Online Fundraising Academy: Cultivating a Fundraising Army

Online Fundraising Academy: Cultivating a Fundraising Army

In GlobalGiving’s fourth session of the Online Fundraising Academy, we invited Marshall Bailly, the Executive Director and Founder of Leadership Initiatives, to share tips for cultivating a strong donor network. In 2014, Marshall and his team raised more than $260,000 through GlobalGiving. He has built relationships with a core group of donors that regularly support Leadership Initiatives via various promotions. He has developed a comprehensive strategy for campaign outreach and communications, including local donor mobilization in Nigeria, where Leadership Initiatives operates.

Session Recording: http://www.meetingburner.com/b/globalgiving/view_recording?c=ENDZ7V&h=f

Session Notes:

Leadership Initiatives (LI)

  • Partners with local government and business leaders in Nigeria to provide promising individuals with entrepreneurial, leadership and project management training.
  • Founded in 2004, LI started small and then over time slowly built up its donor network. Their strategy was to first approach the people they knew and then build their network out from there. To create a strong donor network, you first must create strong “buy-in” opportunities for donors.

Donor Committee: You can’t do it alone!

  • Because fundraising has to meet both short term and long term goals it is important to create a group of supporters to help develop goals and support the organization’s growth.
  • The donor committee consists 7-8 individuals who help raise money and set a fundraising agenda. Initially the committee included mainly long-time friends of the organization, however, it has since branched out to include board members, dedicated donors, and corporate partners.
  • Create a one-month, six-month, one year and five year plan for where you want your fundraising goals to be. Additionally, make sure the plan has reachable goals to motivate your committee.

Donor Captains

  • Donor captains allow you to share the fundraising burden by finding new donors.
  • By bringing new people into the organization, donor captains take on a leadership role and become part of the team.
  • In 2013, LI had 10 donor captains who were each in charge of getting at least 10 people to donate, and in 2014, LI had over 20 donor captains for five separate matching events.
  • Donor captains create an atmosphere of friendly competition to encourage one another to raise the maximum amount of funds available.

LI’s five donor network leader types:

  • Social Leaders – Individuals who know a lot of people. Ultimate goal is to create a generation of donors who stay connected and fundraise with LI over many of years.
  • Specialty Type Donors – Individuals with jobs that can help you get special services and connections to improve your organization.
  • High End Donors – Individuals who typically donate $1000 or more. Through constant contact you can help them become stronger donors. Build up trust, allow them to provide their input, and help them find pride in the work they’re supporting.
  • Corporate Sponsors – Organizations that donate $1000 or more. Find corporations who have a vested interest in the work or community your organization is involved in, and who is interested in partnering with you.
    • Make sure your corporate sponsors know how much you value them and how much their contributions mean to your organization!
  • Business Alliance Program Students – Partnered with high school students who raise money to help each Nigerian business partner receive skills training and additionally work to solve a few of the developmental problems. In exchange, each student receives help with SAT training, scholarship and college entrance essay assistance, and letters of recommendation. LI then continues this partnership with students as they enter college and later the business world.

Tips to note:

  • For every donor LI gets, they also have at least 20 who say no.
  • Don’t keep chasing “white whales” – at some point, you cannot continue to chase people who are uninterested in your story. Instead, chase those who care and really want to know more about your organization. Follow up and work with people who care, as they are the individuals who will transform your organization.
  • It is a learning curve – you won’t always succeed on the first try, and that is okay! Keep trying, keep learning, and remember that you will make it.

It’s a challenging environment!

  • Each organization is fighting for their share of local donors. You must find out what really matters to your donors.
    • Success stories must connect emotionally, and the call to action must be distinct for your individual donor captains and your individual donors.
    • Put a face to the problem – donors can talk/skype to people on the ground
  • LI created a comparison chart showcasing how LI is different from other organizations and why donors should give to LI rather than to other similar organizations.

Develop a path forward

  • Separate your organization out of the mix by communicating a focused, distinct mission.
  • Differentiate your organization through outcomes, emotional storytelling, progressive posture and unique business models.
  • Elevate your organization as a leader in your field. Continue to lift your reputation by better leveraging endorsements from GlobalGiving and other partners.
  • Prioritize your audiences; make sure they know how much you appreciate all they do, and that your organization is where it is because of them.

Make your supporters lives easier:

  • LI has found better ways for donor captains to fundraise and get donations from donors: Paypal card readers, Bank of America Debit Cards, reporting forms where captains can report funding expenses and funds raised
  • Provide online materials for donors for each fundraising event
  • Easy access to matching day project pages. For instance, it’s easier to say LImatch.org rather than http://www.globalgiving.org/donate/4393/leadership-initiatives/. Both pages go to the same place, but the first link makes it easier for donors to remember where to go.
  • Created a graphic explaining GlobalGiving’s donation benefits, making it easier for donor groups and captains to show potential donors why GlobalGiving is beneficial.

Question & Answer

Q: Are newsletters a good way to recognize donors?

A: First we make sure our donors want to be mentioned. Some donors do want to be mentioned, while others prefer to remain anonymous. If donors don’t mind, it’s a great way to recognize their contributions.

Q: How do you mobilize international donor captains?

A: We will start by finding a captain who has either a credit card or Paypal. We then will normally have everyone on the ground in Nigeria pool their funds, and then the captain will donate all of those funds on the card or through Paypal. We find people who have been assisted by our organization and really want to give back. That individual will most likely want to continue the cycle of transformation in their community and can reach out to friends and family in their network, creating a culture of giving back.

Q: How do you recruit people to be a part of the fundraising/donor committee?

A: Each year we’ll send out emails to top donors, letting them know that because of their commitment to the organization we want to challenge them to not only give more, but to also invest more in the organization by joining the donor committee. I then will set up calls or meetings  with individuals, explaining the duties of the committee and the different sub-committees.

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