fundraising efforts

Unfortunately, there are no “silver bullets” in fundraising. Above all else, consistency, a positive mindset, and smart strategy are the only true “secret ingredients” to sustainable fundraising efforts and success.

But there are a few strategies you can use to make a major impact in terms of dollars raised with a small investment of your time. If the biggest constraint you continually run up against is a lack of time or staff capacity to make things happen, take a look at these five strategies below.

1. Commit to connecting with 5 past or potential supporters each week.

This can be as simple as sharing an organizational update via email with a quick note of “thought you might like to see this” or a simple check-in to see how the person is. Keep it light, simple, and authentic. It will take barely 5 minutes of your time each day, but it will leave a big impression on the individual you reach out to. Not only will they see the care and effort you put into the relationship, they’ll see how well you understand their passion for your mission (and will help you to continually better understand why the individual IS passionate about your mission).

If you make this a consistent habit, by the end of the year you will have 250+ individualized “touches” you’ve made to people who care about what you do and who are now primed and more likely to give. I guarantee you your end-of-year calls for donations will have a much better response than they did before!

2. Call your donors personally to thank them for their gifts.

Donors who were called within 48 hours of their gift gave 42% more over the next 14 months (Source: Network for Good). Simply put, a call made today can result in another (and often larger!) gift down the road.

But more than anything, it feels good to thank people! Fundraising can be hard work where we have to hear “no” more often than we might like. So take a moment to celebrate your wins in a way that makes the other person feel good, too! Give your donors a call and take the moment to revel in the joyful act of thanking someone for their generosity.

3. Add an automated welcome sequence to your email sign-up and invite individuals to respond in some way.

A welcome sequence is an automated email sent to new subscribers who sign up for your email list. But rather than using the standard “Thanks for signing up!”, make it a little bit more personal. In the email, ask your new subscribers a question that helps you understand their connection to your mission — how they heard about you, what about your mission they are most interested in learning more about, etc. — and invite them to respond back to you directly. Few people will actually respond to this email, but those that do are offering you a direct line to start a conversation and build a relationship without any further effort (or uncomfortable cold outreach) on your part.

4. Understand how your mental narratives affect your fundraising efforts and outcomes.

Are you always beating yourself up when things don’t go quite right? So much of success in fundraising comes down to your mindset. If you are telling yourself that you aren’t cut out for the work or feeling nervous about doing the “wrong” thing, it can negatively affect the way you present your organization to potential supporters and, ultimately, your fundraising outcomes. As you go about your day-to-day tasks, take time to notice the stories you are telling yourself about your work. If these narratives are putting you in a negative light, challenge them! If you need help understanding how to challenge these unhelpful thoughts, I dive in deep on this blog on 6 major mindset myths fundraisers face and how to reframe them to build up your confidence.

5. Build time off into your schedule.

Ok, so this one is longer than just a few minutes. (Although it only takes 5 minutes to submit a PTO request, right?) But everyone has heard the advice before that stepping away from work is important. Full days off are vital, but it’s also important to build in blocks of rest into your day-to-day routine. Even if it is just a 10-minute breather between meetings, giving yourself the time to step away and “turn your brain off” for a bit is a key to staying effective, productive, and (most importantly) happy in the work you do.

So, there you have it. Five ways you can greatly improve your fundraising efforts and results with just a few minutes of effort. Now…go submit that PTO request!

Nonprofit Sustainability

Bonnie Hough, CFRE
Bonnie Hough, CFRE leads Banyan Nonprofit Strategy, a consulting shop specializing in fundraising & communications for small-but-mighty nonprofit teams. From 1-on-1 mentorship to on-demand support, Banyan Nonprofit Strategy helps clients tell their story, grow their audience and reach their financial goals. You can connect with Bonnie at @BanyanNonprofitStrategy on Instagram, where she shares lots of free education (and some nerdy nonprofit humor, too).