Increase the Appeal of Your Cause

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Donors are trimming back their spending and choosing more carefully what they use their hard earned dollars for.  When the going gets tough, non-profits need to be focused more on the donor than normal and think about how their donors think.  Following these simple steps will have a big impact on your organization’s next appeal.

1.    Be transparent.

Donors are more conscientious of their spending.  In your communications, clearly explain how their money will be used, and how it will improve the organization and its community.

2.    Establish donor options.

It’s a common industry practice to base your donation amounts on past giving and add in increases.  In today’s economy, consider scaling back the percentage increase you build in to make your ask amount appeal to everyone—even if their personal circumstances may have changed.  Remember: the goal is to renew the donor as well as increase giving overall.

3.    Build community.
Instead of a gala or auction, find creative ways to integrate your community service events with fundraising.  Attending events that involve tickets or products may not necessarily be the best choice with the current economic climate.  Donors can see how their donations impact their community if you invite them to take part in a local-level event with a fundraising twist.  Make it possible and affordable for donors to join you in your community events; get them washing a car, or have a donor family build a gift basket and deliver it in person to a family they’ll support.

4.    Expand your business-side donor pool.
Socially-conscious businesses can a big part of any non-profit’s donor strategy—especially when impacted by a slowing economy.  However, not every industry is going to be affected, and it is worthwhile to start looking beyond your current contributors.  You may find untapped resources that are able to make a large gift.

5.    Use volunteers.

While a downside to a lagging economy is unemployment, this can be advantageous for your organization.  There are sure to be many who can no longer show their support financially; however, volunteering their time may be appealing.  Plan for an increase here, and think about community clean ups, craft fairs and other ways to embrace an increase in volunteers.

6.    Use social networking sites.

You can use Facebook as a tool to promote volunteer opportunities, online giving and more.  Understand how social media works, and embrace technology when it is going to work in your advantage.  You can also conduct a CRM data screening, and discover who is active on different social networking sites.  All of this information can be utilized to support and grow your own social networking program, such as creating a MySpace group for different areas of interest and participation.

7.    Give thanks.
No matter how small or large the donation, send a thank you letter or make a telephone call.  Donors will appreciate the outreach and are more likely to think of you during the next appeal cycle.

8.    Keep in touch.
Communicate with your donor pool beyond the appeal.  Send a monthly newsletter, birthday card or an update about how an event went.  This keeps the donor personally interested in the cause.

The economy will always change, and there will be good times and bad.  Now is an important time when non-profits have to think creatively and pay attention to details in order to continue serving the community with the same gusto of previous years.  These tips can help organizations connect with donors, build lasting relationships as well as reach appeal goals.

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