Fundraising can be a serious rollercoaster of emotions. Triumph, anxiety, nerves, failure and success are all in a day’s work. It’s something that no matter how much you try, you can always improve. That’s why we thought we’d talk to some of the best in the nonprofit sector and ask them a simple question that can help us all in the coming year.
What’s your best fundraising advice for nonprofits in 2016?
I hope fundraisers will make 2016 the year they really get into their donors’ heads and hearts. Start really talking to donors in their donors’ worlds, not their own. To talk about the cause on the donors’ terms — which means meeting your non-experts where they are, not trying to educate them first. Your fundraising really takes off when you stop trying to make fundraising make sense for yourself and your colleagues and instead aim at real-life donors. This means make everything you say simpler and more emotional. This is a difficult step to take, but the sky’s the limit once you make it your rule to meet donors where they are! —Jeff Brooks, Future Fundraising Now
Master, truly master, the tenets of what it means to be donor-centered. Donor centricity goes beyond throwing a few ‘you’s’ in your web copy. It goes to a deep love of humanity and the partners who make your work possible. —Pamela Grow, Pamela Grow Consulting
Focus on building relationships with individual donors. Here’s a rule you can use each and every week: don’t write a grant, plan an event or send out an e-mail appeal until you’ve set up lunch meetings with five donors. —Joe Garecht, The Fundraising Authority
Change the story you’re telling yourself about your fundraising efforts. You’re not bugging people or “begging.” You are giving people an amazing opportunity to invest in something they care deeply about. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and ask them! —Marc A. Pitman, Fundraising Coach
Create a survey that you send to all first-time donors. Ask them why they gave, what their connection to the cause is, what they expect from you and what their communication preference is. For online gifts, you can link to it in your email receipt or follow-up. Just create a free SurveyMonkey account to create the survey. Get to know your new donors! —Steven Shattuck, Bloomerang
Thank the donors you have. Tell them specifically about what their gifts have made possible. Make them feel something and ask them to do more. Grow your relationship with the donors you have before you look for new donors. The grass isn’t greener! Love the one you’re with. —Rory Green, Fundraiser Grrl
Donors have dreams. It’s part of your mission to make donor dreams reality. Board and staff who may be embarrassed about “fundraising” (because they think it’s begging), can get excited about “facilitating” philanthropy and helping donors find meaning and purpose in their lives.
Put in place relationship-building strategies so you get to know what floats people’s boats. Years ago, Penelope Burk’s groundbreaking donor-centered fundraising research revealed the number one thing donors want from you: “Show me that you know me.” Truly donor-centered fundraisers work hard to understand and take their donors’ point of view to heart. In every single encounter and communication. —Claire Axelrad, Clairification
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