8 ideas to improve your fundraising success

Recently, I was interviewed by Joe Garecht of the Fundraising Authority about fundraising for small non-profits. You can catch the interview here and below are a few of the tips that we discussed:


Get Clarity on Your Goals:

Small organizations shouldn’t think that they can’t fundraise because they’re too small and lack a sufficient profile. In fact, often they have a fantastic local profile or a loyal following within their niche. However, the main issue is FOCUS. 

Stop trying to do everything and focus down on your main priorities that will really make a difference to your fundraising bottom line.


Improve your Systems:

Don’t just block off time in your diary for generic fundraising. Be specific. Assign time for research, for example. Or proposal writing.  Allocate a small, dedicated proportion of time to each aspect of fundraising, and start to see the results of your efforts over time.


Sponsorship & Corporate Donations – Know the Difference:

When approaching companies, decide in advance whether you are targeting sponsorship or donations. They usually come from different budgets, and so there will be different decision makers for each type within the company. Donations usually come under corporate social responsibility or human resources budgets, while sponsorship tends to be a marketing cost. 

Donations = philanthropic while Sponsorship = Business Transaction. 

I’ve written more about the difference here but make sure you know a) what the differences are and b) what type of money you are seeking in the first place.


Start with Who You Know:

Look at your board, your partners, your volunteers, local companies and employers. Figure out who you know and how to get to them and grow your prospect research out from there. 

Another tip when looking for sponsors, is to check out your local cultural organisations. Get their seasonal programmes and see who is funding them.


Automation is a Great Way to Use Limited Resources:

Small non-profits can automate lots of their systems to help them to manage aspects like social media, donor stewardship and gift recording.

My personal favourite for social media, for example, is Hootsuite which you can use to pre-load key social media messages in advance to ensure there are consistent messages coming out across your social media platforms.

You can also double up on your resources. For example, if you send out a newsletter or programme to your audience/client groups, can you use it to keep donors informed of what you’re up to? Or can you repurpose the content for use on other platforms, such as online?


Get a Database!:

Please don’t use an Excel spreadsheet.  I give a few reasons why not here but spreadsheets are not dynamic. That means you either have to overwrite information on them each time you add new details or you end up with various different versions, which become difficult to collate. Ultimately, they will use up too much of your time.


Fundraising is Not the Job of One Person:

You might be reading this and thinking you are the one person responsible for fundraising in your non-profit – but you’re not!

Your board should definitely be involved and you may also have volunteers who can help to approach companies and individuals for funding or who are happy to meet and talk about your work with potential donors.


Fundraising is Not Just About Money:

You have to remember that fundraising is more than just money  when setting time aside for it.  You need to build time into your schedule for research, stewardship, meetings, event planning and so on. All of which don’t directly bring in money in themselves. However, while there are many aspects to consider that don’t bring in money immediately, they still need to happen to ensure that your fundraising programme is successful.


Have a listen to the podcast and if you’ve any other questions about small non-profit fundraising, please pop them in the comments below!


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