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Posted on 09.03.2013

Community-based Nonprofits: Communicating Goals to Maximize Fundraising Potential

With the economic sluggishness of the past few years, nonprofits have been hit hard. Charitable giving is one of the first areas where patrons and donors cut back on their budgets, and federal funding through grants also decreases significantly at the same time. Small, community-based charities supporting local programs like community libraries, children's education, outreach to the elderly, and similar goodwill initiatives face overwhelming challenges because they rely so heavily on volunteers for everything - from board participation to the execution of day-to-day tasks and fundraisers. These volunteers often commit their time, which is usually limited, out of passion for the cause, but it can leave serious gaps in the diverse expertise needed to manage a nonprofit effectively during such difficult times. This gap can have a direct impact on the nonprofit's fundraising success. Strategic communications is the key to maintaining your momentum with donations from corporate sponsors and individual patrons. fundraising potential

Here are three recommendations for boards of community nonprofits to consider which can dramatically improve fundraising efforts:

  1. Define the nonprofit's goal for year. Corporate sponsors and individual donors like to know how the nonprofit will use their money. Nonprofits often rely on the goodwill message outlined in their mission statements, but this can sound generic to a donor who may not have the same passion for your cause. Tell the community exactly how you plan to use their money to address a specific and/or urgent need. Will you buy books? Will you add a new demographic to your program? Will you expand your services to reach an additional need in the community? When patrons understand how their donation will help the nonprofit achieve a very real goal, they will be more willing give.

  2. Plan your donation strategy. Decide at the beginning of your fiscal year how much money you need to raise, and define how much you can expect from grants, local businesses, and individual donors. Establish a base amount for each source, and build your fundraising drives around those targets. Give plenty of advance notice when asking for patron donations and corporate sponsorships so that they have time to work those donations into their budgets. With sufficient advance notice, businesses and individuals will often give more money when the time comes for the donation.

  3. Utilize social media to build charitable awareness and to communicate your annual goal. Word-of-mouth is an excellent way for the board and volunteers to generate awareness among the people they know, but it can't reach everyone. To broaden your prospects of attracting more donors, use FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media outlets. It is a cost-effective and easy conduit to reach a much greater number of people. Broad-based awareness that comes from a clear and consistent messaging will develop additional volunteers, participation in and attendance at fundraisers, and donations from the public.

These recommendations are not revelationary, and larger nonprofits usually have the staff, skill set, and infrastructure to incorporate them very easily into their annual planning. Due to limited staff and volunteers, smaller community-based nonprofits find it more difficult to dedicate the time and commit the resources to make mid-term and longer-term advance planning and fiscal organization a part of their routine board meetings, but boards that can shift their focus from near-term activity planning to mid- to long-term strategy will see a dramatic increase and ease in their fundraising efforts.

 

Perry Hall was a Senior Account Supervisor at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Perry's blogs here.  â€‹

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