Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Fundraising 101 - Push the Easy Button

Not-for-profit fundraising can be anything but easy these days; but here are a few key points to help you push the EASY button. Let's start by stating the obvious - you have to be able to articulate why your cause matters. Why does it matter to you, and why should it matter to others. Ask yourself how life would be different if you closed your doors tomorrow. What would change for the people who currently receive your services? And, what would happen to your community as a result? And, don't forget to share all the personal benefits of giving they’ll experience. I highly recommend that you check out Gaiam Life’s “5 Reasons to Donate to Charity”.
Next, let's talk about the donors you will approach. Describe each of these groups and educate yourself about the differences among them. Consider which parts of your message are most likely to reach across boundaries, and build these key points into your main case for support. Then take a look at how these groups differ. Research and commentary on this topic abound. For example, you’ll find the EASY button for fantastic generational information from the West Midland Family Center.
Easy, however, doesn't mean effortless. After you've learned about the various groups you plan to reach out to, focus your efforts on removing the barriers that stand in the way of engagement. So you've made a great case for support; and you've developed focused messages that you can deliver from various platforms to deeply touch the audiences you’ll approach. Now let’s think about WHY they might say “no” and consider how you might be able to turn their response into a “yes” by removing their reasons. Think about how you can be flexible; ask yourself lots of “What if?” questions: “What if we offered an easy payment plan or a payroll deduction option, etc.?" The sky’s the limit on this one – be creative!
Finally, fundraisers continuously lament the lapsed donor phenomena. So let’s sum it all up with the EASY button we can never stress too much or too often. Actively invite your donors to become your agency’s true FRIENDS! Seriously, making lifelong friends who will engage their hearts along with their checkbooks beats a one-time donation any day! If this isn't your strong suit, do some brainstorming with your co-workers and board members. Think about organizations and causes that you’ve felt strongly about through the years. What did they do to engage you; how were you invited to share their missions? Connecting with friends is much more fun than “mobilizing donors”. If you follow these steps, you may even begin to think it’s EASY.

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