A nonprofit serves its purpose best when the majority of money it raises goes to its cause. But salaries for hardworking employees, marketing costs and office fees all have to be paid. To close this gap, many nonprofits try to run a shoestring fundraiser. Unfortunately, this sometimes fails to raise the funds necessary to carry the nonprofit into the green.
The best shoestring campaigns are two-pronged: raise awareness and money. These campaigns can be highly effective and done on a tight budget.
Host an Event
Invitation-only fundraisers can help you find desirable donors, but sometimes that formality can turn off more casual donors. By throwing a happy hour, you’re promoting your nonprofit’s needs in a casual way. Pick a restaurant to be your partner for the night and prepare a set menu. Sell tickets for a flat price and keep a portion of the ticket sales for your nonprofit.
Encouraging previous donors to bring their friends also expands your reach without any additional marketing costs on your part. You can also entice new recruits with door prizes and freebies.
Create a Wish List
Wish lists are extremely effective ways of funding your nonprofit because it allows donors to have a concrete idea of where their money is going. Animal shelters frequently use wish lists because all that is required of donors is a quick visit to their personalized Amazon site. The items are delivered directly to the nonprofit. This strategy engages the donor emotionally by making it simple and straightforward to help.
Make sure to have items of varying prices on your wish lists and advertise the opportunity to contribute through your social media accounts. Showing the results of donations online can also be a way of encouraging donor goodwill.
Start a Bidding War
Any nonprofit event can have a live auction in some incarnation. Securing items for donation can raise a lot of interest in an event, but items aren’t necessary for success. Offering the option to donate in a group setting can encourage other donors to step forward and give.
This would be excellent in combination with a matching donor. Suppose your nonprofit has a room full of potential donors and you announce that any amount they raise in the auction will be matched penny for penny. When the call to bid comes, a group will be inclined to donate more, especially where there is a clear goal in mind.
If you don’t have a strong social media presence, you are missing out on the opportunity to bring in donors from outside your normal regions. Just as the Ice Bucket Challenge reached people all over the world, a simply, cohesive media campaign can pull in new donors from the city, state or even around the world.
Cultivate your online presence by including links to your Facebook and Twitter pages. Posting pictures of past fundraising events or asking for donations keeps your nonprofit top of mind as you gain followers.
Make a New Friend
Media can be a nonprofit’s best friend. Your campaign needs awareness and reporters need stories. Follow up with local media personalities on Facebook and Twitter and briefly explain your event. Having a well-structured elevator pitch makes a reporter’s work easier. And on a slow news day, your nonprofit event might earn even more airtime.
Inviting the media to your events can also be a way to generate interest in future events. Take the time to develop a relationship with your local media—the payoff can be huge.
Reconnect with Old Friends
Reaching out to lapsed donors is one of the easiest and most overlooked ways to earn additional donations. You’ve already done the legwork and they’ve indicated interest in your nonprofit my donating before. Invite them to any event you’re throwing and sweeten the deal by offering to make a special matching donation if they return as thanks for their continuing support.
Don’t Forget to Smile
It’s important to remember that you may not be the only nonprofit your donor is contributing to, and no one wants to feel pestered for cash. Always spend the time needed to thank your donors for their contribution, regardless of size or frequency. Sending a sincere thank you in any form will never hurt your nonprofit and can boost your image in the eyes of donors.