A Guide to Building Your Nonprofit’s Fundraising Strategy
Raising money for your nonprofit is one of the single most important tasks needed to be done to keep its doors opens and programs delivered to the communities you serve. Even when you’ve been fundraising for years, the significance of this duty means it’s never something you want to just wing as you go along. In short, you need a plan. If you want a place to start, here is a detailed guide to nonprofit fundraising 101.
Creating a fundraising strategy early on allows you to spend the money you’ve raised most efficiently and helps you create the most impact for those you serve. Let’s be honest, you’re asking donors to give you their money to support your cause, you have a responsibility to know how you’re going to spend it. A long-term fundraising strategy ensures accountability to your donors. And for anyone who has been successful coordinating… well anything, a plan is always better than no plan.
You may start out, looking to build your organization-wide fundraising strategy from scratch, or you may be building a strategy for an individual campaign. Either way, the same steps apply. It doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task, and the scope and depth of the strategy depend on your specific goals. So, what steps should you be taking to put together your fundraising strategy? Here is a list, we will work through each one in detail so you can be truly prepared.
1. A Case For Support
The first thing you’ll want to do is put together a case for support for your organization. This is a relatively brief document, written for external donors to read, learn what your organization is all about, become emotionally connected to your cause, and ultimately understand exactly what you need from them and how they can give.
Your case for support should include:
- What communities are you serving?
- What particular problems do you address?
- Why is your organisation the best to address it?
- What would the consequences be if you were not able to address the problem?
- Your position compared to others. You may want to show that you know what other organisations are addressing a similar problem, and that you understand how you fit into part of a larger ecosystem.
Impact and Key Partners
Your document should contain some quantitative data showing the impact your organization has had or could have. You want to be able to show the scale of the problem, and to what extent you’ll be able to address it. If you’ve already had some successful impact, it might be a good idea to include a short case study or two, showing what you have been able to achieve. If you have any particular eye-catching partners already on board, mention them here too.
Your case for support should also include a very brief summary of your entire strategy, we will cover this in detail below.
Goals and Objectives
This is where you’ll want to get specific. You want to be realistic, as it will be important to report on how you’re achieving these goals. But this is also the place to bring potential donors into your vision and dream for what your organization can achieve, so don’t be afraid to think big, especially if this strategy is for your organization as a whole.
Now is the time to mention the resources already at your disposal. Whether it’s an amount of money already committed, a building you are able to use to run your programs, or a team of experts who have signed up to your board, tell future donors what you have in your arsenal that helps you know you will succeed.
You’re going to have to spend some time thinking about how much you will need to run your organization and programs before you ask people to give it to you. Make sure you think about operating and administrative costs as well as program costs. They may seem like costs you don’t want to focus on, but ultimately, they are important to make sure you are running the most effective and efficient way possible. Budgeting these from the start shows maturity and foresight, both qualities your donors will appreciate.
Remember, your case for support is one of the first ways you’ll communicate with external donors. It contains a lot of important information, but in no way does it need to be dry. It should be communicated in the same language and style as your organization’s brand and can be peppered with stories, quotes, and testimonials. Use this document to help your donors fully understand who you are as an organization.
2. Your Fundraising Team
Now that you’ve put together a clear idea of who you are and what you need, you may want to give some thought as to who you have on board to help you do it. If you’re a small grassroots organization, this may just be you. That’s ok!
With a strategy in place, you’ve got this. If you are larger or have been established for some time, you may have fundraising team members. This could be anyone from an external fundraising consultant, to volunteers who help you organize peer-to-peer fundraising or staff members who have expertise in things like research, communications, report writing, or event management.
With Keela’s Peer-to-Peer fundraising tool, you can reach and engage a wider network of donors and supporters. This tool allows your supporters to fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. Using Keela’s highly customizable peer-to-peer fundraising pages and optimized donation forms, your supporters can spread the word about your campaign, raise money and track their progress. Such a collective effort goes a long way to helping your organization meet its fundraising goals.
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3. Funding Sources
This step requires a little more in-depth analysis and research, but there’s no need to worry. You probably already have a lot of the data you need, and there are numerous tools available to do all the heavy lifting.
Donor Trends and Prospect Sourcing
First up you’ll want to look into current giving data and trends in your area. Important questions to include are:
- Who is giving,
- How much,
- To whom,
- and Why?
Part of this will include some thought as to what sources of funding make the most sense for your organization. Will you be looking to individual donors for most of your funding? Or do trusts and foundations seem like a more sustainable option? Maybe you have connections to the for-profit sector that will help you bring in some valuable corporate partnerships. There may also be government funding available, or local grants.
At this stage, you’ll also want to have a clear idea of how much your organization needs to reach your fundraising goals, and how many new donors you will need to acquire to get there.
Engaging your Support Base
To help you think about how many new supporters you might need, think about who you already have engaged with your organization, or have open communication channels with. This can include your staff and board, volunteers, your personal and professional networks, and current donors. Engaging fully with your already loyal supporter base may save you time and money when it comes to the cost of new donor acquisition.
4. Communication and Engagement
Now that you know WHO you’re going to be asking, it’s time to significant thought about HOW you are going to do it, and when it will be most effective. Did you know there are smart tools that can tell you all of this, right down to the exact dollar amount most likely to get you a donation; Don’t try and guess, it will take longer and generate fewer results.
Different funding sources will require different types of communication.
For example, if you’re applying for a government or foundation grant, you will probably need to invest time in putting proposals together. Corporate partnerships may have their own requirements and reporting methods. You can communicate with individual donors through individualized outreach, email campaigns, face-to-face fundraising, letters, or events. There are so many possibilities available, and it will be well worth your time to strategize which methods will work best for your organization.
Remember, communicating with donors effectively is not just about asking them to give. Full donor engagement means knowing who your donors are, what’s important to them, when they are most likely to give, and when they are ready to give more. It means knowing when to ask, when to thank, how to keep them interested and feeling valued, and when to ask for more. Smart tools, with AI at their source, are one of the key ways the fastest-growing nonprofits are doing this well. It’s no longer enough to guess and use your gut when tools are available to refine your approach.
Your communication strategy needs to have a timeline that fits with your calendar and how much time you’re able to spend on your organization.
Throwing a fundraising event takes significant planning and sending out email campaigns needs to be done at the right time. Factoring in some time to learn how to effectively use tools to help you with this is also an important part of your strategy. Remember tools can be powerful but adopting these tools well so they add value will take time and commitment.
Without allocating effort to learning your new tools, you are setting yourself up to fail. No new technology can be learned on the spot, whether it’s excel, a CRM, or robust nonprofit management software, spending some time learning how to get value makes the difference between an organization that scales and one that flounders.
5. Monitoring and Reporting
Although putting a strategy in place is valuable to clarify your thinking, you won’t be getting the most out of it unless you set up ways to measure your progress. Setting timelines for your goals and milestones will keep you and your donors motivated, help you understand what is working and isn’t, and will make annual reports painless.
Although each step requires some time and thought, remember you already have most of the information you need to put this together. Don’t be afraid to use tools to help you automate the process as much as possible – many of these steps can be done by simply inputting data you already have. Spending just a little time on getting your fundraising planning right could mean the difference between never really getting off the ground and impacting hundreds or thousands of lives. Go for the gold!