Sunday, January 25, 2009

Raise Some Quick Donations More Often, Right Now, and Again Later This Year, And Next...

In this difficult economy, your organization is likely struggling to provide its mission's work. The programs, services, items, research, or other product that it exists to offer the community is likely under some jeopardy because the economy has slowed and while donors are still giving, they're mostly giving in lesser amounts, if at all.

Your organization may mostly offer memberships and special events to raise money. If your nonprofit has not focused much on donors, or if your organization does not have a dedicated donor base that regularly gives donations to your group and are people who are regularly asked for contributions you are missing a real cash flow stabilizer. All fundraisers are critical, today. No successful fundraising method should be thrown out the door, at all. If, though, your organization has not taken advantage of also raising donors who are individuals, families, and small or local businesses that live and operate in the geographic region(s) that your nonprofit serves - you want to begin raising money from these folks. In the United States, approximately 80% of all donations raised by 501(c)(3) nonprofits are from individual donors (including families and small businesses). In other words - you may think 'Dave Smith is only going to give $20 every six months or so - why should I try to raise money from him, each year?'. The reason is several Dave or Denise Smiths who give $20 over and over again inject your organization's bank account with regular cash. The more donors your organization raises and retains, the more regular and steady ongoing cash flow it will have. Different donors want to give towards different types of fundraising methods or give to specific programs that your organization conducts over others - and that's fine. Getting organized: knowing how you will track donors' names and contact information, knowing how you will track which fundraising method they respond to and the donations' details will be critical. If you know how each donor reacts, or rather, what they prefer you've begun the process (and more importantly, have the information, per donor) to develop them or keep them happy with giving to your agency. How do you find out how to reach these individual donors?

A nonprofit must always listen to, remain open to, and work with the people and entities that support it. If your organization has clearly indicated to the community that it serves, what it does, why its work (mission) is critical and necessary now, and given the community different ways to support it and its work - the nonprofit should be raising new donors who will give again, as it retains donors who have given before, gave again recently, and will give again later. The only way that a nonprofit will raise new donors and retain its old donors is by being honest, clearly sharing its successes, communicating its future goals, and by being a professional and transparent operation. Donors are not 'lucky to give to your organization' or 'lower than' others who are volunteering or working for the nonprofit. They are vital, invaluable, partners in your organization's work and its mission, a part of the community, and must be seen as partners or investors. They must be cared for.

I am not saying that donors or any one or few donors 'own' the nonprofit or have 'special rights' to anything that the organization does or how it operates (except, for instance, if naming rights were acquired through a large donation per a campaign that your organization was holding, etc.). Donors are not in charge of policy setting, fiscal oversight, or choosing the nonprofit's direction. Those jobs are specific tasks that the board of directors is tasked with, legally. Donors are not in charge of operating the organization's day to day work or overseeing programs, program design, fundraising, and achievements in programs, services, and fundraising. These tasks and achievements are traditionally mostly the executive director's responsibility (and the board bears some fundraising achievement responsibilities, too). Donors are also not responsible for the specific different operations and tasks that a nonprofit must finish well and succeed at, for the day to day work to get done that makes the entire organization's operations, in sum total, occur. These responsibilities are the administrative volunteers', programs volunteers', and the staff's (if your nonprofit has staff).

The following Seeking Grant Money Today posts, diverge from grant writing, specifically (which also requires attention to donors) to address the importance of individual donors (because of our economic difficulties, today). These will help you understand more:

Write An Annual Appeal Letter To Raise Relatively Quick Funds

How To Increase The Number of New Donors

Your Nonprofit Needs Cash Flow. That Means Your Nonprofit Needs Your Individual Donors. Take Care of Each One

You Too Can Raise Major Donations. Here's How...

What Motivates Giving?

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