Every organization is different when it comes to fundraising. Does your nonprofit ask every staff member to help with fundraising events, meetings, and mailings? Or do you work in an organization where fundraising is reserved just for the fundraising staff so the program staff is not “bothered” with fundraising?
The truth is every staff person has a role to play in fundraising. This includes the board of directs, CEO/Executive Director, receptionist, program staff and volunteers.
The fundraising responsibilities does not fall solely on the chief executive or your development officer (if you have one). Sure, they should take the lead when it comes to fundraising. They should set the strategy, make the asks, and write the fundraising letters. But it’s everyone’s job to support fundraising — both board AND staff. And there are many ways to support fundraising that don’t even involve soliciting funds.
Here are 11 ways nonprofit staff, board members, and volunteers can help move your fundraising efforts forward:
1. Making thank you calls to donors. Have staff, volunteers and board members pick up the phone to say thank you. This is a secret weapon. Studies have shown that those who receive a call give more than those who do not. This simple most under-utilized way of thanking donors has the most lasting impact.
Phone calls can build bonds of trust between your nonprofit and a donor because they are personal in nature. This is a great low-pressure activity for board member & staff fundraising with a big return on the time invested. Have you ever received an unexpected thank you for something you did? What a lift to the spirits!
You can provide that to your donors with an out-of-the-blue thank you call. In today’s world, we are always being asked to do more, to give more. It’s nice to simply be thanked for what we’ve already done. People will appreciate it and they will remember you.
You can also host a Thank-a-Thon during a slow time in your calendar, not near any fundraising events. You want this thank you call to come as a surprise, delighting your donors. Plan one day or a series of evenings to call all your donors.
This is a great job for board members; it feels really good to just simply say thank you.
2. Attending non-ask events such as small socials and cultivation events. A great strategy for staff is a behind the scenes tour. Invite donors in for a tour. During the tour they can meet clients (if appropriate clients should serve as the tour guide), your staff, and even have a small meeting with your team. This can solidify your relationship for years to come. A major donor or board member may be willing to host a cultivation event in their home. A donor cultivation event provides a fun and social setting for your nonprofit to get to know donors on a personal level and to say thank you for their support. This is a purely social event that brings together current donors, potential new donors and lapsed donors. You do not ask for money. You can use this as an opportunity to instead engage in conversations about your donors’ interests. Along the way sprinkling in tidbits about your nonprofit impact.
3. Sharing client stories with your fundraising staff. A big part of fundraising is appealing to donors and proving your impact. People are touched and motivated by stories, so staff should pass along fun and heart-warming stories to development. The story of an individual you helped or a small problem you solved might be the perfect content for an upcoming appeal. You can also have clients attend board meetings so that board members hear their story directly during the mission moment on your agenda.
4. Going along on fundraising meetings to talk about program highlights. If a client can’t accompany the development officer on “the ask” take a program person. They can share the first-hand impact of your organizations and the clients you serve.
5. Sending short, hand-written notes to donors and prospects. Change who’s saying thank you. With the help of staff, ask a few clients to explain in their own words how your organization has changed their lives and to thank the donor for making it all possible. Clients write the note, but you send it. Then, ask board members to send a separate handwritten thank you note. Thank you note writing is a great activity for board member fundraising too—it’s low pressure, with a big return on the time invested.
6. Introducing your fundraising team to new contacts. Program staff have a great opportunity to interact with donors and potential donors. They can approach them to be guest speakers for clients and engage them in program volunteer opportunities. Once they are involved in the program they can then introduce them to the fundraising team.
7. Keep Communication Open – The development folks need to know what is going on throughout the organization. Whether it’s presenting new evidence of your impact or answering donor questions on an unforeseen roadblock, your development staff need to be in the know. Communication with development is especially important for the staff that does marketing & community relations. Because they both speak to donors and should work together to make every message and promotion as efficient and effective as possible.
8. Report All Donor/Funder Interactions – Development is an ongoing process and a single donation can take months (or even years) to complete. Fundraising will be more successful if they know what interactions a donor, sponsor, or foundation is having with your organization. Staff can help them stay on top of funding opportunities by letting them know when they communicate with a funder. Staff conversations might hold a clue for how best to approach the donor.
9. Make their own proud gift and invite others to join them in giving. 100% of board members must set a good example by giving first and publicly announcing their gift to encourage others. Staff and volunteers can also be encouraged to give to their nonprofit. It definitely supports the development team when they can approach a donor and say 100% of board and staff donate to the organization.
10. Sell tickets and sponsorships to your organization’s events. Board, staff, and volunteers also have contacts and are very capable of securing sponsorships and selling tickets. It allows everyone to have some skin in the game.
11. Program staff can have nonprofit clients create handmade donor gifts. Artwork, holiday wreaths, jewelry or any gift they can make. Sending donors a gift is a memorable way to steward your donors. A gift acts as a personalized reminder of how they helped your cause. Pick a gift related to your cause or organization to keep your mission in your donors’ minds. Your gift doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. In fact, a thoughtful, simple gift can have more impact on your donors. A major donor once told me don’t spend money on a fancy plaque. Instead, invest that money in the mission. After 10 years I still have artwork hanging in my home created by a youth in the after school program. And yes, I still support them. That artwork reminds me daily of the great work they do.
Development isn’t always the most exciting and celebrated part of the nonprofit sector, but the important thing to remember is that each and every person involved with your nonprofit needs to be involved with fundraising.
I hope this helps. Your feedback is appreciated. Comment below how your nonprofit board, staff, and volunteers support fundraising.
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