Nonprofit fundraising is one part art, one part science, and one part avoiding the biggest mistakes nonprofit marketing teams tend to make on a regular basis. If your team is like most, they may not even realize they’re making them. But correcting them immediately is a must.
Not only can these mistakes cost your organization thousands of dollars in missed opportunities every year, but they may chase away potential donors that may have otherwise offered support.
Check out the top five nonprofit fundraising mistakes, along with ways to make things right.
1. Neglecting to Nurture Donors
Donors aren’t likely to come banging down your door just because your organization exists. Nor are they apt to send huge sums of money after a single marketing email or two. Your top donors are more likely to be those with whom you have cultivated meaningful relationships, and that cultivation involves going out of your way to attract people to your cause.
Networking events, presentations and nonprofit inbound marketing campaigns make for a good start, and you can take your efforts even further by:
- Using emotional appeals. While statistics and facts are important, they’re not as powerful as emotions when it comes to winning people over. A heartfelt success story of someone you helped is likely to have a bigger impact than a list of numbers.
- Making it personal. Phone calls, face-to-face meetings and other connections more personal than emails can fortify relationships.
- Creating new relationships from established donors. Encourage existing donors to spread word of your organizations to their family, friends and colleagues
2. Forgetting about Donor Retention
Getting new donors is crucial for your organization, but so is keeping your existing donors around. It’s actually more costly and time consuming to search out new donors than it is to ensure you’re keeping your current ones satisfied. Keep current donors feeling good about your organization by:
- Communicating. Send out thank you emails, newsletters commending donors and updates on the progress of your cause.
- Keeping them updated. Let donors know exactly what their funds will be used for.
- Involving them in projects. Give donors a firsthand look at the changes their donations are helping to create. Invite them to different projects you’re working on or to speak at your events.
- Rewarding them. Established a tiered reward system where donors receive discounts or vouchers for events, branded items or entry into monthly drawings.
- Honoring them. Create a plaque that lists all donors for a specific project, or name a project after a donor who gave a substantial amount to help make it happen.
3. Bombarding New Social Media Followers
When someone starts following you on Twitter or Facebook, that’s great. But your team members can turn that wonderful moment into an insulting affront if they respond by immediately asking the new follower for money.
Not only is this practice rude, but it also makes it appear as if money is the only thing your organization cares about. If you’re going to send out an automated response to new followers, make it one that thanks them and encourages them to learn more at your website.
4. Asking Only for Funds
Some people may be gung-ho about your cause but might not have any funds to donate at the moment. That doesn’t mean they can’t be valuable contributors to your organization. Make sure your nonprofit inbound marketing campaigns let people know there are other ways they can help, such as volunteering their time or services.
Keep your volunteers happy by giving them titles, responsibilities and perks. Also keep a running list of volunteers over the years so you can continue to nurture the relationships. Volunteers may turn into donors down the line when they have the funds to give.
5. Focusing on Event over Fundraising
Planning and executing nonprofit events take a lot of time and effort, and your marketing team may be going crazy marketing the event to ensure attendance is high. While getting people to attend an event is important, your team may be putting other fundraising efforts on the back burner.
Your nonprofit inbound marketing campaign doesn’t have to promote either the event or fundraising; it can do both at once. Combine your efforts with a CTA that does double duty, perhaps something like:
“Our annual gala is coming up soon! Help us by purchasing a ticket to attend the event, or visit our fundraising page to show your support with a donation.”
Once your team learns to avoid the biggest nonprofit fundraising mistakes, they can then focus their efforts on perfecting the art and science of fundraising. Building and maintaining meaningful relationships is vital, as is keeping an eye out for fundraising opportunities you may not have realized even existed.