fundraising ideas

Best Fundraising Ideas

Best Fundraising Ideas / by Mike Crum 

I’ve covered how Nonprofits make money  and that fundraising is usually the number one way that Nonprofits make money. But, what are the best ways to fundraise?

In this post I'll cover the best fundraising ideas and methods that Nonprofits use to make money.

First, a quick statistic: 90 to 95% of a Nonprofit’s budget usually comes from 5 to 10% of its donors. This figure is different for new and emerging Nonprofits, but it holds true for more established Nonprofits.

So, if you’re a volunteer-led Nonprofit like a PTA you might rely on a lot of small donations and a few events like yard sales or a school carnival for most of your budget. And if you’ve got a full time fundraiser on your staff and have been around for a few years, chances are 90% of your budget will come from 10% of your donors.

Many small and new Nonprofits use events to raise money. This helps build the Nonprofit’s donor base, and then allows the Nonprofit to continue communicating with donors and soliciting them outside of events as part of an annual or year end fundraising campaign.

Mature and more established Nonprofits also use events to raise money and bring new donors into the Nonprofit. You’re 6 times more likely to receive a gift from a past donor than a prospect, but Nonprofits must find new ways to attract and secure new donors. Events are a great way to do this. One of the best fundraising ideas is to always be building your list of prospective new donors

Another method used to identify and possibly secure new donors is by asking existing donors one simple question:  Who else should we be talking to? You’ll be amazed how helpful donors will be in suggesting prospects to you and possibly even making introductions to them on behalf of your Nonprofit.

But when you move past bake sales, car washes, and school carnivals you’ll find the best fundraising idea is building a major gifts program. While all gifts are significant, your Nonprofit only has so much time and resources for fundraising, so you need to go where the money is, i.e the 10% of donors that give 90% of your fundraising revenue.

We have several blog posts on establishing and building major donor programs 

Building your donor base not only raises money, it sets you up for success to build a monthly donor program, annual giving program, and a major gifts program over time.

In building these donor programs, you’ll launch a communications program to keep donors informed of   outcomes your Nonprofit is producing with their support. You don’t want to treat your donors like ATMs, only contacting them with solicitations.

Your communications should be frequent, relevant, and have continuity. With major donors you’ll dial in the communications even more, by ensuring you focus on issues and programs that are of most interest to major donors and are more personalized.

Another great fundraising idea is to try for as much personal communication as possible with your donors. This is the focus of major gifts programs, but there are also ways to use technology to do this. From never sending out emails without a donor’s first name (“Dear Supporter“ is pretty sad and lame) to launching an automated first time donor program, there are many ways to personalize your Nonprofit’s donor journey.

A final fundraising idea, related to personalizing your Nonprofit’s donor journey is to try and make face-to-face contact with donors as much as possible. Email will generally have a 2% giving response rate, phoning donors will have a 30% giving response rate, and a face-to-face meeting will result in a gift 75% of the time. Also, the amount of the gift will dramatically increase the more personal the communication.

There are seemingly endless ideas related to fundraising. By focusing on a few of the ideas and methods highlighted in this post you will raise more money for your Nonprofit.

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Mike Crum

Subject Matter Expert

Mike is a recognized expert, thought leader, advisor and speaker in the Nonprofit world. Over the past four decades, Mike served as an Executive Director, COO, see more

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