The following SC&H Group blog post discusses how not-for-profit organizations are overcoming industry challenges by understanding the motivations of their donor base and using new strategies to attract the next generation of donors.
In today’s changing and increasingly competitive development and donor environment, many not-for-profits (NFPs) are operating more like businesses to find new supporters. Specifically, NFPs are employing the following five key business strategies, allowing them to attract a more diverse range of donors and volunteers, as well as strengthen their brand.
1. Understanding and Diversifying their Donor Base
First, NFPs are assessing and analyzing their donor base—not simply the demographics, but also what motivates each donor.
While every donor is unique, there are important characteristics that differentiate one generation of donors from another. An NFP that understands these generational differences has the advantage in attracting and retaining more supporters, tailoring fundraising strategies, and being more prepared for the future.
2. Maintaining a Higher Level of Transparency
NFPs are providing greater transparency in response to demands for better communication on how contributions are benefitting their mission.
In the past, it was common for donors to give to an organization based on a good name and reputation, then maintain a high level of loyalty and expect nothing more than a thank you letter in return.
Today, donors want evidence that what they give (time or money) is making a difference. For instance, younger generations typically expect a higher level of stewardship and transparency, as they tend to have greater skepticism. Restrictions on gifts are more common, and there is an overall higher demand for impact reporting, which shows the results and accomplishments of an NFP. Understanding these preferences is critical for growing a future donor base.
3. Using Social Media
Along with transparency, younger generations generally desire greater engagement. Most Generation X-ers ―and especially Millennials― are active on social media, so they want to give quickly, easily, and electronically.
To stay innovative in their services and branding, NFPs are creating a strong presence on social media, as well as accepting payments through their website and on mobile devices.
That way, when planning fundraising events and creating volunteer opportunities, NFPs are designing and posting shareable social media content—giving supporters several ways to access updates and voice the organization’s brand and messaging.
And, by participating in social media conversations and engaging supporters, NFPs are preventing their social media from serving only as an easily overlooked billboard. These combined efforts help to drive greater visibility and reliability.
4. Engaging Volunteers
Attracting volunteers can be a phenomenal way to foster relationships, increase monetary donations, and find long-term supporters, especially those who have specialized skills. For example, parents of students often have numerous skills and connections. So, schools are getting to know parents at a level where they can help identify volunteer opportunities never considered previously.
To avoid missing out on valuable volunteer skills, NFPs are considering their needs and the types of volunteers they can use—from workers (stuffing envelopes, serving food, and doing more routine, necessary functions) to initiators, organizers, and committee members.
Then, to encourage further engagement, NFPs are offering opportunities for people― especially younger donors―to volunteer in groups (friends, family, and coworkers) and in ways that are fun, engaging, and rewarding. If a donor can see the difference they are making, they are far more likely than non-volunteers to continue their support.
5. Managing Resources
However, utilizing volunteers is not always an easy task. It requires coordination of internal resources to organize, train, and lead the volunteers. Therefore, NFPs are not only considering how their organization can best manage its resources, but also developing volunteer-based committees and providing skilled volunteers with the independence to lead certain projects.
Giving volunteers more freedom, creativity, and ownership over projects is typically producing impressive results, as well as lessening the strain on an organization’s personnel resources.
Ultimately, today’s most innovative NFPs are gaining a powerful competitive advantage. By understanding and diversifying their donor base, providing greater transparency, using social media, engaging volunteers, and managing resources, they are strengthening their brand, attracting more donors, and receiving greater short- and long-term support.
Want to learn more about staying ahead in the changing NFP landscape? Contact SC&H Group’s Not-For-Profit team today to develop innovative strategies for the future.