How to Raise 15%-20% More This Year

How to Raise 15%-20% More This Year

We’re doing a series of short posts called Mastermind Lessons.

The Fundraising Mastermind is transformational consulting for nonprofits that we do with Chris Davenport of Movie Mondays and The Nonprofit Storytelling Conference.

Today’s post is the fourth top-level lesson we’ve found that every organization in the Mastermind needs to learn…

It’s simple… but it’s not easy.

The Three Things You Should Focus On

I realized that every organization we worked with needs to get better at these three things. And all of them saw immediate gains from doing so.

Over my career, I’ve noticed that the organizations who focus on doing these well see a lift of 15% to 20% in net revenue over the first year they focus here.

So read on if you’d like to see that kind of growth…

#1 – Communicate to Your Donors More – About What Donors Care About

It’s a fact: most nonprofits under-communicate to their donors. (To be more nuanced, most nonprofits under-communicate to their donors about what their donors care about.)

Just one example: most small nonprofits who send four appeals per year are scared to death that they will drive their donors away if they send another appeal or two. What those small nonprofits don’t know is that their donors also give to other organizations who are mailing twelve, sixteen or even twenty-four times a year.

If you literally don’t have the human resource capacity to be communicating more, that’s a good reason. But if the fear of bothering/offending your donors is causing you to contact them less, you need to stop fearing and trust in a) best-practices and b) your donors’ willingness to help.

And of course, you have to communicate with donors about what they care about. Most smaller nonprofits have a hard time with this, which is why they should…

#2 – Use Specific Offers

To smaller organizations, it’s counter-intuitive that highlighting a specific part of one program will work better than Asking donors to fund your mission or all of your programs.

But it works almost every time.

Most of your donors, most of the time, don’t want to know the whole picture. They want an easy way to do something meaningful that they understand.

A great offer gives donors what they want: it highlights a specific part or step of one of your programs (so it’s easy to understand), and it shows your donors how meaningful and important that step is.

#3 – Manage Your Major Donor Relationships

About nine out of ten organizations we work with openly acknowledge that they could do a better job with their major donors.

And for the organizations where we can spend a year or two helping them improve their major donor systems – their revenue growth is remarkable.

Investing in your major donor systems is an easy win. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will sure feel like it.

15% Growth is Simple, But It’s Not Easy

To the smaller nonprofits out there: if you do the three things above, and do them well, you’ll see significant revenue growth.

Because there is no magic bullet. Here’s how John Lepp of Agents Of Good said it on Twitter:

“Charities are looking for a magic (technologic and demographic) bullet to solve all of their problems, and I’m sorry… it doesn’t exist. It’s the 1000+ small boring things you need to do that make the big difference.”

The three things above are the three most important “1000+ small boring things you need to do.”

We’re helping several organizations do them right now. And we’ll continue to post about what they do as they grow and grow. If you want personalized, experienced help, visit this page to learn more and fill out an application.


Steven Screen is Co-Founder of The Better Fundraising Company and lead author of its blog. With over 25 years' fundraising experience, he gets energized by helping organizations understand how they can raise more money. He’s a second-generation fundraiser, a past winner of the Direct Mail Package of the Year, and data-driven.

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