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Charity Fundraising - Part 2

Oftentimes, a non-profit group will ask for donations via a direct solicitation. There are literally dozens of books about this type of charity fundraising. Part one of this article is an overview of different solicitation approaches. Part two sites common mistakes to avoid.

Wearing out your donor base
Hitting up the same group of people repeatedly without giving feedback on previous results or accomplishments will have this effect. Avoid this problem by communicating the need and how it was met through their generosity. For best results, give specific results and mention tangible community benefits linked to previous giving.

Not expanding your donor base through community involvement
By working with other groups within your community, you expand your range of potential supporters.

Consider partnering with another organization whose supporters will be likely to support your group as well. Be sure to add everyone that you interact with to your contact database.

Not saying thank you
If people donít feel appreciated, they are less likely to make a donation again in the future. Take time to create a personalized message conveying your appreciation. Thank your biggest donors in person or with an award.

Not giving feedback on results and what funds were used for
Make sure everyone knows that the goal was met, that it was exceeded, that 'x' benefits resulted from 'y' contributions. Consider publishing a formal capital campaign report. Donít be afraid to provide full financial disclosure of your organizationís results. Prominently feature your biggest contributors with a profile, an interview, or other special recognition.

Not making them feel good for giving and want to continue to give
People not only want to be thanked; they want that appreciation to be known to others.

Publish your results in a nicely bound limited edition and distribute copies to major donors with their thanks embossed in gold on the cover.

Think of another ongoing recognition method such as framed certificates of merit, pictures of them accepting an award from your organization (ready for hanging in their office of course.)

Not enough publicity
Make sure that your fundraiser gets media notice. Your donors will also like the fact that others have heard of your program in the news. If your cause is worthy of your time and other peopleís money, isnít it worth pursuing a bit of extra publicity? Take the time to issue press releases, contact radio stations, write articles for the newspaper, and so on.

Not enough uniqueness
Define what sets your group apart from similar organizations. Get the message across that your group has a valuable voice that needs to be heard in community dialogue. If you are just like everyone else, then why should a donor be interested in supporting you? Take the time to craft a mission statement that speaks from the heart.

Growing stale in approach
Donít be afraid to shake things up a little bit. Itís easy to ignore a group whose fundraising technique is so basic and unvaried from year to year that they donít even have to open your letter to know what it says.

Make the need more real by making it vivid. Think of the movie 'Itís A Wonderful Life' and paint a picture of how the world would be different without the efforts of your organization. Jimmy Stewart would have been great as a fundraiser!

Not asking for it Ė the best time is right now!
Finally, the biggest mistake that many capital campaigns make is by not asking for it. If you want monetary support, be bold and seek it out. If you donít ask at all, then youíll never get what you want.

Donít shy away from approaching that potential major donor because everything isnít perfect in your pitch or your past performance.

Instead, make a list of potential objections and then write out the answers to those roadblocks ahead of time. If you wait until everything is perfect, someone else will have their ear (and their check) before you take action.

Charity Fundraising - Summary
Donít be afraid to ask. For a salesperson, the worst that can happen is hearing 'no.' For a direct solicitation, the worst that can happen is to actually 'know.'

Youíll find out immediately if your potential supporter believes in you enough to support your cause. If their answer is no, work on honing your value proposition and donít be shy about asking for referrals anyway. Ask for a 'top this' challenge letter to show others.

When you directly approach a person or an organization, youíve at least created or increased their awareness of your non-profit group and its goals. A 'know' oftentimes becomes a 'yes' sometime in your charity fundraising future.

About the Author: Kimberly Reynolds writes about fundraisers and tips on charity fundraising on her website. Find hundreds of fundraising ideas on her website.

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