A new fiscal year has begun for most fundraisers. Before you start checking to do’s off your list, have you completed an August Development (Fundraising) Audit?
A development audit is a bit like the annual financial audit prepared by your nonprofit’s CPA. It’s a look back at the last fiscal year and a time to ask some key questions about fundraising performance.
You reported overall numbers to your supervisor, development committee, or board. However, did you also consider questions such as:
- What is our donor retention rate? (Not sure what retention rate means? Check out Bloomerang’s resources about donor retention.)
- Which donors are not renewing their support and how did they come to be donors (through an event)?
- What number/percentage of first-time donors who made a first-time gift at an event made a repeat gift?
Most donor retention rates are not terribly strong, in fact, some are downright abysmal! Consider this cold, hard fact shared by Bloomerang: “After all, new donors require significant resources to attract and secure and over
60% of those hard-earned first-time donors never make a second donation.”
Yikes, that’s a lot of time, effort, and money down the drain!
Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to event fundraising. You, your staff, and volunteers probably spent countless (literally uncounted but voluminous) hours planning, implementing, and following up on one or more events last year.
Want to boost first-time donor retention, particularly for event donors? Consider redirecting some event planning energy to these five tips from Bloomerang:
- Offer multiple giving opportunities at your event.
- Take advantage of storytelling opportunities.
- Utilize event technology that enables recurring giving.
- Promote ways to get involved after the event.
- Make your follow-up communications count.
Numbers two and five hit home for me.
- How many events have you attended where you ate great food, drank terrific wine, or danced the night away but by the time the night was over you learned nothing about the nonprofit that the event was benefitting?
- Can you count on more than one hand the number of nonprofits that have communicated with you in a meaningful way following a fundraising event? (That is other than sending a thank you for coming or a solicitation).
If you do nothing else, at or after an event, I encourage you to remember these words from a former community foundation director:
“Tell the story, tell the story, tell the story!”
As the great Jerrold Panas said people give to change and save lives. Tell a story, one story, about a person whose life was changed or saved by your nonprofit. Tell the story at your event — better yet if confidentially isn’t an issue, have a client tell their story.
What about that follow up note? A volunteer could send a short thank you note with a brief story included. Need ideas about how to tell the story? You can’t go wrong reading advice from Tom Ahern.
You might want to also check out Chad Barger’s free August 27 Webinar:
Considering an August Fundraising Audit?
- Is cost an issue? Check out the Association of Fundraising Professional’s Fundraising Effectiveness Report.
- Would you like to complete an audit and receive a report which provides actionable advice? Drop me a note here or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s talk about how a customized development audit and action report can inform your fundraising for FY 20.
Sophie Penney is the founder and President of i5 Fundraising and is the Senior Program Coordinator and Lecturer for Penn State’s all online Certificate Programs in Fundraising Leadership (one graduate one undergraduate). Sophie’s mission is to help you raise more money to change and save more lives.