Fall is right around the corner. That means the lazy days of summer at your nonprofit are numbered. Soon, you’ll be in the thick of fall fundraising and gearing up for end-of-year giving. (No, we can’t believe it either!) We’ve put together a guide to fall fundraiser planning to help get you out of vacation mode and ready to put your nose to the grindstone for the fall.
Review the Year So Far
Now is the perfect time to evaluate your fundraising efforts from earlier in the year. Even if you’ve written a plan for the entire year, don’t be afraid to shake things up! Fundraising plans aren’t written in stone. Take a look at your data and adjust accordingly. Do more of what has worked and less of what didn’t.
Here’s how to start the tune-up process:
Pull your data
Since you’ve got a few fundraisers and more than 8 months of social media posts, emails and events under your belt, you can pull the data you’ve collected and analyze it. At a minimum, you’ll want to have the following data:
- Results of fundraisers (goals vs. actual revenue)
- Social media analytics (most successful posts, followers, insights from social media platforms)
- Email analytics (open rates, clickthrough rates, most successful emails)
- Website analytics (if available)
Analyze your data
Look for trends in your data. Can you identify any commonalities between efforts that were notably successful? And what about the efforts that left something to be desired? Also look for relationships between your campaigns’ overall performances and the individual marketing efforts that you used to promote them.
If you haven’t thought about doing a survey, there’s no time like the present to start! Direct feedback from your supporters is invaluable. Services like Survey Monkey and Wufoo allow you to easily set up surveys. Ask your supporters for their opinions about your fundraising efforts, marketing, the experience of donating and what they’d like to see. You can also use a survey to collect personal information (such as interests and demographics) that will help you learn more about your supporters and improve your targeting. Make sure to find out how they came to support your organization and which channels of communication they tend to check for updates about your work!
Gather any important feedback you’ve received since the start of the year, whether it’s comments, reviews on Facebook, Google, Yelp or other sources, and even emails from board members, volunteers and donors.
Meet with your team
Once you’ve had a chance to review your data and feedback, schedule a meeting with your team. To keep things on-track and save time, send out an agenda with your conclusions after reviewing your data. This will give your team a chance to review the information before the meeting so you don’t have to spend time going over every detail during the meeting. Make sure to schedule in time for your team members to give their feedback about what worked and what didn’t. They will all have valuable perspectives to share, since they’ve been involved in different aspects of your nonprofit’s fundraising.
Designate a note-taker to ensure that no one forgets what was discussed!
Create action items
The last step in tying up the loose ends from the first half of the calendar year is putting it all together and creating action items so your team has a clear path forward. Based on your data, feedback from donors and your team, define:
- Areas that need improvement
- Steps to take to improve
- Successes that can be replicated
- Action items necessary to replicate these successes
- Action items to address feedback from donors, staff, etc.
Fall Fundraiser Planning
Once you’ve gotten your debrief out of the way, you can move forward with creating a plan for your fall fundraising efforts.
Set your priorities
Setting your fall priorities is vitally important. You may have set goals at the beginning of the year, but a lot can change in a few months. Fundraisers can fall short of their goals. Your nonprofit can incur unexpected expenses. Programs end and expand. So you’ll need to take stock of what your priorities are for the coming months and set clear priorities for you fundraising team. In order for your team to effectively do their jobs, they’ll need to grasp what’s most important to your organization.
How you list your priorities is up to you. You may want to make a particular planned fundraiser or event the top priority. Perhaps you decide to push a certain program or fund. Just make sure it’s laid out clearly for your team!
Create a calendar
You may have a bunch of calendars floating around at your nonprofit. Calendars that members of your team have set up for themselves, calendars that outline a specific aspect of your fundraising. But to fundraise effectively and integrate your efforts, you’ll need to combine all of these calendars into one. Create a master fundraising calendar with all of your important fundraising dates and deadlines. This will allow you to ensure that none of your fundraising efforts stand alone and you can ensure you don’t miss opportunities to market your high-priority efforts.
To make navigating the calendar easier, you may want to label efforts so you can easily see where they fall on your list of priorities. Using shorthand like “P1” or “P2” or “LP” (for “low priority”) can be extremely helpful to your team in knowing when and how to cross-promote your fundraising efforts.
Set your goals
All of your goals should be SMART goals. Make sure that in addition to financial goals, you also set goals pertaining to community growth and engagement. Set metrics for measuring your success in achieving these goals.
You’ll want to set both campaign-specific goals (“Raise $10,000 on #GivingTuesday“) and general goals for your nonprofit’s fundraising (“Improve follow-up after donations by doing X, Y, and Z”).
Meet with your team regularly
If you already have a standing meeting with your fundraising team, great! If not, the fall fundraiser planning process is a perfect time to set one up.
Schedule a fall kick-off meeting where you can talk to your team about your priorities, goals and their roles for your nonprofit’s fall fundraising efforts. Make sure to meet with your team on a regular basis to ensure they everyone stays on the same page, has the same information about priorities, goals and efforts and stays coordinated with other team members.
Tips for Fall Fundraiser Success
Going through the planning process is one part of making sure your fall fundraising efforts are successful. The other part is incorporating tried-and-true, creative fundraising techniques to get the public interested in the work your nonprofit is doing and inspire donations. Here are just a few things to consider adding to your fall fundraiser plan.
Add #GivingTuesday to your fall calendar! #GivingTuesday is a 24-hour giving marathon that aims to help the public focus on helping others after the decadence and commercialism of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Get a head start by registering now and check out our Nonprofit Resources for pointers on running a successful #GivingTuesday campaign.
Team up to raise big money
If you’ve never tried team fundraising before, your nonprofit is missing out! Teams on Mightycause receive 80% more donations than solo fundraisers. Starting a team on Mightycause creates an army of peer-to-peer fundraisers working to spread the word about your work and raise funds on your behalf. Teams cast a wider net and bring new supporters into the fold. Getting involved in a team can also help your biggest supporters deepen their relationship with your nonprofit’s work.
Shake things up with a team fundraiser this fall! You know you’ll be doing a lot of fundraising in the second half of the year. A team campaign is a great way to keep things fresh and avoid donor fatigue.
Focus on partnerships
Corporate partnerships and business relationships in the community are a key part of growing your nonprofit. When going through the fall fundraiser planning process don’t leave out those vital community partnerships! Set goals to include your partners in your fall fundraising, whether through matching grants, sponsorships or employee giving programs. See How to Ask for Sponsorship for more about how to create and nurture these relationships.
There’s something to be said for familiarity, but sometimes doing the same old fundraiser year after year can get boring. So get creative! Find ways to shake up existing campaigns and try new campaigns to see how your donors respond to them. Adding a peer-to-peer element to an annual campaign or trying a new type of campaign (like a team fundraiser) can help keep your fundraising efforts fresh and interesting.
Nonprofits often have a certain role in mind for volunteers that they rarely stray from. Volunteers come to wash dishes, help out around the office, answer phones, do general labor. However, you might be letting great talent go to waste if you aren’t aware of your volunteers’ skill sets. If you have a graphic designer, photographer, videographer, web designer, computer programmer, financial guru or career fundraiser volunteering their time, don’t send them outside to pull weeds! Use their skills to enhance your fundraising efforts. Work with your Volunteer Coordinator to get a handle on the skills that are available in your volunteer base.
You can also enlist new volunteers by asking for help from your supporters. Need a video for your fall fundraiser? Put a call out on social media, your website and e-newsletter. People are usually more than happy to offer up their skills for a good cause.
Involve your Board of Directors
Fundraising is an important responsibility of board members. But, too often that responsibility comes in the form of one big donation at the end of the year. Involve your Board of Directors in fall fundraising efforts! Whether it’s joining a team, starting a peer-to-peer fundraiser or asking for their input for an upcoming campaign, go beyond reporting your fundraiser’s results to your board and get them in the game!
We’re just as sad to see the summer come to an end as you are, but the fall presents new opportunities to raise funds, engage your supporters and expand your nonprofit. And with a little planning and willingness to try new things, you can make this fall a season for the books at your nonprofit.
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