The following piece is a guest post written by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools that help nonprofits raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.
Running your nonprofit organization at its fullest potential can be difficult, especially with limited funds. More than likely, you depend heavily on charitable donations to keep your doors open and your operations afloat.
One of the best ways to make the most of your finite resources is to make each donation you receive count. That sounds great—but how do you do that exactly?
We’ll explore five tried-and-true best practices you can adopt for your fundraising team in this guide:
- Promote corporate matching gifts.
- Encourage recurring donations.
- Employ effective stewardship practices.
- Collect valuable data and leverage mission impact.
- Don’t skimp on overhead costs.
Ready to learn how to boost your fundraising ROI and make each dollar count toward your mission goals? Let’s dive in.
1. Promote corporate matching gifts.
If someone told you that you could double incoming donations to your organization with little to no added effort required on your part, you would do it, right?
It might seem too good to be true, but it’s not! Corporate matching gift programs allow nonprofits to do just that.
However, millions of match-eligible employees are completely unaware of their employer’s matching gift programs. So while they might technically be eligible to secure a company match for your mission, they won’t be able to without more information on the process. That’s where strategic matching gift promotion comes in.
Here are a few of our favorite ideas for sharing matching gift information with supporters:
- Educate donors on matching gifts through a combination of marketing channels.
- Embed a matching gift search tool in your donation form.
- Follow up with match-eligible donors after they submit their gifts.
Each individual who collects a corporate match essentially ensures their donation counts twice as much toward your cause. That’s a huge win for both your fundraising team receiving the funds and for the donor making a significantly larger difference for a mission they care about.
By incorporating matching gifts into your overall fundraising strategy, your team can begin doubling donations and allowing each contribution to go even further with its impact.
2. Encourage recurring donations.
Did you know that more than 45% of worldwide donors are enrolled in some sort of monthly giving program? Donors appreciate recurring gift programs because it allows them to make larger contributions over time—and often more than they’d be able to give in a single donation.
Then, at the end of the year, a donor can even batch their recurring gifts together to become eligible for a company match that might have fallen below the donation minimum threshold on its own.
Nonprofits also love recurring gifts because they allow organizations to receive a more stable income over time to help counteract the typical ebbs and flows of donation patterns and popular giving seasons. The steadier the income, the happier the nonprofit!
Luckily, most online donation tools offer an easy option for donors to opt into recurring gifts. You can even pre-select the option on your donation forms, resulting in higher levels of participation. When you drive recurring gifts, you’ll increase donor retention levels and end up with significantly more revenue from a single donor than you would have if you’d been solely targeting one-time contributions.
3. Employ effective stewardship practices.
A significant part of any successful fundraising plan concerns its stewardship efforts in place after a donor makes their gift. After all, it’s significantly more cost-effective to retain repeat donors than it is to be constantly on the lookout for new one-time givers. And the best way to keep donors giving is by practicing strategic stewardship!
During this stage, we suggest these two powerful tips:
- Send a donation acknowledgment. Within a few days after receiving the donor’s initial gift, be sure to send a personalized acknowledgment. You might send an email, write a letter, make a phone call, or send a text. Regardless of your chosen channel, you should communicate your appreciation and share donation impact with the donor.
- Provide additional engagement opportunities. While you won’t want to ask for additional funds just yet, it’s a good idea to encourage donors to engage with your organization in different ways. For example, ask them to explore their employer match-eligibility, attend an upcoming event, or register for your regular newsletter!
Effectively stewarding donors involves communicating with them that they’re a valuable part of your nonprofit team rather than just a row in your CRM or an ATM from which to withdraw cash. If done well, the donor journey should not end once the first gift is made—it should just be getting started!
4. Collect valuable data and leverage mission impact.
Online donations are not just donations. They’re also online transactions that can collect and provide all sorts of valuable user information. In order to visualize the way that your organization and its fundraising efforts are growing over time, we suggest collecting impactful data metrics. Consider these examples:
- Average donation size
- Donor retention levels
- Total matching gift revenue
By recording, analyzing, and leveraging these types of data, you can better understand how your fundraising strategies are currently working and where you see room for improvement.
It’s also a good idea to look at donations in terms of tangible mission impact. For example, if you received $X million in fundraising revenue this year, how many children were provided with school supplies? How many furry friends were cared for and adopted out of your shelter? Framing your data in this way is great for making sure each donation is making a real difference for your cause and helps ensure each dollar goes as far as it can.
5. Don’t skimp on overhead costs.
Many people think that in order to use nonprofit funding wisely, you have to keep your overhead costs as close to zero as possible. However, skimping on the overhead often leads to inefficient practices and missed opportunities.
The Better Business Bureau suggests that no more than 35% of a nonprofit’s budget should be allocated to overhead, while other sources offer more wiggle room at 40-45%. Although the majority of a nonprofit’s funding should certainly go toward mission expenses, spending a healthy amount on operating costs is vital for maximizing impact.
Luckily, unrestricted donations can be used to support any of your nonprofit needs, including operating expenses, software investments, staff salaries, and other critical overhead costs. That’s because these costs help the organization collect additional funding and offer their services to constituents in the most effective way possible.
For example, when you invest in fundraising tools like your online donation platform, donor management system, and matching gift software, you can ensure more money flows into your budget overall.
All in all, making your donations count has a lot to do with ensuring effective and efficient organizational practices as well as investing in the right tools and resources to set your team up for success.
Be sure to take advantage of “bonus” gifts when available, keep donors coming back time and time again, and always be on the lookout for opportunities for improvement. Good luck!