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How to secure donations and develop long-term relationships with donors

Many people think fundraising is about throwing a party and asking for money. In truth, fundraising is a strategic process of identifying, cultivating, connecting, asking and then stewarding. It takes a team of people to secure donations and develop long-term relationships. Even a small nonprofit organization should have a basic development plan.

Don't put all of your eggs in one basket

Many a nonprofit has failed because they weighted their development plan too heavily on events, grants or a specific donor. Your development plan should have diverse revenue streams that include grants, individuals, corporate gifts and events (including 3rd party). If one funding stream goes away, you'll have other funding to support you.

Consider each donor individually

Some donors give because they believe in the work you do, some give because it's part of their religious practice, some like to go to parties. Find out what motivates your donors and take time to connect with them. Most importantly, remember the main reason that anyone donates: because someone asked.

Tell everyone

Every single day there is an opportunity to share the story of your nonprofit organization. At work, with family, with friends, at church — and it doesn't have to seem forced. When someone asks how you're doing or what you're up to this week, tell them you're on the board of a really great nonprofit and then tell them a bit about it. That’s it. You just laid the groundwork for them to get to know your organization.

You don't have to ask for money yourself

Not everyone is comfortable asking for money. Don't worry — you don't actually have to. Identify who in your organization is comfortable and then introduce them to everyone you know. Your job as a board member is to tell your story. Why are you involved with this organization? What makes it important to you and the community?

A good ask does not happen on the first visit

No one wants to be asked for money when meeting someone for the first time. Good development happens over time. The potential donor gets to know you and you get to know him or her. When you feel that you've connected and engaged, then is the time to make an ask. A good ask takes into consideration the interests of the donor and a basic knowledge of their capability. It takes time to know whether you should ask for $500 or $50,000. An ask too high or low could be a huge error.

Donate personally

All board members should make a donation to the organization they serve and it should be a significant gift within their capacity. Many foundations want to see 100 percent board giving in order to fund a grant. More importantly, how can you ask someone else to give if you yourself don't believe in the organization enough to donate? Put your money where your mouth is.

Say thank you

Take time to thank donors. Following an event, appeal or significant gift, make calls or hand write thank you notes to the donors to let them know how much you appreciate them. It's easier to secure a future gift from someone who has already given than to find a new donor. Gratitude goes a long way toward ensuring future support.

Other ways to help

  • Host a non-ask event at your home to introduce your friends to the cause
  • Secure an in-kind donor to help with supplies or special projects (such as marketing or graphic design)
  • Negotiate a lower price from a vendor
  • Open the door to conversation by asking a potential donor for advice related to your organization

For more from Amy Temperley, visit Temperley Consulting.

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MissionBox editorial content is offered as guidance only, and is not meant, nor should it be construed as, a replacement for certified, professional expertise.

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Ageing is Cool Co-founder