The best marketing doesn’t feel forced

Are you struggling to raise enough money?

Of course, the reasons are as varied as organizations. But there are still a few things to think about that are often causing your problem.

You’re not clear about your mission

Can you communicate your WHY easily and in simple language? And can you explain it in a way that resonates with people? In other words, not why it matters to you, but why it might matter to them?

Communication is critical to raising more money. Jargon hurts. A lack of mission clarity hurts. And if you’re completely absorbed in your organization’s work, you might have to consciously step outside that view. Because your inside eyes aren’t seeing things as someone outside the organization would.

Clear and emotionally effective language works. It matters whether you are seeking grants or looking for corporate sponsors or individual supporters. Remember that looking for support – whether institutional or individual – still means talking to people.

You’re not asking often enough

If you’re seeking institutional funding, you’re probably constrained by their schedule. But you can still work on building relationships. And you can still keep them updated.

And if you’re seeking individual donations, you cannot depend on a once-a-year appeal. Lose the “annual appeal” mindset. You’re depending on people to remember who you are for 11 months of the year? They have so many other things screaming for their attention. You need to be present to be noticed.

But you don’t have to send a constant stream of appeals. Mix it up. Donors deserve to be kept updated on what their support is accomplishing. And well-done newsletters can be income-generating – without feeling like a solicitation.

If you’re depending on email (because it’s seen as less expensive) you may not be meeting your supporters and potential supporters where they are. And communicating well is even more critical with email. Think about how much time you give most of what hits your inbox. Is that how your messages are being treated?

Mail does cost more to print and send. But it’s also something people can hold in their hands. And our sense of touch matters! Try not to look only at the cost – but at the return as well.

You’re not asking the right people

If you’ve been hoping that a few very wealthy people will feel they owe you a gift, you’re not building on a strong foundation. Oprah isn’t coming to your rescue; she doesn’t even know you exist.

Instead, seek out the people who’ve shown interest in your cause. Ask them to introduce you to anyone they think might also be interested. Keep their passion for the cause alive with good information and good donor care.

You’re not investing in fundraising

If you’re not raising enough money, look at your fundraisers. Are you hiring based on who will work for less or are you looking for people with skills? Are your expectations in line?

And if you depend on board members – are you being clear with them from the start that fundraising is what you need them to do?

Do your fundraising operations have what they need to succeed? Are you limiting the tools – like mail – that are proven to work?

Are your fundraisers given the funds to access good training?

If fundraising matters, spending wisely on it also matters. By all means, track responses. But look at the whole picture: if you’re spending more, but also raising more, you’re doing well. More supporters mean you can grow those relationships and increase their donations.

Your mission isn’t something enough people care about

If you’ve tried everything and you’re still not raising more money, it might be a matter of mission clarity. Have your activities drifted from your mission? Maybe you’re doing a little bit about lots of problems? That can be confusing for supporters. Define your mission well and stick to it.

But sometimes, what you care so much about just isn’t something that enough other people care about. Be brutally honest as you look at that. But don’t despair. You might not have to abandon your cause. You might need to reimagine it.


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