Engaging in effective fundraising

Fundraising takes strategy and smarts, meaning donor research can make or break a campaign or visit with a potential giver. But research and planning is not everything. Where many nonprofits can improve their fundraising efforts is in the execution of the plan. So many times employees get wrapped up in the preparation that there is very little time spent with donors or potential givers - the most important part of the process. With so much talk and so little interaction, organizations will slowly lose support and long-term engagement because their connections with donors are not based on personal relationships.

What proper fundraising looks like
A Small Change, an online fundraising source for nonprofits, says that development officers need to spend a majority of their time out of the office. "Perpetual preparation" can be a big problem as officers who don't spend time with their donors won't know how to build relationships with future givers. Interacting with financial supporters of an organization is an education in and of itself and puts preparation into practice in a most profound way. Learning from tangible experiences instead of statistics and data can make all the difference in the long run. As gift officers develop those relationships, they will be able to ask for more down the line and sustain the nonprofit they serve.

Concrete donor cultivation tactics
In all reality, if nonprofit employees focus their efforts on building relationships in person with donors, they won't have much need for research and preparation. Practical experience almost always wins. Nonprofit resource npENGAGE offered a few online fundraising tools as well as in-person asking tips that will help one-on-one interaction and prospect management:

  • Simplify information: The logistics are important for internal reasons, but when explaining the processes and detailed needs of the organization, stick to the basics and what means the most to the person. Don't overwhelm or take over the conversation with nonprofit or financial lingo if not necessary.
  • Introduce giving levels: Stepping stones to different giving levels show people how they are helping the organization, as well as where they can go in the future in terms of support levels. These types of charts are often informative and give people a visual for their support.
  • Offer contact info and name future date: Give people a way to get in contact with the organization should they want to keep the conversation going. It is also helpful when cultivating prospects to set a future meeting date for lunch, coffee or dinner.
  • Be open and honest: Transparency is incredibly important for online and offline prospect interaction. Make sure to tell the good and the bad, all while telling an emotional story for donors to relate to.

The end result
Investing in time spent out of the office, walking and talking with supporters and potential givers is worthwhile on all fronts. Working in the field of prospects instead of trying to learn about them from afar will be invaluable and informative in a way that general statistics never could be. Plus, the organization will be able to understand the tailored audience they are speaking to and how to adjust the ask for this specific audience down the road.

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