7 fruitful ways to increase donations
Take a moment to reflect on this question: “Why do people donate to me?” Then, consider how incredible it is to have your donors support you.
You are inspired by Christ to pick up your cross and follow him, and others are encouraged to help you do so. Whether you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the poor or help the sick, you transform the world through your work, and people are inspired to help you keep going.
When it comes to fundraising, you can quickly hit a wall. You confront the reality, “how do I get people [or more people] to support me and my organization financially?” You know how important your work is, but you sometimes struggle to find donors and ask them for financial assistance.
I’ve been in this situation before. To find a way out, I would pray that someone would donate! Most often, unfortunately, people didn’t respond to my appeals. Nor did they want to learn more about what I was doing. It was a disheartening situation to find myself in, alone on an island. I was doing great work, yet I couldn’t find enough people to keep my momentum. I asked, “What else could I do?”
Thank goodness those days are behind me. After testing many methods, I’ve discovered seven actions that you can do to get people to donate. But before I explain what these seven actions are, I what to share with you what I’ve learned about why people do and do not give.
Why people don’t give
I’ve learned that people, on average, don’t respond to appeals and requests. Just take a look at the success rates of any charitable campaign. The number of no’s always exceeds the yes’s. Direct mail, in particular, usually only has a 2% success rate, while a campaign appeal at a Mass will often achieve 25%. These fundraising tactics are losing their effectiveness year after year because people are tired of these interruptions (especially during Mass!).
Second, sharing the Catholic faith does not mean someone will give to you. Remember, Catholics support a range of causes. One Catholic might donate to overseas work but not to a local refugee center. That’s okay because we all have different passions for different kinds of work. So don’t get upset if someone doesn’t give to you. It’s not personal. You just haven’t connected with someone who will.
In conclusion, people don’t give because they either don’t know what your organization does, or they don’t have an affinity for your kind of work.
Why people do give
People give because they have connected with you and your organization’s mission. Your story becomes their story. This happens because they have an affinity for your work. They are interested in knowing what you do, how you do it and what impact it has on the world.
People reach this level of engagement when you develop relationships, not donations. In conclusion, you look for individuals who are passionate about your cause and can relate.
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As a fundraiser, therefore, one of your key duties is to communicate the value of your mission and keep an eye out for people who connects with it. Successful fundraising happens when people recognise the importance of your mission. Once you’ve built a valued relationship, donations will start coming in.
The 7 ways to increase donations
Creating value through interaction is far more important than asking someone to donate in 30 seconds. Here lies the opportunity. By presenting your value, rather than the ask, you inspire the person to donate even without directly asking them to give.
Your goal is to share this value with everyone. You can do so by the following seven steps.
Show that your organization is…
1. A Valuable of Source of Information –
Become the number one source for information on your kind of mission work. Whether you work with the physically challenged or shelter the homeless, offer everyone who comes into contact with you relevant, frequent and resourceful information on your organization’s activities. By doing so, people will recognize your organization as one that consistently offers great resources on subjects that matter most to them.
Remember, it’s not just about your work. It’s also about sharing what you do. Offer short guides, training booklets, fact sheets on key topics that can be read quickly and passed around to friends and family. Provide accessible information that keeps everyone engaged with you.
I wrote a post about how to communicate to people when fundraising which you may find useful.
2. A Valuable Source for References –
Similar to a library, reference what is happening in your field of work. If people see you as the number one source for knowing what is happening, they will keep coming back to you. Therefore, always direct them to useful material, even if it’s not your own.
Your focus is to increase people’s knowledge and interest in your work. You do so by referencing everything that is of value to them, including other organizations’ websites, books, seminars, conferences, speakers, and podcasts, etc. People will keep coming back to you because you are the central hub for what is happening. They like you because you connect the dots for them. And when people spend more time with your organization, the higher the probability they will donate to you.
3. A Valuable Source for News –
Many times, I have to go to multiple sites to learn what is happening in the news about a certain topic. It’s tiring. Find many organizations work in the same space, yet few provide the overarching update that helps me make sense of it all.
With all the activities you’re involved with, I am sure that there are regular news stories, prayer groups and meetings, events, campaigns, and conferences. Could you be the primary source for connecting all of this news and share it with people? The organization that becomes the news hub will be the same one that attracts the most donors.
4. A Valuable Connector of People –
Don’t let you or your team stay enclosed in your office, focusing solely on what you have to get done. Instead, reach out and consistently connect with others. Also, be the connector for individuals and groups in your area of work. I recommend that you and your team know every key person in your field. Become the key influencers.
As a result, people will engage with you because you seem to be (and are!) at the center of everything. All roads pass through you.
More so, you are happy to make introductions for people. You don’t keep contacts a secret or control relationships. Rather, you freely share who you know. Today, it’s only a matter of time when someone connects with another person. You might as well make it easier and speed up the process. Remember, we are made to connect with one another. We are not made to have a list of contacts in our phones which we guard for ourselves. Instead, share your contacts.
By helping others connect, they will stay in touch with you and share their contacts. As a result, the number of people engaging with you will increase, and therefore your number of donors will increase, too.
Show how your organization demonstrates…
5. The Value of Being Non-Judgemental –
Provide a safe space to dialogue about issues. If we cannot talk about the issues, how can we reach conclusions?
Too many people are quick to reject others for their opposing views, thereby shutting down dialogue. You, however, do not point the finger. This can be hard to do because of emotions, misconceptions, assumptions and personal preferences and issues.
Often, people disagree with one another because each cannot express their ideas clearly and persuasively. Be different. Take time to know the other person’s viewpoint, while presenting yours with clarity. Also, offer people the space to interact with you and the opportunity to discover more about your viewpoint. You’ll find that you can turn doubters into donors.
6. The Value of Trust and Reliability –
If you can complete the first five points, people will trust your organization and regard it as one they can rely on.
To reach this level, your team should be informed, committed and trustworthy. By doing so, many doors will open to you. This is when people start knocking to ask, “How can I donate?”
Unfortunately, only a few Catholic organizations can claim to fulfill this category. This, however, is where the opportunity lies. Any group or person can leverage the current landscape and attract the trust of Catholics. Enjoy, because the road is open!
7. The Value of Passion –
Passion is your ultimate differentiator that will attract many donors. How many people commit themselves with such zeal that they show up every day, no matter what? There is tremendous value in being disciplined and showing up when others don’t.
You don’t have to be the best. You just have to keep pressing on with the courage and commitment to press on. As GK Chesterton explained so eloquently, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.”
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When you and your team are grinding through the ups and downs of your mission, moved by the Holy Spirit, regardless how you feel or what the odds are, people will take notice and say, “Incredible. They are doing incredible work. How can I support them?” This for many organizations is their tipping point for donations.
If you can demonstrate these seven value points, you will both energize your staff and inspire people to donate. There is, however, one hurdle to jump. So often, we mix humility with shyness. We don’t want to talk about ourselves and ‘big us up’. It’s seen as being full of pride and not Catholic. We’d rather stay humble than mention how we did something incredible, like feed 1,000 hungry children in the past month.
The word humility derives from the word humus which means from the earth. Humus signifies lowliness or submissiveness. Although we may be humble, our mission is bold and confident. It’s part of Christ’s mission to bring his love to everyone. So we cannot be shy about the incredible mission God has asked us to complete. It’s life-changing, life-fueling and life-giving.
As Saint Ignatius said, “ite, inflammate omnia—go, set the world on fire.” He parallels Our Lord’s words, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” – Luke 12:49
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A Success Study – How the 7 Steps Can Work for You
I worked with one Catholic organization to fulfil these seven points. Together, we blew the dust off their value (they confused humility of spirit with the confidence of mission) and soon attracted the attention of people to their work, attending events and volunteering to help. Also, some signed up to be donors. Some even donated large sums of money. One donation was for $35,000. Then, two other donations came in: $15,000 and $9,000.
This is a great example of how presenting your value to people can have a significant impact on your fundraising.
Contact me directly if you want to learn more about how you can achieve the same kinds of results.
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