WealthEngine works with nonprofits across the spectrum, from the largest universities, hospitals, and international aid organizations to local and regional arts and social service agencies. Many of those who reach out to us are startups who have a passion, a vision and willing hands, but lack fundraising expertise and have few or no resources to hire trained staff members. In this three part blog series we offer three keys to help make your fundraising program more sustainable.
Welcome to the second of our 3-part series on creating a sustainable fundraising program. In last week’s blog post, Who’s on Board? we addressed the impact board members can have on fundraising. While addressing board expansion is critical to future success, there are other considerations of nonprofit governance and fundraising for a young board to consider when developing plans to expand or develop a sustainable organization. This post will focus on one of the most important considerations, which also happens to be your most valuable asset – your fundraising list.
Some organizations have a natural constituency ideal for fundraising. Colleges and universities have alumni, theaters have ticket buyers, and hospitals have patients. However, many nonprofits fill niches in our social fabric that serve many that don’t have a large, affluent natural constituency. For these organizations, the need to build a strong house list for fundraising purposes is critical. Without a list of donors and a consistent inflow of unrestricted dollars, they will not be able to achieve a sustainable source of monthly giving.
In today’s digital world, there are two important channels in which to grow your list:
Website: Your website is the hub of all your activity. The majority of your outreach will drive individuals to visit your website. Therefore, it must have the ability to capture attention, make a good impression, and most importantly, capture information from your visitors so you can communicate with them in some way.
Some ideas for website optimization could include:
Do you notice a theme here? You are including calls to action throughout your website to make it easy to capture information. Don’t make your visitors search around on your website to donate or subscribe to your content. Your website should be easy to navigate so visitors can find what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible. After all, you’re looking to gain advocates – not lose them!
Social Media: Using social channels is a great way to build community. Some options include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and many more. While the channels may differ, your strategy should be similar. The posts and content that you share should invite dialogue and feedback. Including calls to action in your posts to drive people to your website to capture names and addresses will be a good way to potentially increase your list.
Examples posts could include:
Use images wisely throughout your social posts. While text contains the content that your visitors will engage with, pictures help draw them in and get your initial clicks.
Web and Social tactics aren’t the only ways to build a list. There are some other things you can do to increase the size of your audience:
Finally, you should define what you think your “perfect” supporter looks like. Are there different types? Can you develop several personas to help describe the audience you want to reach? This could help as you write fundraising letters or newsletter articles, and also as you develop ideas for special events, advertising, and other list-building activities. Discover how to create personas in five simple steps.
Building a solid list of supporters and potential supporters is essential for any nonprofit. In fact, many would argue that your list is your most valuable asset. But building a list without having a plan in place to communicate with your new friends, steward them, and involve and educate them is a wasted effort.
Do you have a story to share about how you’ve grown your list? Share in the comments below.
Tune in next week for the final post in our series, Planning to Excel. We will share the tools you need to develop a solid donor communications plan.
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