The non-profit sector has changed a lot in the last few years. We’re starting to see the average donor age come down, and there are a lot of new people in roles. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible to scale your non-profit; it just means you need to think big instead of trading on your name.
When we’re working with a non-profit, we encourage them to double their revenue goal from the previous year. From there, we reverse engineer how we can make it happen.
Get the Right People In the Room
Start by thinking about who you need in the room to make that revenue goal happen. A great place to start is your top 10 donors. These donors write big checks because they are emotionally invested in your cause. They want to help you do more of the work you do; all you need to do is ask.
We heard from an organization that sponsors kids to send them to camp that one year, they were unable to send 25 kids that applied to camp. When one of their donors heard about it, he was angry and told them not to let money be the reason that kids miss out on camp. You have donors who feel the same way and who will gladly write another check if it means you could do more to power your mission. Donors care more than you know; that is why they give you money.
The next step is to get more of those kinds of donors in the room. Ask your donors for input on getting more donors on board so you can continue to grow your non-profit organization. This could be in the form of asking them to invite people to your fundraising events or telling them you are looking for 10 people to donate $5,000 to fund something specific for your organization.
Your board members are also valuable resources to find more donors. We like to say the people on your board likely have $100,000 in their cell phones. Work with your board to brainstorm a list of people who might be interested in your cause.
Set the Right Goals
Calculate the best way to raise the money you need. If you need to raise a million dollars, does that look like 100 people donating $10,000 each or is it 200 people donating $5,000 each? Consider what you are raising money for and how you are fundraising.
Jason, our co-founder likes to say, “people don’t want tables; they want recognition.” They want either the public recognition of their donation or the rush that comes from doing good. That starts with letting your donors know what donation amounts represent for your work. If you’re asking for $50,000 for kids away for camp, tell them how many kids you can send to camp with $50,000. When people donate, tell them they just sent 2 kids to camp or 5 kids to camp. This focuses them on what their money achieves rather than the money itself.
Pay Attention to the Market
Think of your donors when you are planning your fundraising events. Your donors are consumers, so consider their expectations and needs in every aspect of your event. You can create an atmosphere through the venue, menu, entertainment, and revenue enhancer “games” to create a mindset of enthusiastic giving. All you need to do is know what gets your donors excited and engaged.
That applies to your prizes and auction items in particular. We saw an event recently where the organizer pointed out where the money was in the room as an auction item was being sold. The auction item was a set of nice gardening tools, but none of the major donors bid on it because they don’t do their own yard work. Have auction items that suit your donors’ lifestyles and budgets. If you have donors with deep pockets, a weekend trip or week-long trip somewhere is an easy sell. They would likely spend that money anyway on another trip.
Another way to increase the donation amounts is to create some exclusivity around their giving. Think of it like a VIP service or the Amex Black Card. You can dub some donors as “platinum sponsors” or “diamond sponsors,” whatever you want to call them and create an exclusive experience. You could hand deliver your ask or create special packages for your fundraising events to create that exclusivity. We saw an organization that sold packages where donors could buy Fireball whiskey for the tables, and they brought it out and made a big deal out of it. People wanted to get involved, so it was an easy revenue enhancer.
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At HGA, we're dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations Raise More Money through coaching, auction items, and auction software.