A strong donor base is the life’s blood of any non-profit organization. Having a list of members that contribute to your organization on a regular basis will not only keep your non-profit solvent, but keep it thriving. The people on your member list aren’t just financial donors; members invest time, thought and effort too. They’re your envoys to the outside world, disseminating your message by word of mouth, sharing their passion for your organization and its work with those around them. You truly can’t buy press like that. For all of these reasons, there is no task more essential to the long-term success of your non-profit than the establishment, maintenance and growth of a strong member list.
One of the hardest parts of starting a non-profit organization is locating donors to support it in the first place. Once you have established your organization within your community, a host of other duties will go along with maintenance and Non Profit Growth, but when you’re starting out from scratch, finding donors can feel like a full-time job. In fact, depending upon the size of your non-profit, it might be. Whether you have a marketing department, hire a marketing consultant or simply put on your marketing hat for a few hours a day, you have to have a clear marketing strategy in order to reach potential donors and build your member list.
You have lots of options when it comes to getting the word out. Most nonprofits find it useful to advertise at some point, especially before your first fundraising event, but buying ad time isn’t the only way to reach potential donors. In fact, if you go that route, you may not have to buy you ad time at all-try approaching various local media outlets and ask for donated ad time or ad space. But the buck doesn’t stop at advertising. Your organization should always have an ongoing strategy for raising awareness about the issues you’re working on. This can mean holding educational sessions, attending community events and fairs, putting up posters in community spaces, sending out awareness campaign materials, and even going door-to-door. The more information you can get out there, the more likely it will be that you be able to reach potential donors, both literally and emotionally. The more involved you are in your area and your community, the better.
Of course, establishing your member list is only half the work. It can be easy to take members for granted once you have established a relationship, but new nonprofits do so at their peril. It is your responsibility to continue to update your current members on the progress of your work, your past successes and your upcoming goals. You have to keep members engaged the in the workings of your organization to remind them why they keep sending you funds, year after year-no non-profit can afford to let its members lose their focus and resolve.
You can keep your members engaged by sending regular status reports and letters. Newsletters, whether sent physically or over email, are a great way of keeping in touch with your members. Don’t make your members feel like grandparents receiving updates from duty-bound grandchildren-you should use these letters as an opportunity to share the joy of success and foster a feeling of solidarity within your members’ community.
In addition, you should also remind your members about how highly you value them. Thank-you letters, especially after special events or considerable donations, are always a good idea. Finally, you can take a moment to appreciate your current members and encourage new ones at the same time-sponsor events where current members can bring a guest, to stimulate new interest and keep your organization growing.