I’ve been spending time talking to nonprofit founders lately and I noticed a common thread: decision makers in the nonprofit community are stressed about the holiday season. The end of November to the end of December is the time of year when they push for new fundraising ideas, communicate with donors, and start really worrying about next year’s budget.
While I can’t help with the budget, I would like to take some of the stress off of holiday fundraising so that budget conversations can be a little more comfortable next year.
Although holiday season fundraising is important (a third of all donations happen in December) there are 11 other months in the year, and all of them have fundraising potential. You can absolutely leverage your audience all year to help bring in donations! Plus, fundraisers in the off season can bring in donors that are swamped with Giving Tuesday asks from competing charities!
I wrote about creating your fundraising calendar from a marketing perspective already, but I thought you might also like a few fundraising ideas to leverage an audience all year.
9 Fundraising Ideas to Leverage Your Audience Year Round
1 – Year Around Communication
Let’s talk about communications and segmentation real quick here because there is a difference between your audience and your donors. You’ve got to talk to them differently to support their journey with you. This is what we do really well, so please jump on a call with me to talk about it if you’re struggling with year around communication.
How to talk to your audience about fundraising
Your audience is made up of donors, potential donors, and lurkers.
If you’re not already talking to your audience using regular content marketing, take the opportunity to start right now. Sharing what you do through social media, email marketing, and your website is how you get people interested in your cause. It’s how you will turn potential donors into donors and lurkers into potential donors.
Talk to your donors all year
People are more likely to donate to a cause they have already donated to, so you want to keep your previous donors close. If you aren’t already, consider adding quarterly (at least) donor letters/emails to your marketing calendar. These folks are your bread and butter, so send them information about your business – what you have achieved this quarter, what you’re working on, future goals, and upcoming fundraising campaigns.
Increase your campaigns around your fundraisers and make sure they know exactly what the nonprofit will use the funds for.
2 – Create a Donation “Product” or Use a Platform that Allows You to Accept Year Around Donations
If you already sell things on your website, just make a product that is for a “donation.” If you don’t sell things, and don’t plan to, don’t bother adding a store just for donations. Use a platform like Give Lively to collect donations all year.
The important thing here is making it easy for people to donate. Put a button to your donation page in your header and a link in your footer. On the page, give people a clear reason to donate to you. Share what you will use the funds for!
Make sure to collect emails so that you can send them your donor letters!
3 – Monthly Donations or Subscription Services with Tiers
This is one of the most lucrative fundraising ideas! Folks often want to offer automated monthly donations to causes that they support. And these really add up for you! If you don’t have an automated monthly donation option on your website or platform, please start doing this and add it to your next newsletter.
Take it to the next level with memberships
If you’re already accepting monthly donations, consider adding a membership program. Offer first dibs on content or exclusive connections/content/products etc to people who join your membership programs. There are wordpress plugins that can do this, or you can start really easily with a platform like Ko-fi. The main downside to membership programs is that they can be time consuming. Be prepared for that.
Fundraising Ideas #4 – Add a Spring Fundraiser
All the pressure you put into your holiday fundraiser can be lessened if you add another fundraiser at the right time with the right goal. Spring is a great time because there is less competition, people have some savings before their summer holiday, and it will help you beat the summer slump.
For your spring fundraiser, choose a very targeted goal that you can realize with the fundraiser. When people think that your goal is attainable, they will be more likely to help you. Then, you can use the success to fuel excitement for your donor letters and your next fundraising event!
5 – Search for a Match Partner for Earlier in the Year
Finding a match partner is one of the best fundraising ideas to improve your donations early in the season. You are creating a celebration and an event when you have a partner. Plus, when people think their donation is being matched, they’ll donate more. It does take time and energy to find a match partner when you first start, but keep trying. Here are great ways to start:
Ask a large donor
If you have larger donors already, ask them if you can use their donation as a “match” in a fundraising campaign. You may be able to pull in smaller donations from your audience to match the larger donation! You can use language like, “our largest donor can match up to $4000, help us hit our goal!”
Search within your community
Ask your community, especially your board members if they know someone who could be interested in a match. It doesn’t have to be a huge match amount either – $1000 matched is an extra $1000 – you can do a lot with that!
Find a platform
I’m a big fan of using available technology to spread the word! I have noticed that a lot of small nonprofits feel like they are on an island, or don’t know where to turn for help with this stuff. Global Giving is a platform that helps nonprofits find personal donors, corporate donors, and match partners around the world!
6 – Get on a list like One Percent for the Planet
One Percent for the Planet is a great way for nonprofits to get known better and find donors! While it’s a competitive directory for donors to find you, it is a way into the heart of a lot of altruistic donors. You can’t apply to be on the platform, you have to be suggested by a giving member, so donors often have more trust giving their money to nonprofits listed there.
Fundraising Ideas #7 – Get Creative with Word of Mouth
Two-thirds of new donors don’t research. They just donate based on word of mouth from their friends and family. You can leverage that with creative peer to peer giving. This is straight from the ecommerce brand playbook. They do this type of marketing all the time with “affiliate marketing” and “loyalty programs.” You can too!
Go the serious route with a platform like Give Lively’s peer to peer fundraising campaign creation, or think of a fun reason for people in your network to share your donation link. Consider offering a free class or content, be a podcast guest, do a giveaway, make up a game – etc. Get creative and try lots of different things to figure out what works best for your nonprofit fundraising goals.
Pro tip: Make the link to your campaign really easy to remember and findable on your site so that if people google search the campaign, they can easily find their way to your donation page.
8 – Add Another Revenue Stream
Not all of your money needs to come from donations. I can almost guarantee you that there is something you do right now that you can monetize as an extra revenue stream for your nonprofit. Or maybe there is something you only do physically right now that you can put online to expand your paying customers? For instance, we helped our herbal school client transition to offering online classes throughout the pandemic, and it was such a hit that they added an entire online program!
Additionally, a lot of people want to donate but they don’t have the disposable income for it. So why not ask them to donate their time? They can teach a class for free or help host an event that you can sell tickets to.
9 – Invest in SEO and Improving User Experience
This is a longer-term fundraising idea and that couples with the growth of your audience. Investing in search engine optimization and creating an awesome experience with your website is the best long term solution for taking the stress off your Q4.
It isn’t directly fundraising – but there are a lot of aspects of fundraising that aren’t about asking for money. You create relationships and build trust with people before asking them to support your cause, and investing in a digital presence that is searchable and easy to understand makes relationship building a lot easier.
Work with Dandelion Branding for Tailored Fundraising Ideas
If you liked these 9 fundraising ideas and you want something more tailored, consider working with us. We use Dandelion Branding to help elevate the mission of social and environmental nonprofits with content marketing, SEO, and website optimization.