I had the privilege to attend the 51st International Conference on Fundraising held in San Antonio, Texas, by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. From March 23 to 25 , more than three thousand people attended the event, one of the biggest events on fundraising around the globe. It is difficult to summarize all the content explored there, but I highlight some trends and tips on communications and fundraising.
Keep in mind that fundraising is a relationship, and relationships are based on communication. So how do we do these things well?
1 – Use technology
Go further than spreadsheets and email lists. Get to know who your donors are, where they live, what they do, and how they like to communicate with your organization. It is also important to have a CRM – Customer Relationship Management. This is software that registers donor information and organizes it into categories that you define. It will be easier to target an audience and develop strategic communication. But this is a basic function. Another, and perhaps more important function, is that CRM also works as a database, making gathering information about the history of the relationships and donor’s data possible.
2 – Go mobile
People are turning to the mobile devices to access Internet. Adopt responsive web as criteria to redesign organization’s website, choose newsletter template or blog theme. It is also an opportunity to test new ways to communicate and fundraising.
3 – Social media
Your organization already is on one or more social media site such as Facebook and Twitter, which is great for increasing web presence and spread your cause. The next step is driving online engagement to take offline actions. Start by raising awareness on your cause. Storytelling and compelling visual graphics are the trends to catch attention on social media. Social media is also the place for wish list, crowdfunding, campaigns and fundraising event. Beside that, have a look at low cost tools that powered your action, and ads to promote your campaign. I saw some options at AFP Marketplace; you will find them with some searching on the Internet.
4 – Online Communication
Despite the advancement of social media, surveys show that email is still the most efficient way to communicate with donors. CRM integrated with email marketing systems make it easier to manage information, track subscriber activities and evaluate what is working. Targeting your audience to communicate.
5 – Keep your eyes on data
Periodically track the statistics of the website and social media channels. Platforms like Joomla and WordPress offer a good amount of information about access and interaction, as well as Google Analytics and other free tools. Have a look at your demographic data, learn how people get to your website, how long stay in each page, what they are looking for etc. Based on insights provided by these analytic tools, and your experience, develop a strategy and set up engagement goals. Test, test, and test. Do not be afraid to fail.
6 – Cultivate partnerships
Register everything about each donor’s relationship. This historic will help you in next contact.
Share small successes, milestones.
Discover creative ways to say thank you or get involved.
Satisfied donors attract more partners. Make sure they know that their support matters.
Engage with your donor’s network and recruit more supporters.
7 – Plan
Have a plan for medium and long-term fundraising.
Do your homework. Knowing all about your potential donor and the organization you are asking money for. Training with co-workers. Be prepared, and if you do not have all the answers, be honest and commit to seek that information.
Time management is an essential quality for fundraisers. Have a weekly schedule for recruiting and retention donor’s plan.
8 – Think big
Invest more time in major gifts because they have more impact in your organization. Who can invest? Gather with board member and staff; make a list of 20 potential donors. Start by people who already know the work of your organization. Invest at least five hours per week to cultivate these potential donors.
9 – Engage
Everyone in an organization is a fundraiser. Train all staff to share the organization ‘s mission and identify potential donors.
Make other fundraising on behalf of your organization: sharable content to your followers share their passion for your cause, provide tools and guidance on how to organize a campaign, fundraising event, a volunteer team etc.
10 – Be straightforward
Do not be embarrassed to ask. People, businesses and government are not giving to you, but through you. Fundraisers give opportunities for others to be part of the solution.
Strengthen and expand your network with other fundraising professionals, share experiences, invest in professionalization.
by Ivana Braga
Learn more at Association of Fundraising Professionals