The must-have fundraising checklist for nonprofits

Carmen Amell October 01, 2020

In this post:

1. Take an in-depth look at your website 2. Partner with third parties to reach more potential donors 3. Educate and cultivate your donor 4. Share your story in a compelling way 5. Let’s get social 6. Thank your donor 7. Report back 8. Do a pre-mortem Time to improve!

Get the funds you need to support your mission with these tips!

As a social-driven nonprofit, you are doing much-needed work. In these extraordinary times we are facing, you need, more than ever, financial resources to enable you to continue doing so. It is also the time when people help and support each other even more than ever. So, how do you increase your chances of receiving the support you need? How do you appeal to your prospective donor’s emotions? How can you transmit the urgency of your work?

Understanding your donors and what motivates them to give is crucial to creating effective fundraising campaigns.

Below are effective techniques that will help you connect with your prospective donors and motivate them to support your work.

1. Take an in-depth look at your website

Thanks to your fundraising efforts, you’ll drive donors to your website. You want to make sure that it is as easy and clear as possible for them to donate.

  • Ensure your website is easy to navigatecontent is relevant, and in line with your fundraising goals.
  • Tell the story of your organisation and your mission in a compelling way. When visitors hit your website, they should quickly understand why their contribution is needed and its impact.
  • Encourage visitors to get engaged in your community (sign up for newsletters, volunteer, share on social media).
  • Have a prominent, hard to miss call to action to donate. Make it in a bright color that contrasts with the rest of your page, and takes 2 to 3 seconds to locate.
  • Promote your monthly giving program.
  • The process of donating should be easy. Do not ask for phone numbers. This could make your donor change their mind about contributing as they will be afraid you may start calling them.
  • Offer donors a default donation amount, but offer options to adapt to their possibilities.
  • Share links to your social media channels so visitors can stay connected and get access to updates.
  • Ensure your website is mobile responsive. It has to look good and be easy to navigate, and load quickly in all sorts of browsers and devices.
  • Offer the possibility for donors to share their donation on their social media channels. Provide donors with a social media post template and hashtags to make it easy for them to share information with their family and friends about your organisation. This enables them to share your mission, increase awareness among their followers, and invite them to join them in supporting your cause.

2. Partner with third parties to reach more potential donors

Take advantage of external partners that could help you to raise awareness and grow your impact by reaching potential new donors. There are many types of partners that support nonprofits in reaching more donors, and one of them are platforms that connect corporations and nonprofits. For example, a corporate giving software like Alaya could give you access to many programs.

The process of sharing your organization on these types of platforms is simple and could give you access to a new community of new donors and volunteers.

3. Educate and cultivate your donor

How much does your donor know about your organization and your work? You might want to consider holding an awareness campaign in parallel with your fundraising to reinforce your needs and how it will help. It has to be appealing and specific, something that sparks interest to learn more and give. What problem are you solving? Why does it matter? Share success stories, testimonials from beneficiaries, and other donors.

Generally speaking, your nonprofit should be cultivating your donors a minimum of 3 times in between every ask. – The 3-1 cultivation ask rule.

The reason for this is that your donors need to feel like they have a relationship with your organization. They need to feel like part of your team. If every communication from you is an ask, they will not feel that warm relationship that they need to feel if you want them to have a lifelong donor relationship with your nonprofit.

4. Share your story in a compelling way

Creating a personal, informational, and persuasive story is crucial. Share a sense of urgency. What will happen if they do not donate? Consider the following:

  • Who are you helping?
  • What will you do with the funds? How will it contribute to making a difference?
  • Where is the impact area located?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How are you implementing the project? 
  • What difference does one donation make?

Do use equivalences to make it concrete in potential donors’ minds, and remember to mention the impact their gift will have. You need to help the donor visualize what their donation could provide. For example, $150 could give newborn kits to 25 new mothers living in challenging conditions.

Campaigns with pitch videos raise four times more than those that do not. Ensure you choose a meaningful and good-quality image. Your picture should show the beneficiaries of your project and emotions. Use a friendly picture and assure the dignity of those shown in the picture. Show your programs in action. Infographics about your cause and your mission are useful as well.

Try to keep your videos short and powerful. The list goes on… We could have a whole blog just on storytelling!

5. Let’s get social

Post regularly on social media to remind your audience about your work. Make sure to change your messaging and images to keep your followers and donors interested.

6. Thank your donor

Their generosity is what empowers you to fulfill your mission. Write personal thank you notes when possible. According to a study conducted by The Software Advice, the personalized letter is the most demanded follow-up method.

7. Report back

Share and celebrate your success with your donors. It will boost their confidence in your organization, not to mention it is crucial for future donations.

Share pictures, testimonials of gratitude. Make them feel like the heroes they are.

Remember to send the tax exemption certificate to your donors.

8. Do a pre-mortem

Now that your campaign is ready, do a pre-mortem. I am a big fan of pre-mortems!

A premortem is when a team assumes their project has failed. That is before it has even started. It is a strategy that allows you to work backward from that point of failure to determine what might have caused the failure and fix it. (
Imagine you are a year into the future, you executed your campaign as it is, and it was a catastrophe. Get together with your team to put in writing the reasons for that catastrophe. Then prepare for these to ensure the best chance of success.

Time to improve!

Of course, you never stop raising funds! But when the campaign is finished or you think you have enough information about your efforts, regroup with your team and evaluate what worked and what did not. What can you improve on your campaign? What should you start/stop/continue doing? Can you ask a few donors for their feedback?

Here is your checklist and happy fundraising!

Download the checklist

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