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Build your fundraising program from the ground up in five steps

Fundraising can be daunting—but it doesn’t have to be. Learn how the right tools can help you grow your fundraising program from day one.

Build your fundraising program from the ground up in five steps

Running a nonprofit is no easy task. But with a million moving parts to manage, there’s one priority that always seems to rise above the restfundraising. Why? Because any nonprofit needs a scalable, trackable fundraising program to sustain itself, let alone succeed. 

If you’re just starting out, we know creating a fundraising program from scratch can seem daunting. But we’re here to show you how integrated digital organizing tools can make all the difference.

Know your community

Building out your donor base is the essential first step. You’ve got a blank slate to fill and that’s an exciting moment to be in. There’s no option but to grow at this point. Your earliest donors will likely be made up of friends and familydon’t hesitate to think of them as supporters. But soon enough, your community will expand beyond your immediate network into the networks of your foundational community members (more on that later).

For now, you’ll need to make sure you have the infrastructure to create a viable database and track information on your early supporters. With tools like tags and filters, you can easily keep up with their involvement, the avenue through which they might have found your organization (e.g. through a friend, family, etc.) and their specific interests. With all this information in one place, it’ll make it that much easier for you to reach out for their help and ask them to become your first donors.

Set your goals

Once you’ve got a handle on who’s who in your budding donor base, you’ll be ready to set short-term and long-term goals for your fundraising program. And with a goals dashboard, you can hold yourself accountable and easily track your progress.

You can also create customized journeys for your supporters based on what actions you believe can not only lead to their involvement in your fundraising program, but promote their continued growth in how they support your mission. With tools like paths, you can quickly see exactly where a supporter is in their engagement with your organizationlike whether they’ve donated once, taken the next step toward becoming a recurring donor, or perhaps even gone as far as becoming a recruiter to help raise funds on your organization’s behalf.

Start your outreach

At this stage, you’ve got the right information and infrastructure set up to start reaching out to your potential donors. But it’s important not to rush this process with a cookie-cutter blast out to all your supporters. This is why you set up the infrastructure and tracking in steps one and twoso that you could consider their specific engagement with your organization and what motivated their interest in your cause, and use that information to make your outreach specific to each person. And with smart fields, plugging in this information takes just a second, whether you’re sending ten, a hundred, or a thousand emails.

Plus, you’ll want to make it clear why their help is so crucial and the impact it’ll make in the long-term. People are more likely to support something they can feel good aboutso let them in on your story and why their contribution is extremely important.

Incorporate peer-to-peer

After your initial round of outreach, you’ll start to see some donations trickling in. But if you want to keep the momentum going and continue scaling your programyou’re going to need a peer-to-peer fundraising strategy.

With a peer-to-peer strategy, you’ll have a cost-effective, organic solution to creating continued growth for your fundraising efforts. All you’ll need to get it started is your original cohort of donors. From there, you’ll ask them to reach out to their personal networks to recruit donors themselves. The easier you make it for them to partake, the more likely they’ll take you up on your ask. So, what are the right tools for a seamless peer-to-peer program?

NationBuilder action pages on your site are set up with built-in social share options, meaning that once an individual takes action (e.g. donates, signs up to volunteer, etc.) they’ll be given the option to let their social network know and ask them to join in. This is a really low-barrier ask that has a huge payoffan action that only takes a few seconds, and puts your message out to an entirely new audience of potential donors. All you have to do is customize the social share prompts with a message that will resonate best with your community.

To take it one step further, you can also enable your supporters to create personal fundraising pages, which they can then share out to their network and collect donations directly. This tactic allows them to take more ownership of their involvement with your cause, and put their individual touch on how they raise funds for your organization.

Stay in touch

The final, and perhaps most important step, is to stay in contact with your donors. Whether it’s by sending a thank you note for their recent donation, encouraging them to become a recurring donor, or letting them know how their donation has made an impact thus fardon’t let them fall off your radar. Supporters want to feel involved and feel good about their contributions. The more you create positive associations with the act of donating, the more likely they’ll want to do more to help. 

And long-term, the ongoing growth and success of your fundraising program will largely rely on your ability to continue experimenting, trying new strategies, and developing stronger relationships with your supporter base. If at any point you hit a plateau, don’t get discouragedthis is a completely normal occurrence for a scaling program, and we’ve got you covered when it comes to that too. 

Now get out there and find your communityhappy fundraising!

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