March 25, 2019
 
Tactics Nonprofits Should Consider for Fundraising in 2019

Nonprofit fundraising in 2019 may prove especially challenging as more organizations than ever are competing for donor dollars, and very likely reaching out to the same people who support you.

The following suggestions from people and organizations who counsel nonprofits on fundraising strategies take into account current trends and practices, and are aimed at helping nonprofits excel in this mission-critical arena over the next 12 months:

Jessica Wright, writing in Community Funded, which provides fundraising services for nonprofits, suggests:
  • Go beyond social media. "Branch out by asking a donor to share their version of your nonprofit story through emails, in-person, or even on personal pages or appeals embedded on your campaigns."

  • Use video. Video is not the most popular form of online content, and switching some content from text to video can increase impact. Keep videos to an average of two minutes to maximize engagement.

  • Don’t neglect email. Email generates 26% of online funds raised by nonprofits, and although only 6% of donors donated via email in 2012, that number rose to 28% in 2018.

  • Encourage monthly giving. It's a growing trend among nonprofits, especially as monthly givers are likely to give larger amounts over time. (Check out Erica Waasdorp's book on monthly giving.)
Barbara O'Reilly, a fundraising professional who has worked with Harvard University, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the American Red Cross, writing for GuideStar, recommends:
  • Focusing on mid-level donors. They are the people who are likely to “bundle”, which means they make larger gifts in one year to maximize their federal tax deduction above the new standardized levels. "They have very high retention rates, usually self-solicit to give higher annual gifts, and often comprise a large percentage of your overall revenue.

  • Make it easy to give. Millennials and Gen Z-ers (those born after the millennials) say the online experience is a key factor in determining their level of trust in an organization.

  • Recognize the diversity of donors. Different donor groups require different conversations, visits, and ways of being involved. It also means "looking at who’s on your board and staff so that your organization can fully embrace a culture of diversity."
According to Ray Gary, CEO of iDonate, a nonprofit digital fundraising platform:
  • Keep it personal. Reaching and keeping donors means knowing them and speaking to them personally. Marketing automation software helps create personalized appeals.

  • Keep collecting data. Personalized outreach depends on knowing donors and prospects, which means constantly collecting relevant data and keeping databases current.

  • Keep focused on outcomes. No one wants to waste money, but the right metric to judge fundraising is based on outcomes. Therefore, invest as needed in the right people and tools.
TrueSense Marketing, which helps nonprofits implement fundraising strategies, suggests:
  • Interview your staff. "Comparing your program notes against campaign reports and donor survey results will help you align your programs to different audiences and fundraising methods."

  • Use photos to show your impact. Very often, photos that nonprofits use don’t show the emotional needs associated with their mission. Ask your marketing staff to take pictures with the people looking at the camera with pensive, emotive expressions. (Check out how to use photos to tell your story.)

  • Survey donors. Surveys offer a great way to start two-way communications with donors, especially when used with mail, digital, and live phone calls, and will help you shape your next steps.

  • Don’t forget planned giving. This often is one of the first line items cut from budgets, as there is no direct return on investment generated during the year the work is done. Remember: no matter what you do—or don’t do—in this area, other nonprofits are asking your donors about their estate planning intentions. (Check out details on starting a planned giving program.)

  • Keep testing. Your online donation page needs to be refreshed constantly, which means you always should be testing to learn what works.

  • Plan for emergencies. Determine what types of emergencies or disasters will require a response, what your reaction time should be, who will make decisions, and who will lead operations. Prepare a strategy, including communication channels and templates by audience, and budgets.

  • Perform an authenticity check. "Donors make decisions based on emotion as much as reason. Being authentic means sharing messages and stories that motivate, not manipulate." Is your message heartfelt? Does it persuade hearts and minds?

  • Take time to listen. Your key stakeholders—donors, board members, staff, friends, community leaders, and others—know a lot about your organization (or think they do) and have opinions. Reach out to them regularly to learn what's on their mind and why they think about your nonprofit the way they do.

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