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By Guest Blogger Megan Keane, NTEN
Explains the whys and hows of donor cultivation and shares successful examples to improve your nonprofit fundraising.
When we think about fundraising success, we often think of a handful of viral campaigns that led to impressive fundraising numbers. While these are examples we can learn from, true fundraising success isn’t just the amount of dollars raised - it’s about meaningful and continuous donor stewardship.
You can’t necessarily put a dollar amount on the relationships you cultivate, but it’s these very connections that translate into lasting support for your organization. There’s no exact recipe for donor cultivation, but several key ingredients make for a thriving community of supporters and growing donor base.
Your supporters don’t just want to write a check; they want to be actively involved in creating change with you. Offer specific ways for people to take part in your cause. That’s just what the city of Baltimore did when they embarked on their B More, Give More campaign as part of #GivingTuesday, an international day of nonprofit giving.
In partnership with GivingCorps, the city brought together local organizations and involved community in the giving process. They provided lots of opportunities to spread the word through social media and other communication channels. Through encouraging residents to “Together make Baltimore the most generous city in America,” individuals were also motivated by being a part of a larger collective movement. Drawing on civic pride and the passion of people for local causes they cared about, Baltimore raised over $5.7 million dollars in just a single day.
Finding ways to recognize partner organizations and nonprofit colleagues can be an invaluable way to grow your community base. The San Francisco chapter of One Brick, a volunteer-run nonprofit providing local volunteer opportunities, runs monthly happy hour fundraising events. Instead of event proceeds going only to their organization, each month they select an organization they work with as the beneficiary of the event. Not only do these mutually beneficial joint events engender good feeling with partners, but it also results in a cross-pollination of both organizations’ communities. One Brick gains awareness for their organization and brings in new volunteers who are already beginning their involvement with a positive experience.
Never underestimate the power of a “thank you”! At NTEN we do this through our annual Member Appreciation Month. Each year we designate the month of November (already a month associated with gratitude) to express our thanks to all of our members. Throughout the month we provide special free events for nonprofits, procure prizes for daily giveaways, and offer special NTEN swag and other goodies for our local 501 Tech Clubs.
During Member Appreciation Month, we also offer the NTEN Community Impact Year in Review webinar, where we invite several actively involved NTEN members to share their experience with different NTEN programs, and offer an open arena for other community members to share and ask questions. Key supporters receive recognition, and webinar attendees have the opportunity to learn more about the value the community has to offer – and possibly take that next step towards engagement.
Make it fun
But don’t forget to include the fun. Let’s face it, social change is hard work. Finding a creative and engaging way to rally supporters can be just the momentum your community needs to take action. 826DC, a literacy organization, put on a clever fundraising campaign, a ping-pong benefit tournament: Paddlestar Gallatica. Participants had a month to fundraise and competed in the bracket-style tournament at the end of the month.
Along with the clever name, 826DC offered fun pre-tournament events, such as weekly practice sessions where weekly top fundraisers were awarded prizes. And the more money participants raised, the more “cheats” they could obtain at the tournament. By making the campaign social, interactive, and humorous, with a healthy dose of friendly competition, 826DC turned the challenging task of fundraising into an enjoyable way to connect around a cause.
For more great ideas and tips on donor stewardship, check out these helpful resources:
CraigConnects Crowdfunding Infographic
Peer Giving Ideas
The Fundraising Coach (Marc Pitman)
First published in NTEN: Change (http://nten.org/NTENChange), June 2014, CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)
About the Author: Megan Keane is the Membership Director at NTEN, and is a long-time San Francisco bay area resident with an extensive nonprofit background in community management, social media, and volunteer management. She’s a problem solver and network builder passionate about connecting with people both on and offline. Follow her on Twitter @penguinasana.