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Use Personal Appeals & Storytelling for Fundraising Success

According to a recent survey conducted by fundraising platform FrontStream, the vast majority (87%) of Americans say they are donating to charity in 2021. In fact, almost 20% claim they are giving more this year than they did in 2020. However, remaining uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the economy is making fundraising challenging for many non-profits right now.

Social media and mobile apps have made asking for donations easier in some ways, but one of the most effective strategies for raising money remains the personal appeal. Donors consistently are more likely to give if the request comes from a friend, colleague, or family member who is committed to your mission. Below are tips for incorporating personal appeals to help tell your non-profit’s story when fundraising.

Board Members Are Usually Best
All of your organization’s stakeholders can promote your non-profit and request support from their contacts. But development staffers aside, board members generally make the most effective fundraisers because they are knowledgeable about your organization, passionate about your mission, and typically have a wide range of business and philanthropic contacts.

You can support their efforts by making sure they have the proper information and training. Consider equipping them with a wish list of specific items or services your non-profit needs. Keep in mind that not all of their friends or family members may be in a position to make a monetary donation. However, some people may be able to contribute goods (such as auction items) or in-kind services (such as website maintenance).

Effective Methods
When making a personal appeal to prospective donors, your board members should, when possible, meet in person. Letters and email can save time, but face-to-face appeals are more effective. This is especially true if your non-profit offers donors something in exchange for their attention. For instance, they are more likely to be swayed at an informal coffee hour or cocktail gathering (contingent, of course, on local COVID-19 threats and restrictions).

It also is important for board members to humanize your cause. Say that your non-profit raises money for cancer treatment. If board members have been affected by the disease, they might want to relate their personal experiences as a means of illustrating why they support your organization’s work.

Even when appealing to potential donors’ philanthropic instincts, it is critical to mention other possible benefits. For example, if your non-profit is trying to encourage business owners to buy ad space in your newsletter, board members could explain that your supporters are a desirable demographic, both in terms of spending power and an eagerness to ‘buy local.’

Work Every Channel
Although personal appeals are extremely effective, do not dismiss any fundraising technique — particularly if it is low- or no-cost and is easy to use, such as social media. The most successful non-profits work every available channel to increase interest and donations. Contact us to discuss your fundraising challenges and goals.

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