Good fundraising systems can be game changers for your non-profit. They turn wishy-washy tactics with unknown returns into defined strategies with testable, knowable outcomes.
Fundraising systems put a structure behind your fundraising efforts and allow you to do more with less. They reduce stress, increase revenue, and allow you to focus more energy directly on your mission and your programs. (If you’d like to learn more about what fundraising systems are and why they are so important, read Why Building Fundraising Systems is Important for Every Non-Profit).
One of the things I have noticed is that once a non-profit realizes that it needs to implement fundraising systems in order to grow and thrive, the staff often wonders where to start – and worries about what types of systems would be most helpful to the organization in growing their development program.
In this article, I want to show you the eight most helpful types of fundraising systems to build at your non-profit. Depending on the specific resources and needs of your organization, you should start the process with one or more of the following fundraising systems:
Prospecting System: A sustainable strategy for bringing in new donors year after year.
Cultivation System: A method for easily and effectively communicating with your donors and building relationships with them, even with limited time and resources.
Ask System: A winning formula for segmenting donors and making asks through meetings, phone calls, direct mail, e-mail, events, and more.
Stewardship System: A plan for systematically thanking and recognizing donors, retaining them, upgrading them, and getting them to refer new prospects to your organization.
Donor Communications System: A step-by-step method for reaching donors through newsletters, annual reports, snail mail appeal letters, and more.
Events System: A strategy for easier, hassle-free fundraising events that raise more money in less time.
Online Fundraising System: A plan for raising more money online through your website, e-mail, social media, crowdfunding, and more.
Board Engagement System: A formula for getting your board engaged in fundraising without making them nervous or resentful.
Which Fundraising System Should You Start With?
Of course, now that you know what the most helpful types of systems are for the average non-profit, the question is, which one should you start with as you work to systemize your fundraising program?
Generally, the most powerful systems… the ones with the power to quickly transform your organization… are the systems relating to the four core segments of the donor lifecycle. For that reason, I recommend that the first four systems you build are:
- Prospecting System
- Cultivation System
- Ask System
- Stewardship System
I usually recommend that you start with your stewardship system. Your board, your Executive Director, and your entire fundraising team will want to see some immediate results from your systemization efforts. Putting a system behind your stewardship of current donors will allow you to see results fairly quickly. By putting a scalable process in place for retaining donors, upgrading them, and asking them to refer new donors, you will immediately bring in new revenue and prospects from people who already know and care about your mission. If you are a start-up organization, you won’t have many current donors to steward, so in that case I recommend you start with your prospecting system.
Launching scalable fundraising systems is one of the most powerful tools in your fundraising arsenal. Every non-profit, no matter how small or large, needs to implement systems in order to be as effective as possible with their development efforts. If you’d like to learn more about what an actual system looks like, read What Does a Good Fundraising System Look Like?
Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt