Increasing your number of donors is an important task. With more supporters, you have more funds and can, therefore, do more of what you do best: your mission. You can also plan ahead, knowing that this steady increase in income will allow you to continue your existing projects and carry out other, new, exciting ones.
However, increasing your donor base can be challenging. In my early days as a fundraiser, I became frustrated on several occasions because I didn’t know where to look, whom to ask or how to ask. I was overwhelmed. Often, I would stand in a room full of people trying to figure out who may and may not donate. Not only was this an unhealthy approach to fundraising – it wasn’t producing any results.
As I gained experience, I learned how to increase continually, month by month, the number of donors my organization attracted with minimal frustration. How? I learned to stop worrying, reflect on my team’s story and communicate it clearly. In other words, I ceased to focusing on money and started connecting with people.
I recently read Pope Paul VI’s 1976 Apostolic Exhortation, ‘Evangelization in the Modern World’. He points out that:
“The evangelical message should reach vast numbers of people, but with the capacity of piercing the conscience of each.”
Paul VI understood that no matter how many people are in your audience, you must always focus on telling your story. I find it incredible that his words, written 40 years ago, speak to the power of social media today. He understood its potential to spread the Good News. In light of Pope Paul VI’s wisdom, here are three easy steps to increase your donor base.
1. Clarify your message
Stop, reflect and explicitly write down the message you wish to share with people. This isn’t a message about asking for money. It’s a message about why you do what you do. Ask co-workers, friends, family and current donors to review this message. Make sure it connects with your passion and reasons for carrying out your work.
2. Share your message
A day shouldn’t go by without you talking about your mission with someone face-to-face (unless you’re on a pilgrimage in the mountains!). Be open and alert to everyday opportunities for sharing. Rather than asking each person to donate, ask them to connect with your organization e.g. by subscribing to your mailing list.
Metcalfe, a telecommunications engineer, stated that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system. What does this have to do with your donations? Everything. Donors are the people who connect with your message and spread it to their friends, family members, and fellow Catholics. Therefore, If you are in contact with 100 people, you are actually in contact with 10,000 people. If you are linked with 1,000 people, you are, in fact, linked to 1,000,000.
You should, therefore, aim to share your message with as many people as possible. As this number increases, you will automatically multiply your opportunities to connect, translating into more donors.
3. Amplify your message
When the first two steps are consistently applied every day of the year, you can expand your message via social media. As Pope Paul VI said, “thanks to [social media] the Church succeeds in speaking to the multitudes.” 40 years later, his words are truer than ever. In no other time in history can we connect with so many people as we can now. I recommend that you become active on social media and communicate your story.
Again, the focus is individual links, not donations. Devoted followers have the highest probability of becoming long-term, dedicated donors. This, however, only happens through building relationships with them, not by asking them to donate in a tweet or post. The more people you actively engage with, the more likely it is that someone new will say, “Yes, I want to support you.”
By following these three easy steps, your message will be heard and, as people listen, they will naturally be drawn to your organization. Following you on your journey and sharing in your adventure, more people will naturally support you financially. You won’t be running around frantically, searching for new donors. Instead, they will find you.
If you want to learn more about how to share your message with others, see my blog on how to communicate effectively when fundraising which you may find useful. Also, check out my workbook below.