Juan Luis Martínez. Professor. Instituto de Empresa

31 January 2006

Fundraising is not just asking the same people as always to give more money but rather finding fresh, innovative ways of capturing new donors. This article tries to define what a non-govermental oragnisation must take into account when developing new campaign strategies.

The majority of fundraising campaigns take place in the Christmas season. Unfortunately, many potential donors do not always have sufficient information about the institutions they are asked to support. They donate money, but they don't really know to whom or for what. Donors prefer to give their money to organisations that complete their missions, achieve results and guarantee transparency. Therefore, the fundraiser must ask himself three important questions before launching a campaign: who are my target donors? What will convince them to give money to my organisation rather than to another? What type of message and advertising will help attract donations?

One of the first things NGOs (non-governmental organizations) have to do is define their differentiation variable--the features and attributes that distinguish them from other institutions and which are important to the donor. A NGO competing for funds must highlight what makes it unique in comparison with others. The values and virtues used to attract donors can always be improved, as the classics acknowledged. It is always possible to be more generous and more supportive, but the problem is the expression of this support as measured in time and money. The amount of funds donated depends directly on the donors’ level of income. No matter how much they want to give, they will only be able to give in accordance with their resources--and not exclusively in accordance with the quality of their values.

Once a donor has committed himself to a specific organisation it is almost impossible for another NGO to scoop them. This is called a 'solidarity market' and in order for another organisation to attract these donors it must emphasize marketing.

Another essential element of successful fundraising is to surmise the profile of the public that is targeted by the campaign. Knowing this will enable fundraisers to craft a strategy that fits with what donors want to support. A third consideration to keep in mind is that an organization must have a clearly defined objective. It is not only a question of collecting money, but of doing so in an effective way. Asking a regular donor to increase his annual contribution is not the same as trying to attract a new donor. Each objective has its raison d'etre and thus does not require the same effort or line of reasoning.

Fundraising methods also need to be innovative. Using the typical coupon is not enough. There must be a search for interactivity and for immediate response, making it easy for the donor to show solidarity with a cause. Good examples of this are the charity portals, which include a directory of organisations seeking donors. Users can register for free and the organisation can direct potential donors to its web site. Another form is Charity malls or online shops in which customers can buy a wide-range of products, while donating a percentage of the bill to the non-governmental organisation of their choice. Charity gifts enable both the person sending the gift and the person receiving it to choose the organisation that is to benefit from their largesse.


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