All nonprofits share one common goal: raising funds, each to achieve their unique mission. Though there are many best practices in building resources to succeed in a nonprofit mission, finding the optimum blend of strategies requires expertise. The online Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Nonprofit Management program from the College of Mount Saint Vincent (CMSV) prepares emerging nonprofit leaders to raise funds efficiently and effectively, utilizing various proven strategies.
The Fundraising and Institutional Advancement course introduces students to a variety of fundraising methods, provides the context in which to use these methods, and grants an understanding of how fundraising operates within public and not-for-profit organizations. The course is for students pursuing a management career in the not-for-profit section and other graduate students interested in fundraising within public and nonprofit organizations. Here, we look at some of the proven strategies taught in this course.
Building a Compelling Fundraising Campaign
Modern fundraising campaigns require a holistic approach encompassing careful planning, strategy, and execution. A comprehensive fundraising strategy serves as a guiding roadmap, ensuring that teams navigate every stage of the fundraising process with precision and purpose. The ultimate reward is two-fold: raising more capital to support the nonprofit mission and deepening relationships with supporters, who are the essential pillars of a nonprofit’s success.
A comprehensive strategy provides the direction and structure necessary for success. It is not merely about the amount of funds raised but also about the engagement, enthusiasm, and belief in the cause. With a well-crafted strategy, nonprofit marketing and PR leaders can craft compelling narratives that tell an organization’s story in a way that resonates with audiences. They can design compelling logos, color palettes, microsites, and marketing materials and integrate them into creative campaigns that capture attention and build a shared purpose. Understanding available resources and methods is fundamental to a comprehensive fundraising strategy, ensuring nonprofit organizations maximize their assets and channels.
Diversifying Your Fundraising Assets and Channels
Over-reliance on a single source of financial support can pose significant risks. Nonprofits must strategically broaden their financial base and the avenues through which they secure support. Cultivating partnerships with local businesses, community, and government organizations offers an expanded support network. Having this infrastructure in place opens opportunities for planning real-world fundraising events.
The virtual world has become a prominent channel for fundraising, with online platforms offering flexibility and access to a broader audience. Among donors in the U.S. and Canada, 63% prefer to donate online. Social media platforms, digital ads, email campaigns, online membership programs, and crowdfunding donation pages are powerful channels for visual and auditory storytelling that engage potential donors. Social media is particularly effective; 18% of online donors rate it as their most inspirational channel. Digital channels are even more effective when integrated with traditional print, TV, radio ads, press releases, and press conferences.
Events like galas, charity runs, auctions, and webinars offer opportunities to engage with supporters and convey the organization’s mission. Grant applications to foundations and government agencies provide another channel for securing significant funding when aligned with a nonprofit’s objectives. Diversification across these and many other assets and channels expands reach and enhances resilience, fortifying the financial foundation necessary for meeting goals and creating a lasting impact.
Harnessing the Power of Donor Relationships
One of the most valuable assets a nonprofit can cultivate is a network of strong donors, both individual and institutional. Donors are the driving force behind the organization’s mission. Individual donors alone gave more than $319 billion in 2022, representing 64% of the nearly $500 billion in total giving that year. To harness their power, nonprofits must adopt a strategic and genuine approach. Building trust and transparency through personal appeals is vital to fostering donor loyalty and engagement.
Regular contact is key, with communications expressing gratitude for the support, sharing updates on the organization’s activities, highlighting the real-world impact of contributions, and driving participation in recurring giving programs. In fact, 94% of donors enrolled in recurring giving programs prefer to give monthly. Ongoing two-way interactions solidify the bond with donors, resulting in more donations, as well as feedback and insight that can shape the organization’s ongoing strategies.
Donor relationships extend beyond monetary contributions. These people and institutions are often deeply passionate about the causes they support, and nonprofits can personalize their engagement efforts by understanding their values and motivations. Celebrating donor milestones with gifts and recognition can go a long way in reinforcing the sense of partnership. Getting individuals personally involved, such as by delegating volunteering responsibilities, offering a corporate donor matching program or sponsorships, or asking them to host meetings, further deepens their commitments.
Students can apply the knowledge and skills developed in CMSV’s online MBA in Nonprofit Management program to build better business relationships and develop fundraising strategies to help their organizations thrive.