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6 Individual Fundraising Tips To Boost Your Income, Today!

We are fast approaching the festive season, and with that we enter a period where charitable giving by individuals is often at its highest. Internationally, fundraisers can mark “Giving Tuesday” as a useful point in the calendar to either focus individual giving campaigns or to begin a review of their individual giving for the forthcoming calendar year.

The Covid-19 emergency has meant, more than ever, that organisations are aware of the need for varied income streams to provide sustainability. Organisations are also more aware of who their stakeholders truly are: those key individuals that mean the most to us, and for whom we mean the most.

The pandemic has brought about significant changes, so many organisations are keen to either develop or increase their individual giving campaigns. However, achieving an increase in giving in this environment is challenging for several reasons:

  • We feel we shouldn’t ask
    • Due to the ongoing pandemic or cultural attitudes, we often neglect to ask for individual donations, both online and in person.
  • We feel our ask goes unheard
    • Given the range of support needed, across the arts and in health and social welfare, we recognise the lack of attention our appeals may attract
  • We aren’t prepared to make meaningful asks
    • The capacity drain is at its highest – some staff may be furloughed, others may be working longer and dealing with more quick-action material, so we neglect stewarding our patrons.

Stewardship involves the long-range management of donations, including managing gifts as donors intended, updating donors on the progress and impact of their gifts, and easing donors into the next cultivation process by keeping them involved with your organisation.

This is the perfect time to complete 6 simple tasks to check in on individual giving across your organisation and to encourage more charitable returns.

Each of these tasks focuses on your online donation strategies, which is more important than ever, thanks to the lack of in-person contact with your patrons.

Review your website

Where have you provided prominent and simple information on giving?

Where is your donation button/widget? Is it available on every page?

Does the language clearly explain how your organisation invests its donations to achieve sustainability?

Check out:

Review your newsletters

How are you communicating to your stakeholders in general? We often request that our patrons convert a click into income for us. Donation requests in each newsletter do not detract from our offer; it supports a culture of giving at every engagement. Add a donation button now (and if it’s there, make sure it works!).

The Digital Culture Network provides some useful e-marketing tips, so integrate donation into this process.

Review your social media

Be sure that you’re showcasing success stories from your donation strategy across your social media. It is not enough to ask people to donate, which you should on your posts. For example, can you currently donate across your social media in less than 3 clicks? If not, you could try Linktree for your bios. It is necessary to regularly demonstrate the impact of donations across your social media. Think of three examples of the impact of donations. Can you work with your team to integrate these 3 examples over the next 3 months?

Review your e-commerce

Arts and cultural organisations can sometimes think of e-commerce simply as their online shop. But e-commerce encompasses the entire range of online engagement of your patrons, from free ticket registration to buying prints, from engaging in online auctions or your crowdsourcing schemes. Have you enabled your patrons to donate at key points of their user journey, for example at the point of purchase? Round-up schemes can ensure a steady stream of small donations to fill your fundraising budgets. Remember that all small donations (under £20) can be claimed by HMRC’s Small Donation Scheme giving you even more funds from you simple e-commerce requests.

Give to your organisation

Instilling a culture of giving starts with the organisation’s leaders. Knowing the donor journey yourself means you understand how giving works and assists you in making augmentations to make your message and the giving process simple.

If you don’t have a way to give currently, consider the following options:

Review your stewardship plan

Now that you’ve become a donor, consider the after-effects. How were you thanked? How are you kept up to date on the impact of your donation? Do you know who to speak to about your donation and other modes of giving (one-off donations, recurrent donations, legacy giving)?

Here are some tips for simple stewardship:

  • Thank your donors (consider a tier system appropriate to the size of your fundraising strategy); a general rule is that gifts over £25-50 should receive a simple thank you that is personalised (consider an inexpensive set of postcards featuring your organisation’s work on each card, or send a handwritten note).
  • Keep your donor lists up to date and check in with them 3 times a year without asking them to donate. Invite them to preview any works in progress or offer unique online opportunities. Provide your donors with simple and impactful case studies that remind them exactly what it means for the arts when they give to you.
  • Encourage recurrent donations from your one-off donors. Once they’ve given once they may well be in a position to move that £25 donation into monthly £3 donations (which means you’ve cultivated a donor from an isolated £25 donation to £36 annually).
  • Engage your Trustees in donor cultivation and, most importantly, donor recognition. Your Trustees should understand the giving profile of your patrons and seek to make inroads to new giving and thank those who have.

These 6 steps can open up conversations within your team about how and why people give to your organisation. They provide a weekly/monthly/annual benchmark for how you develop charitable income and sustainably steward your patrons to support you across the serious changes that the creative industries are currently undergoing.

Simple takeaway: it never hurts to ask.

For even more fundraising guidance, take a look at the Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy website.

About the author:

Photo of Dr Justin Hunt

Dr Justin Hunt is a producer, lecturer, and performer based in London. He is currently a Relationship Manager (Combined Arts & Dance) for Arts Council England, and an Associate Professor of Gender & Sexuality Studies for Syracuse University. He developed a passion for fundraising as an intern at Harvard University in the individual gifts department. For 20 years he has sustained a portfolio career in arts management and research.

What’s next?

The Digital Culture Network is here to support you and your organisation. Our Tech Champions can provide free 1-2-1 support to all arts and cultural organisations who are in receipt of, or eligible for, Arts Council England funding. If you need help or would like to chat with us about any of the advice we have covered above, please get in touch. Sign up for our newsletter below and follow us on Twitter @ace_dcn for the latest updates.

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