Leaders can use their Revenue ABC’s to identify the best method of raising money utilizing the least amount of their own and the organization’s limited resources. The end of the alphabet contains some of my favorite strategies and opportunities.
Stocks– Donating stock to a nonprofit organization is a win-win for the donor and the nonprofit. The donor can deduct the current or fair market value of the stock from their taxes without having to declare the gain in value over their purchase price as income. The only cost to the nonprofit is the commission to sell the stock.
Thank you– The successful fundraiser’s favorite word is thank you. Surprisingly, it is the donor’s favorite too. There are many ways to say thank you beyond the simple form letter. Most donors give to more than one organization. A personal thank you note from a board member or client separates the organization from the rest. Linking the donor’s passion with the gift’s impact places the organization in the best light for the next gift.
United Way– In the initial Revenue ABC’s post, we discussed the importance of the nonprofit creating connections with employees before asking their employer for a gift. Employees of large corporations are often encouraged to give through payroll deductions. Employees’ whose employer is connected with the United Way can designate their deduction to the nonprofit of their choice, including organizations not chosen by the United Way. Additionally, many employers will match an employee’s gift creating twice the impact, but only if the nonprofit fills out the form.
Volunteers-Volunteers are a nonprofit’s biggest asset. They are board members, ambassadors, and an extra pair of hands at critical times. Volunteers are stretched thin; their time, rather than their money, is often their most valuable asset. One of the best ways to ensure a volunteer continues participating is to say thank you. This is particularly true of board members. Some volunteers see their participation as their donation. Educating them on the larger impact their time would have if the organization was well funded, teaches them the importance of their financial gift.
Website– In this age of social media, many leaders are celebrating “retweets” and “likes.” Although expanding social media participation is important, the goal is to channel more people to the organization’s website to make a donation. Imagine how turned off a potential donor will be when he is channeled to a website that highlights an event that happened three months ago. In this age of limited resources, don’t ignore this critical tool.
X Marks the Spot– Once leaders are ready to make the “ask” they depend on staff to research the right amount to ask for. Nothing turns a leader off of fundraising more than an ask that goes badly. Asking for too little leaves money on the table; asking too much insults the donor and places both parties in an uncomfortable position.
Year– The annual appeal is extremely important because it is often the donor’s first gift. Historically the most critical time to do an annual appeal is in November and December marking the Christmas holiday and the end of the year. Many organizations include a second ask at the end of their fiscal year. Creating an appeal on a holiday that is connected to the organization’s mission is also powerful and will not be lost in the many other appeals donors receive.
Zealously Sell Services– A social enterprise is not the only method of selling the organization’s services or developing an earned income revenue stream. There are many opportunities including contracts with governments or other nonprofits. Often foundations will also enter into contracts with nonprofits to provide services directly to their grantees. Like any other business looking to sell services, nonprofits should explore the market, identify their niche, and create a business plan.
The complexities of the Revenue ABC’s illustrate the importance of a fundraising plan. The Board Development Committee and staff identify opportunities and create a plan. Engaging leaders during plan design creates buy in. We will discuss how to engage leaders during plan development as well as in the fundraising activities themselves in future posts.