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Expert tips for small nonprofit fundraising by TWG fundraising guru, Stacy Varghese

Obviously, if you want to succeed in business, you have to listen to your audience, right?  In our case, we listen to nonprofits and cause centric organizations around the world and try to serve them according to their needs.  So, when we brought on an accomplished fundraising and development officer, Stacy Varghese, as our Director of Strategic Partnerships, it was a logical extension of our passion for nonprofit success.

We thought we would take a minute and pick Stacy’s brain to get some advice that we could pass on to you guys.  So here we go!

TWG: So, Stacy, a lot of our nonprofit clients are at a loss as to where to start in their fundraising efforts – especially the smaller groups without a lot of resources.  What would you say to them?

SV: I’d say, look at what is already in your hands.  Many people think the key to fundraising is to find away to get that proverbial “big fish” – the big company owner you’ve heard is philanthropic in your city, but the truth is people give to people they know and trust.  Your best potential donors are people who already know you and just need a greater one-to-one connection to be challenged to give a larger gift.

TWG: Well, I get that – but shouldn’t they put a good amount of effort into potential donors with deeper pockets.  You know, like businesses and foundations and places with grant funds?

SV: Well, the truth is that corporations and foundations account for less than 15% of all donations, so focus on individual givers.  Sure, if you have an “in” with the leaders of businesses and if you have a good grant writer on staff to access the funds available through foundations – then, yes, go after that low hanging fruit…but don’t put 80% of your efforts into getting less than 15% of your funding.  Individual giving is by far the largest piece of the pie.

TWG: Ok, so our nonprofits are going to focus on the individual giver.  But how do you motivate enough individual givers to match one large gift from the “big fish”?

SV: This is an easy answer believe it or not.  Use this secret trick:  Treat donors like they are your friends.  Give them personal updates via email and social media – not just updates on your cause – but send them objects that represent your mission to make a statement.  The one advantage small non-profits have over large ones is the ability to give that personal touch.  Do this and you will find people will be more than motivated to be financially involved in your success.

TWG: Ok, last question.  Isn’t it logical that if one nonprofit is reaching out to a group of individuals as financial partners, then other nonprofits are reaching out the same group of people with the same “ask”?  So, how does my nonprofit stand out among the crowd?

SV: This is a great question.  The answer is simple:  Do something they aren’t and be creative.  A 30 year fundraising veteran once told me his rule is to thank each donor 7 times for each gift.  How do you do that?  Call them, say thank you next time you see them, send a receipt, write a personal note on that receipt, in the next newsletter thank the group that responded to your previous campaign, send a personal note or email, and send a receipt at the end of the year.  This effort sets you apart.

Thanks, Stacy.  And, blog family, be sure to check out Stacy’s bio page to get to know a little about her fundraising background.  You can also contact Stacy by emailing her at stacy@thewinngroup.com.  In the mean time, be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more of our best nonprofit tips.


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