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By Don Raack, ACN Member
If you are like most nonprofits, 2020 was a year of great aspirations. Funding patterns were trending upward, bolstered by low unemployment and higher disposable income. You were ready to add that new program, hire that new manager, expand that facility . . .
. . . and then March came . . . and then . . . whoa.
In a matter of a couple of weeks, many nonprofits went from strong service and growth to a fight for their very survival. Many have been left wondering what to do when it seems like there is nothing to do.
The answer is to pour 100% of your organization’s energy into an agile and transparent fundraising strategy. Sustainer donors are the backbone of your organization’s operations, and they are the priority. Your mission has been built upon their loyal generosity, and now is the time to engage them with a new sense of urgency and purpose.
The most effective, immediate action you can take is to focus on the fundamentals of donor relationship management:
1. Engage – Get into your donor data. Get on the phone with the top 10% of your donors. Recognize their past contributions, thank them in a special way and remind them of why they have supported you to date. Then move to the next 10%, as 80% of your funding likely comes from the top 20% of your donors.
2. Ask – Have your message organized in three simple statements answering these three questions: “Why us? Why now? Why you?” Re-establish the importance of your work, communicate the immediate challenges and needs, and remind them of why their specific support has been so critical before and especially now..
3. Recognize – Over-communicate the impact of the donor’s gift. Update them continuously and thank them personally for their continuing support.
Whether your funding comes from individuals, major donors, or private or corporate foundations, there is funding out there for you to obtain. Prioritize your existing sustainers, endeavor to create new sustainers, over-communicate and make them feel good about your mission and its future. The re-start is coming sooner than you think, so get your sustainers thinking about you!
Don Raack is managing director of AltruNext, a consultancy specializing in fund development strategy and execution. He is an expert in business and operations management for nonprofit organizations.
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