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Back to the basics: rethinking your fundraising strategy

People making a fundraising sign

Having an effective fundraising strategy is important, but having a flexible one is imperative. Nobody could have predicted the effects of COVID-19, but now nonprofits everywhere are struggling to stay afloat. To help you navigate the negative financial effects of the pandemic, we’ve put together a list of actionable advice that may prove useful. Here are five of our tried-and-true tips for rethinking your fundraising strategy to help you establish sustainable practices despite the current economic climate:

  1. Transition to virtual fundraising strategies.
  2. Accept multiple forms of payment.
  3. Stay up to date with current events.
  4. Seek relevant grant funding.
  5. Personalize your donor outreach.

Ready to get started rethinking your fundraising? Let’s jump in!

1. Transition to virtual fundraising strategies

If you haven’t already, now is definitely the time to establish some virtual fundraising practices for your organization. With in-person fundraising events being canceled worldwide and other nonprofit operations halting due to social distancing, fundraising is quickly becoming an exclusively digital phenomenon.

In addition to crafting a basic online donation page, consider these revenue-generating ideas as well when rethinking your fundraising:

  • Text-to-give fundraisers
  • Virtual event(s)
  • Donation request emails
  • Matching gifts drive
  • Social media campaigns

Virtual fundraising is convenient because it can be handled anywhere and anytime you want. Even if you’re just setting up these tools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they will continue to be an asset to your organization for years to come. They’re a good investment!

2. Accept multiple forms of payment

A major advantage of online fundraising is the ease with which your supporters can give, no matter the method of payment.

Donors are no longer limited to writing a check or giving cash to their favorite charities. Thanks to nonprofit payment processing tools, many online fundraising platforms can accept:

  • Debit/credit cards
  • ACH (automated clearing house) payments
  • PayPal
  • And more!

The easier you make it for donors to give, the more likely they will complete the donation process. Just make sure the tools you choose for your online fundraising are PCI (payment card industry) compliant in order to keep all of your donors’ financial data safe and secure.

3. Stay up to date with current events

With how chaotic the world has been recently, it can be hard to keep up. However, it’s important that your nonprofit stays on top of current events and local happenings—and that you’re able to then communicate that effectively to your network of supporters.

For example, the recent #GivingTuesdayNow campaign raised a lot of money to go toward first responders and to provide relief for those impacted by COVID-19. Many nonprofits participated in the holiday.

Whether or not your organization participated in this campaign, there are several other opportunities you can take advantage of in response to the virus or other world issues.

Look for additional events and fundraising drives in your community that are related to current happenings and issues close to home. Getting involved will help keep your organization connected to the community and help the community stay connected with you.

4. Seek relevant grant funding

For many nonprofits struggling to find adequate funding in these trying times, foundations all over the world are offering grants to assist in crisis relief. Other grantmakers have established funds for COVID-19 relief. Your donors might be strapped for cash, but your constituents need you now more than ever.

Grants are a great way to provide bonus funding on top of your usual revenue, and they may help carry you through the difficult times until you can get your fundraising strategies back up and running.

5. Personalize your donor outreach

Hopefully, this is a practice that is already well established within your organization, but if not, now is the time to strengthen your donor relationships. Your donors are real people with their own lives, and they likely work very hard to earn their money. They’ve probably even been impacted by the pandemic themselves, in one way or another.

That means it’s important to show appreciation for your donors every chance you get. Be careful to avoid treating your generous supporters like names in a spreadsheet, or worse, ATM machines.

With the help of donor management software, you can easily sort, retrieve, and analyze data on a single donor to get a better understanding of the individual and their history with your nonprofit.

Then, keep these best practices in mind as you communicate with each donor:

  • Refer to each recipient by name, instead of “valued donor” or the like.
  • Thank donors for their specific gifts (i.e., “your gift of $X on X/X/XX”).
  • It’s okay to use templates. Just don’t forget to customize them for each donor.
  • Consider asking each donor their preferred communication method and then honor it!

When you treat each and every donor like a human being whom you appreciate endlessly, you can start building lifelong donor relationships with your organization’s dedicated supporters.

Closing thoughts

Although it might seem overwhelming, rethinking your fundraising strategy can be a great opportunity to analyze your current nonprofit operations and look for areas in need of improvement. After all, the world around us is constantly changing, so we have to be able to adapt. Good luck!


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