New donors can be the catalyst for your Catholic non-profit or mission. But finding donors can be overwhelming for many of us. Based on years of experience launching successful fundraising campaigns, today I am sharing with you the three steps that will take you from drawing board to raising funds in no time.
In this article, you are going to learn how to save time when it comes to finding donors and use a method for building a sustainable approach to raising funds.
In the wake of the scandals which continue to plague the Catholic Church, I’ve been interviewed multiple times by news outlets asking the same question, “How will Catholics respond?” The question is focused on the aspect of financial giving. Yes, Catholics are most definitely considering how to take action. However, you and I both know that taking financial action – which is appropriate – is not the most important.
And yes… it’s the fundraiser saying this – money is not the most important action! You and I can respond in greater ways than reducing the amount we donate.
We should look at the Second Vatican Council on how to respond. One of the pillar documents, Apostolicam Actuositatem, was written by the Council Fathers and lays out the blueprint for what the laity must do, especially during a scandal.
Asking for donations is not something that comes naturally to me, even though I am a fundraiser! In fact, I still get scared. Whether it’s a one-on-one donation request or an appeal letter, asking for donations is a skill that I had to learn.
Thinking about how I have improved (and conquered my fears), I was reminded of a discussion I had with the director of a Catholic non-profit in California.
She had been hesitant when it came to asking for donations. She knew she had to ask but just kept struggling. Finally, after listening to her express her fears, I assured her that I could offer advice to help boost her confidence.
Confidence is essential when it comes to fundraising. You can have a long list of potential donors – who are ready to give – but if you don’t have confidence, you probably won’t be able to ask them for a donation.
If you’ve been following me for the past two years, I hope that you’ve enjoyed my weekly articles on how to fundraise in a Catholic context. Yes, I’ve dedicated 100% of my attention to Catholic fundraising. That includes religious orders, lay apostolates, youth ministry, family ministry, pro-life ministries, schools, universities, and the list goes on.
I’ve offered the steps on where to find donations, how to ask for donations, and when to adopt new strategies (such as online fundraising).
Today, let’s dive into the world of appeal letters. You will notice that I take a different approach to the average fundraiser. Rather than focus my attention on asking for a donation, I focus on my relationship with the reader.
The fundraising pyramid is one of the most important visual aids at your disposal to help you understand how to find donors and major donors.
As a fundraiser, you have to manage three critical tasks: finding prospects, asking for donations, and increasing the number of your donors and major donors.
When I began to fundraise, I found juggling each of these tasks quite difficult. I’d focus on one and leave the other two to fall. For example, when I was running around to find new donors, I would forget to keep the donors that I had. So for every donor I found, I would lose one.
Another mistake was focusing my attention on building relationships with my current donors but forgetting to ask them for another, if not larger, donation. So I kept the donors I had but never got major donors.