Receiving a lump sum of money sounds nice in theory, but most people would see more benefit in consistent income. Ongoing expenses, like utility bills, require the stability of a steady income.
That’s why it’s important to raise funds year-round for your school. In this guide, we’ll look at five strategies for successful fundraising that will help drive support to your school year-round:
- Conduct prospect research
- Track fundraising data
- Leverage online fundraising platforms
- Offer recurring giving options
- Consider local business partnerships
There are endless options for school fundraising ideas, but your school will only benefit from them if you employ the right strategies. Let’s begin.
1. Prospect research
A key factor in year-round fundraising is supporter loyalty since a supporter who is dedicated to your cause is more likely to give consistently. To find potential donors who have a passion for your cause and an ability to give, conduct prospect research.
Prospect research is exactly what it sounds like—researching potential donors to identify who might be willing and able to give to your cause. Some information you might gather during prospect research for your school includes:
- Personal information: Are they parents of students who attend your school? If so, what are their students involved in? What activities or programs do the parents support?
- Previous affiliation: Have prospective supporters volunteered or given monetary gifts to your school in the past? Are you contacting alumni, retired professors, or former athletic team coaches?
- Wealth indicators: Are there any signs that your prospects are financially capable of making the requested gifts?
- Other involvement: What nonprofits or other educational organizations are your prospects involved in?
These factors can also help you identify prospects who are more likely to give to certain campaigns. According to Double the Donation’s guide, prospect research is most beneficial to three types of campaigns: major giving, capital campaigns, and annual giving. Annual giving is particularly important to year-round fundraising since it funds your day-to-day operations. Use prospect research to identify supporters that would be most likely to participate in annual giving.
2. Fundraising data
As you collect information about donors during your year-round fundraising campaigns, it’s important to record and organize it in your database. Tracked data provides reliable feedback on fundraiser information, which your school can use to adjust its strategy and garner more support. Consider tracking the following data:
- Donor data: Track information about your donors that might influence future outreach or giving patterns, such as contact information, involvement history, and notable affiliations that influence their giving.
- Gift types: Consider the types of gifts your donors gave and their frequency. For example, did your donors make a one-time gift, sign up for recurring gifts, or volunteer their time?
- Gift amounts: Whether they gave monetary gifts or volunteered their time, tracking the size of donor gifts can reveal details about fundraising success and patterns. For example, were donors more likely to give one major gift, or several smaller gifts throughout the year?
- Donor engagement: Track how your donors interact with your organization. For example, you might note how many of them respond to social media posts versus the number of people who respond to email prompts.
- Marketing information: Consider how you solicited donations and whether or not your marketing efforts were successful. For example, you might track social media metrics or the number of donations made through a portal on your website.
Data tracking can also help you measure your progress throughout the year. That way, no matter how many fundraisers you host throughout the year, you’ll keep your sights on the overall goal.
Use spreadsheets and data software to organize this information in useful ways. As you make connections between information and fundraising results, use your data to refine your fundraising strategy and more effectively reach supporters.
3. Online fundraising platforms
In addition to helping your school track fundraising data, most digital tools have features that can improve your ability to raise meaningful support for your cause. For example, the software you use to track donor data might also offer customizable donation pages and payment processing capabilities.
Snowball Fundraising’s guide to online donation platforms suggests considering not only the needs of your fundraiser but also the needs of your donors as you search for suitable software. For example, consider the type of fundraiser you plan to host and your donors’ preferred method of contributing. Some platforms will help correlate these:
- Mobile giving platforms
- Crowdfunding platforms
- Peer-to-peer fundraising platforms
- Text-to-give software
- Online donation forms
Choosing the right platform can also be an investment for future fundraisers, since some platforms provide multiple features. For example, let’s say you subscribe to software that will help you launch a crowdfunding campaign, but the software also has text-to-give capabilities. You can use your existing subscription to plan a text-to-give fundraiser in a future semester or alongside the crowdfunding campaign.
A robust software can increase your fundraising options. As an added bonus, you’ll already be familiar with how to use the software when you reuse it for another type of fundraiser.
4. Recurring giving options
The goal of year-round revenue is to secure consistent funding, so it makes sense that your school might look for ways to encourage recurring gifts. When you implement recurring giving options into your donation forms, supporters can turn their one-time gifts into monthly donations by simply clicking one button.
Recurring giving simplifies the donation process for donors through automatic payments. When the donation is automatically taken from the donor’s account, they won’t have to remember to manually donate each month. Also, recurring giving helps reduce administrative costs since fewer resources are needed to solicit donations.
5. Local business partnerships
Although it seems natural to draw support by engaging your school’s community, attracting new supporters is also a crucial part of a successful fundraiser. To grow your supporter base, your school should focus on reaching out to the local community.
To secure a corporate sponsorship, your school should follow these steps:
- Approach companies that have a strong connection with education.
- Prepare a proposal that outlines specific funding needs and how the corporate sponsorship will benefit the company, such as in terms of branding and corporate social responsibility.
- Emphasize the positive impact the sponsorship will have on students and the community. This could include a plan for how the funds will be used, such as for new technology or to support scholarships or after-school programs.
- Highlight the company’s mission and values, and show how these align with the school’s goals and values.
- Demonstrate the school’s reach and influence, and explain how the sponsorship will increase the company’s visibility and reputation.
Securing a corporate sponsorship can be a win-win scenario for both the school and the company, as it provides funding for important programs and initiatives while allowing the company to contribute to a worthy cause and improve its public image.
Partnering with local businesses can particularly encourage recurring giving and year-round support by promoting your school in the “off-season.” For example, students and parents might not think about the school during the summer semester or holiday breaks, but local businesses can continue to give student discounts during these times to keep the community engaged.
Not only is year-round fundraising important for ongoing expenses, but it can also help you cultivate strong connections within the community and provide opportunities for institutional growth. As you approach these fundraising strategies, consider using digital tools to help you organize your data, collect donations, and maximize outreach to further your fundraising goals.