The holiday season is a vital time to raise funds for most non-profits. For small nonprofit, however, competing with the big guys can be difficult. Large non-profits are quick to launch high-profile campaigns that divert a large portion of funds to them. In fact, the largest 100 charities in Canada receive 37% of all donations, gathering $4.5 billion from a total of $9.7 billion in tax-receipted giving.
In order to compete, smaller non-profits must work hard to convince potential donors that it is more important than ever to donate to them. Here are four ways to do that:
Show the Need
Of the 100 largest non-profits in Canada, 25 have enough money gathered to deliver their mission for three or more years without further fundraising… an interesting fact that can be used to your advantage! This is a luxury very few organizations can afford. Let donors know that smaller non-profits have more pressing needs compared to larger organizations and so their donations will have a more immediate impact.
Small and medium-sized non-profits often operate under tight budgets, achieving their mission with an efficiency born of necessity. On the other hand, fourteen of the richest charities spend over 35% of every donor dollar on fundraising activities, exceeding the guidelines of the Canada Revenue Agency. Eight organizations use more than 40% of donations for fundraising. So, ensure donors know their money delivers efficient services instead of bloated fundraising and administration costs.
Non-profit spending is a frequent and valid concern for many donors. People want to know that their donation is put to good use, delivering vital services to the community. However, a surprising 20 percent of the top 100 Canadian charities avoid publishing financial statements publicly.
Use this fact to your advantage and make sure potential donors understand that your organization is transparent to the public. But, don’t stop at your financial statements. Be transparent about everything! According to Hope Consulting, a social sector strategy firm, 14 percent of those who research before donating spend 15 minutes gathering information. 34 percent spend 15 to 60 minutes researching and 26 percent research for an hour or two. The majority of these people are interested in facts and numbers, while stories, quotes, testimonials and detailed reports have less of an effect. So, share facts about need, efficiency, and how you achieve the goals set out. These are the types of things that will convince donors that you are the charity they should be investing it.
A Child’s Right is a great example. They are a model of transparency. Click on the tab called “proving it” on their website to get an overview of the lengths they go to illustrate the efficiency and impact of their work. Even more impressive, however, is the tool they’ve created at provingit.org which shows precisely where donations are placed and let’s you review relevant details about the projects you’re supporting, so you can actually “watch what your gifts make possible.”
Employ Social Media
Finally, while small non-profits can’t afford large marketing pushes via television, events, and direct marketing billboards, they’ve got social media on their side. When it comes to delivering a message, there is no question that email, text messaging and popular social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are increasingly driving awareness. And because these media require very little budget, small non-profits are now on an equal playing field with the big guys. Thanks to social media, the competition to get your message heard is now one of effort and creativity, not wealth.
About the Author: Sumac is part of the Silent Partner Software family, a company dedicated to providing exception software and services to nonprofits. With over 25 years of service, Silent Partner has helped organizations manage over 3 million donors and contacts across the US, Canada, UK, and Europe. Learn more.
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