Step #4: Clean your database.
Effective prospect research requires a combination of external and internal data sets.
External sources might include nonprofit annual reports, SEC filings and social media sites like LinkedIn. On the other hand, internal sources such as your donor management platform can prove to be invaluable as you comb through prospective contributors within your existing supporter network.
To use the data stored in your constituent profiles, you’ll first need to verify that the records in your database are up-to-date and accurate. Conduct a periodic CRM cleanup to catch the following:
- Duplicate profiles.
- Outdated or incorrect information.
- Inactive accounts.
A clean donor database allows you to build your fundraising strategy using only the most accurate, updated information. Plus, you can improve your fundraising return on investment by only sending marketing materials toward active email and home addresses for individuals with a proven interest in your cause.
Step #5: Review your case for support.
When building your fundraising strategy, one of the most important questions to answer is “Why does our nonprofit deserve donors’ support?”
A strong case for support communicates to donors a clear vision for your nonprofit. Additionally, you should articulate your financial goals and the means you will use to achieve them.
However, your case statement isn’t just a resource for interested supporters. A strong case statement can also be used by staff, board members and volunteers as a tool to refer to when acting on behalf of your nonprofit.
A case for support is non-negotiable for every fundraising effort, big or small. You may vary the messaging and focus of your case for different uses (capital campaign versus annual fund versus planned giving) but presenting a solid rationale for why you’re asking for funds is the only way to fundraise, regardless of the initiative.
When creating or revamping your case for support to be more impactful, consider questions such as:
- Who is your audience? Your case for support may have a highly defined audience, such as prospective major capital campaign donors, or a more general one, such as your donors, volunteers and staff members. Your case for support should speak to your audience members’ motivations for supporting your mission.
- What is your goal? Your case for support should reference your specific fundraising goal. This gives audience members a clear picture of what you’re seeking to achieve so they can visualize how their support will make a difference.
- Why does it matter? Why should your audience care about your fundraising goal? Explain what you’ll be able to accomplish when you reach your fundraising goals, whether it’s purchasing supplies for underfunded schools or reducing pollution in a local river.
Here is an example of how an animal advocacy nonprofit might make its case for support:
At Man’s Best Friend Animal Society, it is our mission to support animal welfare by raising money for rural animal shelters across the nation. Over the course of FY 20XX, we aim to raise over $500,000 for underfunded shelters, a 20% increase over our total fundraising efforts from last year. We cannot do this without the help of high-impact donors like you! With your support, we will be able to fund free spay and neuter services for 10,000 pets…
Ultimately, your case for support should clearly align with your nonprofit’s overall mission and justify your fundraising objectives to donors.
Step #6: Create an action plan.
Your action plan outlines the concrete steps that your team will follow to achieve your organization’s fundraising goals. With everyone on the same page, your team will be better equipped to successfully carry out your initiatives.
Keep these tips in mind to build your action plan:
- Determine KPIs: KPIs, or key performance indicators, help track your progress on your way to your goals and foster accountability across your team. For example, if you’re hoping to engage more donors in fundraising, you might set a goal to increase your donor acquisition rate by 5% or increase your donor retention rate by 10%. Set KPIs for each of your goals so you can keep your nonprofit on track.
- Identify action steps: Think through the specific campaigns, activities and projects you’ll lead to make your fundraising goals a reality. For instance, you might prioritize revamping your online donation page, improving your social media presence or leading peer-to-peer campaigns throughout the year to energize your supporters and expand your network.
- Put together your fundraising toolkit: The foundation of every solid fundraising strategy is made up of the right tools. Determine where there are gaps in your existing toolkit and do your research to invest in solutions that will augment your fundraising approach. From donor management software to a comprehensive CRM, tools that are designed for nonprofits like yours will streamline your processes and reduce your team’s administrative burden.
- Set a timeline: Establish when you will complete each task by, or how long each of your campaigns will last, so you have a clear start and end date. Some campaigns might last just one month, while more involved fundraisers like capital campaigns could last years. Determine what makes the most sense based on your fundraising objectives.
- Develop your budget: Expenses related to campaign planning, marketing and fundraising software can add up quickly. Figure out how much money you have to spend on your campaign and how much you’ll need to raise in return in order to run a profit. You’ll also want to make sure the numbers in your action plan match your organization’s operating budget so your fundraising strategy and financial planning efforts stay aligned.
- Delegate responsibilities: Fundraising requires all hands on deck! Delegate responsibilities among your team of board members, staff and volunteers so you can rally enough support to push your goals forward.
Here is an example of what a nonprofit’s fundraising action plan for the first quarter of a given fiscal year (January to March) might look like: