Today’s hard economic times are challenging the fundraising efforts of many non-profit 501c3 organizations. While it is a time that requires greater efforts, it is not impossible to reach an organization’s development goals in enhancing the mission of the organization. The 3 C’s are a valuable tool in formulating development strategy in the current market. They are: cultivation, creativity and convenience.
Done well, cultivation sets the stage for easy and successful “asks”. Cultivation is what makes solicitation possible. It covers all communication and contact with prospective donors from newsletters and annual reports to special events and presentations. Successful cultivation is not haphazard…but carefully planned and strategized. The key to fundraising is to maintain and develop an existing donor base, while cultivating and securing new donors. Previous donors may be unable to donate at their previous levels. A gift at any monetary level, even a reduced level, is still a valued gift and an opportunity to continue cultivating a donor relationship. As the economy improves and the unemployment rate drops, it’s essential for organizations to have relationships to ensure they are at the top of the list when donors resume giving.
Secondly, be creative. Today, donors are more likely to engage in activities that are fun, innovative and highlight the creativity of the organization they are supporting. Fundraising dinners are abundantly available to donors. Yet, more creative product marketing, social marketing campaigns, casual social events and family fun community events are less abundantly available and face less competition with other similar events. Also, be willing to adjust the time of events to more non-traditional times. For example, by hosting a Saturday night event at 6pm, an agency may be competing with a dozen other events. In being open to alternate days and times, an event may face less competition in attendance and market saturation. Simply, don’t do and copy what’s being done at every other organization. Take time to observe the success of other organizations and learn from their challenges.
The third C is Convenience. Donors enjoy, and are more likely to give to a charity that offers a convenient donation process. Convenience can be described as availability of the donation process or offering a multitude of donation opportunities throughout the year. If prospective donors are not currently able to donate to an organization online, call the web designers and activate online donation capabilities. Additionally, many social networking sites offer “causes” sites for non-profit organizations to fundraise directly through their sites. Lastly, accepting all forms of gifts from credit cards to stocks can ease the process of making those vitally important donations to an organization. Check every process. Try donating to the organization in every manner available to give a gift. Is it easy or time consuming? Is it more challenging than fundraising in the current economy?
In closing, this is not the time to sit back and wait for donations. Nor is it the time to simply excuse fundraising efforts, because it is too difficult. Organizations can, through the 3 C’s, work smarter not harder and be successful in reaching their fundraising goals, even in these challenging times. This is the time to cultivate existing and new relationships, be creative in development and marketing strategies, and check the convenience of the process of receiving gifts.