Let’s Get Fundraising Priorities Right and Position Your Charity for Success!
It’s that time of the year when we reflect on the past and plan for the future. What better way to ensure your charity is ready for success in 2023 than getting your fundraising priorities right? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! From understanding strategic context that build relationships, leverage technology, and give you the essential steps needed to make sure your charity is prepared for what’s ahead. So, buckle up, because it’s time to get “fundraising ready” – let’s go!
How Charities Can Get “Fundraising Ready” for Success
Though fundraising during a recession can seem daunting, organizations should remember that there are many options available depending on their specific needs and resources at hand. By leveraging these resources effectively, organizations can secure much needed funds from current supporters while connecting with new ones along the way!
As a charity, fundraising is an essential part of keeping the organization running and achieving its goals. But getting “fundraising ready” for success in Canada can be a challenge. With different laws, cultural norms, and resource availability across the country, it can be difficult to ensure that all necessary steps are taken in order to make sure that your charity is prepared for the future. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors to consider when it comes to getting “fundraising ready”.
Build Strategic Alignment
Linking fundraising activities to strategic priorities is key to creating a successful and sustainable fundraising program. By understanding your organization’s vision, mission, and goals, you can design a plan that articulates how different activities will not only meet short-term objectives, but also contribute to larger organizational success. With a strategic focus, charities can identify which activities best align with their strategic priorities and focus their resources on these initiatives to maximize efficiency and ensure ongoing success.
Know The Law
It is important for charities to understand the legal implications of their fundraising activities to ensure compliance with all regulatory requirements. Different provinces can have their own set of rules when it comes to how donations must be collected and how funds should be used. You want to ensure you are able to maintain charitable status through effective management of your charitable purpose, means, and eligibility of beneficiaries.
Successful fundraising isn’t just about asking people for money; it’s about building relationships with supporters who believe in your cause. Charities need to invest time into building trust with donors by creating tailored strategies that demonstrate gratitude, impact, and change. There are so many ways to show timely appreciation. All these moments of connection allow organizations to foster long lasting connections with supporters which could result in more generous donations over time. Now is not time to lose focus on supporting and building relationships with your donors.
According to statistics from CanadaHelps, donor retention is a major issue in the Canadian philanthropic landscape. Over 60% of first-time donors do not make a second donation with the same charity. Additionally, only 20% of all donors make more than three donations. These figures highlight the importance of developing strategies that help to build relationships with donors and ensure retention rates remain high. As charities face unprecedented challenges, it is more important than ever to have the support of generous individuals who are willing to donate their money or resources.
Taking this type of initiative not only helps ensure financial stability for your charity, but also builds a sense of trust amongst donors which will be invaluable in the future. By connecting with donors and expressing appreciation, charities can lay the groundwork for establishing ongoing relationships that can provide essential support over time. With effective planning and consistent execution, charities can improve donor retention rates to measure their success in achieving goals over a given period. And to let you in on not-so-secret secret, it starts with planning!
Technology offers many opportunities for charities looking to become more efficient when it comes to fundraising. We are not just talking about setting up online donation pages or using crowdfunding platforms, there are numerous tools available that can streamline processes and provide insight into campaigns as they progress including CRM platforms that can be a powerful tool for donor retention and management.
According to a survey conducted by the Imagine Canada Charities Sustainability Threat, nearly 73% of Canadian charities report using Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. That means that over 27% of Canadian charities are not leveraging the single most important technology asset available to them. We would also suggest of those 73% of charities who report using a CRM, most are not able to harness their capacity.
Leveraging CRM systems, charities can collect and store data on their donors, manage campaigns, track donations, segment their audiences, and manage compliance. This allows them to not only do their due diligence regarding data management, but it also helps the charity tailor messaging and experiences to their donors that help strengthen relationships and increase loyalty. Without an effective CRM system in place, charities are at risk of not having the necessary insights into their donor base needed to maximize engagement, retention, and financial returns.
Fundraising in a Recession: Leveraging Our Toolkits
As Canada slips into a moderate “so they say” recession, charities across the country will continue to struggle to overcome the lasting impacts the COVID-19 Pandemic has created. For many charities in Canada today, the future is uncertain. With more charities than ever and donations falling and pressure mounting to make meet revenue goals, fundraising during a recession for your charity is more complicated than ever before. So, let’s make a plan to help you get through it. All is not lost!
Fortunately, there are many practical ways for organizations to connect with donors even in difficult times. Leveraging the right combination of direct mail, email, event, and personal solicitation techniques can help charities stay afloat and even thrive and obtain more donations from their supporters. Let’s take a look at how each of these methods can be utilized to build success.
If your charity needs to rapidly establish a donor prospect pool, direct mail may be one the best strategies to build your donor base and increase your email lists, which reduces costs over time.
Direct mail solicitation is the process of creating fundraising collateral for print delivery that request funds from your donors or prospective donors. Direct mail is useful for charities in sourcing and acquiring donors, as direct mail can be highly targeted, easily measured, and works well when combined with other channels (email, text, and social media). It is important, however, to correctly select your target audiences when engaging in direct mail, as it can be costly. A distinct advantage of direct mail is its long shelf life, typically making its way through a household up to 28 days per item.
Additionally, while response rates are typically low, (1-3%), direct mail is still one of the most cost-effective strategies for targeting new audiences when combined with other channels and a strong donor relations strategy, especially, as your donor base grows.
Email remains one of the most popular cost-effective forms of fundraising for any organization looking to connect with their existing target audiences quickly and efficiently. Emails often have higher conversion rates than direct mail, so this approach can help an organization quickly boost its donations while being more environmentally conscious within its existing donor base.
Email appeals are most effective when the content is cause focused, compelling, and relevant to your audiences, so they stand out from other messages in people’s overcrowded inboxes.
Events can be a great way to engage with donors, prospects, and raise money at the same time! Whether it’s virtual or in-person, charities that are positioned to leverage events should take advantage of every opportunity they get to bring supporters together and show their appreciation, demonstrate the impact of their investment in the cause, and provide donors with an opportunity to invest further.
We have caveat. Nobody likes parties without a purpose. While event-based fundraising can, when aligned and implemented properly, provide a significant return, events are expensive to host and are more resource intensive to plan and implement effectively than other fundraising activities. Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, charities could not host any in-person events, and some did not have the resources to pivot to virtual events. As a result, re-starting events now could be a tricky endeavour if not properly aligned with other activities.
We are not saying don’t do event-based fundraising. However, we are saying to take a good look to ensure it does not become a make work project that doesn’t produce the intended results and pulls your already limited resources away from other activities.
Nothing beats talking directly with people about your mission if you want them to donate! This approach allows organizations to create meaningful relationships with their donors, as well as articulate their mission in a personal, engaging way. Additionally, conversations over the telephone provide charities with an opportunity to ask questions and understand what drives individual donors’ interests and motivations. This insight can be used to craft highly tailored strategies that encourage larger donations while also reinforcing your organization’s values and impact on the causes your donors want to support. The ability to connect one-on-one allows your charity to really articulate why people should support you, which could result in more donations over time.
Linking Fundraising Priorities to Existing Organizational Priorities
We have said it before, fundraising isn’t just about asking for money. So, how can your charity leverage your knowledge and fundraising toolkits to effectively frame your strategies, seek advice, and yes, solicit support?
Understanding your organization’s mission and context is one of the most important facets of ensuring your fundraising strategies are aligned, measurable, and impactful. It is important to note that strategic priorities alone cannot give you a fundraising plan, as strategic priorities are structured to support subject matter experts within your team in their work to achieve goals. For donors, it is an entirely different focus and as such, your fundraising planning and priorities needs to speak to them not to experts.
Fundraising Priorities vs. Strategic Priorities
Donors connect emotionally to a cause, it is not about your charity, your work, or even your project, it’s about the impact and change that result from all these things. As such, you need to approach your donors differently. Defined fundraising priorities can provide key messaging and language to engage employees, volunteers, and donors, which can create champions for priorities and your cause. In short, well-defined fundraising priorities can position your entire organization for success. We like to start with a MAP!
- Measured – What you track and what does success look like?
- Analyzed – Have defined the problem and how you are going to address it?
- Practical – Are your goals attainable and do you have the resources you need?
Measuring goals provides data points that can be used to track progress towards the desired outcome – if a goal is not being achieved, analysis of this provides clues as to why this might be occurring. Meanwhile, practical goals provide clear guidance about what needs to be done in order for success to occur. Ultimately, understanding the importance of measuring, analyzing, and making goals practical will help ensure that any desired outcomes are actually achievable.
- Make it Real – What is the problem and who does it affect?
- Give it Context – What do we already know?
- Demonstrate Relevance – Why does it matter?
- What it will Address – What do we need to know?
- What will it Cost – How much do you need to raise?
- What it will Change – What will be done, when, and in what order?
- Define Your Impact – What will be measured and to whom will it be reported?
Bringing it All Together
In our experience, fundraising is most successful when the entire team understands and has a defined role in creating and achieving fundraising priorities. We are not saying that everyone needs to be frontline fundraisers. We are saying that when the entire team understands the role that fundraising has on organizational priorities and has language to communicate the impact and change that results from donor investment, the entire organization and its beneficiaries are more successful. Well-defined fundraising priorities help entire communities speak about addressing the current reality and the future our shared work creates.
Leveraging Timelines and Data-Driven Methods to Measure and Communicate Progress
Just like all planning, having a timeline with actionable steps that are tied to milestones can help identify how much progress has been made towards an organization’s goals and provide language to communicate with donors on the progress because of their investment. Be realistic and set achievable goals, so the team can use their successes to build momentum. Regular check-ins can help assess whether the timeline needs adjustment or if additional resources are needed in order to ensure maximum progress is achieved. Time-bound activities provide structure and discipline which are integral parts of successful fundraising initiatives.
Reflection and Conclusion
According to Statistics Canada, charitable organizations contribute an estimated $212.3 billion (7.6%) to Canada’s GDP. This includes the direct and indirect contributions that charities make through their services, investments, and other activities. In addition, it is estimated that over 1.3 million Canadians are employed in the charitable sector and the economic impact of these jobs amounts to approximately $50 billion annually.
Four Ways Charities Build Community Through a Recession
- Charities can have a direct and positive impact on communities in Canada. They provide vital assistance to those in need, foster collaboration with local businesses, and create meaningful employment opportunities.
- Charities also aid in the recovery of the economy by providing resources such as donations that can be used to support communities and individuals during difficult times.
- They can also leverage existing resources more efficiently, providing access to services that are needed without creating additional costs for society or exacerbating existing social problems.
- Finally, charities help build resiliency within communities by encouraging individuals to work together towards common goals and develop stronger relationships with their neighbours.
Your charity has an important role in the recovery of Canada’s economy, so make sure you are prepared for the year ahead.
Final Statement on the Importance of Fundraising Priorities
By creating well-defined fundraising priorities, charities can position themselves for success in 2023. Charities need to have a clear vision of where they want to go and how they plan to get there, including setting achievable goals and making wise investments in their resources. By doing so, charities can ensure that the resources available are being used most effectively in order to maximize their impact on the communities they serve. This will not only help the economy recover but also strengthen Canadian society as a whole.
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