Real-World Fundraising Tactics for Membership Organizations
“Don’t bring in warm bodies,” she says. “Bring in the right members: Attract those who want to support everything you do.”
Coulby seconds this recommendation, adding, “The organization needs to make giving easy and not be embarrassed to ask for donations.”
Sometimes the status quo is no longer working for an organization, or development staff is inspired by what another organization is doing. Instead of jumping in and changing a whole fundraising program, consider testing. Brodovsky recommends taking 10 percent to 15 percent of your organization’s list and trying one different element.
“By testing on a small group you can make sure you can still keep the lights on if what you’re doing differently doesn’t work well,” she says.
What can you change that could have a potentially positive impact on your fundraising appeals? Try timing, frequency, design or your pitch.
“Just don’t try more than one change at a time, or you won’t know which one caused the change,” Brodovsky warns. “Sometimes the change can be negative, but at least you learned what isn’t the right approach for your organization.”
However, if your test sample out-performs your control group, you may have hit on a change you can implement for all appeals and communications going forward.
While revenue from donations is always a source of additional income, consider looking at your membership dues.
“We hadn’t raised our basic membership fee of $35 in 10 years,” Staub explains. “We didn’t announce an increase to $40. We just did it, and so far there haven’t been complaints or greater attrition.”
Take a look at your rates. Consider raising them if it has been five or more years. Members may not be as price-sensitive as you fear.