Looking to Raise Money? What Fundraising Approach is Right for You?

One of the primary challenges faced by organizations is understanding what approaches will work most effectively for raising funds. Developing a fundraising program is not a “one size fits all” endeavor — each organization has a unique set of attributes that must be considered to be successful:

1 — Understand Your Donor base:

Performing an assessment of your donor base answers some key questions about your approach. Do you know the shape of your donor pool?

· Is it a traditional pyramid with a few large donors at the top and a broadening base as you move down?

· Is it more like an obelisk, with a few large donors but not a broad base of donors?

· Is it an hourglass, with a good number of large donors and smaller donors, but very narrow in the middle?

Understanding the makeup of your donor pool impacts many aspects of how you raise money. At the most basic level, your donor recognition clubs must be crafted to match the shape of your donor pool. Also, your solicitation strategy and how you deploy your human resources is impacted by the makeup of the donor pool.

It is impossible to structure an effective development program until you understand your donor pool.

2 — Determine the Size of the Ask

Once you understand where your donors “are”, you can turn your focus to where you want them.

This is where capacity screening and analytics come into play. The field of donor screening has advanced in the past 20 years and sophisticated analysis can be done. You can estimate annual giving and major giving capacity. Overlaying the suggested capacity amounts with your current donor giving behavior allows you to target those who are good prospects for increased levels of giving.

Understanding the size of the ask allows you to formulate a new strategy for upgrading donors, at all giving levels, and handle those solicitations differently from “renewals”.

3 — Develop the Right Approach

You don’t make a $1,000,000 ask the same way that you make a $100 ask, right? Until you understand your donor pool better how do you know what tactics to deploy with which donors?

Understanding your donor pool helps you segregate donors into several categories that are appropriate for the level of request:

· The largest donors will likely need a fact to face meeting (maybe more than one).

· New prospects may also require a fact to face meeting as a “qualification” visit to determine interest and capacity or to solicit the initial gift.

· Mid-level donors may be slated for some combination of mail, email and telephone or even face to face in a group setting.

· Donors at the lower end of the pyramid will likely be targeted with direct mail or email only.

The key is to know your donor base well enough that you are able to choose the right solicitation tool for the job.

4 — Make “Passive” Philanthropy Available and Easy

This is where solutions like Charity Charge are good tools for your fundraising toolbox. The set it and forget it aspects of Charity Charge are perfect for a portion of your fundraising base to support you while doing what they already do anyway — spend money.

With Charity Charge, instead of getting a point or a mile or other reward for their credit card purchases, they can direct 1% of all their purchases to the charity of their choice. Unlike “branded” credit cards, there is no charge to the organization to receive this money and a bonus is that the donor receives a tax deduction for the amount that is contributed.

Of course, just like your other fundraising tactics, you need to promote Charity Charge actively to your constituency in order to reap the benefits. After they are signed up, you get to sit back and collect your quarterly contributions.

A similar solution is Amazon Smile. This program allows Amazon Shoppers to choose a charity to receive a contribution equal to a portion of all of their purchases. The prices in Smile are the same as in the regular Amazon store, buyers still have access to all the benefits of Prime members (free shipping, etc.) but some of Amazon’s “profit” from your purchase goes to a charity of your choosing.

And, if you have donors who make Amazon Smile purchases with their Charity Charge credit card you get double the money!

David King is President & CEO of Alexander Haas. Alexander Haas provides fundraising advice to organizations and recently featured Charity Charge CEO Alex on their Futures in Fundraising podcast.

Curious if your organization is ready for its next campaign? Take our “campaign readiness” assessment to find out.

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