After a fundraising campaign, how often do colleagues ask you about your results—how much did you raise, and was your campaign a true success? It is easy to be “gung ho” when beginning a campaign, but not unusual to lose steam during the process; keeping your team on track, and collecting details to prove your results at the end of your campaign may seem like a complicated process. However, tracking your progress through reporting, donor communication, and process evaluation are all important parts of a successful fundraising campaign. These tips will help you stay organized and focused on what’s truly important.
To create an organized fundraising campaign, start off with tools for success. First, assess your policies and decide what key reports are most useful for your nonprofit’s objectives. There are several measurable results to monitor, including:
- Progress to goal
- Types of donations (cash, pledges, deferred gifts)
- Sources of donations
The National Association of Charitable Gift Planners’ “Guidelines for Reporting and Counting Charitable Gifts” can provide you with recommendations for handling a wide variety of gifts you may receive, including:
- Estate gifts
STAYING ON TRACK DURING THE CAMPAIGN
Small fundraising campaigns may practically run themselves, while large ones require a lot more planning and manpower to be effective. No matter the size of your campaign, these recommendations may help you to stay on track:
- Keep teams and managed units/departments small, with no more than 5 individuals to be managed;
- Monthly progress meetings keep all leaders informed of the campaign’s status. Sharing small successes, establish progress within the campaign’s timelines, and how much money has been raised to date provides important proof that the team is on track for success and allows the opportunity to find areas where improvements can be made;
- Reinforce deadlines; visual presentations are easy to digest and prevent leaders from being discouraged and overwhelmed (they will take the results to their own team members);
Progress Meetings: The campaign chairman should share reports from various leaders under his/her watch, including annual fund tracking and projections, and objective(s) (both overall goals and by donor category). DO NOT create a competitive atmosphere at the meeting between teams, and don’t call attention to points of failure. Keep the meetings positive but realistic!
CAMPAIGN PROGRESS REPORT
- Celebrate your successes!
- Clean up your data—if you have uncollected pledges, those which you won’t receive, or gifts not recorded correctly, fix it now. Test the results to determine that the data is reported correctly. This will make your final evaluation go faster and more smoothly.
- Investigate your weaknesses. If your goal appears truly unreachable, your campaign managers needs to stop and figure out where to repair the weaknesses or evaluate the goals.
If you are off track: First, do not lose hope. This should drive you to work harder, not to give up easily. Consider these ideas to get the project moving again, such as:
- Increasing the suggested donation amount for new prospects;
- Look for additional prospects;
- Return to existing donors for more money; they already support your mission, so they may be easier to persuade for additional funds than a new donor;
- Inquire about matching donations or a challenge, to encourage additional support;
- Ask your leaders to give more. They are your real supporters!
TRACKING & COLLECTING DONATIONS THROUGHOUT THE CAMPAIGN
Now that you have donations coming in (or promised), it is not time to sit back and watch. The process and timing of collection is important to keeping the momentum of your fundraising campaign (and the flow of money!).
- When pledge cards or checks are received, turn them in immediately;
- Ensure all details on each pledge card is accurate; don’t hesitate to confirm any specifics when you pick them up. It is better to ask now than to track down the donor later;
- Deposit money right away; the last thing you want is for a supporter calling you because the check has not cleared the bank. It reduces your nonprofit’s credibility among donors;
- Send out an acknowledgment letter right away, thanking the contributor and providing them with proof of donation that they may require. By promptly offering thanks, you show them how much their support means to your organization, which is especially valuable should you need to ask for additional funds!
CAMPAIGN END-MAKING THE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT
Once you have reached the end of your fundraising campaign (either by monetary goal or scheduled end), it is crucial that you thank your stakeholders, leaders, volunteers and donors.
Press Release: A press release is a public way to announce your success in reaching your goal, singling out large donors, and to mention and show appreciation for your campaign chairman or other outstanding volunteer.
Volunteer Event: Your volunteers have worked hard for your charitable organization; show them your appreciation by hosting a thank you event. Consider underwriting for this function so you can provide a fun-filled (or relaxing) atmosphere, possibly inviting your large donors, with special attractions such as:
- Recognition dinner
- Group sporting event
- Golf trip
- Family pool event
- “Backstage” access to your fundraising results (museum addition, new programming)
WHAT IF YOU (GASP) DIDN’T REACH YOUR FUNDRAISING GOAL?
It may be embarrassing, but it is not unusual to NOT reach your goal. Sometimes challenges crop up that are out of your control, or you find that your resources and goals were not well matched. However, it is important to remember what counts: Your volunteers worked hard for you, and your donors gave support to your fundraising campaign. You still accomplished things beyond your goal; perhaps you received the single largest donation, attracted a new corporate supporter, or came within a certain percentage of your goals. It is important to point out—and celebrate—what you did accomplish! No matter what, you should thank your donors and team, acknowledge their generosity and hard work, and rejoice in your achievements. Those donors who supported you will appreciate your positive attitude.
EVALUATION—THE LAST STEP OF YOUR FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN
Once the money has been counted and your donors and volunteers have been thanked, it is time to sit down and look over your results. There are several questions to ask, and answers which can be used to improve your next fundraising campaign. Don’t neglect volunteer evaluations; input from your team members will help you design an even better fundraising campaign next time.
Final Report: By recording all your findings, mid- and final achievements noted, and any lessons learned from this campaign can be gathered and used for the next big project. It is best to tackle this as soon as possible, as it is fresh in your mind and the “oops” you may have encountered can be recorded to improve future campaigns.
To keep the momentum rolling in a fundraising campaign long after the event, look to LetsSponsor. Our online platform allows you to build a network of supporters; with personalized pages, your corporate donors can share their support of your cause, including sponsorship pages and event photos. An integrated payment gateway provides ease of donations so giving can occur year-round. Contact us for a demonstration today!