Happy New Year! Whether it’s the start of your fiscal year, or simply the beginning of a new calendar year, this is a great time to revisit and refresh your fundraising goals.
I like to take the first week of January and think about the Really Big Things I want to accomplish the rest of the year. These resolutions aren’t specific: they’re the larger, overarching goals that will drive my work for the rest of the year.
As you are planning your fundraising campaigns for the year, these 3 fundraising New Year’s resolutions will help you start the year ready to tackle fundraising with energy and excitement.
Goal One: Plan Ahead
Do you know what fundraising campaign you’ll launch in December, or how many donors you need to secure for your next crowdfunding launch?
You need a detailed roadmap that lays out exactly how you’re fundraising and where you anticipate the money will come from. The more detailed, the better. If you don’t have a fundraising plan, look at your goals for the year and answer these questions:
- How much money do you need to raise between now and the end of the year? Your budget will dictate the rest of your fundraising plan. Ideally, you should know how much will come from grant funding, individual fundraising, events, and crowdfunding.
- What campaigns will you launch to raise that money? Will you send out an appeal letter? When will you send it, and who will write it? What about a major event? Is your grants calendar updated for the year? Plan these campaigns out for the year and you’ve essentially created your annual fundraising plan.
What do you need to do to make those campaigns successful? If you know you want to improve your grants program, you might also need to write a new boilerplate grant and commit time to prospect research. If you’re throwing a major fundraising benefit, you’ll need to put together a committee and create a sponsorship packet.. Plan ahead and give yourself the time to make sure each campaign is well executed.
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Goal Two: Tell Better Stories
Your story is the heart of your fundraising. Once you’ve created (or updated) your fundraising plan, spend some time focusing on your storytelling.
- Have a great elevator pitch. When someone asks you what you do, what do you tell them? Make sure you have a one to two sentence answer that really gets to the heart of your work. Instead of “we help kids stay in school,” you might say “we help young women create a brighter future for themselves by ensuring they graduate from high school.” Instead of saying “we rescue cats and dogs,” you could say “we find loving forever homes for abandoned animals and give senior citizens a best friend for life.” Of course, your fundraising mission statement will be unique to your organization, but the more specific you are, the more your story will resonate.
- Be a creative storyteller. How you tell your story is also important. Creative storytelling is one of the easiest ways to amplify your fundraising. My favorite way to bring your story to life? Write about your work: is there a student you helped or a specific dog you saved? Tell their story in your appeal letters, on your website, via social media, and in short videos.
- Make your donor the hero of your story. Commit to storytelling that reminds your donors and followers of why they care about your cause. Instead of talking about your work, talk about how your donors and volunteers make that work possible. Write about outcomes of what you do not your day-to-day work itself.
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Goal Three: Love Your Donors
The easiest way to improve your fundraising is to spend more time thinking about your donors. Remember that on the other end of your crowdfunding campaign, appeal letter, or grant application is a real person interested in your organization. You’re not just convincing them to give you cash: you’re creating a relationship and providing them with an opportunity to invest in a cause they care about.
Donor stewardship doesn’t have to be complicated. Consider carving out a few hours every Friday afternoon to go through your list of donors (and prospective donors) and writing short update emails, sharing updates and communicating the impact of their support. Call and say thank you every time you receive a gift, and tell them how much their support matters. Shout your appreciation via social media. Every chance you have, say thank you.
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