3 Goals for Nonprofits in the New Year

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Here’s a resolution for 2020: Make 3 changes to raise more funds for your charitable organization

We’ve been making New Year’s resolutions for thousands of years. Each year, about half of us make resolutions to lose weight, exercise more, be nicer. In 2020, try framing your nonprofit’s goals as resolutions for the new year. Look back at 2019 and resolve to make 3 changes in 2020 that will make your fundraising efforts more successful.

Here are 3 resolutions we recommend:

Resolve to clean up your data, then put it to work

If data isn’t driving your fundraising efforts, you probably aren’t raising as much as you could be. Knowing as much as possible about your donors is essential to developing fund-raising strategies that work. As Suhail Doshi, former CEO of Mixpanel, has said, “Most of the world will make decisions by either guessing or using their gut. They will be either lucky or wrong.”

As you start 2020, evaluate your data and do some needed housekeeping on your mailing list. Have your staff check for complete addresses, correct name spellings or hire a professional direct mail company to handle this task for you. Have mailing addresses run through the National Change of Address (NCOA) System to ensure addresses are up to date. Get rid of duplicate addresses.

It might be time to call in a data expert to evaluate whether your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is the best for what your organization needs, data wise. Each year, different reviewers look at the best software for fundraising. Educate yourself about improvements and changes being made so you’ll be sure that you are using the best CRM for the job, collecting all the information you need.

CRM software will enable you to break your large donor list into smaller, more targeted audiences. For example, one of the New Year’s resolutions we hope you’ll make is to put an extra effort into making new donors choose an automated donation option, like monthly or quarterly gifts. In order to do that, you’ll need to break out those donors for targeted marketing pieces. You should also divide your donors into groups according to gift size. Choose a threshold for what you define as major gifts, let’s say, for example, gifts of $5,000 or more. Make your marketing efforts for these large donors more personalized — phone calls, notes from the board chair or executive director, invitations to special events, etc.

Resolve to keep new donors coming back

Most organizations start the new year with a good number of brand-new donors thanks to year-end campaigns. Make these new donors feel that you are jumping up and down with excitement to have their support by recognizing and thanking them. Here are a few ideas to rev up the standard “thank you for your generous gift” letter.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Print nice thank-you notecards that tie in to your cause. Take inspiration from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which each year offers, for sale to the public, holiday cards that use patient artwork or photos of children who have benefited from medical services there. Your organization could create its own personalized thank-you card, then, have board members and key staff send hand-written cards to new donors with messages that thank them for their donation.
  • Invite new supporters to an open house strictly for them. Set aside a couple of hours–maybe 5-7 p.m. on a weekday– and include snacks and guided tours of your facility. Include recipients of the services you provide so donors can meet them and talk about how your organization has helped them. Build the open house around a holiday–maybe Valentine’s Day, when you could send a Valentine-style invite (We love our new donors) or St. Patrick’s (We are so lucky to have you as a donor).
  • Order pizza and pick up the phone. Call in your board and volunteers and spend an evening making quick thank-you calls to new donors. While they are on the phone, ask them a few questions like, “Why did you decide to support our organization?” or “What do you think we could do better?”  Make sure your staff collects and documents donors’ answers–you’ll want to sit down and discuss them.
  • Wish your new donors a happy birthday. Take the custom thank-you note and give it a different twist by making your organization’s own Happy Birthday cards. Send them to new donors.

Resolve to increase your average gift

Imagine how much more good your organization could do if you raised 10 percent more from donors. If your nonprofit now raises $50,000 from supporters, that would be another $5,000. There are two ways to do that:

  1. Increase the size of current donors’ gifts
  2. Increase the number of donors

Even better, do both!

An easy way to increase the size of donor gifts is to bump up suggested giving levels on your donation forms in print and online. For example, if you’ve used $25 as your minimum gift level, bump it up to $30 (that’s a 20 percent increase). Of course, donors can always choose their own level of giving anyway, but the higher gift level subconsciously moves them up a bit.

  • Ask your donors to give more. That’s right. Come right out and ask them to increase their gift by a few dollars, and explain, in very specific terms, what you could do with the extra $5, $10 or $15 they give.
  • Encourage donors to sign up for monthly or quarterly donations break larger gifts into smaller gifts that are easier for many donors to work into their budgets. You can upgrade a $100 annual donor to $120 a year by pointing out that by giving $10 a month–just over 30 cents a day–they can give a little more and make a larger impact on your group’s work.
  • Major donors are often willing to give more, especially if you have a specific need and explain how it will make a positive difference. Let’s say your nonprofit goes to sites of natural disasters to provide food and water for residents who have lost their homes. You need a new van that costs $60,000. Break out your top 100 supporters. Let them know what you need through personal phone calls. You could also write a very specific letter, explaining the need and its benefits and send it to your top donors.

Increase the number of donors who support your nonprofit

Throughout the year, rent lists of donors that support causes similar to yours. For example, if your nonprofit provides books for underserved children, rent lists of people who support causes tied to literacy and those that in some way support underprivileged kids. Send an acquisition mailing to these prospects; typically, some will respond (about 1 percent is typical). Add those who do respond to your database and hope to get them on board to become permanent supporters.

Need more ideas on how to boost giving to your charity in 2020? Give us a call. Our marketing team has a lot of ideas for the new year.

by:

Julie Thomas

Business Development


December 6, 2019

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