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Steal These 3 Growth Strategies From Top Fundraisers

Donald Cowper 05 March 2018 0 comments

EngelSohinWebinarImageThis is a guest blog post by Elizabeth Engel and Sohini Baliga, the presenters of our free webinar on 3 growth strategies worth stealing from top fundraisers. Click here to watch the webinar. 

Have you ever wondered how some charitable organizations get major donors to write those five-figure checks? Or, how they manage to attract all those millennials to volunteer? Or, how they put together those beautiful, emotionally-compelling, multi-channel, integrated-end-of-year campaigns?

Here are three strategies membership organizations can steal from fundraisers in order to create compelling campaigns that bring in money, build relationships, and attract diverse audiences.

1) Major Donor (Member) Relationship-Building 

In the association world, we tend to want to treat all our members equally: nobody is more important or special than anyone else. That’s a noble impulse and helpful, up to a point. After all, you don’t want your association to seem cliquish, or for any member to feel like the association doesn’t respect or value her.

But the fact of the matter is, some members ARE more important or more special than others. Some members only date your association casually and then move on. Some make significant, long-term commitments. Those two types of members are not equally valuable.

Fundraisers, who manage relationships with donors – ranging from those who give $25 one time to those who make six- and seven-figure legacy contributions – have figured out how to make everyone along that continuum feel known and appreciated in a way that’s commensurate with their giving level. They do that by prioritizing ongoing two-way communication to find out what really matters to their donors, and using that information to deliver experiences that focus on treating donors equitably rather than equally. 

2) Creating and Running Outstanding Campaigns

Marketing automation has been a real time-saver for association executives. You can set up the campaign, and your marketing automation software runs in the background, sending notices out on schedule to everyone who still hasn’t renewed her membership, registered for the meeting, or bought the webinar or book.

But those highly automated campaigns aren’t personal. They don’t tell a story. They aren’t compelling. They don’t make a connection. Because of that, they often don’t live up to expectations.

Fundraisers are experts at doing all of those things. They have to be. They’re not asking for people to give them money to get a direct personal benefit (a membership, a conference experience, professional development, access to vetted information). They’re asking people to give them money to support a greater cause. And they do it really well, by making personal connections and making their donors the heroes of the highly engaging stories they tell. 

3) Attracting Millennial/Young Professional Supporters

Some associations are struggling to recruit younger members. Part of the reason for that is that many associations have erected barriers to entry rather than removing them.

What’s required to be considered part of your association’s community? A certain degree? A license? A certification? Money?

Those are all barriers to entry that a young person may not be able to clear – at least not yet. What you’re telling them, in effect, is: “You are not welcome here.”

Fundraising organizations know that if they can establish a relationship and loyalty up front, the dollars will come. Even if they don’t, those committed young fans will contribute in all sorts of valuable ways: volunteering to help with the mission-driven work of the organization, recruiting other supporters, amplifying messages and stories online and on social media.

If you want to learn more about the strategies worth stealing from top fundraisers, please watch this free on-demand webinar: "Steal These Ideas: 3 Growth Strategies From Top Fundraisers." 


Additional Resources:

Elizabeth Engel and Sohini Baliga are the coauthors of Steal Like a Fundraiser

ElizabethEngelHeadShotElizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE, is CEO and Chief Strategist at Spark Consulting LLC. For more than twenty years, Elizabeth has helped associations grow in membership, marketing, communications, public presence, and especially revenue, which is what Spark is all about. She speaks and writes frequently on a variety of topics in association management. When she's not helping associations grow, Elizabeth loves to dance, listen to live music, cook, and garden.

SohiniBaligaHeadShotSohini Baliga has worked in the nonprofit industry for more than twenty years, focusing on marketing, communications, and development. She recently closed down a successful consulting practice to join Taxpayers for Common Sense, a nonpartisan budget watchdog in DC, as their director of communications. She concurrently serves as executive director of the Vienna Choral Society – the only client, and the “joy project” she retained from her consulting career. When not writing and storytelling, she is probably bingewatching or listening obsessively to music from Bach to Bollywood.


Donald Cowper

Posted by Donald Cowper

Published Monday, 05 March 2018 at 11:24 AM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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