“What if the answers to nonprofits’ fundraising challenges were already all around us?” – FUNDRAISING BRIGHT SPOTS
Successful fundraising isn’t just about money. It’s about relationships. The orgs that understand this have happy, repeat donors.
So who’s doing well with individual giving? FUNDRAISING BRIGHT SPOTS: Strategies and Inspiration From Social Change Organizations Raising Money From Individual Donors, sponsored by the Evelyn & Walter Hass, Jr. Fund, explores some possibilities.
The new report profiles organizations that are beating the odds and achieving stellar results in individual giving. Combined, the 16 organizations in the report have raised more than $14.5 million from individuals in 2014-15.
Here’s what they have in common.
Fundraising is Core to the Organization’s Identity
“Many of the Bright Spots identify as social justice movement-building organizations. For them, giving money is integral to being part of a movement.” – FUNDRAISING BRIGHT SPOTS
BRIGHT SPOT: Eleven years ago, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth made a pivotal decision to shift energies to increasing membership and building a much stronger individual program. KFTC doubled membership and tripled grassroots fundraising in three years.
Over the last three years, Kentuckians for The Commonwealth has raised over $1.4 million dollars of individual support, averaging 23 percent of their revenue annually.
Fundraising is Distributed Broadly Across Staff, Board, and Volunteers
“The majority of people we interviewed from each Bright Spot organization…did not have development in their title. There is a remarkable distribution of fundraising across staff, board, and volunteers, often with the use of online crowdfunding platforms.” – FUNDRAISING BRIGHT SPOTS
BRIGHT SPOT: Mujeres Unidas y Activas Co-Executive Director Andrea Lee once brought in a cartoon depicting a man who died because he asked for a contribution and the donor said no. The sheer ridiculousness of that scenario took away some of the fear of asking. Today, management team members spend at least three hours per week on individual giving.
With a shared leadership model, including co-executive directors and a grassroots fundraising coordinator on staff, Mujeres Unidas y Activas engaged many staff and volunteers in raising $517,000 from individuals in 2015.
Fundraising Succeeds Because of Authentic Relationships with Donors
“As we interviewed their donors, we heard emotional words of connection to the Bright Spot organizations that go far beyond ‘investing in an important cause’ or perceiving an organization to be ‘well-run’.” – FUNDRAISING BRIGHT SPOTS
BRIGHT SPOT: Breast Cancer Action Executive Director Karuna Jagger executed a bold shift when she was hired – she set a give-and-get policy of $10,000 per board member, each of whom had been told explicitly upon recruitment that they did not have to participate in fundraising. They lost a few board members in the first year, but now have a stronger, more successful board for it.
With high engagement from its board of directors, Breast Cancer Action raised 75 percent of the annual budget, over $600,000, from individuals in 2015.
Fundraising is Characterized by Persistence, Discipline, and Intentionality
“Whatever system for cultivating and engaging donors they’ve chosen, the Bright Spots work with discipline and a commitment to continuous improvement.” – FUNDRAISING BRIGHT SPOTS
BRIGHT SPOT: Transgender Law Center Development Director Nathan Harris meets weekly with Executive Director Kris Hayashi to review Salesforce database dashboard reports, gift reports, and stewardship reports. He also plans donor visits with Kris and debriefs him afterwards.
Between 2013 and 2015, Transgender Law Center grew its support from individuals by a remarkable 228 percent to $646,063.
How might your organization learn from some of these bright spots?