How to Improve Your Fundraising Strategy: A Mini Guide

Published on 9 Jan 2023 by Auctria

While fundraising fuels nonprofit work, it can also be the most challenging aspect of running a mission-driven organization.

Just think about it—with one individual fundraising campaign, there are dozens of moving parts to track. From determining campaign goals and selecting the right fundraising tools to marketing your campaign and fully engaging your supporters, there’s a lot on your team’s plate. (Not to mention your other campaigns, regular programming, and day-to-day operations that have to keep running in the meantime!)

Without the right approach guiding your campaigns, your campaign-specific and long-term goals can easily get derailed, making it difficult to create positive change for your beneficiaries and connect with your supporters.

That’s why you need a well-crafted fundraising strategy. According to Donorly, creating (or fine-tuning) such a strategy will “lay out a roadmap for you and your team to follow at every stage of the fundraising process, helping you avoid stress and stay organized and productive.”

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a few tips for improving your fundraising strategy—whether your current approach could use a major overhaul or you’re just looking for ways to freshen up a winning method.

In addition to studying these tips, you can take your efforts to the next level by working with a fundraising consultant who can provide a third-party perspective and fresh ideas for greater success.

Let’s begin!

Review your current approach.

When it comes to improving your fundraising strategy, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. In fact, there are probably many aspects of your current approach that are working. In order to understand which practices can stay and which should be improved, you’ll need a critical eye. This is where working with a third-party expert like a fundraising consultant can really come in handy—these professionals can help you see strengths and weaknesses that you otherwise might not!

Take a look at your past campaigns and how your team has approached them. You can ask yourself questions like:

  • Which campaigns were most successful? Which were the least successful?
  • Which marketing channels successfully reached our supporter base during these campaigns?
  • Is there any feedback from supporters or team members that indicates what did and didn’t work during these campaigns?
  • What skills and expertise do our team members have that have benefited our past campaigns? What gaps do we need to fill for the future?

As you walk through these questions, you’ll be able to see areas for improvement. For example, you might notice that you didn’t meet your fundraising goal during a past P2P campaign because the effort wasn’t effectively marketed to supporters who were willing to participate as volunteer fundraisers. On the flip side, you might notice that of those supporters who did create and share their own fundraising pages, many have since deepened their involvement with your organization.

Examining both the good and the not-so-good from past campaigns can provide insights into your strategy’s strengths and weaknesses, setting you up to make intentional and successful changes.

Get to know your donors better.

Fundraising is all about connecting with the people that power your mission, whether you’re launching a text-to-give campaign during the year-end season or hosting an event to thank your major donors.

So, one of the best things you can do to improve how you fundraise is to make a concerted effort to get to know your donors (and future supporters!) better. Here are a few suggestions for doing so:

  • Conduct prospect research. Prospect research is the process of examining potential supporters’ capacity and affinity indicators—data points that tell you they have the means to give to your cause and the interest in your work to inspire a donation. Conducting thorough prospect research can help you build relationships with prospective major donors and provide important information about things like their connections to your existing donors or their eligibility for gift matching.

  • Send out surveys. If you have questions about your donors, why not ask them directly? For example, instead of wondering about their reactions to your last fundraising event, send out a short survey to the supporters who subscribe to your email newsletter. Or, post a poll on social media. Even a few candid responses can provide you with the information you need to make your next event or campaign better.

  • Use social media to interact with your community on a regular basis. The beauty of social media is that it gives your team opportunities to talk one-on-one with supporters frequently. Leverage direct messaging and commenting features to chat with your supporters and get to know their needs and interests. Doing so will help you better tailor your fundraising strategy to them.

Getting to know your donors can help you level up nearly every aspect of your fundraising strategy, whether you’re creating more specific donor segments for marketing, incorporating volunteering opportunities that will resonate with your donors, or thanking them in ways that you know will express your organization’s gratitude.

Make getting to know your donors a priority as you fine-tune your fundraising strategy!

Track fundraising metrics that you can act on.

Hosting one successful fundraising campaign is great, but making all of your campaigns successful is even better! You can set yourself up for sustained success by tracking and acting on fundraising metrics.

According to DonorSearch’s guide to nonprofit fundraising metrics, these data points, also known as fundraising key performance indicators (KPIs), are “measurable values meant to demonstrate how effectively a nonprofit is achieving key objectives.”

There are many fundraising metrics your organization can track—from metrics focused on digital marketing to metrics focused on your board members’ performance. Here are some popular ones, along with how to calculate them:

  • Fundraising Return on Investment (ROI): This metric tells you whether your campaign brought in money, helped you break even, or cost you money. You calculate it by dividing fundraising revenue by the expenses of the campaign.

  • Gifts Secured: Gifts secured is reported as a whole number and helps you track the donations you’ve received over a set time period.

  • Donor Retention Rate: This KPI tells you the percentage of donors your organization retains year-over-year. You simply divide the total number of donors who gave this year and last year by the number of donors who gave last year. Then, multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage.

  • Donor Acquisition Cost: Donor acquisition cost shows you how much money your organization spends on acquiring one donor. You can calculate this metric by dividing the amount spent on donor acquisition by the number of new donors.

  • Average Gift Size: This KPI shows your organization the average donation amount your organization receives from a specific group or during a specific campaign. To find it, divide the total dollar amount of donations received by the number of gifts received.

By consistently tracking metrics like these, your nonprofit can eliminate the guesswork from evaluating your campaigns, so you can make informed, evidence-based decisions and goals for future improvements.

Fundraising is an art form, and like oil painting or pottery making, it can sometimes take a while for nonprofits to work out how best to approach it.

By reviewing your current strategy, getting to know your donors, and tracking campaign data, you can make informed improvements to your fundraising strategy. In turn, you’ll set your nonprofit up for sustained fundraising success and more opportunities to connect with your supporters and drive impact for your beneficiaries.

You’ve got this!

Special thanks to Sandra Davis, Founder and President at Donorly for the expert advice in this article.

Sandra leads Donorly with 30 years of fundraising experience and leadership. Sandra has consulted on numerous capital campaigns, led strategic planning and feasibility study efforts, and managed board development and recruitment efforts in addition to overseeing planned giving, special events, and annual giving programs. Under her leadership, Donorly has grown to support the fundraising efforts of over 75 clients to date.