Engaging Donors In New Ways…

Are you a nonprofit organization that sends out a year-end appeal along with maybe a spring appeal and then holds a gala event every year? If so, that’s great… but what else are you doing?

Having worked with a wide variety of nonprofits over the years and getting the opportunity to see a pretty diverse approach to fundraising, I always get excited when I see something new being tried by an organization. Even when it is not over the top, if they look to change-up doing the same old, same old, then they are going to have a much better chance at engaging their donor base and staying in front of them. Especially now days when perhaps your biggest competition for donors is the organization right down the street from you, and guess what… they are pretty good, deserving people as well

For any nonprofit, it is essential that you are “touching” your donors at least 5 to 6 times per year, and if done right in a respectful way, you might look to do even more. Keep in mind that not all of them to be a “hard ask” – in fact it is important to reach out to donors 2 to 3 times per year without really asking for a donation. These could be in the form of a donor appreciation event, a tour of your facility, and a random thank you card. A great example of these are ones that some of our clients have done:

  • MetroSquash is creating a thank you card that has some images of their program along with an infographic of some of the results they have achieved – but the critical part of this will be when their college students write out a personal note for all their top end donors thanking them for helping them over the years.
  • Little City Foundation sends out personal invitations for their Game Changers Tour – a personal guided tour of their campus including interaction with clients.
  • Family Health Partnership Clinic created a donor survey to see how their donors felt about the relationship. This not only tells an organization how they are doing, but also  tells the donor that the organization actually cares about them!

When it does come to the point of asking for support, it is also good to try new ways. Not only can you do the usual spring and year-end appeal, but consider doing a special campaign. This is obvious when you are looking to do a capital campaign, but even beyond that you can create a unique ask that will help you achieve a certain goal – maybe buying new computers, updating a classroom for clients, buying a new transport bus, etc. Or it could be a new awareness campaign for a program you are promoting or in general for your organization. A great example of this was the Ice Bucket Challenge that the ALS Association created and having gone viral, collected over $115 million dollars!

Recently another one of our clients initiated what they are calling their “All In Chicago” campaign to raise awareness for the Free and Charitable Clinics Awareness Month, launched by the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics. How I was first engaged in this campaign was something that I had never seen a nonprofit do in the past! While many organizations utilize social media to spread the word, in the case of Community Health it was in fact a LinkedIn blog post similar to what I also do. Through a series of 2 posts so far, they have had a donor of theirs write a post and explain why she chooses to support them and then encourages her followers to do the same. A great example of “peer-to-peer” fundraising that was done professionally and aimed at the business community. Here are links to  2 posts that they have done so far…  goo.gl/ANxAWh  and goo.gl/xMQ8os –  and if in fact you would like to actually make a donation to this cause, simply click here… http://www.allin-chicago.org/

As we are approaching the year-end appeal season, stay tuned for additional ideas I will present for our clients. And if you are not a client of ours – then contact me and I will be happy to send out a Year-end Appeal Strategies paper to you – mailto:ricks@clgraphics.com

What new ideas are you trying this year?




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