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10 Simple Fundraising Tips Guaranteed to Improve Effectiveness

The stakes are always high when you’re launching a fundraising campaign. Professional fundraisers need to cover all the details to meet their targets. Individuals raising money for a cause they care about deeply want to surpass their donation goals and build enthusiasm for the mission. Nonprofit leaders managing both types of fundraisers need to equip and motivate everybody throughout the campaign. No matter your role, the following 10 simple fundraising tips are guaranteed to improve your effectiveness.

1. Cast a Wider Net

For individual fundraisers participating in a peer-to-peer (P2P) event, high-volume outreach is the most effective approach. Put together a list of friends, family, co-workers, workout buddies—anyone who might be a potential donor. Think creatively here, beyond your social media and real-life friends. Do you have neighbors, doctors, or local business owners who might support your fundraising efforts? Hit them up.

For professional fundraising teams, expanding your pool of prospects could include asking board members, volunteers, and major donors to provide a list of colleagues, corporate contacts, family, and friends, anyone they can recommend who has the capacity to give and an affinity for your cause.

Person-to-person matchmaking, though, is just the beginning. To really amp up your fundraising effectiveness, put technology to work for you:

  • Deploy a new supporter welcome series to convert email sign-ups into a prospect list
  • Use your platform’s predictive modeling to analyze a broad range of internal data, such as recency and frequency of gifts to pinpoint likely prospects from your larger pool
  • Analyze annual fund, major gift, and planned giving donors who could give an additional gift to this campaign
  • Spread the word with social media platforms but don’t feel like you have to use them all. You know your supporters best and which outlets they use the most. Choose one, a few, or all to spread your campaign messaging.
2. Send Handwritten Letters First, Not Emails

Email is faster and can return instant results, but old-fashioned handwritten letters give that personal touch. Individual P2P fundraisers often have great results making their initial requests via handwritten note, even if they’re participating in an online fundraiser. 

Professional fundraisers already know the power of handwriting a thank-you note; that personal touch is just as effective when you reach out ahead of your campaign to current major donors and planned givers. Follow up your handwritten request with an email if you don’t get a response to your paper pitch.

3. Set a Goal, Then Raise It

For individual P2P fundraisers, having something to aim for always helps. And nine times out of 10, P2P fundraisers end up doing better than they originally hoped, even when they set their personal donation goals high, within reason, to inspire themselves and their donors. Normally, if you’re a P2P fundraiser, you set your goals when you register, but consider that just a baseline:

  • Make sure to set an inspiring but attainable goal-one that you can reach. You can go back and raise your goal as you start to see the fundraising dollars come in.
  • Once you hit your target, why not raise it another 25% for the cause you support?

Professional fundraisers usually rely on data and collaborative planning to establish campaign fundraising goals. Up the ante by creating incentives to achieve an even higher goal:

  • Promote time-limited matching donations from top donors to increase dollars raised
  • Encourage supporters to use their employers’ matching gift programs (91% of companies match 1:1, but 5% of companies match even higher, up to 3:1)
  • Sell promotional merchandise that champions your cause while boosting revenue
4. Use the Most Effective Online Fundraising Tools

If you haven’t explored the apps, online tools, and upgrades now available to help your organization raise more money, more effectively, now is the time. Not only can technology make fundraising more enjoyable for P2P fundraisers and their donors, but it also can help professional fundraising teams streamline processes and boost revenue.

  • Get mobile-friendlier: Since 28% of online contributions are made from a cell phone, your mobile-friendly donation form needs to be easy, tap-friendly, and glitch-free
  • Upgrade your donation forms: More intelligent online forms offer integrated payment options, automated recurring gift upsell prompts, fee offset options, and a better donor experience, plus insights on your fundraising metrics
  • Integrate activity tracking into your events: The Blackbaud Peer-to-Peer Benchmark Report found that participants who use the free activity tracking app Good Move raise 46% more than those not using the app
5. Tell a Powerful (and Personal) Story

Humans are hardwired for narrative. Stories help us pay attention. They generate a-ha moments. And stories inspire action. Here are simple ways to use storytelling that will stick with your constituents and prompt them to support your cause.

  • Encourage P2P fundraisers to tell their own stories. JustGiving from Blackbaud research found that P2P fundraisers who write a clear and personal story for their fundraising page raise around 65% more than those who don’t.
  • Lean on AI to craft a better story. Even though we’re not all gifted storytellers, artificial intelligence can make us look like we are. Use the AI tools in your fundraising platform to tell a more compelling story in your donor communications. P2P fundraisers can do the same; for example, Just Giving from Blackbaud offers a generative AI tool that quickly creates content for individuals’ fundraising pages.
  • Add images to every touchpoint. Content with a visual element receives up to 94% more views. Enrich your storytelling with inspiring, high-quality images anywhere you connect with donors: your website, social media posts, emails, donation forms, and text campaigns.
  • Share tangible effects for multiple donation levels on your home page. This will enable supporters to connect with a specific dollar amount based on how the funds could be used and possibly increase donation amounts.  
6. Make Face-to-Face Contact

When you’re fundraising as a professional team or coaching P2P fundraisers, prioritize in-person connections. Fundraisers who show up for (or host) dinner parties, game nights, family reunions, community festivals, and athletic events, naturally build more solid relationships. That face-to-face interaction also affords the opportunity to make the ask or nudge those whom you’ve already asked. Since it’s harder for people to say “no” if you speak to them in person, professional fundraisers might consider planning face-to-face visits with their top 50 campaign prospects. Most donors contribute not only to the mission of the organization but also to the staff. Maintaining a live connection is imperative for this effort. Donors support your organization because they trust you, share similar values, and want to back your overall efforts. Stewarding your relationship is easier with in-person interactions.

7.  Use Your Name

Nobody clamors to rip into an envelope addressed to “Resident.” Similarly, a generic email from “Fundraiser” will never strike the same chord as one that comes from an email address with your name attached. Emails from a real person rather than from your organization have a 27% higher open rate. This is easy for P2P fundraisers, who are emailing their personal contacts. Professional fundraising teams should also send emails with a human touch. People will donate to your cause because you are asking them to. Simple as that.

8. Emphasize the Deadline

It’s very common for people to put things off. We all live busy lives and have a lot of responsibilities. A little reminder nudge for a slow-to-act potential donor never hurt anyone.

If someone has indicated that they want to donate, but hasn’t, don’t hesitate to follow up with a phone call, text, or reminder email, especially as the time for the event or campaign runs down. People respond to deadlines!

9. Ask for a Long-Term Commitment

A one-time gift gets you closer to your campaign goals, but a sustaining gift gets you closer to your mission goals. Both professional fundraising teams and P2P fundraisers should ask their prospects to make a campaign gift and then bump it up with a monthly donation. According to the 2022 Blackbaud Luminate Online Benchmark Report, the annual value of a sustainer is four times greater than a one-time donor. Use your platform to automate the ask for a recurrent gift when the first donation is made.

10. Send Really Good Thank-You Notes

It’s a simple thing to do, but also one of the most powerful: Make sure to say thank you to everyone who supported your campaign. Send a meaningful message of thanks, preferably with a handwritten personal note. Emails work, too.

With these 10 practical and effective fundraising tips for nonprofits and the P2P fundraisers who support them, you’re prepared to develop a compelling and effective campaign for an event, a seasonal push, or your next capital campaign.

This blog post by Leigh Brown Perkins was published on The Engage Blog. Read it here.

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