Use a Fundraising Funnel to track potential donors.Think of the last time you had to make a decision about a major purchase. When I say major, I’m talking something requires a significant financial investment.

Consider the last time you purchased a car, for example. When you pulled up to the sales lot, did you run up to the first car you had your eye on and make the purchase after a single test drive?

You likely shopped around, driving that car and others and then doing some research on the make, model, year before deciding this was the car to invest your money in.

When somebody makes a significant investment in your nonprofit, it’s a similar story. While they’re maybe not necessarily “shopping around,” for a charity, they do need time to understand and be convinced that it’s worthwhile to invest dollars in your organization.

This means you’ll spend a decent amount of time nurturing relationships with large donors — but what it doesn’t mean is you have to lose your mind doing so. What you need is a fundraising funnel.

The fundraising funnel may have different specifics depending on your organization, and is essentially a series of planned touch points that build the relationship and your case for support.

While your funnel will likely include some in-person or phone-based touch points, it’s also vital to include a number of important content focused communications that help the potential donor feel connected to your cause.

What are the steps to take to set up your fundraising funnel?

  1. Get organized. Having a solid system for maintaining a database of your potential donors is a good start, but you also need to be able to understand what tier of the fundraising funnel each person is in.
  2. Make a list. Determine the different touch points you are currently having with the majority of your potential donors. Don’t worry about whether they are happening in a particular order yet, just write down all of the pieces of your pie as they are, for example: e-mail newsletters, direct mail, initial phone calls, coffee meeting, and so forth.
  3. Identify the gaps. After making your list above, identify whether there are some areas where you could improve your communications. Maybe you’d benefit from having these potential donors connect with you on social media, and so an initial personal e-mail or your newsletters should direct potential donors
  4. Create your funnel. Now you have all the pieces written down, it’s time to put them in the order that makes the most sense. Now, you’ll have a strategy for moving people from point a to b, and the routine will help you stay on top of your donor efforts while also realizing more success.
  5. Remember this process is fluid. As you start moving donors through your newly created funnel, you might realize a step that you’ve written down doesn’t really play out naturally. For example, you maybe have thought it would make sense for first get a potential donor to signup for your newsletter before meeting them for coffee — but realistically, an in-person meeting will increase the chances they’ll sign up for that e-mail. So, you switch the two around, and keep moving people through your funnel.

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