Happy New Year! I hope you had a nice holiday and weren’t affected by severe weather and flight cancellations. My family rented a house on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland that wasn’t well suited for temperatures in the teens, but fortunately our return flight on Southwest took place after they were “back to normal.”
Now that the New Year is here do you wonder what’s ahead for us? The last three years have brought about so much change and uncertainty. Sometimes it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen next.
I’m sure your nonprofit continues to face challenges, but since the pandemic started many organizations were able to confront these challenges and make changes to the way they ran their programs and implemented their fundraising and communications. Some were successful and some weren’t.
If 2022 was not a successful year for your organization, you can work to make 2023 a better year.
Here are some ways to ensure a more successful year.
Have a plan in place
You must have fundraising and communications/marketing plans. If you haven’t put together these plans yet, do that now!
You know from past experience that you may need to make changes to your plans. In 2020, organizations that were able to make changes to a plan already in place were most successful.
Take a look back at 2022 to see what worked and what didn’t in your fundraising and communications/marketing. Incorporate what you’ve learned into your 2023 plans.
Be sure your fundraising plan includes a diverse stream of revenue. Individual giving has proven to be successful. A lot of small donations can add up! Start or grow your monthly giving program (more on that below). Also, look into major and legacy giving.
You can apply for grants and hold events, but those sometimes require more effort than its worth. Invest in strategies that make sense for your organization.
Revisit your fundraising and communications/marketing plans regularly and make changes as needed. Do this at least every two to three months.
Make sure that donor relations and donor retention are part of your fundraising plan. Those are key to your success.
Pay attention to your donor retention
Many donors have stepped up over the past three years to support nonprofit organizations. You don’t want to lose these valuable donors.
Donor retention should be a priority. You’ll have more success if you work to keep the donors you already have instead of focusing on getting new ones.
First, if you don’t already know it, figure out your retention rate. Do this after every fundraising campaign.
If it’s low, it’s something you can fix, usually with better communication. Donor retention is a huge problem for nonprofits. Your goal should be to have donors who support you for a long time.
It’s easier and less expensive to keep your current donors than to find new ones, so, once again, make donor retention a priority.
That said, you may have some new donors who saw a need and felt a connection to your cause. Don’t let these donors slip away either.
Ramp up your monthly giving program
Speaking of retention, the retention rate for monthly donors is 90%. These donors are dedicated to your nonprofit.
I’m a huge fan of monthly giving. It’s always made sense, but it’s been especially crucial over the last three years. Organizations that had monthly giving programs saw a steady stream of revenue throughout the year. Donors who opt for monthly giving find it’s easier on their finances. Dedicated monthly donors have also stepped up and have given additional donations.
Work on starting or growing your monthly giving program so you can have a bunch of highly committed donors. A good way to start is to invite your current donors to become monthly donors.
Monthly donors are also potential major and legacy donors. Remember the importance of individual giving
Do a better job of communicating with your donors
It’s time to say goodbye to boring, generic communication. Over the past three years, donors have seen real people with real problems in real time. They turned on the news and saw long lines at food pantries. They’ve witnessed a much-needed awareness of systemic racism in our society. They’re hearing stories about how families can barely make ends meet in the current economy.
It makes a difference if you can put things in human terms. Organizations that do this did a better job of connecting with their donors.
Don’t use jargon, such as at-risk and underserved. These terms are demeaning to your clients, especially if they’re people of color. Tell more stories and go easy on the statistics. If you’re making a difference, you have stories to tell.
Better communication also means more frequent communication. Donors want to hear from you and they want to feel appreciated, too. Better, more frequent communication will help you raise more money. A communications calendar will help you with this.
Keep relationships front and center
You may think the most important component of fundraising is raising money. While that’s important, so is building relationships with your donors.
It’s hard to raise money year after year if you don’t build a good relationship with your donors. Every single interaction with your donors needs to focus on building relationships. That includes fundraising appeals. It’s possible to raise money and build relationships at the same time.
Good relationships with your donors will help you with retention.
Don’t forget about gratitude
A big part of building relationships is showing gratitude to your donors. Many nonprofits do a poor job with this.
You need to start by sending a heartfelt thank you immediately after you receive a donation and then find ways to thank your donors throughout the year. Put together a thank you plan to help you with this.
Start the New Year off by making fundraising and communications/marketing plans, if you haven’t already done so. Prioritize donor retention, monthly giving, showing gratitude, and building relationships with your donors. This will help bring you more success in 2023.