So many people out there want to donate to charity. In my many years in the industry, I’ve met many charitable hearts who were more than willing to give to great causes.
But you know what drove many away?
The thoughts of charity organizations not being what they claim to be. And who can blame them? If you’ve ever donated to a nonprofit organization that turned out to be fake, you will be more than cautious the next time a charity comes calling for donations.
According to a survey by Better Business Bureau, BBB, 73% of respondents claimed they need to trust a nonprofit before donating to it.
As a nonprofit organization owner or manager, these are disturbing reports, at the very least.
The question then is, how can you assure potential donors and investors that your nonprofit can be trusted?
Find out below.
Have a credible website
Having a website may not be enough to convince someone you’re legit, but it beats not having.
For starters, a nonprofit organization needs a website to showcase information like mission statements, founders, history, purpose, physical address, contact details, short and long-term goals, past donors, and other major milestones.
When you approach a donor with your plans, sharing your website link beats any word-of-mouth pitch you may have planned. With a website, it’s more like you’re inviting the donor/investor to find out whatever they need to know by themselves, rather than telling them yourself.
Also, having a website allows you to showcase your major accreditations and certifications. For example, if you’re BBB certified or have an LEI Number, you can display information relating to both on your site.
When a first-time donor comes to your site and sees that you’re LEI-certified, they can simply look up your brand on GLEIF – the globally-accepted LEI Number checker platform.
Let everything about you speak “credibility”
Look, when it comes to parting with money, people are naturally skeptical. Coming to your website or organization, a potential donor is inherently doubtful of certain things.
It’s easier when your nonprofit is already a household name – one everybody knows. However, the story is always a bit different for up-and-coming nonprofit organizations.
“Are these guys real?” “Will they use the money for what it’s intended?” “What’s their reputation and track record?” The good news is you can answer many of these questions without even saying a word. How? You wonder.
By simply oozing credibility. You can showcase your credibility by doing some or all of the following.
- Getting a Legal entity identifier number (LEI Number) and flaunting your status
- Getting endorsements or partnership arrangements with other credible brands around
- Showing consistency on your website, in your organization, and within your workforce
- Display your testimonials
- Getting certified/accredited by the right bodies
Get the right registrations
Nonprofits, like regular businesses, have bodies that regulate them. If you want to appear legit in the eyes of the public, registering your nonprofit with these bodies is a no-brainer.
If your organization isn’t registered with the right bodies, ensure to get that done today.
Speaking of registration, one of the bodies to register your nonprofit with is the Global Legal Entity Identifier Number Foundation (GLEIF) – a world-renowned body that regulates all things financial transaction-related.
It’s ok to say you’re LEI-certified or that a reputable body accredits you in society. However, sometimes, you need more than that to convince some donors.
For these types of donors, you need a show of transparency to win them over. And that’s where your financial books come into play.
Make your financial history – inflows and outflows – available on your website. If you publish journals, magazines, or blogs, showcase your latest donations or impactful expenditure.
You may even take things a little further by hiring an auditor and then publishing your audit reports.
Offer donors volunteer roles
A nonprofit organization doesn’t always have to be about monetary investments. Sometimes, you may offer potential donors a chance on the board or an opportunity to volunteer their expertise.
For example, imagine your nonprofit is trying to raise money for a small community project. Instead of asking for donations outright, you may put it to your audience that you’re in need of volunteers.
This is a good way to assure the public that you’re not after the money, but the main objective.
Accept only credible means of payments
When it’s time to accept donations from donors, scam charities will ask for payment by cash, wire transfer, cryptocurrencies, or gift cards.
These are fraudulent means of payment – one which cannot be traced. When you offer to accept payment via these means, you’ll be perceived as a fraud. And the unfortunate thing is most donors these days can see through the lies.
Instead, only accept payments through credible means like bank transfers, card payments, fundraising sites, or crowdfunding sites.
If you’re having trouble setting up a bank account for your nonprofit on any platform, you can try applying with an LEI. LEI numbers have a solid reputation in the Global Financial System. In fact, many banks, credit unions, and fund houses use LEI, too.
Consistently publish your milestones
Did you just bag an award at an institute in town? Publish it on your website. Got an audience with the country’s biggest philanthropist? Post it on your social media pages.
Recently renewed your LEI status? Make a subtle announcement of it on your pages. In short, don’t be shy to publish all of your accomplishments – whether small or big wins.
One recent trend I found amongst small business owners is the idea of posting the same accomplishment again and again on IG Stories and Whatsapp status. If you, too, have audiences on these platforms, you can continually share your wins there. If not, you can repeatedly publish in monthly magazine releases or blogs.
All in all, make sure you celebrate your wins repeatedly. You never can tell who’s viewing your sites or social media pages around the time you’re posting your accomplishments.
Publish an Annual Report
It’s normal for for-profit organizations to publish annual reports showcasing their top performances for the year.
Nonprofits can do this, too. Although you’re not obliged to do this, it helps strengthen your brand image in the eyes of the public.
Your annual report could be a short video or a frame of pictures (slideshows). It doesn’t matter. The point is to show people how you spent the donations you got in the past year.
Imagine you’re scrolling through Facebook one day, and then you see a post where a nonprofit organization manager was explaining in detail how they got money and how they spent it; how would you feel?
Such transparency might propel you to check the organization out.
Follow industry standards
Although people love to categorize all nonprofits under the same umbrella, those in the industry understand that nonprofits differ by niche.
Policies that apply to nonprofits in the children’s niche are slightly different from those in the single parent’s niche.
Examine your niche deeply and ensure your organization exemplifies all the attributes expected of a charity organization in that niche. This is important to convince intelligent donors. Intelligent donors are people who have a history of donating or investing in a niche. They’re so used to the happenings in the industry niche that they know what to look out for when they come across a new organization in the industry.
For example, if every organization in your niche has an LEI code, don’t even think twice about getting yours. Expectedly, being in such a niche without an LEI will surely raise a lot of eyebrows with potential donors.
I’m sure you don’t want that to happen.
Don’t come off desperate
A charity scam program will always appear desperate. After reaching out to potential donors, they’ll send a barrage of follow-up messages to pressure the donor into acting.
Don’t do this. Please, don’t do it.
Potential donors are naturally skeptical, as we said earlier. If you keep bombarding them with messages, they will think you’re a fraud.
Be professional, and don’t bombard your donors with messages that might raise suspicion. Trust us when we say too many follow-up messages will raise suspicion. So don’t do it.
Tips for raising money for your nonprofit
Now that you know what to do to look legit in the eyes of donors, let’s examine a list of tips that will help you raise funds for your nonprofit.
Create a donation page
It’s hard for anyone to part with their money. The last thing you want is to make the process harder. To encourage donors to give to your cause, you need to create a special page to that effect. This is called a donation page.
A donation page can be a simple landing page on your nonprofit website, a newly-created web page, or a page on any popular fundraising/crowdfunding platform.
To enhance quick donation, it’s advisable to showcase encouraging content on your donation pages. This can be as simple as a quick description of the intended cause they’re donating for, the organization’s LEI Number, or testimonials from people who have donated.
Pitch potential donors directly
If you’re able to pinpoint a list of donors you feel will be moved to join your cause, it makes sense to send these people custom-tailored fundraising letters.
Usually, when you reach out to someone with an explicit letter asking for their support, they’re more likely to swing into action.
To make this tip work even better, you can include a couple of supporting documents in the letter. For example, purpose documents, snapshots of recent milestones, etc. Attaching these sorts of documents will surely make your fundraising letter appeal better to the donor.
Try segmented emails
This is a continuation of point #2 above. And the idea here is about sending segmented emails rather than generic, one-size-fits-all messages.
As you can imagine, your donation audiences are people of different backgrounds, demographics, and interest groups. By sending segmented emails that appeal to each person’s core value or interest, you’re likely to spark a reaction from them.
Imagine you want to run a campaign that addresses the challenges faced by autistic children in society. You can send separate pitches of this to people based on which one appeals best to their core values.
For example, if you have doctors in your donor groups, you can send a pitch that’s likely to garner a doctor’s sympathy. If you have politicians, your pitch can be structured around how contributing to the cause can help their next campaign.
Try text-to-give campaigns
Some people are just too lazy to click on website links. No matter how hard you try or how strong your campaigns are, they are just too lazy to visit your donation page and do the needful.
Text-to-give campaigns can be used to get sway this kind of audience. A typical text-to-give campaign is one that encourages donors to send traditional messages to donate to a cause.
For example, say you need funding to kickstart a campaign for school children, you can launch a text-to-give campaign with the message, “Text ‘Feed school kids’ now to [shortcode] to make a $5donation.”
Once a donor follows the prompt, the money is deducted from their cell phone bill and then credited to an account you have attached to the campaign.
Generally speaking, text-to-give campaigns make it easier to get people to donate to your cause.
Use crowdfunding platforms
Yes, nonprofits still use crowdfunding to raise money. According to Nonprofit Source, the average nonprofit crowdfunding campaign raises more than $9,200. That tells you the potential is there.
The key to a successful crowdfunding campaign is the ability to tell a good story. As you can imagine, people crowdfund every day. As such, the competition for attention, and ultimately donors, is high.
To beat this crowd, your nonprofit can hire an expert crowdfunding campaigner. This person will help you craft and set up convincing campaigns on any crowdfunding platform of your choice.
Host a fundraising event
This may be a long stretch if you’re a new nonprofit organization. However, hosting a fundraiser event can be your fastest route to achieving your goals if you’ve been around for a while.
As an existing nonprofit, hosting a successful fundraiser is as simple as reaching out to your contacts and previous donors. Having worked with you in the past, many will be willing to join your cause again.
For a startup nonprofit, it’s advisable to team up with another renowned organization in your area for your first fundraiser. By doing that, your nonprofit will not only benefit from the exposure, but even you will use the opportunity to learn the ropes of hosting fundraisers.
Apply the recurring donation approach
Who said you could only collect one-time contributions from donors? Sometimes it makes sense to commit your donors to long-term recurring donation schemes.
With recurring donations, your nonprofit will have a steady stream of income to tap into, which is important, especially against recurring expenses like LEI renewals.
Nonprofit Frequently Asked Questions: Questions asked by potential donors
This section is dedicated to helping nonprofit owners understand the way potential donors think.
Q: How do I decide what nonprofit to donate to?
This question is common amongst wannabe donors – folks who are new to charity donations but who want to get started somehow.
The best way to portray your organization as the best one around is to do any or all of the following:
- Telling good and convincing stories of why you’re in business
- Accurately defining your mission statement
- Showcasing important accreditations or certifications. E.g., LEI number
- Highlighting major milestones
- Flaunting major endorsements
- Inviting donors to join the cause as volunteers before committing their money
Q: How do I ensure my donation is spent on the nonprofit’s mission, not overhead?
Here, donors want to be certain their money will be spent where it has the most impact and not on the everyday running of the organization.
The best way to give this assurance is by giving donors the chance to specify ‘intent’ on the donation page. That is, choosing how they want their money to be spent from a range of options.
Q: What’s the best way to determine whether a nonprofit is a legitimate charity?
This question clearly takes us back to the beginning of this post, which is about how to prove a nonprofit organization’s legitimacy.
As you can see, donors are concerned about the legitimacy of charities.
Luckily, we’ve already taught you a bundle of tips you can use to showcase your nonprofit’s legitimacy. Apply any of the tips whenever you need to convince a potential donor that your organization is real and legit.