The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports on a recent survey that says 40 percent of donors plan to give MORE in 2020 than in the previous year–this, despite widespread economic fallout from the global pandemic. What does this mean for nonprofits that want to secure their share of increased giving? People are primed to give, and now is the time to make your ask. Here are some key considerations that will help ensure your year-end fundraising success.
Pandemic and Politics Drive Giving
As the pandemic continues to dominate the daily dialogue, giving trends have kept apace with the rise in awareness surrounding public health issues. Likewise, racial justice and politics have taken their share of the stage and giving to both causes has increased from previous years. But can we expect giving to be reduced in other sectors as a result? Not necessarily, say survey respondents. Still, it’s helpful to examine your nonprofit’s mission vis-a-vis pandemic relief and other salient issues; strive to ensure that your messaging effectively ties in your mission to those issues that are top of mind for donors.
New Opportunities Through Virtual Fundraising
Donors are increasingly warming to virtual events, although 22 percent of survey respondents said that virtual events make it more difficult to feel connected to the charity’s mission. Likewise, Stanford’s Social Innovation Review (SSIR) reports that Zoom fatigue, along with the relative accessibility (or inaccessibility) of technology in some communities can be a barrier to virtual fundraising efforts. What can nonprofits do?
SSIR suggests that nonprofits seek creative (although deliberate) approaches to online events. Because virtual events can be carried out with relatively low overhead, experimenting with novel or smaller efforts can have a big return on investment, with little risk. There their best tips for virtual fundraising success include:
Prepare: Producers and participants should be deliberate and thoughtful in preparing their virtual event. From camera setup and lighting, to content and preparation of moderators and guests, preparation is the key to running a smooth virtual event.
Keep it short: Virtual sessions should be limited to 30-60 minutes, to include time for performance and presentation, along with audience participation.
Consider multi-event series: This can drive momentum and may have more appeal for sponsors. Likewise, recirculating your live event after the fact can act as a force multiplier to fundraising efforts.
Follow-up: When you click the leave meeting button, your fundraising job is just beginning. Virtual events not only drive immediate fundraising but can be leveraged to create a pipeline of future donors. Make sure that your virtual fundraising event is set up to collect emails. Likewise, take time to prepare a post-event plan to reach out to warm leads about ongoing giving opportunities.
Having a Fundraising Plan (Literally) Pays Off
In a separate article, SSIR observes that one key factor drastically influences fundraising success for smaller nonprofits–having a fundraising plan. According to their research, nonprofits who had a fundraising plan realized a $4.25 increase in donor income for every $1 of salary spent on fundraising; face-to-face meetings resulted in a $5,000 increase per donor. Those with no plan achieved no demonstrable increase in either respect.
The SSIR survey also uncovered that about half of income from individuals donors is raised from donors giving $1,000 or more. Still, the average organization only meets face-to-face with 17 donors throughout the year (or 9% of their donor base). That means organizations that don’t make a plan to regularly engage and steward large donors are likely leaving money on the table.
Make Sure You’re Registered to Solicit
If your nonprofit engages in fundraising activities, it will likely need to file a registration form with every state where it is soliciting donations. Forty states and the District of Columbia require registration in advance of engaging in any fundraising or solicitation activity. This requirement is known as charitable solicitation registration. You can learn more about charitable solicitation here.
Need help with your charitable solicitation registration? Caritas Law Group can help. We serve nonprofits of all types and sizes and file registrations in all states that require them.
Ellis Carter is a nonprofit lawyer with Caritas Law Group, P.C. licensed to practice in Washington and Arizona. Ellis advises nonprofit and socially responsible businesses on corporate, tax, and fundraising regulation nationwide. Ellis also advises donors with regard to major gifts. To schedule a consultation with Ellis, call 602-456-0071 or email us through our contact form.