In part one of our three-part series on nonprofit marketing we discussed how nonprofit organizations can turn their mission statements into a powerful marketing tool. Today we are going to take a look at some of MarketingModo’s seven rules for fundraising success. For many marketers, fundraising is a mystery that ranks up there with the likes of Stonehenge or UFOs and for many of them it is as unpredictable as the weather. One day you are flooded with donations, the next you are in a ghost town. Good marketers, such as those at MarketingModo, are not taken by surprise by these financial winds of change; they know that they can become a fundraising superpower because they understand and apply the rules of fundraising success. Just as there are rules for everything else, there are rules and best practices that take much of the guesswork out of fundraising. Being successful in fundraising is not just about what you do to get people to give. It is what you do to make your nonprofit organization worthy of receiving that support. You want your donors to do more than just write checks; you want them to feel that they are a part of your organization and your cause and you want them to take ownership of the mission themselves. This won’t happen unless you put yourself in their heads and start thinking from their perspective. The seven rules below will play a crucial part in guiding you as you develop your marketing materials and remember you don’t have to do this yourself, MarketingModo offers services specifically for nonprofits.
Rule No. 1: Know Your Donors The ground rule of good fundraising is the treatment and nurturing of donors and the ability to ask them to support your nonprofit in proportion to their ability to give. The key to this is for you to know your donors as well as you possibly can. We are not saying you should stalk them as that can have the opposite effect and not to mention being super creepy, but get to know them and how they think. The foundation of building this type of relationship is good research and good information. When times get tough, it may be easier for them to donate their time rather than money, but it is still up to you to keep them supporting your nonprofit financially. This is one challenge that you must overcome. It is well known that over 90% of most nonprofit funding comes from individuals. Grants, corporate gifts and endowments can never replace the support that the individual gives. The first step you should take is to create a donor list that contains much more information than the traditional list which collects only name, address and phone number. This new list will include fields like lifestyle, hobbies, achievements, the small details. Remember no detail is too small and if you just so happen to notice what their favorite food is or where they take their vacations add it to the list. We know what you are thinking, this will take a while to collect. That’s absolutely true and in all honesty it should. Good marketing takes time.
Rule No. 2: Educate Your Donors Have you ever heard of the old adage, “What people are not up on, they are down on.”? This is extremely relevant to this rule as marketers who want to improve their fundraising must continuously educate their donors on why it is a good move to give to the organization and that their contributions will be spent wisely. Educating them will calm their fears and will also improve communications between the organization and its donors. While you can’t offer a money-back guarantee with nonprofit donations, you can offer them peace of mind by showing them how committed your organization is. One good way of doing this is with testimonials, case studies or video/photography of what their money is being used on. Plaster these on the website as well as newsletter. Your reputation is all based on credibility, and credibility is 100% free, so leverage it as much as you can.
Rule No. 3: Help Donors Find Their Own Personal Fulfillment When nonprofits find a way to help people find some sort of fulfillment through charity work or donations, they will be more willing to jump on board to help your cause. Donors are far more likely to contribute if they feel involved. Involvement leads to momentum, and that is the catalyst that will propel your marketing efforts. Try to offer solutions to problems that donors don’t even realize that they have.
Rule No. 4: Trust and Honesty Are Key Wait, hold on- honesty? Aren’t we talking about marketing here? To many people honesty and marketing don’t exactly go hand in hand but nothing could be farther from the truth as the most effective marketing is 100% honest all of the time. Remember that a reputation that took years or even decades to build can come crashing down in seconds if you aren’t careful. One you cross that line and go into being dishonest, it is very difficult, if not entirely impossible, to regain the trust of your donors. Be very careful not to set off their disbelief alarms. In today’s world people have become quite attuned to B so with every single time that you create a marketing piece, review it for anything that may trigger disbelief. Always stay on the straight and narrow. You may not be able to save all of the coral reefs in the world right now but by being honest, truthful and realistic in your marketing you will get there.
Rule No. 5: Respect Your Donors You would think this would go without saying and most nonprofits say that they care about their donors. That isn’t good enough, you must prove it. Your marketing can say all the right words and tell donors how important they are to the organization but in the end they probably won’t believe you unless you take concrete steps beyond those words. Many nonprofit organizations heap attention upon their donors, few excel at actually caring about them. Prove you care about your donors by paying attention to the details. When things go wrong, and that is inevitable, always see to it that the donor comes out on top. This is where your customer service hat comes into play. Do all that you can for your clients and the donations will flow in.
Rule No. 6: Focus on Current Supports of Your Cause There is a well know saying stating that is it far cheaper to sell to an existing client than to a new one. That is true and it can also be applied to the nonprofit world where it can cost five times as much to raise a donation from a new donor than an existing one. Would you like to know why this is? The answer is simple – because the price is high to find a new donor while the cost of finding an existing one is free. Clever isn’t it? One way to stay focused on your current donors and supports is by keeping up the communication with them so that when it is time to give you will find it is much easier to ask when you have kept up communication with an individual than if you spoke to them only once in the past year. Another way to stay focused on your current base is to have them focus on themselves. This is as simple as asking them, “Why do you donate to our cause?” Be prepared however to receive an answer that you didn’t expect. This tactic embodies the true spirit of modern marketing because it relies on imagination and energy rather than your bank account.
Rule No. 7: Make Donating Fun Marketing can be fun. You have your big and serious marketing strategy but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little fun while raising money for your organization. There are many ways that your organization can do this. You can have a car wash, unique auction, even a carnival or street fair. All of these have been shown to increase donations. Tailor it to the needs of your organization. Of course you don’t want the cornerstone of your donations to hinge on fun events but it certainly adds a little flavor that your donors will appreciate. Make sure to evaluate their effectiveness then take what works and scale it up.