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4 Steps To Create A Giving Guide That Will Increase Your Fundraising Success

End-Of-Year Fundraising Campaign
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“Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.” – Hank Rosso

Many times, as fundraisers, the role we’re really playing is that of an educator. 

Don’t worry: You don’t have to explain everything there is to know about how your nonprofit operates. For example, there are internal matters that, if shared, likely won’t do anything to win a donor’s support.

However, there are things your supporters must know. And because they don’t know what they don’t know, it’s up to us to educate them.

So, what do they need to know? One of the most important things they need to know is how they can support your nonprofit. That means they need to know the ways they can give to your organization.

This goes beyond putting a donation button or form on your website. Why? Because people will want to give in ways that go beyond making a donation with their credit card via your website.

One way to educate supporters on how to give is to create a giving guide that you can easily share with them. 

In this article, you’ll find step-by-step instructions on how to do that and what to include in your nonprofit’s giving guide.

We’ve also included Morning Light’s giving guide below that you can reference as you create one for your organization. Morning Light is a grassroots organization out of Indianapolis that offers a free home to “terminally ill patients of low income.” 

If you think that your team doesn’t have the capacity to put something like this together, you should know that Morning Light’s development team only has two people. If they can do it, you can do it too!

Step 1: Identify the ways your supporters can give to your nonprofit.

The first step to take when creating a successful giving guide is to identify how, you guessed it, people can give to your nonprofit. When coming up with this list of giving opportunities, be sure to include those that go beyond the individual directly making a financial gift via a credit card or check.

For example, you might want to include a section on legacy giving or in-kind donations. This is also a great place to mention opportunities like creating a Facebook fundraiser.

Once you have your list of giving opportunities, look at it from the perspective of your supporters and ask yourself if you’re explaining things in a way that they will understand.

One way to educate supporters is by defining terms or giving opportunities they may not have heard of before. For example, your donors who give monthly via credit card may not know what a Mutual Fund Transfer or Bequest Acquisition is or why those things matter to your nonprofit. This is a good place to briefly explain that to them.

Another way to educate supporters is by including information that you think will make a giving option more attractive to them. For example, ask yourself questions like:

  • Are donors aware of the various tax breaks for different types of donations? 
  • Do donors know that giving food or supplies to your nonprofit is tax deductible?
  • Do donors know that they can leave property or real estate to our nonprofit as a gift? 
  • Do donors know that they can allocate money in their will to leave a legacy gift to your nonprofit? 

Step 2: Decide what to include in your giving guide.

If you’re overwhelmed by the many ways people can give to your organization and are unsure of what to include in the guide, that’s OK. Just remember that this is one resource.

You don’t have to share every single piece of information you have—or every giving option. You may just want to choose the top 5-7 options you want to focus on this year.

For example, if you need more in-kind donations but aren’t ready to receive donations via text yet, don’t stress about the latter. If it’s not a high priority for your organization, you can leave it out.

Looking for ideas on what to include in your giving guide? Here are a few: 

You can also include giving options that aren’t tied to financial donations like in-kind donations or services, board or committee participation, and other volunteer opportunities.

Step 3: Draft your giving guide.

Once you know what you’re including in your giving guide, it’s time to create it.

Your guide should reflect your nonprofit’s brand and tone, and it can take any format you want. That said, here are a few things we recommend including:

  • Cover page: This tells people who aren’t familiar with your resource what it is. It also makes the giving guide look more professional and legitimate.
  • Table of contents: Give readers a way to easily skim your giving guide. Some donors may only be interested in contributing in one way. Including a table of contents lets them easily find information about that one specific avenue of giving. 
  • Giving options: Create a one-page description for each giving option. Yes, there’s so much more that you can include. Just remember that this giving guide is meant to quickly educate readers on how they can give to your nonprofit. They don’t need all of the information in this one resource. They just need to know what their options are and how they can give.
  • Website and contact information: Assume that this is the only information someone has about your nonprofit. What will they need to know in order to reach out and give via one of the options in your guide? Include links to your website and relevant pages, as well as contact information for the team member they can reach out to if they have questions.

For every giving option, you should include what the giving option is, why they should take advantage of that specific one, and how they can do so.

When thinking about the “why,” think about the short stories you can tell about how previous donations were used to carry out your mission. This is also a great place to include a few testimonials or photos that help tell your nonprofit’s story.

Step 4: Create and distribute your giving guide.

Once you know what to include in your giving guide, it’s time to turn it into something you can send to your supporters. For people who would prefer a digital copy, you can turn it into a PDF that you can put on your website, link to on social media, and share via email.

If you can, print a hard copy—physical copies—of your giving guide to distribute to your team and board members and supporters who will want that version of the guide. It’ll be much easier for them to make an ask if they have all of the information compiled in one place.

The bottom line

The more information you share with donors, the easier it is for them to make a donation to your organization. Compile the giving options you most want to promote into one resource and you’ll have an effective fundraising tool at your fingertips!

Click here to see Morning Light’s Giving Guide

Find other free resources here.

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