The loss of a major donor or corporate partner should not mean the end of your nonprofit. Limiting your fundraising to one or two major sources can come back to bite you if you’re not looking ahead. Multiple revenue streams create a reliable, predictable cushion so your organization can continue to operate despite whatever obstacles may come. There’s no way to eliminate risk, but you can mitigate it.
In an annual survey on donor confidence conducted in July 2020, 58 percent of donors said they planned on giving the same amount in 2020 that they did in 2019, 23 percent said they plan to give less, and 13 percent plan to give more than they did in 2019. Despite record high unemployment rates and unknown long-term economic effects, one thing is clear: donors remain committed to supporting the causes they care about.
Donors remained optimistic, but researchers who conducted the survey noted these numbers may not tell the whole story. They feared that many donors may not be realistic about the long haul, and among the donors who said they plan on giving less in 2020, 57 percent were unsure if their giving will ever return to pre-pandemic levels.
It’s hard to predict what the future holds, so in the meantime, building a robust and diverse funding pool is a great line of defense. A robust revenue stream takes time to cultivate, as every option can come with various constraints and costs. Cultivating a major donor can take months or years, and foundation grants may include rigorous requirements to qualify.
These revenue streams should be balanced, based on how much time and effort it takes to cultivate, combined with your current revenue, budget, and goals. All of these examples look a little differently in the 2020 landscape, so tailor these options to fit the specific needs of your organization and those you serve.
The vast majority of charitable contributions come from individuals. However, within this category of giving there are many opportunities to diversify your funding, from cultivating and upgrading one-time donors, to launching a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Be sure you’re ready to manage these individual donors with a strong CRM, fundraising platform, and email service provider. Explore our top five nonprofit tech stack recommendations so you’re ready to deploy a campaign at the drop of a hat.
Make it easy for donors to give. Sounds simple enough, but when our CauseMic Crew set out to make donations to 152 nonprofit organizations during the year-end fundraising sprint, we found 71 percent of organizations had no homepage call-out to make a donation. Some organizations had a call-to-donate hidden in the footer or within a dropdown in the navigation bar, instead of a prominently featured donation method. A missed opportunity with a simple solution: optimize your donation page and make it easy to find so a prospective donor doesn’t have to go hunting.
Monthly Recurring Revenue
Building a robust monthly giving program is a surefire way to build a predictable, unrestricted revenue stream for nonprofits of all sizes. A strong monthly giving program takes proper planning, building, promoting and optimizing in order to be successful. It’s important to brand your monthly giving program and treat it like a campaign with clearly defined goals. Creating your monthly giving program doesn’t need to take a lifetime to set-up, either. You can prepare, build and launch a robust giving program in as little as 90 days.
How you define a major donor will look differently at every organization, depending on your annual revenue and donor pool. Our biggest recommendation to major gift cultivation is to treat every single donor like a major donor whenever possible. Your younger donors may only be able to give $5/month right now, but as they age and their income increases, their ability to give more will increase as well. Those donors will remember when you expressed gratitude for those smaller gifts when it comes time to upgrade to a higher giving level. Regularly asking your monthly donors to upgrade their gifts (to an appropriate amount according to their giving level) is a great tactic to ensure no money goes untapped.
This is a great untapped resource for organizations of all sizes and sectors. Peer-to-peer fundraising allows your nonprofit organization to tap into the networks of your supporters, exponentially expanding your reach beyond your donor pool.
When launching a peer-to-peer fundraiser, be sure to send supporters fundraising tips and encourage them to share their campaign on social media. Fostering the success of your peer-to-peer campaign turns your passionate supporters into professional fundraisers with tools to make it easy for any supporter to say YES.
Learn more about making peer-to-peer fundraising work during year-end on the blog.
When hunting for a corporate giving partner, it’s important to choose a partner that aligns with your core mission & values. It wouldn’t make sense for a health organization to partner with a candy brand, for example. For smaller organizations, start your outreach on the local level. Focus on the ways in which a partnership within your community is mutually beneficial, and consider pitching a one-time matching gift option if the organization is hesitant to sign-on for the long haul.
In-kind sponsorships are a great way to partner with corporate or local brands as well. An exchange of donated goods, services, or expertise can help fuel your fundraising and even be used as fundraising incentives during a peer-to-peer campaign.
Foundation grants are a great funding resource—over $50 billion dollars are awarded to charitable organizations by foundations every year. This comes at a price, as grant writing is a beast of its own. Every grant is different – but there are three major categories grants fall into.
- Unrestricted funding – can be used for day-to-day operating costs or support the overall work of an organization. Not necessarily dedicated to a particular program or focus.
- Capital support – for more specific capital campaigns that may involve acquiring, renovating or remodeling property.
- Restricted funding – program development grants focus funding on a particular program or project and require the nonprofit to use the funding for this purpose.
Just like corporate giving partners, ensure the foundation grant you’re after aligns with your mission, values and goals.
Planned gifts, also known as legacy gifts, offer your supporters an opportunity to give more than they would otherwise be able to during their lifetime. Bequeaths are the most common form of planned gifts, which can include property, homes or vehicles in some cases, all items that donors are not able to part with until after their passing.
Cultivating planned gifts is a fine line and can take many years without a clear idea of how much a donor is able to bequeath. While planned gifts are important to include in your arsenal, this is not the revenue stream that you want to plan your budget around.
The simplest way to make planned giving accessible to your supporters is to make it easy to give. Include a designated space on your website that explains the options available, whether it be estate planning, retirement planning, tax benefits, or simply a place to direct their inquiries. Making the ask is half the battle, but these tips will get you started in bringing your planned giving strategy to life.