If you’re like most nonprofits, you reflect at the end of each year. You talk about the goals you had, whether you hit them or not, and how you’re going to improve going forward. During that discussion, there’s one question that’s always raised: How can we raise more money?
There is no perfect answer, but we all know there are two basic ways to raise more money:
- Ask your existing donors to give more
- Find new donors (while keeping the ones you have)
Since donors everywhere are still a bit skeptical about the state of the economy, asking all of them to give substantially more may be a tough row to hoe.
So, that leaves us with option 2: Find new donors.
The first step to acquiring donors is making them aware of your organization. You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh!” But really, have you ever seriously thought about this? I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve worked with that have never strategically thought about how people will find out about their organizations. Now, I’m not advocating for a huge advertising campaign with a budget that’s unreasonable for 99% of nonprofits; I simply want to encourage you to use the resources you have online to effectively raise more money
- Online is relatively cheap: Email and websites are much cheaper than direct mail and billboards
- People are online: 85% of US adults use the Internet according to Pew Research Center
- People’s friends are online: 50% of donors give because a friend asked them to, while only 22% give because the organization asked them to give, according to Blackbaud’s 2011 Peer-to-Peer Event Fundraising Consumer Survey
Communicating with people online doesn’t allow for the same types of relationships you have with donors offline, but it does help you to identify the people to take that next step with. It’s like attending a speed dating session to find one or two people whom you want to spend more time with.
So, if online is like speed dating, how do we fit enough into that short interaction to entice them to come back for more?
Know your audience.
Who are your ideal donors? What are they interested in? Where do they hang out? Knowing these things will help you choose the right message and where online to communicate it. This is basic, but skipping this step means you may put a lot of work into something that doesn’t resonate with the people you want to talk to.
Share your message quickly.
Remember, this is like speed dating. You have seconds, not minutes, so get to the point as quickly as possible. Whether it’s an email, social media post, or blog, the purpose should be very clear and easy to grasp.
Make your message easy to consume.
You’re providing information, updates, and requests to your future donors. Don’t usthene industry jargon or overly complicated information. According to SocialMedia Today, blog posts should be written on a sixth grade level so they are easy to consume. You will not get more donors if your information requires them to check the thesaurus.
Ask them on a date before you ask them to marry you.
Don’t blow your chances of getting a donation by asking too soon. Provide opportunities to donate, but don’t force the issue until they’ve interacted with your organization for a little while and shown real interest in your mission.
The key is to keep them thinking about you after the interaction, get them to tell their friends about their experience, and entice them to come back for more. Save the dinner, movie, and walk on the beach for after they’re committed to you.