It is difficult to find a local non-profit that does not engage in some form of fundraising. From chocolate sales to extensive galas, gaming events to tournaments, something is always happening.
There are three views or styles of fundraising:
- Involvement, Visibility and Efficiency
Growth as a fundraising strategy focuses on broadening the donor base, having more donors next year than this year, and still more the year after that.
Involvement as a strategy takes organizations beyond seeking gifts from donors to building stronger relationships with them. When supporters are active and committed, organizations can raise far more money. If public opinion is crucial adopt a visibility strategy. Raising money at the lowest possible cost per dollar raised is the key to an efficiency strategy. Planned giving, major gift programs, foundation and corporate grant solicitation and monthly giving are among the tactics that can be employed in an efficiency strategy.
Among the tactics that can be used in a stability strategy are to build an endowment fund; employ electronic funds transfer (EFT) for fulfilment of donor pledges and engage in diversified fundraising activities.
Selecting a strategy must take into account the life cycle of the development program, the age of the organization, or both.
Fundraising strategies, like anything else, wear out for a number of reasons. Most common is that people in the organization get tired of them and start taking shortcuts. Mail appeals get boring. The newsletter is full of typos and the articles lack passion. Thank-you notes are photocopied, with the donor's name filled in by a volunteer.
The second most common reason is that a strategy that works well for one or two groups is adopted by many groups and hence its overall effectiveness is decreased. This is particularly true with special events.
Finally, there is the problem of market saturation. Direct mail, email, and other mass appeal strategies are now alienating donors as fast as they attract them. All these reasons are related to each other. It is hard to keep a feeling of excitement about your appeal letter if you know it will show up next to 20 other worthy appeal letters in a donor's mailbox.
Review fundraising strategies every year to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to do in terms of your overall fundraising plan. Strategies will have to be modified, revamped, and sometimes scrapped to meet the needs of a growing organization. It's important to involve many people in fundraising to avoid that feeling of being on a treadmill. Just because something has worked in the past doesn't mean it will always work. On the other hand, just because something isn't working up to par doesn't mean it can't be made to work with a few adjustments.