As a nonprofit organization, you were originally founded with a specific mission – to help individuals or communities better themselves in some way. This is often times a tough road to travel – with countless hours of personal effort and in gathering like-minded individuals to assist you in the day-to-day operations. From the first start-up of your operation thru various layers of growth, you have in fact helped your clients to succeed in life, and to this day it is no doubt a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when you witness the work you have done.
Of course you also know, there is another side to your effort – sustainability!
Just like the for profit corporate world, you have the need to raise money to continue your operations. In some cases you can get reimbursed for your services through insurance, federal assistance, and even state funding. If in fact this is the case it can help cover a good portion of your expenses – unless of course you happen to operate in the state of Illinois – then the need to find additional funding is even worse! Even with the potential for this type of support though, almost all start-ups find out fairly soon that if they are going to keep the doors open, it will only be accomplished through fundraising and individual donor support!
In the beginning you no doubt relied on a circle of friends, family, neighbors and community minded individuals to help you get started. Between the founder and the first board of directors, the priorities were pretty clear – in addition to giving guidance, you all needed to make some calls and have some face to face meetings. This was not so much a chore though, as much it was your passion that helped fuel the drive you needed. And congratulations – you have succeeded!
Hang on though… when you fast forward to the present day, you invariably find out that the concept of sustainability and fundraising never really go away. In fact, they can become even more of a challenge, as the concentrated effort tends to drift. Now more than ever, the work you do to engage your donors is critical. From first-time donors right on through your VIP donors, each segment requires hand holding. It is not enough to think that since someone got first turned on to your organization that they will continue you to support you. In fact we are finding more often than not, especially amongst younger millennial donors, that the attention span is one that shifts fairly often. And of course your most loyal donors are getting older – which means at some point they will either move away or pass away. The trends have told us that response rates of your existing donor base are dropping, and not because you necessarily did anything wrong. In fact, perhaps you are just doing the same old same old!
Another very important note to make, is that the competition for your donors is increasing dramatically. Over the past twelve years, the number of nonprofit organizations within the United States has grown by 50%! With this increased competition, also comes another very strong trend in fundraising – the need for accountability! It is not enough just to say you are helping those you serve, your top donors want to know the real impact their dollars have in the community. How is that you are making a difference, and how is their donation making that happen? And not only is competition based on the number of organizations… it is also related to the increasingly creative ways there are to reach the donor. It used to be print, radio and television – now in just the past couple of decades, we have added the websites, e-mail, video, social media, crowd-funding and probably 5 – 10 more ways!
This can be all pretty overwhelming! Fortunately though, we recently hosted a seminar that talks about all of this. Best Practices and Future Trends in Nonprofit Fundraising highlighted a number of insights and strategies to best engage your donors, and a panel of nonprofit leaders also shared their experience as well. Don’t look to fight the battle alone – let us help! For a copy of our latest seminar presentation, visit: http://www.clgraphics.com/solutions/seminar-downloads/nonprofitseminars.html