The holiday season and end-of-year push certainly provide a much-needed jolt to fundraisers, and there are signs of economic recovery on the horizon. But budgets and purse strings are still tight, and donors are looking for the biggest bang for their donated bucks.
With that in mind, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northeast Indiana Chapter held a presentation on Dec. 10, How to Squeeze Blood From a Turnip: Fundraising in Tough Times. During the presentation, Robert Croft, partner/consultant at Crandall, Croft & Associates, and Jennifer Renner, development supervisor at Community Action of Northeast Indiana, shared three keys that make the difference between mediocre fundraising and successful fundraising.
Culture of philanthropy
Your organization must evoke and embody a culture of philanthropy, and it must start at the top. Your executive director and CEO must be fully invested and committed to fundraising, including giving their own time and money. The same goes for your board of directors.
There also must be a strong belief in the mission. Would you “buy” what your organization is “selling”? Everyone at your organization must be passionate about the cause, and they must be willing to work together. That means tearing down the silos. The entire organization has to understand the importance of fundraising.
Beyond that, you need to gain donors’ trust. The best way to do that is to be transparent and accountable in all that you do.
Your stories shouldn’t just be compelling; they should be unforgettable. Effective fundraising communications are:
- Emotional — put a “face” on your service
- Compelling — show a valid need
- Responsive — clear call to action
- Easy — for donors to respond
- Multichannel — meet donors where they are
It’s a bad sign if:
- You can substitute the name of any other charity for yours in your communications.
- Needs are focused more on the organization and economic woes than on those you serve.
- There is no specific call to action.
- There is no clear, easy way to respond.
Donors are human beings, not ATMs. Therefore, they need to:
- Be engaged.
- Connect emotionally to your cause/story.
- Rationally evaluate your credibility.
- Be asked.
Donors desire warm acknowledgment and appreciate being appreciated. They expect stewardship and want to know their gifts were put to good use. You must build relationships by creating meaningful experiences that make it pleasurable to be a donor to keep them engaged and spur loyalty.
View the full presentation here.