If you’ve noticed lately that your nonprofit is struggling to acquire or retain givers, it may be time to take a critical look at your organization’s giving culture.
Does your organization make giving feel like a chore, an obligation, or even a transaction? If so, you’re sending the wrong message to your givers and prospects about what drives your organization to move its mission forward.
Instead, work to make your supporters passionate about your cause and the potential impact they can have on your beneficiaries, creating a culture of excited giving and genuine philanthropy.
Whether your organization is a charity, healthcare organization, educational institution, or a church, creating a culture of excited giving can be easier said than done. To help, we’ve compiled five strategies you can use to improve how you and your supporters think about giving. Let’s dive in!
- Tell your nonprofit's stories
- Tailor your approaches for individual supporters.
- Making giving convenient for your supporters.
- Share the impact your supporters are having on your cause.
- Always thank your supporters for their gifts.
1. Tell your nonprofit’s stories.
Stories have the power to inspire and to deepen emotional connections. So, sharing your nonprofit’s stories is a great place to start to spark excitement for your cause among your supporters.
Here are some examples of stories you can share with your community:
- Your nonprofit’s history. Often a nonprofit’s origin story involves a group of people recognizing a problem and coming together to solve it. Share with your community what drove your founders to start your organization and what your vision is for a better future. This will help your supporters picture how they can take part in helping you accomplish your mission and long-term goals.
- Impact or beneficiary stories. These stories zero in on the effect your supporters are having on the beneficiaries you serve. Impact stories are more general, showcasing the cause and effect of your supporters giving to and engaging with your cause and how it makes a difference. Beneficiary stories, on the other hand, are much more individualized and personal, where a beneficiary shares how your organization’s work has made a difference in their life.
- Supporter stories. Sometimes all it takes to inspire giving is to hear how another person gave to your nonprofit. Share supporter stories or spotlights in which board members, major givers, long-time volunteers, and other supporters explain why they care about your cause and how they’ve participated in your work.
You can share your organization’s stories in a number of ways. For example, you might share your nonprofit’s history on your website’s “About Us” page or create beneficiary and supporter story videos to share on social media. You can also weave your stories into marketing and promotional materials for upcoming campaigns (like your newsletters or mailers) to help spread the word about your vision.
2. Tailor your approaches for individual supporters.
All supporters appreciate your organization’s efforts to take interest in their personal reasons for giving to your fundraising campaigns. This demonstrates that you value their support, a key step in building lasting relationships with them and making them eager to give.
Use information gathered through prospect research to develop more personalized appeals that your supporters will appreciate.
Prospect research is the process of using your database and other tools to gather important information on current and potential supporters related to their capacity and willingness to give. Prospect research data encompasses several categories of information, including:
- Philanthropic indicators. These include your supporters’ giving histories with your organization and others that share a similar mission. Individuals who have given to your organization before are among the most likely to give again, so make sure you reach out to this group of potential supporters.
- Wealth markers. Including data such as real estate ownership, stock holdings, business affiliations, and political giving history, wealth markers give your organization an indication of the appropriate gift sizes to ask for from different supporters.
- Other indications of interest in your organization. Are some of your supporters also volunteering with your organization or with similar nonprofits? Do they demonstrate their support for your cause on social media? These committed individuals are worth reaching out to.
Once you’ve identified prospective givers, especially those who are potentially capable of making major gifts, you’ll need to cultivate stronger relationships with them to keep them motivated. DonorSearch’s major gifts guide includes valuable relationship-building strategies that you can use to get started developing these essential connections.
When your supporters understand that your organization values their personal interests in your cause, they’ll be excited to give.
3. Making giving convenient for your supporters.
To encourage giving, it’s important for your organization to make the process as clear and convenient to complete as possible for your supporters so they don’t abandon their efforts.
For smaller and mid-level supporters, convenience usually refers to online giving capabilities. Your organization should be able to direct them to the appropriate payment location and minimize the number of steps required to complete the gift. Additionally, Averill Solutions’ annual fund guide recommends that you promote your recurring gifts program or membership program and encourage returning givers to upgrade their giving.
Supporters who give major gifts are likely to give those gifts in-person. Because these supporters are essential to the success of your fundraising efforts, your organization should make sure that they know exactly how and where to finalize their gifts.
Take a critical look at your current giving process and strive to make improvements. You can even go the extra mile and reach out to your supporters to ask for their feedback on your online giving form or their experience working with your major gift officers.
4. Share the impact your supporters are having on your cause.
After a supporter’s initial gift, it’s important to motivate them to give again in the near future. You can do this by communicating the impact their individual gift had on your cause.
Here are a few effective ways to share impact:
- Provide quantifiable results. Put a number on your givers’ impact to help them gauge just how far their gifts went. For example, you could show a supporter that their gift of $50 provided 15 meals for children facing food insecurity. Or, you could demonstrate to a long-time giver that the total dollars given over their lifetime helped you create and sustain a tutoring program for at-risk high schoolers.
- Create before-and-after visuals. Before-and-after visuals are powerful because they show the effects of positive change. For instance, take a before picture of a park prior to your organization coming in and cleaning it up and then pair it with a post-cleanup photo. These types of images help your supporters visualize just how much of a difference your organization can make—with their help!
- Offer a tour of your facility. Invite your supporters to see the place where your work happens, like your animal shelter or food bank. This gives them an on-the-ground opportunity to see your team in action and their dollars at work. If your facility isn’t where your work takes place, no problem. Take them on a live virtual tour of the site where your work or your next project takes place.
Sharing the impact of a gift can help givers feel like their support is an investment rather than a payment or transaction. Work to frame impact in these terms to show your supporters why it’s important to continue giving to your organization.
5. Always thank your supporters for their gifts.
In addition to sharing impact with your supporters, your organization needs to demonstrate that their generous gifts are the reason for your continued success. This will help motivate them to give again.
To cultivate an attitude of gratitude for your supporters at your organization, make it a habit to send personalized thank-you letters or notes to supporters soon after they give. Depending on the situation, you may also provide a small gift, like a piece of branded merchandise that represents your mission.
Personalize your thank-you messages by relying on your database to include supporters’ names, gift amounts, and any other pertinent information that will make them feel like their decision to give to your specific organization was the right one. Include a signature from someone at your organization, whether that be a staff member or board member, to give the message one last personal touch.
The key is to make each individual feel like their specific gift made a difference to your organization, and, more importantly, your beneficiaries. When supporters feel seen and valued for their generosity, they’ll be encouraged to give again, which means that even the simplest thank you can go a long way in helping you develop lasting relationships with supporters who want to see your organization succeed.
Whether you’re preparing for a capital campaign or simply gearing up to fill your annual fund again, it’s important to get your entire community excited about giving in order to continue strengthening your relationships and bringing in the fundraising revenue that allows your organization to keep serving its beneficiaries.
Use these five strategies to help shift how your organization frames giving and get everyone, including your internal team, excited about it!
This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.