In future blog posts, we are going to feature some “top tips” on an array of different types of topics we hope are of interest to you. If there is a topic you’d like to see featured, please let us know and we’ll find the right “expert” to share their knowledge. Today, we’re discussing Top Tips: Fundraising and Donor Engagement!
With year-end fundraising in full swing, today we’re sharing the wisdom of Angela Hartley, Development Director of Tabby’s Place (whose founder, Jonathan Rosenberg, was featured in Episode 180 of the podcast.) Angela talked to us about her common sense approach to thanking donors and finding new ones. “Fundraising,” says Angela, “is not about peoples’ wallets, it’s about peoples’ hearts.”
Your organization should never be the hero…the donor is the hero. The single biggest mistake made by non-profits large and small is talking too much about themselves and not enough about the donors. “Donors don’t want to feel good about your organization – they want to feel good about themselves,” says Angela.
Let the donors set the tone of the fundraising. Get to know how donors prefer to communicate with you and what they want to know, as opposed to simply trying fundraising ideas that work for other organizations. Make sure you listen when you get input from donors about why they chose to support your work, and how they would prefer to interact with you.
Make it more personal by telling the story of one cat. It’s so much easier for people to engage with an individual cat, than to read paragraphs describing your work. Tabby’s Place sends donors pictures and stories about individual cats that have benefited from their care. “Looking into one cat’s eyes can really bring your story to life” for your supporters, Angela notes.
Give your supporters and volunteers the tools they need to tell your story. “Let people do what they want to do,” says Angela. You can leverage your ability to fundraise by encouraging your volunteers to pursue awareness-building activities they enjoy: paint nights, donation cans, Facebook fundraisers, etc. Tabby’s Place also puts together a kit that allows supporters to go out to local fairs and festivals and share their story.
Thank people for no reason at all. Every year, around Thanksgiving, Tabby’s Place sends a card to donors simply thanking them for being part of the Tabby’s Place family. Once again, this is all about building a lasting relationship, and showing “genuine appreciation and affection,” for the donor’s commitment to your cause.
According to Angela, fundraising is most effective when it “turns the mirror on people to show them that they’re kind.” Try one or two of these Top Tips: Fundraising and Donor Engagement ideas yourself, and see what happens!
Image Credit: Worthing Cat Welfare Trust