Prioritizing long-term growth over short-term gains has never been humanity’s strong suit. Nonprofit organizations struggle with this issue as well, in large part due to the fact that many organizations are dealing with the real-life crises of the communities they serve. Investing in strategic growth is a more arduous task than focusing solely on the immediate fundraising need. Building systems and infrastructure takes time and investment, but it pays dividends.
Let me offer up an example. Grant applications are much easier to check off a list than accomplishing a three-year strategic plan; you write and edit the grant, submit, and then (hopefully) receive a check. While grants can be a viable revenue stream for nonprofits, engaging and cultivating individual donors is one of the most valuable means of long-term strategic growth.
Lay the groundwork to accomplish long-term, sustainable fundraising goals by:
1. Continuously growing your contacts
Your organization must be focused on continuously growing your mailing list, reaching new donors. To do this correctly you need a professional database, not just Excel, see below. Add names with as much details as possible to reach donors and stakeholders by both direct mail and email.
2. Investing in the right fundraising tools
Long-term growth requires infrastructure. Invest in a database that allows you to track donor interactions in detail. This information will allow you to segment mailings and to know your audience so you can develop touchpoints and form lasting, meaningful connections. In order to be poised for growth, data stored in an Excel sheet just won’t cut it.
An online marketing software that allows you to build lists, tag your contacts, segment emails, and collect data is non-negotiable. Investing in your website’s donation tools and collecting site analytics are also invaluable. The immediate costs of software should be viewed as an investment; these tools, when leveraged correctly, can greatly benefit future income.
3. Developing systems & sticking to them
Save time and resources by establishing clear systems for all employees to follow. What is the process when a donation comes in? Breaking it down into steps, complete with timelines and team member responsibilities, ensures that there is little confusion.
Having language in place and accessible to team members to address common questions is one way systems save time. Have a script of answers to FAQs so team members know exactly how to answer donor calls without having to dig for information. Developing scripts and email templates is a great way to save time and keep branding consistent.
While many nonprofits are recovering more slowly than the rest of the economy from the pandemic, we’ve seen that clients who put long-term growth at the forefront of their strategic plans are thriving. Focus on the future pays off.