Your fundraising campaign : tips for charities
Running a successful fundraising campaign is a greater challenge than ever. The main problem facing a professional charity fundraiser is the large number of charities competing for a fixed number of potential donors. This competition leads to increasing inventiveness (and, occasionally, aggression) in charities' attempts to attract donors. For a successful fundraising campaign, you must use a variety of tactics.
A gift is great, a commitment is better
If you can persuade a contributor to donate $20 to your cause, you have done a very good job. However, if you can persuade the same contributor to pay just $5 a month by direct debit, you will have done a truly excellent job. It isn't a very large amount for a donor to pay per month, but it means a more reliable source of income for your charity. If the contributor finds no reason to stop supporting your charity, you may end up receiving that steady income for years. If you have trouble persuading people to sign up to a direct debit pledge, try calculating how much the payments will cost them per day, to make it seem an even more insignificant amount.
Many charities fall into the trap of seeing contributors as resources to be mined, rather than as human beings. Often, after making a donation to a charity, the next contact a donor will have from the organization is a letter asking for still more money, or for a direct-debit pledge. If you gave a gift to a friend and their first response was to ask for another gift, wouldn't you be offended? Exactly. So begin your relationship with a thank-you letter, letting them know that the donation is appreciated.
Use technology to build relationships
Most rival charities will be using technology, and it is essential for you to have something more sophisticated than a filing cabinet to manage your fundraising campaign. But if you're not smart in your use of technology, you won't stand out from the crowd. Some charities fall into the trap of using software's built-in word-processing and mail-merge functions to deluge their regular contributors with appeal mailings, in the belief that the more you make contact with donors, the better. However, this often backfires, as pestered contributors decide to ignore all future mailings from that charity. So use technology wisely. If your software allows you to sort contributors by demographic group, you will be able to write closely targeted mailings and achieve a better response rate than the scattergun approach. See our page on fundraising software for information about the kind of computer programs available.
Listen to donors
Many charities ignore information from regular donors about how and when they would prefer to be contacted, adopting a one-size-fits-all policy of mailings and phone calls. However, if you have the resources to store this kind of information, taking it into account can reap dividends. Think about it from the donor's point of view. If you were giving an organization $60 a year and you wrote to them explaining that you hated phone calls and asking to be contacted by e-mail, wouldn't you be infuriated if they kept calling?
Regular donors will draw one of two conclusions if you ignore their preferences over being contacted. Either they will assume that you are too disorganized to act on instructions, which makes your organization look inefficient and makes donors wonder where their money is going, or they will think that you don't actually care about their preferences. Either way, you risk losing credibility and possibly even the donor's support.