Overview of Fundraising
We live in a stress-riddled society with an abundance of problems. Without the compassion and charitable giving of others, we could argue civilization as we know it may not survive. If you think that argument leans toward the dramatic, consider the statistics. Americans alone spend approximately one billion dollars a day on charitable donations. In a single year, Americans collectively contribute over 400 billion dollars a year toward healing problems and making the lives of others better.
On average, Americans donate slightly over two percent of their disposable income. Two percent may seem like very little, but it results in about $1050 annually per person or $2030 per household. Most charitable giving comes from individuals, but foundations and corporations give sizable amounts as well.
With so many causes to choose from, where do the charitable dollars end up? It turns out religious organizations get nearly a third of them with the rest of the 400 or so billion going to the following:
- Human Services
- Health Services
- Public Sector organizations such as The United Way
- International Affairs
- Arts and Cultural organizations
- Environmental and Animal Rights
It turns out environmental causes, and those concerning the welfare and protection of animals only receive about a tenth of what churches and other religious organizations pull in every year.
Let’s Define Fundraising
The term fundraising refers to the organized efforts of raising funds for charities, nonprofits, political campaigns, and organizations, or other enterprises. It turns out most people need some encouragement to give up their charitable dollars. Fundraising may take on the following forms:
- One on one in-person- Approaching people one on one represents the first form of fundraising. This eye contact type of fundraising may involve a door to door canvass, or a person with a clipboard engaging people on the street to share information and ultimately get a donation.
- Letters and emails- The written form of fundraising requires significant skill to grab the reader’s attention and prompt them to reach for their checkbook.
- Telefunding- This type of fundraising may involve bustling phone rooms or high powered executives, making carefully scripted calls. Much of the time, high-level donors first receive an email or letter requesting funds.
The Fundraising Mindset
Whether you choose to fundraise as a life-long career or take it on as a part-time job for extra money, you won’t reach your full potential as a fundraiser if you don’t possess the right mindset.
First of all, it truly helps if you believe in the cause as you request funds. Your passion will come through in person, in writing, or over the phone.
Secondly, you must not feel as though you pose an inconvenience asking for money. Just remember how much money people will spend on an annual basis for charitable causes. You present an opportunity for them to take part in a worthy cause by getting out their credit card or sending in a check.
The Reasons People Donate
- They care about their community. The term community may refer to the donor’s immediate neighborhood or the entire planet.
- They trust your organization.
- The impact that the community receives from your nonprofit measures in tangible ways.
- The member or candidate feels a personal connection to the cause.
- They want to participate. Perhaps the donor doesn’t possess the time to knock on doors for their political candidate, but writing a check represents another form of activism.
- People respond to the bandwagon effect. If they know that most people in the area contributed to getting rid of the toxic waste dump, they will want to help out as well.
- Many people will also give either for a primary or secondary reason to receive the tax deduction or benefit.
One of the most critical points to remember about successful fundraising is that you will raise very little money if the donor doesn’t know how much of the funds will go to the actual cause. It’s important to obtain statistics on administrative costs versus the money that makes it to the actual cause.
The Fundraising Formula that Works
Most successful fundraising stems from a well-constructed script. The script may serve only as a guideline as the fundraiser incorporates their personality and style into the delivery, whether it takes place over the phone, in person, or through the mail. Here is a suggested structure for a fundraising script or letter that will bring results:
- 1- Greeting and rapport building- The greeting will involve a hello and identify yourself and your organization. Many fundraisers never utter the phrase, ‘how are you?’ Asking someone how they are will give them an opening to tell you they’re not feeling well or too busy. Save the open-ended questions for the rapport building. ‘What is your biggest concern about climate change?’
- 2- The Victory- Give them some good news, especially if they donate regularly. Tell them what wonderful things their past donations accomplished. And, as for new donors, no one wants to come on board a sinking ship.
- 3- The Problem- Let them know the latest challenges your cause or organization faces and put a human spin on it.
- 4- The Solution- Tell them what kind of action needs to happen to alleviate or solve the problem.
- 5- The Soft Ask- Let them know you need their support, but follow it up with some bonus information or a benefit. ‘Our gold-level members receive a beautiful coffee mug with our logo.’
- 6- The Ask- Let them know you need their help and ask for a specific amount. Ask for twice the amount you expect to receive according to their giving history. They may surprise you!
- 7- Additional Asks- Depending on the organization, you may do one or two more asks. Before asking for a lower amount, make sure to return to the importance of the issue.
Closing Thoughts on Fundraising
Though some may possess personalities more geared to fundraising than others, fundraising represents a learnable skill. Just about anyone who wants to learn it will experience success. But it all starts with a healthy mindset.
It’s important to point out too that not everyone will say yes. Your organization will point out expectations and goals to help you measure your success.