Overcoming Nonprofit Challenges

Nonprofits face many challenges that make it difficult to connect with new donors and retain or engage, existing donors.  Creating a relatable mission statement is the first step towards strengthening that bond.  People need to feel a connection to who they are supporting, so your mission statement is crucial. 

In addition, you have to then ensure that your mission is being executed through your messaging, your team and your network of volunteers.  Are your team members and volunteers supporting the message you are trying to send, are your actions tying into what you are trying to achieve as an organization and are you transparent with your donors? Accountability towards your mission and transparency, are key factors to increasing your credibility with your donors.   

Since it’s become increasingly difficult to attract new donors then it is to retain current donors, keeping existing donors engaged and happy is very important.  So, what types of things are you doing to engage them throughout the year?  Are you holding events, coming up with incentives that they can connect too annually, giving them information regularly via email automations or social media so they can see how their donation is helping the cause, are you mailing out thank you gifts, etc.?  No matter what you are doing, the point is to do it often and to do it regularly!

Now that we talked about what you can do with your internal team, let’s get you more soldiers on the ground!  There is strength in numbers, so the more people you have in the field willing to donate their time to spread awareness for your mission, the better!   So, let’s talk volunteers!  Just like it’s important to have the right mission statement, it’s also important to find the right volunteers.  Finding people who are engaged, can be tedious, but totally worth it!  First, make sure there is a strong connection between the volunteer and your non-profit.  Remember that volunteers are an extension of you and your mission.  You want people who are dedicated, who have connections, who are driven and who have a great demeanor.  All of those attributes will give you the best chance for success.  Think about holding donor drives where your volunteers aim to get a certain number of donors at a certain level and get incentivized to do so, then have an additional incentive for going above and beyond that number.  This creates a sense of pride in what they are doing and creates healthy competition amongst your volunteers.     

Another challenge nonprofits face, is finding new and interesting ways to raise funds that are sustainable over time and don’t over tax your team.  So, what can you do that’s unique to you and your mission that might get donors engaged annually?  Then how can you utilize volunteers and internal staff to drive it forward and to maximize outcome?  Having a plan for each new fundraising campaign that covers the what, why, who, and how, is critical to maintaining accountability towards results.  For example;

  1. What is the unique idea(s) that capture the spirit of our mission? 
  2. Why is it important to develop something that is more sustainable and delivers long term results?
  3. Who will help us through the process, who will execute the actions required to achieve maximum results, who will we partner with to make it happen?
  4. How will we utilize our partners, volunteers and staff to market the idea and drive-up donations from new and existing donors?   

Custom Keepsake Use

For over 45 years Beacon Design has helped non-profits tackle the what, the how and the why by creating successful sustainable long term collectible ornament programs that have raised millions of dollars for our clients.  The process of starting an annual ornament or keepsake program is a lot easier than you may think and affordable too! 

There are a ton of promotional products out there that non-profits use to; thank donors and/or volunteers, raise funds, spread awareness for their cause, commemorate a special event or anniversary, etc.  But not many that turn your supporters, employees, volunteers or donors into annual collectors, who come back each year for the new keepsake in the series.  That is where a custom ornament or keepsake with Beacon Design comes in!     

Custom keepsakes/ornaments don’t always come to mind when thinking of fundraising ideas.  However, they can be a great, especially in a market that is oversaturated with promotional items, like t-shirts, pens, and notepads that don’t have staying power!  If you want to keep your organization top of mind, an annual ornament can help you do that.  It turns your donors into collectors who will get excited for the next ornament giving them something that keeps them connected and that can be handed down for generations.    

In addition to the fundraising potential, the same applies when it comes to donor retention.  If a donor gives each year in order to obtain the new keepsake in the series, you retain that donor over a longer period of time. 

One of Beacon Design’s customers, Give Kids the World, created a custom keepsake for their yearly gala giveaway to all major donors. The custom keepsake showed specific pieces of their park and their donors were thrilled to take home replicas of the park.  They identified their custom keepsake program as a “huge revenue driver” as well, because in addition to using it to thank major donors they also sold them to visitors of the park to help drive funds as well.

Not only is creating an annual ornament program a lot of fun, it allows your organization to hold the attention of your donors for a longer period of time, helps you increase funds in a really cool way, gives your donors something they can collect and hand down annually which keeps your mission front of mind and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year trying to find that next right thing.  The White House Historical Association is a fantastic example of how creating an annual program can snowball  from only a few thousand pieces into their main revenue driver with close to 1 million ornaments sold annually.