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Learn Best Practices in Fundraising for Nonprofits

There is a right way and a wrong way to do just about anything, including fundraising for a nonprofit. Learning the best practices for nonprofit fundraising helps organizations maximize their donations, as well as avoid any pitfalls that can come from cutting corners. An online MPA in nonprofit management includes coursework and internships in nonprofit areas that offer students a solid background in the best techniques and methods for fundraising for a nonprofit. 

Develop a Budget 

One of the first steps in successful fundraising for a nonprofit is developing a detailed budget, both for the fundraiser event and for the project or program for which funds are being raised. The nonprofit organization should first determine how much money they need to raise for the program, including the costs of all aspects of operations, personnel, materials and other expenses. Many donors would like to see a general budget for the programs they donate to, and this budget can later help with general planning. 

Developing this budget should account for the different costs associated with online versus in-person events. Fundraising organizations must keep costs under a reasonable limit; otherwise, the efforts and expenses can out-spend the fundraiser itself. The budget should include any marketing materials, advertising, facility fees, food and drink expenses, and prizes. For these reasons, many organizations embrace online fundraising to reduce overhead costs. 

Know the Regulations 

Federal and state tax laws regulate donations to nonprofits. An online MPA in nonprofit management includes coursework that offers an overview of the regulations for charitable giving. Before conducting any fundraising for a nonprofit, the organization must make sure that their charitable registration is in good standing for tax-exempt status. 

Make Giving Easy  

Nonprofits should make the donation process as smooth as possible for all potential donors. If the process is complicated or confusing, donors will give up and choose to give elsewhere. Organizations can optimize their websites to streamline giving, including adding prominent “donate” buttons, mobile optimization and impact graphics that clearly show how donations will benefit people’s lives.  

Another way nonprofits can simplify the fundraising process is to make it clear that donations are eligible for tax deductions. Organizations can provide printed materials or online links to information from the IRS about charitable giving, deductions and record-keeping. 

Assessment and Follow-Up

Many organizations overlook a key aspect of fundraising for a nonprofit: assessing the results of the fundraiser once it is over. Nonprofits can incorporate the successful aspects of their fundraiser into future campaigns, and they can evaluate their mistakes for ways to improve the next event or campaign. Nonprofit managers should debrief the employees and volunteers involved in the fundraiser to get feedback on the experience, and they should analyze donation reports to find which marketing and advertising efforts had the greatest impact on giving. 

Nonprofits can further develop future fundraising by properly recognizing donors for their gifts. Along with a receipt for their donation, clearly marked for tax deduction purposes, donors should receive a personalized thank you, either through snail mail or email, or a phone call. Fundraising organizers should collect donors’ contact information for future newsletters or invitations. Financial donors can one day become volunteers and vice-versa, so it is important to stay in touch with both types of contributors and keep them informed about the organization. 

By paying close attention to a few best practices for fundraising for nonprofits, organizations can see their annual contributions increase. The entire nonprofit organization can benefit from every improvement in fundraising efforts. 

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online Master of Public Administration (MPA) Non-Profit Management track. 


Double the Donation: Fundraising Best Practices 

National Council of Nonprofits: Tools and Resources 

Nonprofit Tech for Good: 10 Online Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits

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