Seemingly disparate organizations, but they all have one thing in common: they all made it personal.

To be honest, I don’t care at all about Crossfit. I would never in a million years go to a Crossfit gym. But a few friends decided to participate in a workout challenge and asked for support by way of donating to their favorite causes. So now two things happened – my friends brought awareness to organizations I’d never heard of and certainly hadn’t supported – and because it was a FRIEND asking – I was motivated to support them and their cause and tell even more friends about it. Ingenious!

Then later that very same week I got a personal phone call thanking me for a first-time donation I’d made to a human rights organization called Traffick911. I have to be honest, I was completely shocked, in the best of ways. I donate to a lot of organizations and not all of them say thank you. As long as I know they got the money, that’s ok because I care about the cause. But getting a real human voice thanking me for my gift? Now that was impressive.

They didn’t ask for a single other thing—just thanked me and let me know how my donation would benefit them….You better believe I’ll donate again.

The interesting thing is that so few nonprofit organizations have implemented a strategy to make it easy for their donors to become their fundraisers. There are tons of free products and solutions out there that allow an individual to set up their own fundraising effort—including Blackbaud’s own everydayhero and TeamRaiser. Why then, have so many nonprofits not taken action? I think it all comes down to time.

To help all the time-strapped development managers out there, here are five quick tips for turning your supporters into fundraisers:

1. ALWAYS say thank you.

Our moms told us to and they were right. Saying thank you – whether it’s through an automated email that sends as soon as the ‘donate’ button is clicked or picking up the phone – you have to do it. It WILL impact repeat giving and that warm and fuzzy feeling you want your supporters to have when they think of you. I know I’ve given to an organization before that didn’t thank me, and it prevented me from giving again. Not because I was mad at not being thanked, but because it sort of made me wonder if my money had disappeared into the world wide wilderness… it didn’t feel ‘complete’. So I didn’t give again.

2. Make it easy to share.

Is it easy for your donors to share your cause? Have you downloaded free widgets that allow your website visitors to tweet/post/share, etc.? Take the time to optimize your website so your donors can spread the word about your organization.

3. Put your donors to work

And make them feel good about it.

Take a look at what the San Diego Zoo is doing with their “Your Passion, Your Campaign” initiative. Or from a community-based angle, check out how Austin Shakespeare (with a full-time staff of just 2 people) leveraged the Amplify Austin campaign to raise over $40K in 24 hours. Each empowered their supporters to fundraise on their behalf! All of the sudden these two arts and cultural organizations have new donors and dollars streaming into their organization. What’s better than that?

4. Get personal.

No matter how wired and techy we get, people appreciate a personal, heartfelt ask. I know it makes me feel important and special when a friend asks for help… but WARNING -that is the key! The relationship needs to be there or you’re just noise. So take that time to get personal and build the relationship.

5. Say thank you again.

EVERYONE enjoys being told thank you. So do that – over and over and over again. It will make a difference not only to your bottom line, but to the meaning you have in the individual giver’s mind.

By taking these 5 steps above, you can not only build some solid relationships with your supporters, but you can inspire them to tell others to give. So go ahead – equip and thank those supporters and watch them become your best fundraisers yet!


Nicolle Bowling, Sr. Marketing Manager for the Arts & Cultural team at Blackbaud, is passionate about helping nonprofits increase their awareness through social and digital channels so they can meet and exceed their missions. Nicolle has worked with several nonprofit organizations such as Hope for New York, Apostles NYC, Midtown Pregnancy Support Center and Ballet Austin Guild. In her spare time, Nicolle is a wannabe foodie, part-time world traveler, and full-time mom to #Chloe the maltepom pup. Follow me on Twitter for Arts & Cultural tips, tricks and updates! @nicolle_nyc

Get nonprofit articles, best practice advice, fundraising ideas and invaluable industry reports and webinars delivered for free!