Top tips for effective association fundraising

Fundraising can be a powerful way to drive non-dues revenue for your association. 

Here’s how fundraising can help your association and what best practices you can use to raise funds more effectively.

Non-dues revenue plays a big role in ensuring your association’s ability to grow and thrive. It supplements membership dues revenue and allows you to continue providing great member value.  

Fundraising can be a highly effective way to drive more non-dues revenue. But as an association professional, you might find yourself shying away from asking members to donate – concerned that donors might feel as if they’re always being asked for money or that they already paid their membership dues, so why should they give more.  

But the truth is that your organization can (and should) raise much-needed funds without turning off members – simply by employing some fundraising best practices. 

Let’s take a look at how fundraising can help your organization and what you can do to raise funds effectively. 

How fundraising helps your organization
Association fundraising brings in added revenue. That’s a given. But, take a deeper look, and you’ll see how it helps your entire organization achieve its mission for years to come. 

For example, fundraising can help your organization: 

  • Continue to provide great member benefits – Providing great, ongoing member value is the key to attracting new members and keeping members around long term. Fundraising helps to ensure you have the funds to continue providing member value through activities such as conducting industry research and providing student scholarships – even if membership revenue decreases for a bit.
  • Make members feel more connected – With the right approach, your fundraising can help members feel more connected to your association and your mission. By incorporating messages about what your organization does to help your industry, and how critical revenue (in addition to membership dues) is to achieving your mission, you can give your members the opportunity to be a bigger part of supporting your industry. This approach can ultimately make members feel a closer connection to your organization. 

Tips for more effective fundraising for your association
Once you’ve made the commitment to fundraising for your association, it’s important to follow best practices and put the right technology in place to support your fundraising activities. Here are some tips to make fundraising easier and more effective for your organization: 

1. Offer a clear value proposition.
Remember that asking members to donate is much different from asking someone to join your organization or asking a member to renew their membership. Be sure that your fundraising messages are clear and specific about how donations will be used to benefit your association and your industry

2. Manage your donor data.
Be sure to have a donor profile in place for each of your members. This profile should show you if a member has donated in the past (and if so, how much and when) and what fundraising communications and campaigns they’ve received from your organization. This information is the foundation for your fundraising efforts. 

TIP: Nimble AMS by Community Brands helps you collect and manage member and donor data in one place so you can easily keep data updated and secure and use it for fundraising campaigns. You can even allow members to update their own information through an online member portal.

3. Send targeted, personalized fundraising asks. 
Your members are more likely to give if you send them personalized, versus generic, communications. Segment your member lists and target each segment with messages that align with their interests and giving history.  

TIP: Using predictive analytics and artificial intelligence functionality in Nimble AMS, you can predict which members will donate and how much they will give. You can then use that data to send targeted email asks through Nimble AMS. 

4. Automate.
Make the most of your staff’s time for fundraising by automating manual tasks. For example, start by setting up fundraising email communications and automate the “send” for each email so your staff doesn’t need to send them manually. Take it a step further by setting up a personalized “thank you” email that’s triggered automatically when a member makes a donation.

5. Set up a donation microsite.
While it’s important to have a donation landing page for your fundraising campaigns (with a donation form where members can give online), take things to the next level with a donation microsite. A donation microsite is a small, self-contained website that focuses on your fundraising campaign. For example, you can set one up for a fundraising event. It allows you to focus on specific campaign messages and give your members a chance to dig deeper for more details. You can also launch the site and take it down as needed – separately from your association’s website. 

TIP: Nimble AMS offers Donation Microsite, a template designed to make it easy for you to provide a great online experience with your association’s fundraising campaigns.

6. Deliver a streamlined giving experience.
When your members are ready to donate, be sure you make it easy for them to give online. Here are three ways to provide a modern online donation experience and make online giving easier:

  • Offer a stored payment option – Let donors pay without needing to enter their credit card information every time they donate.
  • Offer an installment payments option – Allow donors to pay for their donation in budget-friendly installments. For example, you might ask for $1,000, and then allow them to pay $83.33 per month for one year.
  • Provide an express payment option – Generate a unique payment URL for any order with a balance due: donations, event registration, membership, etc. Then, create a bill paying page for easy payment by the member, their assistant, accounting department, or anyone making the payment on their behalf. 
  • Keep accounts updated – Automatically update the expiration date for stored payment methods. This way, members won’t be rejected as they’re making a donation just because their credit card date expired. 

TIP: Nimble AMS includes capabilities to help you set up an easy online giving experience using these payment options.

7. Have the right dashboards and reports in place. 
Be sure to set up at-a-glance dashboards and more detailed reports to help you track how you’re progressing toward your fundraising goals. For example, set up a dashboard to give you a daily view of key metrics for fundraising campaign results, such as email click-through rates, donation rates, number of donations, and total funds raised. This will help you keep a close eye on how each campaign is progressing and see if you need to modify your campaign for better results 

TIP: Nimble AMS comes configured with multiple dashboards and reports that can be easily built on or customized. You can also schedule reports to automatically send to executives, board members, or others in your organization so everyone has the latest fundraising information at their fingertips.

8. Say thank you.  
While sending an automated “thank you” email is an important step to ensure that donors receive acknowledgement and appreciation for their gifts, why stop there? Show your sincere gratitude for members’ generosity in additional ways, such as sending a handwritten note and expressing thanks to all member donors in your email newsletter and your online community.

Learn more

Discover more ways to drive non-dues revenue for your association in the guide, How to Generate Non-dues Revenue for Your Association: Seven Ways to Diversity Your Revenue Stream.

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