Most often fundraising efforts of organizations go futile because of improper planning and lack of effective fundraising strategies. No matter how effectual an organization is in implementing field projects, they generally have to struggle when it comes to raising funds.
Fundraising forms the most important activity of any NGO to sustain and continue their efforts for social wellbeing and development. Many experts consider it to be the backbone of the nonprofit sector, which is very true, as continuous flow of funds ensures NGOs to perform effectively. Raising money is indeed a challenge, but with some help and practice you can boost up your fundraising efforts.
This guide offers you some tips that have worked for some organizations and will surely help you to maximize your funding efforts. To help you in various methods of fundraising we have divided the guide into two sections; the first section deals with tips to help with conventional fundraising methods while section two deals with tips to enhance online fundraising.
Section 1: Tips for enhancing conventional methods of fundraising
- Plan well in advance: Planning is the key and that’s why do not wait till your project comes to an end. Start planning at least a year in advance, so that you have enough time to submit application to various donors. As different donors have a funding cycle, you will not want to miss any opportunity and therefore keep enough time. You can engage team members in the fundraising exercise and allocate responsibilities for taking up different roles for example; some one can conduct donor research, while the other can develop proposals. Planning ensures that you don’t miss any deadline and all correspondence with the donor is done on a timely and proficient manner.
- Diversify your donors: Well if you are still stuck with traditional donors, it high time you diversify your donors. There are several new donor mechanisms in place viz. virtual funding platforms, crowd funding, CSR, individuals etc. Keep an eye on such funding windows as there is a huge potential to get funds from them. This will surely help you in engaging with multiple donors thereby enhancing your chances of funding.
- Share your success and impact stories with donors: Donors like to know how you have utilized their money, therefore share with them impact stories. Sharing information motivates them to support your cause in the long run. You can let the donors know that their money is being used to improve lives and with their continued support can bring about a positive change in the society.
- Pay special attention while writing your proposal: This is one of the most important steps towards ensuring donor engagement and receiving money from donors. The proposal should provide information on what you intend to do, what are the objectives, key activities, how will it help the cause, how much money you need etc.. As there are several organizations applying for funding, you need to develop a strong case to avail the fund. Writing a proposal forms the most important part of the fundraising plan, as it is the proposal that will decide if you will get funded or not. Some points to be kept in mind while drafting your proposal:
- Use simple and effective language to explain your proposal. Avoid using jargons and don’t be too verbose.
- Do not make the proposal too academic by using too much facts and figures. Use facts at only relevant places eg. Describing the issue/problem and how you intend to solve it.
- Have a human pitch to your proposal, which simply means the proposal should show that your care about the issue. However do not make it overly emotional.
- Follow the guidelines, format and instructions properly.
- Clearly mention about the sustainability aspect of the project and your exit strategy from the project site.
- Make a detailed budget reflecting how you will be utilizing the funds.
- Ensure that your share relevant documents with the donor agency.
- Avoid making spelling and grammatical mistakes, so share the proposal with your colleagues and get it checked thoroughly before submitting.
- Face to face meetings always result in better results: These days people emphasize on new methods of fundraising like use of internet, telephone and crowd funding but no matter how much technology progresses, face to face meetings are the best way to raise funds. These interactions are the best way to communicate with donors about causes you care about and also help you to understand donors view point and their interest. Once you get the chance to speak with a donor representative make the most of this opportunity. Some of the points to remember when meeting donors are:
- Ensure that communication is done by a person who knows about the donor agency and has good communication skills. This is your first interaction and therefore you will surely not want to ruin it.
- Introduce your organization and the work you have done in the past. However, do not waste time in narrating long stories, be precise and to the point.
- Avoid asking questions for which answers are available on their webpage and guidelines.
- Listen to them patiently as suggestions by them can help you in improving your proposal.
- Once the call/meeting comes to an end thank them for giving time, this can be done by sending them an email, immediately after your meeting or call. If they have asked for some information, provide it immediately without wasting time.
- Keep your financial statements and audit reports handy and available: One of the best ways to enhance donor support is through clearly stating your financial details and making it available to the donor. This will make your more accountable and credible Questions are increasingly being raised about how to make NGOs more accountable for the funds they receive and how to enhance their effectiveness and performance. This enhances your credibility in front of the donor and will make you look more professional and credible to the donor thereby increasing your chances of getting funded.
- Maintain a congenial relation with your existing donors: You need to maintain a good rapport with your existing donors as well. Submit all the reports, financial documents and updates with them in a timely manner. It is important that you involve them in your organization and acknowledge them for their support. Developing long term relation with the donors will certainly increase the likelihood of repeat funding.
Section 2: Tips for enhancing online fundraising efforts
With the growing use of internet globally, you should also strengthen your online fundraising efforts. Here are a few quick tips that can enhance online donations for your work.
- Go mobile: As more and more people use smart phones, the use of laptops and desktops will reduce considerably for internet search. In such a scenario it is advisable that you make your website mobile friendly. This way you can reach that group of donors who are active on their mobile phones all day long. Besides Google search is also configured to prefer mobile friendly pages and apps.
- Make sure to have a donate button visible all across the website: When you start online fundraising it is important that you add a donate button and place it appropriately on the page. You should make it visible to the people who visit your webpage so that they can easily locate it and donate an amount towards your cause. Make sure that button stands out this can be done by either making it bright, colorful or bold. Some organizations also integrate the donate button on all pages of the website, this is done so that the visitor can hit the donate button anytime while navigating through your website. Develop a page that has a strong story/ case which would compel the donors to support your cause.
- Share your impact stories on your webpage and monthly newsletter: You can attract more donors by regularly updating your website. Many organizations also send monthly updates to all their donors stating the new events and activities undertaken for a particular cause. This helps you to stay connected with your donors.
- 4. Provide donors options: While making your donation page, make sure to provide donors with multiple options to support your cause. These options can be in the form of ways to support your cause like: in kind donation, volunteer support etc.. or you can provide giving amount options example : 5$, 10$, 50$ etc.. This would ensure that interested donors not only provide money but also get associated with your organization for a long period. Research also reveals that giving amount options leads to improved donation.
- Use compelling imagery: Visual images always create a long lasting impact on humans and therefore use images that compel the donors to support your cause. It is very important to select images wisely because you want the donor to get a clear message from the image without having to read the details. Use relevant imagery that clearly indicates to the donors what you are raising funds for. Remember not to clutter the page with too many images, use only few images that convey a strong message.
- Use statistics to show results: many organizations have improved their fundraising performance through the use of data. You can use charts, graphs and figures on your donation page to represent important information for donors. You can show the current status through a status bar representing how far you have reached towards achieving your goal. You can also use data to show how money from donors has impacted lives.
- Make sure to secure online transactions: Financial transactions have become commonplace on the internet, but people still like to know that you’re taking the appropriate precautions to ensure their information is secure. Financial safety and security is one of the major turnoff for a potential investor/donor. Ensure that the payment gateway used is authentic and has additional security protocols such as secure pages and 128 bit encryption. This can be a confidence booster for many investors.
- Make the process of payment easy: Do not complicate the process of donation. Make the forms easy to understand and ask for information that is relevant. Complicated payment mechanisms and lengthy forms deter donors. Try to make payment process simple and then take the donor to pages where additional details are required.
Acknowledge your donors: Another great tip for both conventional and online fund raising is acknowledging your donors. Send thank you messages, share the names of your supporters in blogs, web pages and newsletters, this motivates donors to continue their support. Some leading organizations also send gifts to the donors as a thank you gesture.
Incorporating the above mentioned tips in your fundraising effort will surely boost up your performance and will help you engage with many donors. Just remember that these tips can help you in improving your performance and if you don’t get immediate results do not lose hope but instead keep trying and integrate t