We at MatchMaker FundRaising Software enjoy providing strong and relevant content to enhance your capacity for fundraising. Occasionaly we like to add a new perspective and voice to the conversation. Please enjoy this guest post by Abby Jarvis of Qgiv. She will be discussing the ten components to making a multichannel fundraising ask.
As a nonprofit professional, you know that your organization can’t sustain itself on goodwill alone. You need the help of your supporters.
More specifically, you need donations to help fund your projects and campaigns and to fulfill your mission.
In the past, organizations could ask for donations during in-person meetings, with letters, or over the phone.
But in the 21st century, you have even more options.
Even though these new communication channels present fundraisers with an abundance of fresh ways to ask for donations, the core strategies for soliciting contributions remain the same.
If you’re looking for help making a multichannel fundraising appeal, you’ve come to the right place!
We’re going to go over the following ten components that will help you craft a great donation appeal:
- Set a Goal
- Look to Your Past
- Get Feedback from Donors
- Polish Up Your Donation Page
- Don’t Neglect Direct Mail
- Look to New Technologies
- Craft Amazing Emails
- Don’t Stick to Monetary Donations
- Say Thank You
- Check In & Track
Let’s talk about the 10 steps you need to take to make a great multichannel fundraising ask.
1. Set a Goal
If you want to start making the most of multichannel fundraising, you’ll need to begin by setting a goal.
Goals are crucial for any fundraising effort, but they are particularly important when it comes to making multichannel asks.
Well, multichannel fundraising has a lot of moving parts. Setting goals and measuring your success against those goals will help you determine which of your methods are working and which ones aren’t.
For instance, if you set a goal for your direct mail campaign, your email newsletters, and your in-person meetings, you should measure each one and compare results.
→ How did the outcomes stack up against your goals?
→ Where can you improve?
→ What should your goals be going forward?
Make sure that your goals are realistic and attainable. You should also have an overarching target that helps you determine how much money you should raise in the next fiscal or calendar year.
Here’s the point: Set goals and measure your fundraising efforts against them.
2. Look to Your Past
Before asking for donations, it’s always a good idea to assess your previous fundraising efforts to see what worked and what didn’t.
- If you know that your donors love receiving direct mail updates from you, it might not be the best idea to move all of your communications online.
- Similarly, if you have a large demographic of donors who give digitally, it might be worth reaching out to them and asking for donations on social media and via email.
Additionally, you can check your donor management software to see which communication methods you’ve used for particular donors before.
This can be helpful when deciding how to upgrade donors to a different giving level. You wouldn’t want to send an informal email to a donor who might have the potential to give a significant sum.
With the various trackers in your donor management software, you should be able to determine which of your donors will respond best to your various outreach methods.
There are a ton of fundraising tips, ideas, and resources out there, but your own experience with your donors and prospects can sometimes be the best way to gauge your future fundraising efforts.
Here’s the point: Look back into your fundraising past to better predict your fundraising future. Think of it as a crystal ball — for fundraising!
3. Get Feedback From Donors
According to Giving USA’s annual report on philanthropy, 79-83% of all charitable gifts in the United States come from individuals.
Your individual donors are a massive force for good, but are you effectively communicating with them?
To maximize the chances that your donors will favorably respond to your donation appeals, you should find out how they like to be contacted.
A fairly solid indicator of preferred communication method is giving method.
- Online givers likely prefer digital communications.
- Donors who mail in checks probably enjoy direct mail.
This is not always the case, however.
To account for errors in prediction, you can also simply ask donors how they’d like to be communicated with.
Here’s the point: Getting feedback from your donors can be instrumental in tailoring donation appeals.
4. Polish Up Your Donation Page
You’ve done all the prep work; now it’s time to start bringing in those donations!
We’re going to cover online donation pages first.
Your online donation page is a representation of your nonprofit’s brand. As such, it should look just as amazing as your website.
There are numerous best practices for nonprofits wanting to give their donation pages a makeover, but for simplicity’s sake, we’re only going to cover a few here:
➔ Don’t Ask For Too Much
No, this doesn’t have anything to do with the amount that you ask for. It has everything to do with the information that you request.
Donors don’t want to give out their name, address, email, phone number, blood type, and their mother’s maiden name just to donate to your organization. And, while this example is vastly exaggerated, you’d be surprised how many donation forms require donors to fill out every single field.
Similarly, avoidforcing donors to create an account. If a donor is presented with a screen that blocks them from getting straight to the donation form and instead asks them to create an account, they are far less likely to complete the donation process.
➔ Make Your Page Aesthetically Appealing
No one wants to go from a beautiful website to a plain-looking donation page. Make sure that your donation form looks nice and has the same colors, fonts, logo, and general feel that your website and blog do.
Adding a single, emotional image of the cause or people you serve on your donation form can help pull donors in and remind them of why they’re donating.
You can also include minimal text that explains what the donations will go toward.
However, adding tons of information or images will only distract the donor and decrease your donation page conversion rates. Keep your additions simple.
Additionally, you should get rid of sidebar navigation and other menus that might interfere with the donation process.
Your supporters are on your donation page for a reason! Let them complete the donation process and watch your donation page conversion rates increase.
➔ Offer Different Donation Levels
This last point is particularly helpful if you want to:
- Let donors know what their donations will fund.
- Increase your average donation size.
Let’s look at an example:
This nonprofit offers donors the opportunity to give preset amounts (but still includes an “Other” category!) and gives them examples of what their donations will fund.
So that addresses the first point mentioned above, but what about the second (increasing donation sizes)?
Well, it’s been shown that when donors arrive on a page with preselected donation amounts, they are more likely to make a larger donation.
Let’s use an example.
A donor arrives on your donation page with the intention of giving $120. While she’s presented with an “Other” category where she could put her own amount, she also sees amounts of $20, $50, $100, $125, $150, and so on.
Instead of giving her intended $120, she might just press the $125 button and call it a day.
Well, donors don’t want to appear less generous, and you’ve also made the giving process easy for them. All they have to do is select their preferred amount.
These are just a few of the ways that you can make your donation page stand out from the crowd.
Here’s the point: Make your donation page as great as it can be. Many of your donors will move to online donations in the future; be ready for them now!
5. Don’t Neglect Direct Mail
According to an article published on this very blog, “61% of all people who said they donated to charity in the past year reported making at least one of those gifts through direct mail.”
Despite the surge in online giving and the use of new technologies in the fundraising world, direct mail is still a viable option for nonprofits who want to raise money via a more traditional route.
Let’s look at some general tips for direct mail:
➔ Get Personal
Letters are meant to have an individualized touch. This means that your letter should absolutely never begin with, “Dear Donor” or “Dear Supporter.”
Your donors want to know that they have a personal relationship with your organization and that you see them as individuals, not wallets.
Starting with a sincere greeting that uses the donor’s preferred name will help your donation appeal start off on the right foot.
➔ Be Sincere
The language in your letter should be sincere and remind donors of why they should give to your organization.
Instead of talking about what your organization is doing, make your letter donor-centric. Let donors know what they can do to help the people, animals, or communities you serve.
➔ Keep it Short
Letters should be no longer than a page. If you need to explain more, include the general points on your website or sit down with donors in one-on-one meetings to explain the particulars of certain projects.
A brief letter to donors will help them get the gist of what your fundraising appeal is all about. Any longer than a page, and it will likely end up getting thrown away. Donors typically don’t want to sit down and get lost in a three-page appeal.
➔ Sign It
This final point about direct mail hearkens back to the first: have someone in your organization–a board member, senior staff member, or fundraiser–sign the letters you send out to add a personal touch.
People give to people, not organizations. Signing your appeal letter reminds donors that your organization is made up of individuals that care about serving your mission.
Here’s the point: Direct mail appeals are still a good way to get in touch with donors who prefer traditional communication methods.
6. Look to New Technologies
This point might seem kind of ambiguous, but it’s that way for a reason.
We don’t know what the next big fundraising technology will be, but right now, the spotlight is on mobile giving.
That percentage is only set to increase. Everyone from pre-teens to baby boomers now carries a smartphone or tablet everywhere they go.
Does your nonprofit’s message show up on their screens?
If not, it might be time to optimize your donation form, email communications, and other digital outreach for mobile devices.
While we can’t predict what the next big nonprofit technology trends will be, it seems that mobile giving is here to stay.
Here’s the point: Multichannel fundraising is all about looking for new communication strategies. Be on the lookout for new technologies that could help your nonprofit reach more donors.
7. Craft Amazing Emails
Email is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to reach donors and prospects. But you won’t have much luck if your emails are ending up in a trash or junk folder.
Instead, follow these tips for crafting emails that will eventually lead to more donations:
- Write great subject lines: The subject line is the first thing your recipients see. Make sure that it catches their eye and encourages them to open (and read!) your appeal.
- Use graphics and images: Donors want to see examples of what their contributions are going toward. Use your emails as an opportunity to show them images of the work you’re doing. Images and graphics will also help your emails look more visually appealing.
- Get to the point: Donors shouldn’t have to sift through blocks of text just to discover that you’re asking for their money. State your problem succinctly, tell donors how they can help, and ask them for their support.
- Give donors ways to contribute: Most of your donors will want to give via an online donation form that they can access straight from the email, but you should also include your phone number and address in case they want to donate over the phone or with a check.
You can adjust these tips to fit your nonprofit’s particular situation.
Here’s the point: Your emails are likely going out to a multitude of donors; make sure that they look amazing so that you can bring in more donations.
8. Don’t Stick to Monetary Donations
Most people think of money when it comes to fundraising, but there’s a whole world of contributions that are available to your organization.
The two most common (besides monetary donations) are:
- Volunteer time
- In-kind donations
Let’s touch on each one briefly:
➔ Volunteer time
Your volunteers are crucial to the success of your nonprofit. They give up their time to help you fulfill your mission! Volunteers are also more likely to donate to your nonprofit than other individuals, so they’re doubly important.
You can ask for volunteer time in much the same way you’d ask for monetary donations.
- Send out emails to donors asking if they’d like to volunteer.
- Promote your next volunteer day on social media.
- Mail letters, pamphlets, and cards explaining the benefits of volunteering.
- Offer volunteering opportunities to donors who may be on the fence about supporting you monetarily.
The options are nearly endless!
➔ In-Kind Donations
Often given by companies or businesses, in-kind donations are contributions of equipment, materials, products, or services.
Specific examples of in-kind donations include:
- Food, drinks, or decorations for fundraising events;
- Assistance with accounting or tax issues;
- The sharing or lending of office space;
- Promotional materials or products for fundraising events;
- And more!
Make sure that you look to local companies for in-kind donations first. They are far more likely to donate to your cause than larger, national corporations. You should also try to build relationships with businesses that have values or missions that align with those of your nonprofit.
Pursue donations that come in forms other than dollars and cents. Your nonprofit can benefit from both volunteer time and in-kind donations.
Here’s the point: There are other sources of support that are available to your nonprofit. Make sure that you take advantage of them!
9. Say Thank You
If you hope to receive donations from supporters in the future, it is absolutely crucial to thank them as soon as they make a contribution.
It’s a good idea to thank donors in the same or similar way that they gave to your organization:
Did someone send in a check?
→ Send them a thank you card or letter.
Did they donate online?
→ Send an email acknowledgement.
However, you should always send more than one acknowledgement. Mix up the ways you thank donors to help determine which communication methods they like the best.
Additionally, your email and regular mail acknowledgements can double as donation receipts for donors who claim charitable deductions on their taxes.
Here’s the point: Acknowledgements are crucial for a successful stewardship strategy. Thank your donors as soon as they give to your organization.
10. Check in & Track
Remember those goals you set during point number one?
It’s time to check in and see how you’ve done!
There are a whole host of nonprofit fundraising metrics that you can track, so we’re only going to cover a few of the most important ones:
- Cost per dollar raised (CPDR): How much money did you raise compared to your expenditures?
- Donor retention rate: Are you keeping the donors you already have?
- Donor acquisition: Are you bringing in new supporters?
- Donation page conversion rate: How many donors that land on your donation page are making it to the end of the donation process?
- Gift growth: Are your donors giving the same amount each time or are their donations steadily increasing?
These are just a few of the metrics you can use to measure your multichannel fundraising asks.
Here’s the point: In order to have fundraising success in the future, you have to track your efforts. Take that information and use it going forward.
Making multichannel fundraising asks takes a lot of planning and coordination between the various departments within your organization. But with these ten tips in your back pocket, you’ll be able to make the most of the opportunities that multichannel fundraising offers!
What about your organization? What methods of fundraising have you found to be successful?
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.