May 30, 2012

7 tips to attract more donors for your cause

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Image by David Minder on Flickr

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises.

Guest post by Rob Wu

Do you want to know how to attract more donors? Want to learn the secrets used by professional fundraisers?

Of course you do! Fundraising is your nonprofit’s lifeblood. It funds fuel the impact you make.

But thinking of effective ways to raise funds occupies valuable time and energy you could be spending on your programs. Most of us aren’t professionally trained fundraisers, so it doesn’t come naturally to us. We know how to make an impact, yet we’ve had to learn fundraising the hard way: through trial and error, learning from our mistakes.

But we’ve got great news! At CauseVox we’ve just launched a free 7-part video series to coach you on fundraising fundamentals. Ruthellen Rubin, CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive) and professor of philanthropy at New York University, teaches the series. She distills more 30 years of professional nonprofit fundraising experience and expertise into seven short videos.

Consider these seven tips for getting more donors for your nonprofit a preview of the series:

Develop a case for support

1Your prospective donors are asking why they should support your nonprofit. You need to clarify why you’re asking for a donation, and sell the successes of your nonprofit. Developing a case for support gets donors to invest in your organization. People don’t give to charity anymore; they invest in results.

Create real, personal and urgent appeals

2The most effective fundraising appeals are real, personal and urgent. Use compelling storytelling with images and videos to connect a donor’s donation to a tangible impact. Let the donor directly see the result of his or her donation.

Startup founders must have fundraising responsibilities

3In a start-up nonprofit, the founding team is responsible for setting an example. The team should be the first to donate to the organization so that others will follow their lead. The amount doesn’t matter. Participation by the full team matters more.

Be good stewards

4Committing to year-round stewardship will retain current donors and recruit new repeat donors. Their funds are an extension of their faith in the organization and the missions, so remember: You’re not only stewarding their money, you’re stewarding their trust.

Care for your donors by investing in them. Send a personalized thank-you note; a formal, written thank you note; mid-year update; and a personalized ask the following year.

Create annual donors

5Where can you look to find more donors? First, focus on your obvious prospects. Recruit from your board, staff and volunteers. You could ask your vendors (i.e., accountant, lawyer) for an annual gift. Next, move on to the people you serve, such as your alumni and constituents.

Create a culture of fundraising

6Help your board envision what fundraising success looks like. Get the entire organization involved in the process by empowering and training everyone on the basics of fundraising, so that they grow comfortable with making an ask.

Develop an email strategy

7Email outreach is one of the best ways to encourage giving. You must have a set strategy and plan for your emails so that they augment fundraising. Segment your emails to focus on specific niches of your audience. Personalize the “From” and “Reply To:” fields with a person’s name rather than a department or general inbox.

You’ll find the entire 7-part video series on for free. We hope these fundraising fundamentals will help your nonprofit recruit more donors! Do you have other suggestions based on what’s worked for you? Please add them to the comments below.

Rob Wu is the founder of CauseVox, a customizable crowd-funding platform for nonprofits. Follow @robwu and @CauseVox. This article originally appeared on Shonali Burke’s blog Waxing Unlyrical.
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