How Can Your Nonprofit Diversify Fundraising Revenue?

Jul 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic turned the nonprofit world upside down overnight. Suddenly, the fundraising revenue streams many nonprofits depended on dried up, leaving nonprofits looking for new ways to raise money and diversify fundraising revenue.  

On Wednesday, June 24, Action hosted a webinar, At Home With Amy & Dawn: Clever Ways to Diversify Your Fundraising NowThe online discussion, led by Action’s development strategist Amy Boroff and fundraising consultant Dawn Schwartz, was intended to bring fundraisers together to discuss and brainstorm new ways to raise money.  

Your nonprofit needs to adjust to our new reality. Whether you had to cancel a big fundraising event, have seen a decline in general giving, or expect a below average response from your year-end appeal, it’s time do something new. 

But where can you get started? Keep reading to see some of the takeaways from our latest webinar, or scroll down to watch the recorded session in its entirety! 

Virtual events should have a clear connection to your nonprofit's mission

Get Creative with Virtual Events 

Was your nonprofit forced to cancel a big fundraising event this spring? You’re not alone. And many organizations who depend on their annual event to raise money are looking for ways to make up the difference.  

And while a virtual event seems like the obvious answer, too many nonprofits failed to put enough thought into how their virtual event can generate revenue and further their mission.  

During the webinar, Dawn shared how she founded Yoga4Others to benefit the Community Food Bank of New Jersey. Dawn recruited several renowned yoga instructors, who were also looking for ways to engage with their community, to offer virtual yoga classes.  

Participants were asked to make a contribution to the food bank when they registered for the yoga classes and were then provided with a Zoom link.  

The program put an emphasis on healthy living and explained how the food bank’s mission tied into that guiding principal. It is critical that your virtual events tie into your mission and goals 

The virtual yoga lessons raised money to benefit the food bank, raised awareness of their immediate needs, and leveraged the networks of well-known local yoga instructors. It also gave the yoga instructors a new way to raise awareness for their services during a time where in-person classes are not an option.  

It was a win-win for everyone involved! 

Many nonprofits missed early opprotunites to get sponsors involved

Leverage Your Sponsors 

What made Yoga4Others such a success? 

As in all things fundraising, it starts with strong relationshipsThere are always people working behind the scenes to advance a nonprofit’s mission. In this case, it was the yoga instructors who volunteered their time and knowledge to help others stay healthy while supporting the food bank.  

Your nonprofit will need to leverage your relationships to hold successful online events as well. This is where having a strong relationship with corporate sponsors comes into play.  

Remember, if a corporation is sponsoring your events, it’s because something in their company’s identity aligns with your mission. So, reach out and ask how you can help them help you! 

At the beginning of the pandemic, many organizations that moved quickly to host a virtual event didn’t put enough thought into their sponsor’s role.  

We get it. You had to move quickly. But your sponsors probably put a good bit of money into your event. So how can you thank them for their support when going virtual? 

Make sure you are including your sponsors logos in materials related to your virtual event. And be sure to tag them in social posts that promote your upcoming virtual event. 

Some organizations have even held special virtual Q&A’s with their corporate sponsors. This is a chance to let your donors hear from some of your most valued supporters themselves. It gives your donors a chance to learn more about how your corporate sponsor’s values align with their own.  

You can also help raise awareness for your sponsors with #ThrowbackThursday posts on social media. Do you have a photo of your sponsors at last year’s event? Post it on social media with the #ThrowbackThursday hashtag, let your donors know how the corporate sponsor makes your work possible, and explain the shared values that brought you together!  

Dig into Your Data 

As Dawn mentioned, now is a great time to evaluate your data base and make sure everything is in order. If your data is a mess, you should get it together now so you can use a data-driven approach to get the most out of your upcoming appeals.  

This is especially important for organizations that do not benefit from corporate sponsorships. Instead, these organizations rely on support from individual major donors. But you can’t go the extra mile for these donors if you don’t know who they are! 

First, break your donor base down into several giving levels based on prior giving if you haven’t already. This will allow you to reach your donors with messages that feel more relevant and personal. It will also be a better reflection of the relationship between your organization and each donor. Donors will also feel more valued if they are being engaged on a personal level.  

Once you’ve identified which donors belong to each giving level, you can create more targeted communications and asks for each group. If you have a small group of donors who are responsible for a large chunk of your donations, you should reach out personally.  

For your other groups, variable and versioned communications can add a personal touch to make help donors feel like a message is just for them.  

But you won’t be able to accomplish any of this if your data is a mess! So take this time before fundraising really kicks up again to perform a data audit and use what you learn to create more effective communications.  

Future-proof Your Fundraising 

Lastly, Amy and Dawn urged fundraisers to think about the future now.  

Make no mistake, the pandemic is not over yet! And while experts believe we will be hit with a second wave of the virus, no one is sure exactly when that will be.  

So, take the time now to come up with a backup plan for a virtual event in case you have to cancel an event again. You will also want to be prepared if another wave sparks more financial uncertainty just before your year-end appeal 

While there is nothing that can truly replace a big fundraising outing or gala, virtual events could continue to be valuable for your organization even after the pandemic ends.  

It’s also a great time to explore monthly giving if you haven’t already. Donors may be more comfortable donating $20 a month now, than $200 at the end of the year. And you should give them the option! 

In this scenario, you would automatically raise $40 more from that donor when they switch to monthly. And that’s before considering any additional gifts they could make during the year. And when donors give monthly, it gives you a better picture of how much your nonprofit will raise in a year and can help whether any unexpected interruptions in your fundraising.  

Still Looking for More? 

Our June 24 webinar was full of real examples of organizations finding new ways to raise money, as well as several helpful tidbits and pieces of advice for organizations that are looking to do something differently.  

Check out the full webinar recording below to get even more ideas on how to diversify your fundraising revenue now! 

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