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The must-have fundraising checklist for nonprofits: 9 top tips

In the modern world, nonprofit organizations like yours are becoming increasingly important, especially when it comes to finding solutions to social issues. However, it is the extensive financial resources obtained through the fundraising efforts of your dedicated staff and volunteers that make change not just a possibility, but a reality.

So, how do you increase your chances of reaching your annual fundraising goal? How can you truly convey the necessity of the work you’re doing? The key is to create an emotive and eye-opening fundraising campaign that shows a clear understanding of your donors’ motivations and emotions.

In order to help you get started, we have created a fundraising checklist for nonprofits that will ensure that by the end of 2024, you will not only have reached your fundraising goal, but actually exceeded it.

1. Really look at your website

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When a donor first hears about your nonprofit organization, the first place they will usually look is your website. This is why it’s important that you have the best website design and content that follows all of these guidelines:

Navigation and accessibility

Your website must be easy to navigate, with relevant content that conforms with your fundraising goals. You also have to make sure that your website functions across all devices. It has to work well and look good, not just on laptops and computers, but also on mobile phones and tablets. If the website is unresponsive or difficult to navigate, your visitors will rarely try a second time to donate!

Website content

Your website must outline your organization’s mission and story in an engaging way that helps potential donors to understand why they should donate to your organization and the impact their contributions will have.

The content should also encourage visitors to get involved in your community, whether this be by signing up for newsletters, taking part in a range of different volunteering opportunities, or even simply social media engagement.

On top of this, promoting your monthly giving program is essential.

Make donating easy

You have to make the donation process as easy as possible. Try to avoid asking for phone numbers as this makes people worry that you might start calling them. This is the quickest way to change a donor’s mind about contributing!

It is also recommended that you offer donors a default donation amount, although it must be possible to enter a custom amount that suits them. 

Furthermore, your website needs to have a clear call to action that is impossible to miss, encouraging them to donate. Make sure that it is brightly colored and contrasts with the rest of your page, and that your visitors will find it within 2 to 3 seconds.

Stay connected with social media

Share links to your social media channels so visitors are able to stay connected and have easy access to all your campaign updates.

Give donors the possibility of sharing their donations on social media. If you do this, as well as providing a template for different social channels and some ready-made hashtags, this can really help to drive social media engagement, increasing awareness of your cause as they share it with their followers.

2. Find partners who can help you reach more donors

External partners can be a really valuable asset when it comes to aiding your efforts to reach more donors and raise awareness. There are many types of partners that support nonprofits in reaching more donors, such as platforms that connect corporations and nonprofit organizations.

A corporate giving software, like Benevity, can help you raise awareness for your organization’s cause and makes it easier to share volunteering and donation opportunities. Access to such a platform can help you access a whole new community of potential donors and volunteers, who are specifically invested in the causes your organization is focused on.

You can also try to find some corporate partners for your nonprofit. This sort of partnership offers a mutually beneficial relationship for both the nonprofit and the business they partner up with. The corporate partner will provide money, goods, or some form of service in return for something the nonprofit can provide that will be beneficial to the company.

3. Educate and cultivate your donor

How much do your donors know about your organization and the work you do? It is also a fantastic idea to run awareness and fundraising campaigns simultaneously. This helps reinforce both your needs and the donor’s impact. This awareness campaign has to be something both engaging and educational, something that really piques the interests of both potential and existing donors. You should always include the following information:

  • What cause are you fighting to resolve?
  • Why does this problem matter?
  • Testimonials from both beneficiaries and donors

In general, you should try to make sure that you follow the 3-1 cultivation ask rule. This means that in between every time you ask for something from your donors, they should hear from you at least 3 times where you don’t ask for anything. Alternative communication can include invitations to free webinars, updates on your campaign, or sharing a calendar of upcoming events that they can attend or participate in.

Sharing other types of communications helps your donors to build a relationship with you and feel like a part of your community. If every single communication from you is an ask, you won’t develop a long-lasting relationship built on trust and mutual respect.

4. Share your story in a compelling way

Good storytelling is essential to an effective fundraising campaign. You must be able to convey all the necessary information without losing the donor’s interest. Convey a sense of urgency that states the potential consequences of not donating but also ensure that your campaign is timeless so they don’t switch off and forget about your organization the second the campaign is over. When telling your story, consider the following questions:

  • Who are you helping?
  • What will you do with the funds? How will they make a difference?
  • Where is the are where the funds will have the most impact?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How are you implementing the project?
  • What difference does one donation make?

Mentioning the impact a donor’s gift will have is incredibly important as it allows them to visualize and be sure that even if they are the only person who donates, they will still be having a profound impact on the lives of those the nonprofit organization is trying to help. For example, $150 can get newborn kits for 25 new mothers living in challenging conditions.

One of the most effective fundraising techniques is to create a pitch video to accompany your campaign. According to a study by Indiegogo, fundraising campaigns with pitch videos raise around four times more than those that do not. The choice of pictures accompanying your campaign are also incredibly important. The images have to be good quality and show the beneficiaries of your project, as well as demonstrating their emotions. Make sure you show your programs in action and, where possible, use infographics to provide information about your cause and mission.

Any videos used should not be too long, sticking purely to the points that will really appeal to the viewers emotions and educate them further as to the key points of your cause.

5. Social media is crucial

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Social media is one of the most useful tools in your kit when it comes to fundraising campaigns, and a well executed social media strategy is often the key to success. Post regularly to remind people about your work and keep people interested in your cause. Regularly posting about a wide range of fundraising activities that your donors can take part in also allows them to share some of your posts with their followers, which can draw even more potential donors in.

It’s also imperative that you step up your hashtag game when it comes to social media campaigns. Many people think that the best method is to use as many relevant hashtags as possible, however, hashtag stuffing is actually often penalized by social media networks. The optimal number to use is between three and five, with a mixture of custom ones, unique to your business, and more generic ones that could help make you visible to a wider audience.

6. Express gratitude

It might seem obvious, but thanking your donors should always appear somewhere near the top of your fundraising checklist. Their generosity gives you the power to keep making a difference. Writing personal thank you notes where possible can really help to improve the rate of recurrence when it comes to donations as your donors really feel appreciated. In fact, according to a study conducted by Software Advice, personalized letters are the preferred follow-up method.

7. Report back

Your donors want to know the results of your fundraising campaign, so don’t be shy about sharing and celebrating your success with them. Seeing the results boosts their confidence not just in your organization, but also in the impact of their contributions. Seeing this impact is crucial for future donations.

Share plenty of pictures, statistics, and testimonials from beneficiaries. Make them feel like heroes because, let’s face it…they are! They are the reason your fundraising efforts will ultimately succeed. Remember to also send the tax exemption certificate to your donors.

8. Anticipate for failure to ensure success

Something that is incredibly important when planning out your fundraising campaign is to do a premortem. This is where you have a meeting before launching your campaign where you imagine that your project has failed. By picturing all the different ways in which your project could go wrong, you can forecast any potential roadblocks and try to figure out a solution, before it has even become a problem. This reduces the amount of time it takes to fix issues during the campaign (or stops them from occurring in the first place), giving your campaign the best chance of success.

9. Evaluate your fundraising campaign’s success

Your fundraising efforts should never really be put on hold. However, whenever you finish your campaign or have gathered enough information to evaluate an ongoing campaign, you should regroup with your team and consider the following:

  • What went well?
  • What could be improved?
  • What things should you start/stop/continue doing?
  • Are you able to ask any of your donors for their feedback?

By doing this evaluation, you will ensure that your next fundraising campaign is even more successful than the last and avoids your previous mistakes.

We hope that this fundraising checklist is useful and that your fundraising campaigns, both present and future are a success with the tips above.

What next?

If you really want to get a headstart on your fundraising efforts, why not create an activity on our platform right away. Alaya by Benevity is a purpose platform that allows NPOs to post activities and match up with potential donors and volunteers. You simply have to fill in the form linked below with details such as the required skills, time commitment, and languages needed, and volunteers from companies all over the world can apply to help out. In this way, you are sure to find the best person for the job. 

There are four different types of activity you can create on our platform to aid you. These are:

  • Field volunteering: when employees volunteer on-site, e.g. in a soup kitchen or for a beach clean up
  • Skills-based volunteering: when employees need a specific skill set in order to participate in the volunteering, e.g. helping to design a website or mentoring students
  • Goods collection: when employees donate goods, such as food, books, toys, etc.
  • Donations: when employees donate money to your organization

Create an activity today by telling us your needs and we’ll take care of the rest:

Find volunteers now