly alongside the local Salesforce team in Spain.
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