Balance: The Fundraiser's Best Friend
So, that said, if I were launching a new nonprofit or a nonprofit in a new community, I would begin an aggressive email program — combining e-news (with a soft ask) and e-appeals. I also would seek referrals from current donors. Adding in some print is important — email alone doesn't get enough readership to be sustainable — but direct mail and printed newsletters are more expensive than email, so they need to be put together in such a way that income is maximized.
But from a bottom-line point of view, a balanced program of mail and electronic over nine to 12 months can move an organization toward stronger fundraising and a larger funding base. Systematic communication can turn some of your "window shoppers" into supporters.
At the risk of irritating some readers, events should be considered carefully since they often are expensive — and addictive. Events can cost a lot more than many nonprofits realize since they rely on staff to fit them into already busy days or use volunteers (and often burn them out) to run them. Key to making an event profitable, I believe, is sponsors; if the entire event is underwritten, all donations are "profit." Also, invite the right people; the most successful events I am hearing about lately are smaller, but each person there was invited for a reason. It's not just filling a table; it's garnering support from people who fit the profile of a person most likely to support the offer.
My bottom line to the person who asked the question — and to you — is this: Which fundraising options will attract donors who are sustainable? To succeed, a new or growing nonprofit needs donors who will give again and again, not just one time. What fundraising activities will communicate with people who believe in the cause (or will believe once they learn about it) and have enough disposable income to be committed donors?
Pamela consults with nonprofits, helping them develop their fundraising strategy and writing copy to achieve their goals. Additionally, she teaches fundraising at two universities, hoping to inspire the next generation of fundraisers to be passionate about the profession. Previously, Pamela led the fundraising programs for nonprofit organizations. Pamela is a member of the Advisory Panel for Rogare, the fundraising think tank at Plymouth University’s Hartsook Centre for Sustainable Philanthropy, a CFRE, a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and Dominican University, and holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Southern University. Contact Pamela at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @pjbarden.