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Seven Fundraising Secrets for Nonprofits Revealed!

by Rob Wu  |  
May 23, 2012

How do professional nonprofit fundraisers raise millions of dollars for their nonprofits every year? What are their secrets to fundraising?

Though fundraising is our nonprofit’s lifeblood, most of us aren’t professionally trained at fundraising. We know how to make an impact, yet we don’t know how to raise funds most effectively.

Let's uncover the secrets of a nonprofit fundraising professional. As part of the Get Donors series, Ruthellen Rubin, a professor of philanthropy at NYU and CFRE, shares her secrets. She distills 30 years of fundraising experience into seven short videos.

Here are seven secrets, based on her videos, to getting more donors for your nonprofit.

Secret #1: Develop a case for support

Your potential donors are asking why they should support your nonprofit. You need to clarify why you’re asking for a donation then sell the successes of your nonprofit. Developing a case for support gets donors to invest in your organization. People don’t give to charity anymore; they invest in results.

Secret #2: Create real, personal, and urgent appeals

The most effective fundraising appeals are real, personal, and urgent. Use compelling storytelling with images and videos to connect a donor’s donation to a tangible impact or to a result of their donation.

Secret #3: Startup founders must have fundraising responsibilities

In a startup nonprofit, the founding team is responsible for setting an example. This team should be the first to donate to the organization so that others will follow their lead. The amount doesn’t matter; full team participation matters more.

Secret #4: Be good stewards

Committing to year-round stewardship will retain current donors and recruit new repeat donors. Their funds are an extension of their faith in the organization and the mission, so remember: You’re not only stewarding their money, you’re stewarding their trust. Care for your donors by investing in them. Send a personalized thank-you note; a formal, written thank-you note; a mid-year update; and a personalized ask the following year.

Secret #5: Create annual donors

Where can you find more donors? First, focus on your obvious prospects. Recruit from your board, staff, and pool of volunteers. You can also ask your vendors (e.g., accountant or lawyer) for an annual gift. Next, move on to the people that you serve, such as your alumni and constituents.

Secret #6: Create a culture of fundraising

Help your board envision what fundraising success looks like. Get the entire organization involved in the process by empowering and training everyone on the basics of fundraising, so they grow comfortable with asking for donations.

Secret #7: Develop an email strategy

Email is one of the best ways to encourage giving. You must have a set strategy and plan for your emails, so that they augment fundraising. Segment your emails to focus on specific niches of your audience. Personalize the “From” and “Reply To” fields with a person’s name rather than the name of a department or a general inbox.

To learn even more secrets, visit us at Follow these fundraising fundamentals to help your nonprofit recruit more donors.

Rob Wu is a founder at CauseVox, an innovative online fundraising platform that empowers nonprofits.

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Head in Money)

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Rob Wu is a founder at CauseVox, an innovative online fundraising platform that empowers non-profits.

Twitter: @robjwu

LinkedIn: Rob Wu

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