There is little doubt that fundraising, particularly for smaller non-profits, is getting harder. People seem to have less money and less time. What little there is of these commodities is being sucked up by the huge advertising budgets of the large non-profits with their vast armies of supporters and donors.
As with many other industries the little guys are struggling to be noticed…
Fundraising With Existing Supporters
So, if you run a smaller non-profit what can you do? How about looking closer to home. You already have some donors/supporters, not enough, but some…These are all people who have made a massive commitment to YOU. They have given time or money (maybe both). In the face of all that competition they chose you. They must be super-motivated to work with you; they are a potential “brand ambassador” for you.
Think about the way the most successful “normal“ businesses work. In line with every marketing book available they appreciate that their existing customers are their biggest asset. They sell to these people again and again; they stay in touch with them with email newsletters, present special targeted offers, and even more powerfully, use these regular customers to gain referrals.
Marketing Metrics research shows that the chance of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%. This rises to 60-70% for their existing equivalent prospect.
By comparison let’s look at the way many smaller (and some larger) non-profits work. A big, shiny donate button on the website, occasional events to highlight new initiatives, sporadic social media posting. All of it designed to attract new donors.
But what about those that have already supported, perhaps for example with a donation last year but, maybe, just helping with an event. Are they going to be motivated to come back for more just because they see that exact donation button they used last year in the same place on your website? Probably not…
You have worked hard to get that initial donation or help. Now is the time to think like a successful business and make that work for you again.
Staying In Touch With Existing Supporters
Firstly, say “thank you” personally. I don’t mean a post on the website or Facebook page saying thanks to everyone who helped us raised $300 last Saturday. Email personally every single person who’s details you have. These days it’s so easy to do with free email software and a mail-merge. Think about the difference in impression a personalized message makes.
Take this a step forward with regular communication. Keep your supporters updated with a regular, personalized email newsletter. It does not have to be every week, once a month is fine. Tell everyone what is going on with the non-profit, what the plans are, when the next events are. This regular contact is essential; it makes supporters feel involved in something. So many non-profits have a core of the most active 20 or so people. These individuals are in regular contact, super-motivated and do most of the fundraising. Imagine the difference that can be made if you can extend that core outwards to incorporate 3 or 4 times as many people. The starting point for this increased involvement is increased communication as soon as new supporters have done anything to help you.
The “Related Products” Idea
Here’s another suggestion. Think about Amazon and how on most pages they offer you a related product saying something like customers who looked at this also bought this. It’s clever and it works. Can this work for non-profits? I think it can, but it involves thinking a little outside the box.
As a non-profit the first thought is you want as much donation money as possible and therefore you try to keep supporters focused on you. You don’t voluntarily tell your supporters about other local causes. But does that really work? If you partner up with one or two local but differently focused non-profits you can widen your own circle of involvement and, as we have already looked at, increased involvement is the key. Think of it like the Amazon related product. If you and your existing supporters talk about and promote work done by your fellow local causes and they reciprocate, that circle of involvement is growing outwards. Yes of course the locals already involved only have limited time and money so, as a whole, the partnership of local non-profits will probably get no more from them but the word spreads and this leads to more and more joining up.
Think of it is this way. Throw a small stone in a pond and the ripples go out in small circles. But throw a stone 3 times bigger in the pond and look at the ripples. Wider and Faster!
The Power Of Online Shopping
This is a very easy area in which to get your existing supporters fundraising for you, but one which many non-profits fail to make the most of.
Many of the larger (and a few smaller) non-profits use services like ShoppingGives or Amazon Smile as a way of raising funds. These services which give a donation to your chosen non-profit when you shop online can be very effective. The only problem is that they rely on your supporters clicking a specific link, downloading an app or logging in to a specific website before shopping. Unfortunately, many people forget to do this, and the non-profit receives no money. So how to get around this? Once again it is communication that is so important in ensuring that this potentially valuable fundraising source is maximized.
- Keep reminding your existing supporters to use the correct links/logins in your newsletters and blog posts
- Have a permanent banner on the website linking to the shopping site.
- Make it easy for people to share your non-profit shopping link with pre-built buttons
- Motivate your supporters with monthly updates on how much this fundraising channel has raised.
As you have read this, I hope that you will have seen the fundraising power of existing supporters. I also hope that you will have noticed the 2 themes which run through everything I have talked about. Communication and Involvement. Get these working together and you can turn even your most distant existing supporters into a motivated and growing legion of raving fans.