The problem sometimes is that charities do not ask for donations, either assuming that funds will start (and keep) rolling in once they set up a fundraising platform on their website, or out of fear of annoying people. The truth, however, is that to effectively acquire donors, charities need to be active and regularly share their vision, their mission and the stories about the work they do. They also need to regularly give people opportunities to contribute. Sharing stories does wonders for establishing connections and building relationships, and asking provides a venue for others to become part of what you do and to support what they already believe is a worthy cause (whether by giving their time or offering a part of their income).
So, what makes asking for funds a bit less daunting? What can simplify the process of raising funds? In today’s article we are discussing a few important principles with which charities can approach fundraising.
Get Clear on Your Goals and Numbers
It is essential to have a clear understanding of what your organisation needs and for what period of time. What are your goals this year, this term or this month? Whether you are organising a youth camp, starting a feeding program or trying to support older people in your area, there will be various expenses. Here are a few questions to answer and try to be as detailed as possible:
- Do you need funds for a recurring program or a one-time event? How frequently does this happen?
- How many volunteers or paid staff are involved?
- How much money is needed for the venue (if you are hiring) or utilities (if you are covering for electricity, water or gas)?
- Are you providing any materials or material goods? Do you need to source art supplies, sport equipment, clothes or food?
- Are there any other expenses to consider?
- Finally, Can you allocate some money to a small fund you can tap into in case of emergency?
Based on this information, draw up a budget of how much money you need to raise a year, then break it down into weekly, fortnightly or monthly goals that might be easier to tackle.
Diversify Your Sources
One way to encourage consistent giving is to identify the best possible types of fundraising for your organisation and diversify the sources your funds come from.
- If you have been receiving donations from individuals, try approaching small businesses and larger companies, or applying for grants from foundations. You will need a well-crafted proposal with clearly outlined objectives - but you have just started working on it while reading the previous point, right?
- Think locally, regionally and internationally. If your organisation is located in a small town, it might feel like you have exhausted your opportunities for fundraising after holding just a few events. Approaching donors from different areas can help with that! It could be people who had lived in your town previously and are now residing elsewhere, or people in other regions or countries passionate about your cause.
- Raise awareness of your cause and your organisation on different platforms - this can help with reaching out to people from different age groups that did not know much about you before.
- Another way to go is to experiment with organising different types of events: competitions, auctions, concerts or dinners. Again, each one of these will attract a different audience.
Trying various strategies will not only help you keep things interesting, but also find out which ones work best for your charitable organisation in particular.
Take Care of the Tech Side
How do you collect donations? It is done through your website, through social media platforms, or do you meet with them face-to-face? In any case, it is crucial to provide your donors with a secure way to donate. In the process, they are often required to share sensitive information such as their credit card details or address, and it is your responsibility to ensure those are protected. To achieve this, you need:
- A reliable fundraising platform
- A trusted payment processing solution
- A receipt generating system
- An email service provider to communicate with your donors regularly.
If this sounds like having to juggle multiple tools, there are systems that combine all of the above features and help you save time and effort. infoodle is one such system: it helps you keep all your information in one place, access it anywhere anytime, and streamline your tasks and processes.
With infoodle, the process becomes very simple. infoodle can be used to create payment forms where the donors enter their details. These can be used for both one-off donations and for recurring payments such as subscription fees. infoodle forms integrate with a number of leading payment gateways (such as Stripe, eWay and Braintree) which makes receiving secure payments online hassle free and gives you the ability to issue receipts either immediately or for any periods you require. infoodle also offers a full integration with Xero accounting software. Finally, infoodle allows you to run detailed and comprehensive reports which can help you identify lapsed donors and look for ways to re-engage them. This is where you can really make your data work for you and access some easy wins!
Create a Good Donor Experience
What makes a donor’s journey with your organisation memorable? For most people, it is important to feel appreciated. It starts with sending them a message thanking them for their donations, pledges or other contributions and continues with keeping them in the loop regarding the goals their money helped you achieve, the transformations that happened and impact that was made. Regular communication is essential for maintaining good relationships. It could also be a great idea to invite your donors to an annual event where their effort is acknowledged, or mail them a little gift or a card with a handwritten thank you note.
All in all, fundraising can be exciting and inspiring - as ultimately it is not about asking for money but about the passion to help others, the impact you want to make and the transformation you want to see in your community. This month, we will continue learning more about fundraising and looking at various ways of doing it. Stay tuned for next week’s conversation with our friends at Strategic Grants on planning and submitting grant applications!