5 Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas

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By Travelers
5 minutes

Fundraising can be time-consuming, and often is not a core competency for nonprofit employees or board members. But many organizations rely on annual campaigns and special events to raise the resources necessary to fund programs, pay their staff and contribute to community outreach efforts.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, it might not be possible to hold in-person fundraising events in the immediate future. Many nonprofits still depend on funds raised from these events, however, and are considering virtual alternatives. Holding an online-only event, such as a virtual auction or digital fundraising campaign, can help engage your donors, volunteers and the community while still raising needed donations. Online fundraising tools and social media can make it easier to engage with donors and to share the impact of their contributions.

Fortunately, there are many ways that nonprofit organizations can become more effective at getting the funds they need to support their missions. A group of nonprofit leaders shared their fundraising experiences and strategies with Travelers. Here are five nonprofit fundraising ideas:  

1. Counteract Donor Fatigue

The nonprofit landscape is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive.

It’s getting more crowded out there, and increased competition can lead to donor fatigue. Having a specific ask, such as the amount needed to send a child to camp for a week or to help train someone in new computer skills, can help make the contribution feel more tangible.

It may also be important to differentiate your organization’s mission and impact in the community. Can you clearly articulate why someone should give to your organization? After a donation is made, do you follow up to demonstrate what that contribution has meant to the community that you serve? These steps can help prevent donor fatigue and make it easier to approach the same prospects next year.

2. Be Transparent

Donors expect nonprofit organizations to be more transparent about their operations and finances, nonprofit leaders say.

A growing demand for financial transparency is putting pressure on nonprofit organizations to account for how donations are spent and to demonstrate positive results. Such transparency can help preserve donor trust in organizations. It can also be a matter of legal compliance for tax-exempt, public charities.

Practicing transparency could be a point of distinction for a nonprofit organization. For example, if a high percentage of funds go directly to outreach, that could be something to point out in future fundraising campaigns. It can also be a source of pride among employees, volunteers and board members and help to create a positive culture.

As part of financial transparency, nonprofits should adopt and share a conflict of interest policy for board and staff members and adopt an executive compensation policy for the executive director or Chief Executive Officer of the nonprofit.

3. Invest in the Fundraiser Role

Hiring a dedicated fundraiser helps time-strapped executive directors focus their efforts, leaders report.

Nonprofit leaders can spend a significant amount of time on fundraising activities, but that might not be the best use of time or expertise. Consider hiring someone experienced in fundraising, even on a part-time basis, who can help define an overall fundraising strategy and coordinate and accelerate its implementation so that other employees, board members and volunteers are all working together to achieve a common goal.

Fundraising is a regulated activity. Skilled fundraisers can help nonprofit organizations comply with state fundraising regulations and with fundraising guidelines from the IRS. They can also help ensure that nonprofits follow appropriate etiquette while seeking new donors and communicating with and thanking existing donors for their contributions.

4. Consider Outsourcing

An external fundraising resource is on the wish list of nonprofit leaders.

If it’s not possible to hire a dedicated fundraising professional, some nonprofit organizations outsource some or all of their fundraising activities, from developing a nonprofit fundraising plan to running an online fundraising campaign.

Depending on the needs of your organization, it might make sense to outsource aspects of your fundraising efforts. Be aware that such agencies typically work on a fixed fee, regardless of results.

5. Protect Your Nonprofit Organization

Nonprofit leaders can be more focused on tangible risks, such as special events, rather than cyber risks.

Fundraising can present a number of risks for a nonprofit organization. Many states have charity regulations that govern how nonprofits can raise funds from residents. Even though you may be far away, be aware that these rules generally apply where the donor is located, not where the charity is located.

And a data breach of donor records can affect a nonprofit of any size. “In the event of a data breach, critical trust established with donors could be compromised, putting your reputation and mission at risk,” said Tim Francis, Enterprise Cyber Lead at Travelers.

If a donor’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as their name, address, bank account or credit card information, were to be compromised in a breach, it could jeopardize the organization’s relationship with its donors, and the broader community.

There are also reporting regulations for organizations after a breach, and complying with them can be complex, time-consuming and expensive. Consider Cyber Insurance, which can help nonprofits before and after a breach.

While raising funds to support your nonprofit can be challenging, it is a fundamental need to keep organizations successfully running and fulfilling their mission. Along with fundraising activities, there are inherent needs for protecting your nonprofit, so consider contacting your insurance agent to ask about the insurance coverages that may be right for your organization.

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