I am frequently asked if there is a better way to raise money for non-profits than having to constantly ask for repeated contributions.
Well … I believe there are many ways to do so. Some are very non-traditional. Of course, if you are trying to raise millions or hundreds of thousands, you have a very limited number of things you can do because few sources have that much.
But if you are ok with raising smaller amounts, you can get loans, donations, grants, and do various side hustle things or a large number of other simple money-generating things.
The best way to pull your non-profit out of the rut of having to make a million small asks, run a million small events, and send out monthly fundraising letters is to develop a strong annual giving program.
Annual giving programs focus on small and medium sized donors, with the goal of building a core group of recurring donors — donors who give year after year. Each year, some donors fall off the radar, and others come on board, but the end result is that your non-profit has a base amount of revenue that can be banked on each year. Ideally, with work from your development office, this base amount will grow year in and year out.
As you cultivate individual givers for your annual giving program, you will want to try to get a number of them to sign up for multi-year (3 or 5 year) commitments.
Of course, no fundraising method is work-free. Your development office will need to work hard to build this annual giving program through the standard channels: building a prospect universe, introducing donors to your organization, cultivating them, getting them involved, and moving them to a one-year or multi-year gift. The benefit with the annual giving model is that this program is scalable, and you can build upon previous year’s efforts with a stable of recurring donors.
Repeated requests for contributions is the marketing function of a charity. You will always need to ask repeatedly, and your goal should be to do this well. Just like a commercial enterprise must do. Your donors are your stakeholders, and must have a vested interest in the quality of work you are doing. The best way to not have to ‘ask’ for contributions is to be so excellent at what you do, that they ask you to please take their money.
Anyone involved in fundraising nowadays should realize that it is one of the most dynamic, exciting professions that exists. What makes it special is that it has a unique ‘win win’ dynamic built in philanthropically. The charity asks and then proves worthwhile to be supported and when the donor decides to give their money they get as much reward for doing so as does the charity. Many people live lives filled with ‘quiet desperation’. Giving to a cause that is special to them brings happiness, a sense of renewal and pride in their affiliation that rejuvenates them towards feeling that indeed they are have a worthwhile purpose beyond their dull comfortable lives.
Yes, you can avoid all these ‘asks’ by coming up with some sort of commercial enterprise that will support your work…. or you can bring your supporters on their own individual ‘donor journey’ . . . creating commitment to the cause, engaging them as volunteers and directly in the work. You can bring them along from the occasional donor, to the committed regular giver by direct monthly payment, to securing corporate support at the office, to become a major donor when their children leave home, and then planned giving and/or a legacy upon their death. Aim for the long term investment of stakeholders who are passionate about your cause — the money will follow. It’s an exciting experience to watch their lives transformed.
You don’t always have to be focused on “asking for money.” People who are connected to your organization (especially volunteers) and who have an abiding and deep interest in it will be the ones most interested in, and committed to, sustaining it. (But don’t stick your volunteers with the jobs you don’t want to do, like calling to ask for money, or stuffing envelopes, because they won’t want to do them either.) You won’t have to do much asking of people who are already involved.
Make it easy to actually get involved. Ask a friend to ask another friend for their help and advice (genuinely ask – not just as a means of raising money from them) and you’ll build supporters who will be committed to you. Create ripples of engagement and interest in the community by bringing people together to help you figure out how to keep your organization going. You’re interested in it, right? So other people should be, too. They’ll be your front line of supporters.
And think creative. Keep those ripples spreading. Let other people do the asking. Get other people involved.
The answers that advocate recurring donations are exactly right: the recurring donation, even each gift seems relatively smaller, adds up over time, and is significantly more efficient than having to return to the donor again and again to ask for a new gift.
I’d add that for “person to person” style giving , the monthly recurring gift is king, as opposed to the annual.
Monthly giving engages the donor on a loyalty and relational basis, allowing opportunity for regular touches throughout the year instead of risking the collapse of vision over a year. And donors tend to give monthly amounts out of their budget rather than their wealth (or tax-related gifts), which can be significantly more reliable.
One very important step your nonprofit can take to move away from repeated asks is to invest in a sustainer giving program where a donor gives a monthly, or quarterly, recurring gift on a credit or debit card. Once the recurring gift is in place my experience is that donors let the gift continue for a long period of time. I suggest branding the giving circle, and address the members in a different way, such as with a special newsletter or branded email series, to let them know how important they are to the organization.
Also, here again, suggest to donors that they consider a multi-year pledge. This allows the nonprofit to save time and resources by not having to re-solicit the donor each year, and can allow a donor a bigger naming opportunity then they might be able to do over one year, and helps the nonprofit with revenue forecasting.
Ziggedy is a brand new fundraising option for non profits or charities. As a user you simply have to shop on Ziggedy
through partnered businesses and 50% of this referral commission goes to the charity of your choice. If you are already shopping online I think it is a great option to raise money at no cost to you.
There are other creative ways too such as raising money through hosting annual dinner events which include silent auctions and dancing. If possible, solicit from client base the products that are auctioned off – contributions which are also great ways of a company showing support for the non-profit, as well as getting those products in front of friendly audience.
Hope all of this helps.
Please share your thoughts.