Fundraising is hard. Even for fundraising pros. But learning from others who have been there can smooth some of the bumps.
That’s why we asked three fundraisers to share their best tips and success strategies to help make fundraising a little easier for everyone.
Q: What is your single biggest learning about fundraising — or something that surprised you while running your fundraiser?
Sean: It took me a few years to learn that you just have to ask. We’re conditioned to be nervous about asking for donations because we’re afraid that people will say no. You just have to learn to go in with the right pitch.
Annika: Fundraising should be fun! Rallying the troops behind a cause can be hard. If you add some surprises and bliss to it, you’ll see better results.
David: You need to find ways to create an emotional attachment between participants and the cause.
“Make sure you’re being as effective as possible, because donors do get asked by a lot of charities.” — Sean Condon
Q: If you could give someone just starting to fundraise your best tip for success, what would it be?
Sean: Plan for your campaign. Spend the time in advance to come up with a good pitch. Think about how best to ask and what materials you’ll need to support your ask.
Annika: You can’t be all things to all people. Really define who you’re after. If you are looking at hip millennial donors then design a campaign that speaks to them and stick to it.
David: Be very clear on why you support the cause and be clear on your ask. If you can plan before you head out to ask for donations and sponsorships you will land more support.
Q: What is your most effective outreach strategy?
Sean: We have a great outlet through the magazine. We can tell stories about our vendors and work with our vendors so that they can talk to customers about our work.
Annika: If you are targeting businesses for donations, do your homework! Spend some time defining why a business should invest in your organization because any donation or sponsorship should be seen as an investment.
David: Find a way to get people together before the big day. This creates excitement, enables you to showcase your cause and gets people on-board.
“Every month I choose a donor and send them a card. It’s engaging, doesn’t really cost anything, and rewards donors in a meaningful way.” — Annika Reinhardt
Q: What do you wish someone had told you before you launched your first fundraiser?
Sean: It takes time to learn these skills. Many people in the non-profit world haven’t been trained in fundraising. You have to be patient.
Annika: Fundraising is an art and I have huge respect for those who fundraise for a living. I wish I had spent more time with other fundraising professionals to see what works for them before jumping into my first campaign.
David: Get good stakeholders, people who are excited to champion your cause. The bigger the network of people pulling for you and really championing the cause, the better off you will be.