Top 8 Fundraising Ideas to Engage and Surprise Donors

Your ability to be a successful fundraiser often hinges on standing out in the midst of all those other great causes that your donors hear about. With social media’s ever-present messages, your donors have seen and heard all the tricks of the trade. They are on overload and are beginning to appreciate the dialed-down approach.

That doesn’t mean you don’t work as hard to acquire and retain your donors. Quite the contrary!  You need to re-think your approach, coach others in it, and measure results over time. Below are eight great tips to guide you. The bonus: This is a sustainable and personal approach and gets you back to the basics of nurturing the relationships that are crucial to funding your mission.

1. Consistency beats brilliance every time. Being energetic and enthusiastic are good qualities in a development director, but “organized and in love with follow up” beats perky every day.

3. Caring and that means really, really caring. While you won’t love or even like every donor, you need to work up some real caring when you communicate with your donors/prospects.  Suggestions: care about the people your mission touches, care that the world is in better shape because of your organization, care because your organization does what it does better than anyone else. If your work is what the donor wants to support, then finding a caring connection is critical.

4. “Candy,” not necessarily the literal kind, although that might be welcome. “Candy” stands for that little extra that you bring to the face-to-face meeting or send in the mail: an article about the donor’s interest in fly fishing, a packet of stickers for their grandchild who loves fairies, or contact information for the 10k run you talked about during your last phone conversation. This doesn’t take a lot of work, just diligence in getting it done.

6. Change course. You have spent time researching, strategizing, and planning for that perfect meeting with your donor, and now she wants to talk about her grandchild? His baseball collection? Their trip to Tahiti? Well of course you want to listen! Gentle nudges to the original topic should never get in the way of your ability to make the most of what the donor wants, and that might mean abandoning your original course, letting the donor take you into their world.

7. Cut the ties. This might be the best thing you can do for a donor who repeatedly doesn’t respond to your overtures or otherwise indicates “no.” Not only is it respectful, but it will free your time to work with the donors who show an active interest. Remember that “no” might mean “no for now.”

8. Caring (again) but it’s for yourself this time. Donors respond best to you when you are engaged, present, creative, and relaxed. Too much stress on your body, mind, and spirit takes the edge off your best qualities—and, after all, you are the face of your organization to that donor. Make sure it is a smiling one!

Incorporating these tips into your relationship building with donors will help you dial into the needs and interests of your donors and help them feel more connected and committed to the mission of your organization.