3 Crucial Steps for Completing the Fundraising Cycle

As a nonprofit fundraising connoisseur, you are in charge of ensuring your organization raises enough funds to successfully support its cause. Your organization helps create social good, meaning the work you do is important for your community and for the world at large. 

Because your work is so important, the need to maintain funds that will help you keep up the good work becomes increasingly urgent and significant, especially in the wake of COVID-19. You want to set your nonprofit organization up for success by managing the best possible fundraising campaign

There are a lot of components at play in an effective fundraising campaign, and they don’t stop once the supporter has made their donation. You should lead your fundraising campaign from its very inception to the final result: a healthy, loyal donor-nonprofit relationship. 

To complete the fundraising cycle with the outcome you desire, you must: 

  1. Give donors the opportunity to contribute more toward your nonprofit’s goals.
  2. Learn more about your donors to create lasting relationships.
  3. Show your gratitude each time your donors give.

Don’t let your fundraising cycle peter off into oblivion. Let’s get started and get you equipped with the knowledge you need to successfully complete the fundraising cycle! 

1. Give donors the opportunity to contribute more toward your nonprofit’s goals. 

Your organization has a vision for something they are passionate about. You see something that needs to be changed, improved, saved, or enhanced, so you work diligently to take action and make the changes you believe in. Your supporters agree with you, so why not give them the opportunity to maximize the impact of their contributions? 

While stewarding new donors is undoubtedly important, it is equally vital that you maximize the donations of loyal recurring donors and individuals who find your information online organically. 

The solution is simple: promote corporate matching gifts

A matching gifts program allows a single donor’s contribution to be matched by their employer, effectively enabling a single donation to have an exponentially greater impact. 

The matching gift process is easy and straightforward: 

  • Step 1: An individual submits a donation to your nonprofit. 
  • Step 2: The donor determines their matching gift eligibility. 
  • Step 3: The donor turns in the required forms to their employer. 
  • Step 4: The donor’s employer makes their donation at a 1:1, 2:1, or even 3:1 match ratio!  
  • Step 5: You enjoy being one step closer to achieving your goals. 

Corporate philanthropy can be difficult to tap into but many major companies have matching gift programs in place for their employees to take advantage of—and for you to benefit from! 

However, corporate philanthropy through matching gifts is still a wildly underutilized source of revenue for nonprofits simply due to a lack of awareness about the subject. Likewise, most employees do not realize their companies have matching gift programs for them to use. 

The best way to increase awareness among your donors for matching gifts is to place a matching gift tool on your website. An estimated $4-7 billion in matching gift funds remains unclaimed every year. Promote matching gifts among your donor network, and avoid letting those funds all go to waste!

2. Learn more about your donors to create lasting relationships. 

Your fundraising campaign strategy should not only consist of you repeatedly reaching out and soliciting donations from new supporters. You should be forming meaningful relationships with donors who will engage in your fundraising campaigns again and again. 

To do this, however, you must know the people who donate to your organization. This will give you a better sense of the individual donors as well as illuminate some of the trends and patterns among your donor base. 

Analyzing your donor data will help you understand how to appeal efficiently to your donors for the best possible results. To gauge donor patterns, ask yourself: 

  • When are donors most generous? Look to see if there is a specific time of year in which donors are contributing more significantly to your organization. Many individuals donate more around the year-end holidays and you will be able to tailor your asks around this time. 
  • Where are my donors located? Assess whether your donors are members of your immediate community or if they are located remotely. If they are local, this will enable you to be more direct with your outreach or event invitations.  
  • How did the donor hear about my organization? The way your donor heard about your organization can determine a lot about your appeal strategy. The donor will appreciate your use of their preferred mode of communication and outreach and will be more likely to donate.
  • Has the donor contributed to my organization in the past? Check and see what fundraising tactics have been successful in the past and encourage them to donate again using a similar strategy.
  • What other organizations does my donor support? This will help uncover the particular aspects of your organization the individual is interested in. You will be able to appeal to them based on their specific interests. The donor will likely be grateful that you know what appeals to them and are presenting another option for them to become involved in the cause. 

Understanding and acting on the information presented in your donor database will enable you to forge a lasting relationship because you will know what attracts the donor’s attention and generosity. 

3. Show your gratitude each time your donors give.

Your donors’ generosity allows you to do good in your community and work to further your cause. Without their kindness, you would likely be much less able to make significant strides toward your goals. To show your appreciation and increase your likelihood of their continued generosity, you should say thank you in some form each and every time someone makes a donation. 

Your donors want to know two things: that their money is going toward a good cause, and that their specific contribution to your organization is valued. If you want to encourage their continued support of your nonprofit, consider the following tactics: 

  • Donor spotlight. Your website is an excellent platform from which to announce your gratitude. On your donation page, you can regularly post donor spotlights (e.g. monthly, quarterly, annually). These can demonstrate the donation made and the tangible good that it helped make possible. This type of public display of gratitude can also incentivize donors into completing their donation. However, because it is unlikely you will be able to spotlight all of your donors, you should also employ a more direct form of gratitude as well. 
  • Email. Emailed letters are a great, efficient way of reaching your donors. These letters should thank the donor for their specific donation, tell them what their donation accomplished, and invite them to remain involved in your organization. This is the perfect way to reach out to all of your donors quickly and easily, but you may wish to employ another, more personal approach for mid-sized and major gifts donors. 
  • Personalized direct mail. Stewarding mid-sized and major donors takes a little bit more effort than other types of donors. Demonstrating your gratitude to these donors will likely take more time, effort, and personal touch. Direct mail letters are an excellent way to demonstrate the level of appreciation you have for the donor’s considerable donation. Depending on your nonprofit’s size, you may even want to consider a handwritten thank-you note to major donors. 

These gratitude strategies are especially important if you employ matching gifts in your fundraising strategies. Donors love to feel appreciated for any additional steps they take, so make sure to commend them accordingly. 

Everyone wants to feel like what they do matters—your donors are no different. Let your donors know that the money they give to your organization is appreciated and you value their support of your cause. This is one of the best ways to encourage your donors to stay connected to your organization. 

Fundraising is a continuous effort that does not simply stop once a single donation is made. Your fundraising team should work to make sure your donors have a good experience engaging with your organization, and that they feel inclined to do so again—all while maximizing the impact of their donations.