Health and Growth

The Definitive Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits: 8 Practical Strategies to Grow Giving for Good

Use these 8 advanced fundraising strategies to increase giving in your church.

The Definitive Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits: 8 Practical Strategies to Grow Giving for Good
by

Paul Maxwell

Fundraising organizations are, on average, dependent on donations for 90% of their financial resources

This means that if a nonprofit organization aims to be successful in achieving success in its mission, its mission critical skill must be fundraising. 

However, effective fundraising for nonprofits (or church fundraising) is no simple matter.

Success in this arena requires sophisticated fundraising methodologies, considering different methods of fundraising, and harnessing those different types of fundraising to determine what is most effective to grow and maximize their donations.

However, before beginning a fundraising venture, it is important to follow the formal steps to become a 501(c)3 organization that can accept tax deductible donations and write giving receipts recognized by the government as tax exempt.

Without further delay, here are the primary principles of fundraising (that go way beyond simply sending a church donation letter) that every nonprofit organization should consider in order to begin raising funds effectively, increase donations consistently, and grow their donor base and mission impact to create a legacy.

1. Achieve brand clarity.

Brand clarity is the ceiling of your organization’s fundraising potential.

To the degree that your brand’s structure, mission, founding, operations, and uniqueness are ambiguous, prospective donors will have ambiguous feelings about donating to your organization.

To achieve brand clarity, it is first of all important to have a clear and refined articulation of:

  • Your mission statement.
  • Your color palette.
  • Your logo.
  • Your leadership.
  • Your origin story.
  • The unique elements of your work that set you apart.
  • Proof of concept with individual stories, pictures, and video.

Without these elements in place, it is difficult to communicate the trustworthiness and credibility of your organization.

Brand clarity is fundraising credibility. Don’t undervalue it. I have seen many nonprofits put brand clarity work into their organization after they have begun a significant fundraising effort, and this often results in confusion among the donor base when the organization makes its second appeal and looks, feels, and sounds very differently than it did before.

Do the significant brand work before you make an ask, not after.

2. Invest in fundraising personnel.

Many nonprofit organizations see fundraising as an ancillary enterprise, rather than a core aspect of their work.

Because nonprofit work attracts many people with good hearts, they want to focus on the mission rather than the money.

However, it is important to recognize that the relationship between fundraising the charitable work itself is not a “chicken or the egg” situation. 

Strategic fundraising comes first. Always. 

Without money, the mission fails.

Without volunteers, the mission fails.

Without money, it’s much harder to attract volunteers.

It’s much hard to attract new donors.

It’s much harder to create marketing access to appeal to a wider donor base and increase donations.

Fundraising comes first.

The mission of the organization is more important than the money itself, but the logistical reality of the supremacy of cash in making the world move is an inescapable reality that nonprofit organizations must embrace if they aim to succeed.

Hiring competent, experienced development professionals to carry out the work of fundraising is deeply important to the success of every nonprofit organization. More than that, these professionals should be very gifted in sales and interpersonal skills, not necessarily a field worker who has technical expertise in the work but no ability to sell a giving appeal to different audiences.

Your fundraising staff is equivalent to a sales staff.

Hire sales-gifted people passionate about your work, and you set yourself up with exactly the sort of personnel assets you need not only to grow your nonprofit organization, but to grow at scale.

3. Write and hone your fundraising script with your development team.

Central to every sales endeavor is a script.

I once worked as a door-to-door salesman for a home remodeling company in Chicago and, for the first month of my job, myself and my sales colleagues spent 9 hours per day every day practicing our sales scripts with one another.

A sales script should include everything from the initial hook of a sales pitch to the mechanics of closing the actual deal. In the fundraising world, a development professional should have everything they need in order to take anyone they talk to from an unaware donor to a committed giver who has signed up and given their first donation before the conversation is even over.

A good sales script should also include a decision tree based on certain objections. For example, it should be structured like this:

Hook

  • Objection 1
  • Response 1
  • Hook to Pitch
  • Objection 2
  • Response 2
  • Hook to Pitch
  • Objection 3
  • Response 3
  • Hook to Pitch

Pitch

  • Objection 1
  • Response 1
  • Pitch to Give
  • Objection 2
  • Response 2
  • Pitch to Give
  • Objection 3
  • Response 3
  • Pitch to Give

Giving Appeal

  • Objection 1
  • Response 1
  • Appeal to Gift
  • Objection 2
  • Response 2
  • Appeal to Gift
  • Objection 3
  • Response 3
  • Appeal to Gift

The giving moment

  • Objection 1
  • Response 1
  • Negotiate to Give
  • Objection 2
  • Response 2
  • Negotiate to Give
  • Objection 3
  • Response 3
  • Negotiate to Give

4. Coordinate with your marketing team to create high-ROI fundraising assets.

Your sales team must be equipped with the necessary marketing assets to distribute to prospective donors.

These assets should be beautiful, highlight stories of people the ministry has served, and explain the unique aspect of your work so that donors will realize that they cannot give anywhere else in order to achieve the good the good that your organization is achieving.

Work with your marketing team to produce these assets in coordination with your sales team so that your marketing team does not create assets that the sales team knows, from in-person experience, will not be effective.

5. Hold your goals in an open hand.

A goal is a means of organizing efforts, not an end in and of itself.

It’s tempting to use the ambition of a goal as a substitute for actual ambition.

But the goal is meant to motivate organizational behavior, not tyrannize organizational staff at any cost.

For example, if you set a $1M fundraising goal for your organization, your development professionals may be motivated to make bigger and more frequent giving appeals than your donor base can sufficiently handle.

If you find that an overly aggressive fundraising strategy is actually hurting your efforts, then scale down in order to raise more money.

Conversely, if your goals are too low, your donors may be underwhelmed by your vision for legacy and look elsewhere.

Develop your goals in collaboration with your donor base, sales team, and marketing data so that your goals represent a strategy that produces maximum funds raised, rather than a goal that is unfitting to the present status and features of your organization’s donor base.

6. Show prospective donors proof of concept.

Stories of good work done by non-profit.

People give to what viscerally moves them. That is, in donor psychology, what compels someone with money to release that money to someone else. Highlight those features of pain in a story of your organization’s mission that has been relieved, and show them how each dollar they give would relieve the exact same kind of pain in someone else’s life.

Giving is an act of the heart.

Therefore, an effective giving appeal will be to the heart.

Capitalize on this fact when creating your marketing assets and writing your donor professional script.

7. Have a clear vision for long-term growth.

People give because they want to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Any individual with money can hand that money to someone on the street.

Why don’t they?

They don’t know where the money will go, what it will do, or what legacy they will create.

Have a 10-, 25-, and 50-year legacy plan for your organization so that donors see each gift as an investment of moral equity in a local or global good that will last for decades to come.

The more excellently articulated your vision, the more you differentiate your organization from the random person on the street, and the more likely will be each donor to give in the first place, and to give a higher gift to boot.

8. Have financial analytics on-hand that demonstrates how donated funds are allocated.

Wealthy donors will want to know exactly how you are going to spend their gift.

So, show them.

Have your marketing team develop, in coordination with your giving management personnel, create an analytics presentation that shows your fundraising efficiency, overall costs, other significant donor relationships (anonymized), and how prospectively you will allocate each dollar they plan to give.

These analytics can also be a great marketing asset.

By designing your analytics in such a way that shows an exponential increase in philanthropic impact per dollar given, you incentivize donors to give more than they might have on a fixed scale of impact.

Over to you

Fundraising for nonprofits is no easy venture.

People who have money often want to keep that money.

However, many people are also compelled to donate money for the sake of producing philanthropic good in the world when they are faced with the dire pain of the world.

Show them that pain, show them how your organization alleviates that pain, and make your showing as beautiful, professional, articulate, practiced, and data-driven as possible.

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The Definitive Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofits: 8 Practical Strategies to Grow Giving for Good