Small Budgets = Big Opportunities – Part 2

Last week, I asked the question: How do smaller nonprofits compete — and even beat some of the bigger, established players? Keeping your mailings highly personal, having well-understood programs, offering matching-gift challenges and being highly relational are four important ways multitudes of smaller organizations stand out from the pack.
But wait! There’s more. Here are four additional ways smaller nonprofits may have an advantage over the larger organizations.

5. Donors are helpful
It’s a challenge for any nonprofit to find new donors, but it can seem especially daunting when your acquisition budget is small. Ask your donors to help you by referring friends and family, sharing your social-media pages with their friends, passing along your newsletter, or sharing your YouTube video with others. Asking your donors to help you find more partners deepens their connection to you — and brings new supporters your way.

6. Social media is forefront
When you’re a smaller organization, everyone can contribute to social media, so you have fresher posts and more variety. Encourage your staff and volunteers to submit photos that you can post, and invite your friends or fans to interact with you. Instead of being one of 50,000 comments, your supporter may be one of only a few, which makes participating feel more meaningful to your supporters — and you’ll know who your real fans are and what they’re thinking.

7. E-mail is cheap
Unlike a lot of other fundraising vehicles, e-mail is cost-effective even when you’re only sending it out to a few hundred (or even a few dozen) donors and friends. Just remember as you communicate regularly with your donors to not inadvertently overwhelm them with too much e-mail. Make sure every message has worthwhile information in it. You have just as high a likelihood of ending up in junk mail if your donors find your content uninspiring. Don’t forget-CAN-SPAM applies to you, too, so make sure you are following the law.

8. Learning is fast
When you try something new or change something, you’ll hear quickly if your donors like it. Not only will they vote with their checkbooks, as the saying goes, but they will also call, write and e-mail you, or even stop by the office if you are local. It won’t be months before you get the results from a test. You’ll be learning almost as soon as it gets into your donors’ hands. Making changes can be easier when you’re smaller because you don’t have to get sign-offs from numerous levels. Just be sure you don’t ignore best — and proven — fundraising practices. And when complaints come in? Treat each one as an opportunity to learn — but not necessarily a reason to change or abandon the new course.

Next time you’re feeling like David surrounded by a whole army of Goliaths, think about the positives. Had a great fundraising idea this morning? There’s a good chance you’ll be able to get to work on it by afternoon. The “committee of one” can be lonely at times, but it’s also a great way to see your ideas quickly come to fruition.

So celebrate being small, and focus on the kind of successful fundraising that will help your nonprofit grow while you grow professionally, as well.

Originally published in NonProfit Pro.

Author: PJBarden

With a professional career in strategic fundraising that spans more than 35 years, Pamela brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to working with nonprofit organizations. She specializes in writing fundraising copy, grant proposals, P.R. materials, instructional articles and blog entries, as well as developing and executing fundraising strategy for her clients. Pamela is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE); an instructor for UCLA Extension School’s Fundraising Certification Program and the University of La Verne, College of Business and Public Management; a frequent webinar speaker; and author of two online courses for UCLA Extension. Pamela earned a Doctorate of Business Administration in 2015; her doctoral project (dissertation) was entitled “Nonprofit Organizations’ Awareness of and Preparation for Legislation, Regulation, and Increasing Scrutiny.” She is a past winner of a Gold Award for Fundraising Excellence and an ECHO Award from DMA; recipient of a Distinguished Instructors Award from UCLA Extension; a weekly columnist for NonprofitPRO (formerly Fundraising Success); and a monthly contributor to Blackbaud’s blog, npEngage.

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