The Human Element – Fundraising Innovation 2016

Fundraising Innovation -2016

As the years have passed and fundraising has developed into a major sector, it has picked up a lot of formulaic approaches to what was once a very relational skill.  While the vast many of these are incredible improvements that drive and account for successes, somehow along the way we have lost something.  This vital thing we misplaced is the human element of fundraising.  That means we watered down the authenticity and passion that converts people into mission devoted followers in exchange for forecasting reports and 5 star appeals.

As the charity sector faces more competition every year- there is a simple, efficient way to stand out in the crowd…that won’t require you to hire a strategy firm, pay for loads of clicks or flashing lights.  You won’t even need to overhaul your current cultivation strategy.

So as you plan for the upcoming year challenge yourself to find creative ways to give your donors a human connection to the mission you serve.  Connecting with your donors on a personal level will help you get out from behind those pledge reports and major gift strategies and get excited about fundraising again.

Here are a couple of easy ways to accomplish Fundraising Innovation to your cultivation strategy:

  • Call recent donors- select a few donors and call them with no intention of anything but thanking them.  Be yourself, be emotional and don’t script anything. I guarantee you will get a kick out of their surprised reaction and better yet you might engage them in a conversation and learn more about their reasons for supporting your mission.
  • With your next appeal feel free to tell them how you really feel.  Use conversational tone and express emotion.  It is okay to be human about what you are doing! Don’t hide behind commonly used fundraising phrases-“your gift was vital to helping us accomplish our mission” say- “your $50 helped us feed people who are without homes.  Seeing someone smile after you know they have spent a cold night outside gives us hope that together we can really change futures for these people.”
  •  You know when you are just stuck- Your brain freezes over while you are crafting that board report?  Grab some interesting thank you cards and give yourself 30 minutes to hand write out a few notes of appreciation to a donor, volunteer or even a really active board member.  I assure you, it will help clear the fog, and your time will certainly not have been wasted, that recipient will beam when they get your hand written note in the mail.
    Internal donor culture is probably one of the hardest things to maintain (especially if your organization is large) Take the floor at your next staff meeting and share a donor story. Make your staff fall in love with what your donors are doing and you will light that spark of donor love in your employees.
  • Tweet, Facebook, or Instagram gifts.  Seriously, even if it is a bag of clothes.  People love following success and it tells them you are an organization that appreciates their donors.  A simple thank-you tweet: “Thank you to the donor who brought in ten hygiene kits for our clients today!”  The gift doesn’t have to be impressive, you don’t have to use names, just a thanks-a-lot.

Wait?  Is That Really Fundraising Innovation?

Somewhere in the back of your mind you are saying “Innovation? These are old hats.”  You’re right.  Unfortunately not many organizations are doing these type of donor touches.  The good news is that if you tap into some of these practices you will feel like a fresh voice in the crowd of appeals, events, and needy hands.

Some charities are bringing their “A” game, and they have donors that would give, organize or do anything they need.  They are lit up about the mission and they make sure everyone knows it!  Doesn’t that sound dreamy?  It is because they were affirmed that they are a “part” of something, not a silent partner throwing money at a problem.