Experts agree that most important thing to know about not-for-profit fundraising is that most people give money because they are asked. There are a variety of ways to ask and many different strategies for determining who to ask and how often a donor should be solicited. These all play a part in successful fundraising.
Not-for-profit fundraising requires many different skills, so successful non-profit organizations often employ a team of fundraisers, each with a different specialization. Depending on its target audience, fundraising goals, and available resources, a non-profit may wish to have a grant writer, a major gifts officer, or a researcher on the team. One tip for saving money on fundraising is to hire development professionals with multiple skills. For example, a good non-profit communications specialist may be able to write grant applications, appeal letters, and scripts for telephone solicitations. In that case, a separate grant writer need not be hired in addition to the communications officer.
Volunteers can supplement and support the efforts of a not-for-profit fundraising team. There may be letters to fold and envelopes to stuff, contribution data to enter into a database, or phone calls to be made. Well-trained volunteers can do this work, leaving the development staff with time to apply their expertise to more complex matters. What's more, experts have noted personal requests from people directly involved with a not-for-profit organization are extremely effective. This makes volunteers some of the most successful fundraisers.
Whether a staff member or a volunteer is doing the fundraising, experts stress the importance of using a strategic approach. It is agreed that a successful not-for-profit fundraising strategy should include the frequency with which solicitations are made, how much money is asked for each time, and how it will be solicited. It is recommended that the results of an organization's fundraising efforts be carefully tracked so that the strategy can be modified as necessary in the future. Specialized fundraising software can be used for this purpose, or an outside agency can be hired to record and analyze fundraising data.
Collecting data on fundraising efforts is one way to get to know one's audience. People donate to charity for many reasons—some enjoy the feeling of doing good, while others are devoted to a particular cause. Still others make contributions to non-profit organizations for the tax deduction. According to experts, understanding a donor's motive for giving can help one craft the most effective solicitation.
The above tips apply whether one is raising funds from the government or the private sector. Expert fundraisers suggest trying to achieve a balance between the two. This helps insulate a not-for-profit organization from fluctuations in the economy that impact one more than the other.