Nonprofit Fundraising: 3 Ways to Keep Supporters Involved
By Wayne Elsey

Wayne Elsey
Wayne Elsey

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping nonprofits physically apart from their supporters, engaging those people is arguably more critical than ever as charitable organizations face unprecedented operational and financial challenges.

Engaging supporters is time-consuming, but it’s arguably the most critical part of fundraising. As such, nonprofits need to emphasize engagement in their retention strategy. That means focusing on staying at the forefront of supporters’ minds and making them truly invested in your mission so they feel compelled to stick around and devote more effort to your success.

Here are a few proven strategies to kick-start your efforts:

1. Host engaging fundraisers

There are many ways to take engagement to a whole new level. One top suggestion is a shoe drive fundraiser.

Shoe drive fundraisers invite everyone to get involved, regardless of their financial situation. Not everyone has spare change to donate due to current economic circumstances, but most people do have unwanted shoes lying around their homes. Encourage them to declutter their closets while supporting a good cause. Here’s how shoe drive fundraisers work:

  1. Select an organization to facilitate your shoe drive fundraiser. A facilitating organization that specializes in shoe drive fundraisers will handle the logistics of the fundraiser, such as helping you set goals and plan your campaign. It will send you the instructions and materials you need to get started.

  2. Place collection bins around your community. Invite people to clean their closets and donate gently worn, used and new shoes to support your cause.

  3. Arrange a pickup time with the facilitating organization – contact-free. Once they’ve processed the shoes, they’ll mail you a check.

Shoe drive fundraisers are easy to run and coordinate with other events. When properly marketed, organizations big and small will find success in this fundraiser. After all, audiences are much more receptive to engaging ideas that make it easy to contribute.

2. Communicate effectively

Without effective communication, advocates won’t know what’s going on at your organization. Especially right now, your team needs to take every opportunity to communicate openly and transparently with supporters.

Mastering the art of effective communication requires a deep understanding of your constituents. Take the time to research prospects. Then, use this information to tailor your messages. Supporters will recognize the extra effort to personalize their experience and will react positively.

When crafting your messages, keep the following in mind:

  • Communication preferences: If you don’t adhere to preferred communication methods, supporters might not see your message. Even worse, they may feel like you didn’t care enough to contact them in the way that’s best for them.

  • Connections to your cause: Learn what motivates them to donate or volunteer. Then, leverage that information to create persuasive appeals that compel them to get involved.

  • How they support your organization: Offer the right opportunities to the right audience. For instance, send messages about upcoming volunteer opportunities, and market new programs that need funding to donors.

Above all, be genuine in your conversations. Your supporters are real people with real connections to your cause, so treat them as such. They’ll appreciate the authenticity, making them substantially more invested.

3. Promote corporate philanthropy

Although it represents only a slice of charitable funding, corporate giving generates billions for the nonprofit sector. 360MatchPro's matching gift statistics page estimates that businesses give $2-$3 billion in matching gifts each year.

By taking advantage of philanthropic programs, supporters can make lasting impressions on your cause. They’ll feel substantially more involved in your work this way.

To fully utilize corporate philanthropy, familiarize yourself with the most common programs:

  • Matching gifts: Matching gifts multiply the donations you’re already receiving. With these programs, companies match employees’ contributions to eligible nonprofits, usually on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

  • Volunteer grants: Through these programs, employers offer monetary gifts to organizations where employees regularly volunteer. The grant amount is typically based on the number of hours volunteered.

  • Partnerships: Partner with a local company that has similar values to yours. For instance, if your athletic team needs sports fundraising ideas, host percentage nights at athletic stores in your area or encourage in-kind donations of sports equipment.

When it comes to corporate philanthropy, not everyone is aware of these opportunities. It’s up to you to spread the word. In no time, you’ll see a boost in involvement, retention, and donations.

Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises, a member of the Forbes Business Development Council, and founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals, and other organizations raise funds.

February 2021