Individual fundraising (raising money from individuals) should form the backbone of 90% of all development organizations that exist today. All types of fundraising are important to carrying out your mission, and none can be discounted, but non-profits that can successfully rely on events, direct mail, or grants are the exception, not the rule, and generally are national, not local in scale. For most small and mid-sized non-profits, individual fundraising will provide a major portion of your fundraising revenues.
Here are five things that every charity should know to maximize their individual giving program:
1. You’ve got to have a Plan
Every single aspect of your development operation starts with a plan. Many small non-profits have a general fundraising plan, but not a specific individual giving plan. This is a mistake that will ultimately result in confusion and missed opportunities. Before beginning or continuing your individual fundraising efforts, write out an individual giving plan.
2. Individual Fundraising is Viral
Raising money from individuals works best when you utilize viral fundraising. Think of your organization’s development efforts as a set of concentric circles. Your organization is in the middle. Your donors are in the next circle – go back to them, cultivate them, get them to help. Your donors’ contacts are in the next circle – develop relationships there, ask for funding, then ask these new donors to introduce you to their rolodex… keep working outward. Build fundraising networks. Fundraise virally.
3. Relationships Matter!
People give more money when you build a relationship with them. Nowhere is this truer than in major donor giving. Work to build relationships with your donors and with your prospects. Visit them. Keep them updated and involved. Show them you appreciate them.
4. Involvement Goes Beyond Giving
Some schools, churches, and charities think that individual donor involvement stops when the check gets written – take this approach and I guarantee you will leave money on the table. Most donors who give to your organization do so because they want to be involved. As a development professional, it is your job to get them involved beyond just writing a check. Help your donors and prospects volunteer, learn, network, and come to events. Get them connected more deeply with your group, and they will continue to give.
5. Your Mission must take Center Stage
While individual fundraising relies on many factors – your board’s contacts, your donors’ networks, your staff’s fundraising abilities, and your marketing material’s quality – none matters more than your mission. Many organizations lose sight of this simple fact. Ultimately, more people give because of your mission than any other single reason. Make sure that your group’s mission takes center stage in your individual fundraising campaigns, and in all of your development efforts.
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