Source 4: More Effective Fundraising Practical Tips
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Source 4: More Effective Fundraising Practical Tips


Use these tips to boost your fundraising efforts.

  • Put control in the hands of potential donors.

    Let donors choose how they want to be contacted and when. This maximizes gift giving and lowers fundraising costs. Does a donor want to know about your annual fundraising drive only or do they want to receive your monthly newsletter? 

    Also allow donors to choose how much to give. Especially during the recession, giving smaller contributions monthly or biannually may be more practical for some donors. Set up an easy process to make donations automatically from a donor’s bank account or credit card. Keep a monthly donor for one year, and he or she will tend to contribute for many years.

  • Understand the complex reasons why donors give—then develop response strategies. 

    Some donors give for religious or spiritual reasons; others for financial, tax, or estate considerations. Some may give because of social obligations, a higher sense of purpose, family values and traditions, narcissism, conscience-driven altruism, or guilt.

  • Pay closer attention to overlooked donor groups.

    Nonprofits, particularly smaller ones, may focus on the wealthiest people in their community to solicit contributions. In fact, it’s more productive and advantageous to market to middle and upper-middle income individuals making $75,000-$250,000.

    Also, current donors may be giving small amounts, but could give more if asked. Smaller amounts are beneficial, too, though. The higher the gift, the more control donors want to exert on your organization. Donors who give $1,000-$25,000 tend not to restrict how you use that money.

    Consider stepping up your efforts to seek donations from new types of individuals, such as family caregivers, gays, minorities, and younger people.

  • Train fundraisers to solicit donors for other less-common gifts.

    These can include real estate, stock in family-owned businesses, or intellectual property. Unusual items can be used for garage sales or charity auctions.

  • Offer the opportunity for donors to make special gifts.

    Allow donors to commemorate special times such as becoming an empty nester, grandparent, caregiver, or retiree. Donors also may wish to honor a special person in their life.

  • Leverage matching gift programs.

    Many companies sponsor programs to match their employees’ charitable contributions. Some even match gifts made by retirees and spouses. These programs are a great way for companies to support your organization and a chance for you to double or even triple your gift.

    You can search an online database of nearly 16,000 companies to see if your employer sponsors a matching gift program. Then publicize this list in all of your communication channels.

  • Tell your story well.

    How do you prove that you’re effective, accountable, and have clear goals and measurable outcomes? Marketing materials often talk about the nonprofit organization, instead of the impact it has on the community, the values and issues it embraces, or the needs it meets. Emphasizing what your group does and how it makes a difference will always be more effective than emphasizing your need for money. 

  • Make sure you have a strong organizational structure.

    This includes:
    • A strong board and executive committee to establish priorities and approve goals and plans.
    • An outreach/marketing committee or staff person to identify potential donors.
    • A fundraising committee or staff person to implement the plan, approach donors, and coordinate fundraising efforts. Face-to-face meetings with donors are often the most effective.
    • A fundraising plan that encompasses a variety of strategies to attract new donors, maintain existing ones, and nurture current donors to give more.
    • A strategy for acquisition, retention, or upgrading.
    • A two-year fundraising plan that’s integrated into your strategic plan.

  • Don’t get discouraged by “no.” 

    A “no” can mean a person needs more info. If someone says “no,” ask why. Knowing the reasons behind the “no” will prove invaluable.

  • Make sure board members, volunteers, and staff involved in fundraising know your organization well.

    Knowledge and commitment give fundraisers the confidence and composure to pick up the phone, pen, or computer and reach out to potential donors. Train them well. They should be able to speak to:
    • The difference you make in peoples’ lives—not just what you do. Have figures, statistics, and other evidence of your organization’s effectiveness. Be able to show meaningful outcomes and results from the programs and services you offer.
    • Who cares enough about your organization to give you money.
    • Why you specifically need to raise money and budget and operational information.
    • How you’re becoming more efficient and earning income wherever possible. 

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