How To Quickly Grow A Fundraising Program
Successful charities rarely discover a single, brilliant idea that satisfies all of their fundraising needs. They generally develop a fundraising landscape of key programs; developing each one individually and driving the growth of their overall campaign. A strong fundraising strategy enables them to unearth ideas that are unique to their charity, and group their resources so that they can succeed within a limited budget and timeframe.
No matter how small your charity is you, too, need a comprehensive fundraising plan. Instead of giving you stress and headaches, this will focus your efforts, give you a strong platform upon which to build, and allow you to plan ahead for key parts of your campaign.
Enriching your fundraising landscape
There is no shortage of ways to raise money. This will only be limited by the number of staff members and volunteers you have, and their skills. Choose a mix of programs that allow you to distribute your fundraising goals and make up for lost revenue if one program doesn’t work as well as expected:
- Direct mail and appeals
- Electronic direct mail (EDM)
- Face-to-face and regular giving programs
- Corporate gifts and sponsorships
- Workplace giving
- Major gifts
- Grants from trusts, funds and government
- Peer-to-peer and DIY fundraising
- Donor development and upgrade strategies
- Donor communication and stewardship
- Your website
Identifying your priorities
Having formulated the next step/s for each of your programs, you need to evaluate which connect best to your cause and your supporters, and which programs make the most sense to invest in. These become your top priority.
Taking the next steps
Once you have developed your fundraising landscape and programs you will then need to evaluate the logical next steps for each. During this phase of your planning, satisfy the following question: what is the most time-effective and inexpensive way to gain the most income from this area of fundraising?
In electronic direct mail, for instance, your next step would be to increase the number of appeals per annum. Auto-upgrades might be a logical next step in your donor development program. Your major gifts program might develop into boardroom lunches.
Building a long-term program
Extend your existing program and use the above initiatives to build a comprehensive annual program. You should plan two or three years ahead so that you can see more next steps for each area.
Don’t try and do it all at once, though! Take enough time to implement each step so that it is done well. You might only introduce two next steps in the first six months.
Branding and key messages
Branding is key to a marketing initiative as you launch new activities and promotions. Remember that you are building a strong sense of identity through your fundraising campaign. Think carefully about your key messages and how they can be used to shape your campaign in the long term.
Finding your unique voice can be difficult. One great way to help you find this and stick with key messaging is to envisage your ‘archetypal photo’. A well-known example of this is the Salvos’ uniformed Salvation Army officer in a caring pose with a person in need. Beware, though! Key messages are prone to dilution (especially when keen members of your fundraising team want to try new things) but stay firm and consistent. Continue using what works best to raise funds until, through testing, you find something that works better.
Utilising the whole team
The ‘next steps’ approach to fundraising means that the whole team should be involved in the process of continual improvement and growth. Your main task will be to manage the implementation of the next steps so that your staff and donors are not overwhelmed and you continue to deliver consistent and steady growth.
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