Resilient fundraisers stand ready to take on whatever the day brings, even if it wasn’t part of the plan. You adapt. You leverage. You innovate.
You are building strategies for sustainability focused on four key areas:
- People: Caring about your supporters and those around you
- Revenue: Looking for diversification potential and how to move forward
- Mission + Operations: Giving donors something they can feel good about
- Empowering Technology + Data: Leveraging the new normal of remote technology, online communications, and automation
In a recent webinar, I chatted with Steve MacLaughlin, VP Data and Analytics Strategy at Blackbaud, Katrina VanHuss, CEO at Turnkey, and Jen Shang, Co-Founder and Co-Director at the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy. We talked about the tactics that resilient fundraisers should be embracing and they offered advice on how to build new processes and define strategies differently.
These are the eight things they think resilient fundraisers should be doing right now:
- Focusing on feelings.
Jen Shang: In a recent study by the Institute for Sustainable Philanthropy, we discovered donors are not feeling very positive about themselves, which presents an opportunity for you to build supporter loyalty unlike what we have seen before. The study reveals the negative emotions people are feeling (fearful, anxious, lonely, uncertain, sad) and the positive emotions nonprofits should invoke (hopeful, empathetic, responsible, committed). Every time you think about what to write to donors, shoot negatives down and grow the positives. This is THE opportunity for charities to help their supporters to feel better.
Katrina VanHuss: The most successful peer-to-peer fundraising programs have always delivered more than the mission – they deliver the magic of helping donors feel better. The most successful fundraising programs deliver autonomy, being part of something bigger, and being able to show competence.
- Surveying donors.
Jen Shang: Now is the time to show you genuinely care about your supporters. People’s needs are changing every other week. If you haven’t already, quickly survey your donors and make plans to survey every three months. This allows you to care for your donors where they are and how they can be reached. Royal National Lifeboat Institution conducted surveys and then crafted a series of thank you emails/web messages/videos that worked brilliantly.
- Meeting with supporters (virtually).
Katrina VanHuss: Networking has never been easier and there has never been more tools or access points than now. Continue connecting with donors knowing you can solidify the relationship face-to-face soon. This virtual shift is showing us that we are building processes and systems to deliver our mission, regardless of geography or location. That is valuable.
- Embracing digital transformation.
Steve MacLaughlin: We are all doing a lot of digital adaptation and those who were reluctant to embrace technology have been given no choice. We are being forced out of our comfort zone and we will emerge stronger. Embrace remote technology and meetings, online communication as a focus, and automation that will make tasks easier.
- Shifting their fundraising balance.
Steve MacLaughlin: Analytics can help you identify the right fundraising mix for your organization. If you have been focused on events, like galas and golf tournaments, how are you going to replace that revenue? Use your internal data to determine if a virtual event is a best bet or if you should focus on something else – like creating a mid-level giving program. Then, bring in analytics to find the best mid-level prospects.
- Practicing donor-centered fundraising.
Steve MacLaughlin: You need to make the donor the hero of the story. When you are communicating with donors, do you say “we did all these things” or do you say “you, as a donor, made these things happen.” The latter makes the donor feel like a hero.
Jen Shang: People have been preaching for decades about donor-centered fundraising. And you cannot afford not to practice this today. Crisis Aid International has one of the most beautiful donation pages I have seen. They doubled their giving when they implemented the “you” approach.
- Growing your monthly giving program.
Steve MacLaughlin: We have seen a growth in the U.S. in the number of donors who give monthly. Some organizations who have been hesitant to be all-in on recurring giving are pivoting and adjusting strategies to tell donors that now is the time to shift to a monthly gift. The data tells us there’s a real sweet spot for opportunity in conversion to monthly giving – in particular with single gift, one-time annual donors who give less than $200 per year.
- Looking forward.
Katrina VanHuss: You need to believe that you have a gift to give your constituents and that is to make them feel better and to give them the ability to impact the world. When you believe that, the gifts will come.
Steve MacLaughlin: Now is the time for a quick temperature check using your organization’s data. You want to look at these questions: How are you doing on first year donor retention? How are you doing on multi-year donor retention? What is revenue per donor? From there, assess the things you need to start doing, continue doing or stop doing.
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