The importance of donor relationships is no mystery to nonprofit leaders. A strong connection between donors and nonprofits often leads to increased engagement and a greater sense of community among supporters.
But how can your nonprofit focus on cultivating these connections while raising money for its cause? In this guide, we’ll review four fundraising ideas that can simultaneously strengthen donor relationships and fund your work.
One of the most important parts of relationship building is understanding another perspective. This is why your nonprofit should work to learn more about each supporter and the motivations behind their involvement. Donors who feel recognized and considered will ultimately be more engaged in your organization.
Peer-to-peer campaigns are an effective way to have direct interactions with your supporters in order to learn more about what they love about your organization. These campaigns raise money through the advocacy of supporters, who recruit their friends and family members to donate to your organization. Donors share a unique campaign page, typically on social media, through which their peers can donate to your nonprofit.
There are two types of peer-to-peer campaigns your nonprofit might host:
- Rolling campaign: This is a peer-to-peer campaign with no time limit. Since it doesn’t have a deadline, these campaigns can operate alongside other fundraising events and initiatives (think Facebook birthday campaigns).
- TIme-based campaign. These campaigns raise money by a predetermined deadline and are often tied to events.
In either campaign format, nonprofits can see how donors are talking about them and advocating for them. But, to build strong relationships, communication must go both ways. When your nonprofit explains its cause and how donors should advocate for it, you’re able to explain your perspective to donors and help them learn more about your organization and deepen their connection to your cause.
Most people enjoy receiving a little something in return for their donations. Not only does this incentivize giving, but nonprofits can also connect with donors in a memorable way when they offer a tangible gift in return for contributions.
Product fundraisers allow nonprofits to do just that. By selling various products to supporters, your nonprofit will not only raise money for its cause but also offer a gift to donors. Nonprofits can sell a wide variety of products for this fundraiser, including:
- Branded merchandise. T-shirts, water bottles, or other products with your nonprofit’s branding elements can be worn and used by donors for years after the fundraiser is actually complete.
- Food. Food items can be a conversation starter or an opportunity to learn more about your donors’ favorite snacks. ABC Fundraising recommends selling cookie dough, especially since there are multiple cookie flavors available to sell.
- Seasonal items. Christmas decorations or Thanksgiving dishes can help nonprofits connect with donors by spreading holiday cheer.
Selling products to raise money for your nonprofit also allows you to learn more about your donors and their unique preferences. For example, you might survey your supporters to ask which item they’d be most interested in purchasing. You could also ask for their input on merchandise designs or seasonal item styles to get to know them better.
Campaigns and sales are classic ways to raise money for your organization, but events place the focus solely on connection and socialization. A-Thon events are challenge-based activities that raise money for your nonprofit while also building relationships with your supporters through healthy competition. There are numerous types of A-Thon events, including:
- Dog walk-a-thons
- Hula hoop-a-thons
An A-Thon event simply collects donations by establishing a challenge and having donors collect pledges from family and friends dependent on their performance in the challenge. Because of this, nonprofits can make almost any activity an A-Thon event.
Since these events are highly customizable, they’re a creative opportunity for nonprofits to learn more about their donors’ interests and hobbies. For example, a survey might reveal that many of your supporters enjoy baseball. You could host a bat-a-thon, where donors collect pledges based on the number of baseballs they can hit in a row.
Effective nonprofit event planning takes donors’ preferences into consideration. When donors are engaged in an event that caters to their interests, they’ll be more likely to get involved with your nonprofit.
Challenging activities engage supporters because of the excitement of participating in the activity. In contrast, high-end fundraising events are a calmer opportunity for your nonprofit to build relationships with its donors without the distraction of a high-energy activity.
Galas can raise money for your nonprofit’s cause while also allowing your organization’s leaders to speak with donors one-on-one and learn more about them and their families. For light entertainment, your gala could include:
- Keynote speakers. Recruit one of your organization’s leaders or hire a professional speaker to give a speech related to your nonprofit’s work and the significance of its cause.
- Raffles. Consider selling raffle tickets to win special prizes, like a gift basket or discounts at local establishments.
- Local bands. Invite a local band to provide live music.
- Unique performances. Find unique entertainment, like a comedian or magician, to give a special performance as part of your event.
While attendees eat and enjoy the entertainment, your nonprofit’s leaders can focus on mingling and getting to know each supporter. This event type also allows donors to socialize with each other, which can further strengthen the community within your nonprofit.
This twist on peer-to-peer fundraising allows your donors to bring their campaign visions to life. And, with the right training and resources from your nonprofit, their passion for your cause can greatly boost your funds. Here’s how a donor-driven campaign works:
- Open your donor-driven campaign program to your supporter base and collect signups.
- Once the signup window has closed, gather your participants for a fundraising training session. During this session, the donor will pick what they want their campaign to look like, set goals, and start crafting outreach materials.
- Give your participants resources to succeed. This varies based on the participant’s fundraising idea, but you can provide them a profile on your peer-to-peer fundraising website to start. Also, offer them templates for emails and social media posts so participants can market their personal campaigns more effectively.
- Offer coaching throughout the campaign. Set short meetings with your participants to answer questions and provide advice so they can hit their fundraising goals.
This empowering fundraising idea works because you give donors complete control over how they want to collect gifts and conduct outreach. This allows them to play to their strengths and builds their personal investment in your cause.
Your nonprofit can also leverage this program to demonstrate donor appreciation. Giving donors control over how they run their campaign shows them how much you value their passion for your mission. You can also formally show appreciation by hosting a thank-you banquet for all participants after the campaign ends, no matter how successful their personal campaign was.
Nonprofits are always looking for creative ways to raise money, but the most important part of fundraising is cultivating strong relationships with donors. After all, donors are the lifeblood of your organization’s operations. Your nonprofit shouldn’t leverage these relationships for its own benefit, but should also genuinely pursue deeper connections with supporters because of all they do for your organization.