The Top 6 Things Smart Fundraisers Will Be Doing in 2016
It seems like just yesterday that financial experts were still forecasting that it might take a whole decade for charitable giving to return to its levels achieved before the Great Recession! A sobering thought for all of us fundraisers out there.
But here’s the reality:
- We’ve seen four relatively solid years of giving rebounding and becoming stronger.
- Giving USA tells us there was a 5.4 percent rise last year, bringing the grand total to to a record $358.4 million!
- The Fundraising Effectiveness Project is still reporting that only 43 percent of participating donors are giving to the same organization two years in a row. But overall, we’re in a better place than we were when I started my blog back in 2009!
So where should smart fundraisers be giving their attention in 2016 to capitalize on our economic growth? Technology changes and the economy changes. But people? Not so much.
Any strong fundraising program has a strong major donor program at its core. Why? Well, let the numbers shed some light. Both Giving USA and Atlas of Giving have found that individuals comprise roughly 80 percent of overall charitable giving (factoring in bequest giving).
In 2016, you’ll need to zero in on your individual giving program with a laser-like intensity. That means:
- Developing your systems for stewarding all donors
- Creating a monthly giving program (and working it)
- Communicating consistently and well through all available (and suitable) channels
- Factoring regular acquisition strategies, such as crowdfunding, into your plan
- Scheduling a bequest mailing every year
- Transforming first-time donors into regular donors, as well as mid-level donors into major donors
How will you be increasing fundraising revenue and strengthening donor relationships in 2016? Here are six things smart fundraisers will be doing:
1. Know your retention rate at all times. This one’s an obvious no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many organizations are clueless on this. Your board members should know your retention rate as well, and it’s up to you to keep them informed!
2. Master the tenets of donor-centricity. Know that you’ll achieve your full fundraising potential once you recognize that your donors absolutely share your goal of wanting to create a positive difference in the world—and understand that your job is not to educate, but to delight and inspire.
I recently became involved in a conversation discussing over-solicitation. And yes, for years we’ve been hearing the claim, “Over-soliciting and insisting on unrestricted gifts are largely why 65 percent of donors who make a first gift never make a second, and why 90 percent or more donors who start giving are gone within five subsequent appeals.”
Time and time again, my members are pointing to increased donor communications as a primary reason for their fundraising success. I think this is another one of those blanket "direct mail doesn’t work" or "email is dead" arguments. It’s not over-solicitation. It’s poor solicitation. Whether it’s a matter of lousy direct mail or inspiring email, it’ll most likely lead to the same results.
3. Make a plan for every donor. Download the Veritus Group’s brilliant (and free!) spreadsheet on how to create a plan for every donor (click here to request it). But don’t just download it—actually put it to good use!
4. Make gratitude a daily habit. It takes just 28 days to make a habit. Come on, we all have it in us to engage in a little daily positivity, especially in a pursuit for successful fundraising and better donor relationships. Make it a point to spend 15 to 30 minutes on the phone every morning, solely for the purpose of communicating your gratitude to your donors. That’s it. Call just to say thank you. Maybe in the beginning, it helps to have a script to guide you. If that’s the case, here you go.
5. Integrate print and email. Print is not dead, so don’t utilize email as your only avenue. It’s not a question of either/or when there’s clear evidence that donors respond positively to both. Does it really make sense to send a snail-mail thank you to an online donor? You better believe it! The written word still generates impact, especially when it’s easy to get lost in the world of email, and especially when it reflects the effort of a personal touch.
6. Work your monthly giving. According to the 2015 M+R Benchmarks study, online monthly giving grew by 32 percent in 2014, compared to just 9 percent for one-time giving.
Be sure to factor in a minimum of one monthly giving direct-mail campaign and one email campaign every year. Work toward improving your website’s monthly giving pages in order to streamline the giving process and create a positive experience for the donor. Figure out a way to upgrade donors to monthly giving status during the donation process.
Want four more things smart fundraisers will be doing in 2016? Click here!
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.