One of the most common questions I am asked at conferences is how to raise money for a nonprofit quickly and (relatively) inexpensively.
There are lots of reasons why an organization might need to raise money fast. Maybe they have an opportunity to launch a new program to serve more people. Maybe a major donor pulled funding at the last minute. Maybe a critical piece of equipment needs an emergency repair. Maybe they have a limited-time matching grant opportunity.
Whatever the reason, raising money fast is possible, particularly if you have been cultivating and stewarding your donors the right way. When I am asked how to raise money for a nonprofit quickly, here is my simple, three-step answer:
#1: Ask Your Current Donors to Upgrade
The best source of new funds for your nonprofit is your current donor universe. There’s gold in your donor database… you just need to go and get it. The best way to do this is to ask your current donors to upgrade by giving more this year than they gave last year. (This also includes asking donors who already gave a give this year to give another gift).
Asking your donors to upgrade is the simplest solution for how to raise money for a nonprofit quickly. If you want to learn a step-by-step method for asking your donors to upgrade, read How to Get Your Donors to Give More This Year Than Last Year.
#2: Ask Your Best Donors to Refer New Donors
Another great place to find money in your donor database is by asking your current donors – and particularly your most committed major and mid-level donors – to introduce you to their friends, colleagues, business partners, neighbors, etc. We call this process “asking for referrals.” It works because new prospects are much more likely to make a gift quickly if they are introduced to your organization by someone they trust.
It is important to note, though, that your current donors won’t refer new donors to your organization unless they are asked to do so. Asking for referrals is a great strategy for fundraisers trying to figure out how to raise money for a nonprofit fast. (This includes asking your board members to make introductions for you). For tips on how to successfully ask for referrals, read How to Get Your Major Donors to Refer New Prospects to Your Organization.
#3: Ask Your Lapsed Donors to Reactivate
Once you have asked your current donors to upgrade, and your best donors to refer new donors to your organization, it’s time to ask your lapsed donors to reactivate and start supporting your nonprofit once again. This strategy takes longer than the other two listed above, because you will need to take time to reestablish the relationships you once had with these donors. That being said, your nonprofit can create a lapsed donor reengagement strategy that effectively moves a percentage of your lapsed donors back to active donor status.
To learn how to build a lapsed donor reengagement system for your nonprofit, read A Successful Blueprint for Reactivating Lapsed Donors. Reengaging these donors should be an integral part of any answer to the question of how to raise money for a nonprofit quickly.
The Gold is In Your Own Database
If you’re reading closely, you’ll notice a trend in the three strategies listed above. They all involve reaching out to current or lapsed donors. If you want to learn how to raise money for a nonprofit quickly, it is important to understand that the people most likely to give to your nonprofit again – and to do it soon – are those that already know and support your organization (or, in the case of donor referrals, those that know people who already support your nonprofit).
Don’t get me wrong – finding and cultivating new donor prospects is important for your nonprofit. But, if you want to raise money fast, you’ll need to focus your energy on those that are most likely to give to your organization quickly. The fundraising cycle for a new prospect (from first meeting to first gift) is significantly longer than the fundraising cycle for a current donor (from today to their next gift).
That’s How to Raise Money for a Nonprofit… Quickly!
There you have it – a three step strategy for how to raise money for a nonprofit quickly and effectively. Start with asking your current donors to upgrade (or to give another gift this year). Then, ask your most committed donors to refer you to their friends and colleagues. Finally, seek out your lapsed donors, and ask them to get reengaged with your nonprofit. Using these three strategies, you should be able to see significant fundraising results in a matter of months, if not weeks.
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