We love hearing about nonprofits’ successful fundraising strategies in action, and sharing these stories allows nonprofits to learn from each other. Nonprofits face new challenges, big and small, every day, from an international pandemic to a stubborn mid-tier donor. Learning about other organizations that overcame similar challenges will help your organization develop solutions to apply to your own fundraising efforts.
One of the best ways to become a fundraising success story is to leverage the data in your nonprofit donor database to better reach and personalize donor outreach. Then, you can increase your retention rate and create a stronger base of support.
Bloomerang customers have the advantage of leveraging a donor database solution designed by fundraising experts to help nonprofits improve donor retention rates and raise additional funds. In fact, even during the COVID-19 crisis, Bloomerang customers raised millions of dollars more than they did during the same period the previous year!
We want to celebrate these nonprofits along with the other fundraising success stories. Read through these stories to learn more about the strategies the organizations used to overcome challenges and raise more funds.
In their first year after switching to Bloomerang, Girls Inc. of Central Alabama was able to solve various donor outreach issues and saw a 19% increase in revenue as a result.
Miranda and the team at Peace Community Center transformed an in-person event into a virtual experience via a multi-touch email campaign that raised more than $118,000.
Beth A. Gehlhausen and the team at Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County held an event that drove more than 300 donations and were able to upload that information quickly into their database and get back to their mission.
Karen and the team at the Ada Jenkins Center created a special fundraising appeal campaign that resulted in nearly $100,000 donated, despite pandemic-related event cancelations.
Paige and the team at United Way of Midland, Inc. alleviated pain points around reporting and found that their staff “productivity and efficiency have increased drastically” after working with Bloomerang.
Katie and the team at Boys & Girls Club of Boone County pivoted their programs in light of the coronavirus outbreak and generated the funding necessary to make it happen.
Natalie and the team at Virginia Beach CASA reported approximately $10,000 in repeat/increased donations due to stronger retention rates among their supporters.
Amy and Wendy from the Naperville Education Foundation were forced to cancel their fundraising event, but they created a special fundraising campaign in its place, raising more than $100,000.
Gracie from B.E.A.M. (Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry) raised nearly six figures while keeping their constituents updated on what was going on in the community.
About 95% of the income at Community Link comes from individual contributions, and they’ve been able to increase their retention to earn even more after switching to Bloomerang.
Laurel and the team from Maggie’s Place provided loving support for families throughout various crises while raising funds to continue serving at a high quality.
Julia and the team from CommUnity shattered their previous fundraising goals through individual donor support even as they encountered challenging times throughout the pandemic.
Not in human services? No problem. Sara and the team from the Willamette Humane Society generated a 227% increase in donor support compared to the same period from the prior year.
Benefits of proactive outreach for fundraising success stories
During challenging times, nonprofits that take initiative to continue fundraising become the next success stories.
For instance, once the pandemic started, many nonprofits saw major dips in fundraising, but Bloomerang customers who sent email appeals contextualized for the crisis raised more money than those who did not address the pandemic. Proactive customers raised about 30% more in March 2020 than in the same month from the year prior. They saw similar results in April.
Fundraising success stories don’t happen because organizations wish hard for it. Instead, they make their own success by working hard and proactively strategizing for the future. Determine what you need to accomplish for your own organization to become a fundraising success. Then, gather the necessary tools and create the strategy you need to hit that goal.
Tips to become a fundraising success story
Every organization wants to have the next fundraising success story. To help your organization get on the right track, we’ve compiled a list of seven tips that you can leverage to further your organization’s fundraising success.
1. Get the best donor database.
Your organization’s donor database helps you collect information about your supporters and leverage that information for more effective and personalized fundraising outreach. Sending personalized communication and establishing a well-designed fundraising timeline helps your nonprofit retain more donors and increase your return on investment.
Conduct research to make sure you choose the CRM that’s best for your organization. Or, if you’re happy with your current database, conduct research to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Leverage all of your CRM’s features, including customized donor profiles, marketing tools, your dashboard, and available integrations.
2. Focus on donor relationships.
Donor relationships are the key to success. Strong relationships are the reason supporters continuously return to support your nonprofit. By focusing on relationships, your nonprofit can increase your donor retention rate, thereby increasing the lifetime value of your donors and improving overall fundraising.
While the average donor retention rate has generally stayed around 40% to 45% over the last 15 years, raising this rate above the average at your organization can save money and help you raise more funds. Not only is it more expensive to acquire more donors than retain them, but donors also often give more over time.
3. Set timeframes for your strategy.
Too many people set arbitrary goals saying, “Someday, we’d like to raise one million dollars at this fundraiser.” These statements show wishful thinking—why not make someday happen sooner? When you set timeframes to improve your fundraising, you can make plans to hit your goals earlier and become a fundraising success story.
Leverage your multi-year strategic plan to identify the concrete goals you need to hit each month, quarter, and year to reach your eventual goal. Then, break down those goals into actionable items, ask a staff member to own each item, and set deadlines to ensure these actions are completed.
4. Segment your audience.
Nonprofit segmentation allows your organization to separate your audience into groups based on commonalities within those groups. For instance, you may have one segment for your brand new donors and another for your recurring monthly donors. While every nonprofit’s segments look slightly different, we recommend using the following factors to create donor segments:
- Donation recency
- Donation frequency
- Donation type
- Gift amount
- Reason for donating
- Interests relevant to the nonprofit
Segmentation allows your nonprofit to create personalized communications for your supporters without sending one-off messages for every supporter. It provides an efficient way to reach your donors on a personal level to develop relationships.
5. Engage your volunteers.
According to one study, nonprofit volunteers are around 10 times more likely to give than non-volunteers. Plus, about 70% of individuals surveyed said they already give to the nonprofit they volunteer with. By engaging your volunteers, you can maximize the impact they have on your mission, helping take your programming further.
Appeal to your volunteers who have not yet donated to your nonprofit and encourage them to contribute. Also, help your volunteers check their eligibility for volunteer grants. These grants are a part of corporate social responsibility programs where companies make a financial donation to nonprofits where their employees contribute their time. Often, supporters don’t know about their eligibility for these programs, which can increase their impact without any additional work on their part.
6. Ask for help.
If you’re struggling to reach your goals and raise money your nonprofit needs for your programming, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a professional. The right nonprofit fundraising consultant can help your nonprofit establish a development plan to define and start reaching your goals.
Identify what it is you want help with before investing in a consultant. Then, research consultants with expertise in the improvement areas relevant to your goals. For instance, you might invest in a consultant who focuses on your annual fund, capital campaigns, or even board and executive succession planning. Identify what you need help with early so that you can make the most of your time with your consultant.
7. Always say thank you.
Adrian Sargeant conducted a study asking lapsed donors why they stopped giving to nonprofits. 13% of these supporters reported that they were never thanked for their donation. Saying thank you, therefore, is a necessary aspect of retention, helping your nonprofit raise more funds.
Showing your donors that you care and appreciate their contributions is necessary for becoming a fundraising success story. You might leverage donor appreciation strategies such as calling donors after they give, providing educational materials, sending surveys, inviting them to exclusive events, writing thank you letters, and sending branded merchandise.
Thoughts from Bloomerang customers
“We’re hanging in there – VERY thankful we got Bloomerang set up when we did. I was able to divide up all of our donors and provide my board members with detailed information about each one so they can contact them.” – Julie Lovely, Executive Director, Wild Hearts Therapeutic Equestrian Program
“I am a brand new Development Coordinator transitioning from a Sales CRM system to the Non-profit, donor-management system and industry as a whole. I am so grateful to have you as my virtual experts and educators and have not had this level of excitement…” – Nevada Humane Society
“Bloomerang is all you need and then some. If you know what you need to track, there is a way to track with and pull it through individualized reports without the difficulty of coding and waiting for someone else to create a report for you.” – United Way of Midland, Inc.
“After a recent event with over 300 donations, it was so simple to upload all those donations with literally the stroke of a couple of keys. With our old system, much of the data was entered by contact manually one by one, taking hours. It is very easy for us to see how well we retain event attendees.” — Beth A. Gehlhausen, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County
“Our organization’s income is 95% from individuals and much of the success in our fundraising comes from our ability to maintain the relationships using Bloomerang.” – Community Link
“I am excited to note that approximately $10,000 in repeat/increased donations was raised this past year that we possibly wouldn’t have received had we not utilized the effective reporting Bloomerang offers and personally reached out to those donors again.” – Virginia Beach CASA