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Focus on What Works

Seem obvious? It is — but yet it’s really easy to get tempted into investing lots of time and effort in pursuit of the latest “hot idea.” A good example is all the buzz around using social network sites like Facebook and Twitter. They do offer intriguing potential to communicate and develop stronger relationships with supporters. But how much have you seen or read about nonprofits really achieving significant success? More typical are articles like this reporting a small return on investment. My advice – let others blaze a trail and instead focus on techniques where others have already demonstrated significant success.

Here are three ideas that are far more likely to provide a good return on your investment of time and effort:

Monthly giving program – Building your base of recurring givers requires significant work but has been proven to improve donor retention by as much as 40%. This can increase the life-time value of a donor by several times.

Friend-raising – Sponsored events like walkathons and other -thons have long been successful ways to use supporters to help raise money. The advent of software tools that make it easy for donors to create a personal fundraising/supporter page and then use email to solicit support for your cause, has significantly increase the efficiency of such campaigns. A growing number of nonprofits are now extending these techniques and tools for virtual-events, board-member fundraising or work-place campaigns.

Email – Despite the challenges of SPAM blockers and keeping email addresses current, email is still the simplest, quickest and best way to keep your donors well informed. I strongly recommend using a tool like Constant Contact which allows you to create and send professional looking e-newsletters, e-invitations and other communications. Broadcast email systems like this also provide really helpful reporting on open rates, undeliverable/blocking and click-throughs.

Remember, successful fundraising doesn’t have to be cutting edge, it just has to work. Relying on techniques that have worked well for other organizations or for you in the past is one of the best ways to increase your chances of meeting your goals.

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