It is generally accepted that K-12 public schools are severely underfunded. Data from a reputable NGO indicates they are underfunded by $150 billion annually. Subsequently, millions of students are unable to access the essential resources they need to succeed in school. Schools must therefore fundraise to plug the financial gap.
For the reasons stated above, every teacher, principal, or school administrator dreams of landing major [and recurring] donors. These are donors who make significant monetary contributions to your school, allowing you to achieve your mission. However, they are hard to come by. Naturally, big donations have to be cultivated over time. Also, other nonprofits are competing with your school for the same donor dollars.
Fundraising is the fuel you need to make the impact your school wants to make in the community. For that to happen, you need funders.
In this article, we look at the basics that should be in place to attract funders.
Know What You Need
Before you even think about attracting big donors, you must know what you want. It isn't easy to get help if you don't know what you need. It means you need to ask yourself a few questions about your school before embarking on a donor hunting spree.
For starters, what problem are you trying to solve? You could be aiming to provide students with sports/music equipment, books, or other essentials like tablets and laptops.
Once you've identified your mission, you need to look at your budget. How much do you have versus how much do you intend to raise from donors? Additionally, you must have deadlines. You need to know when you need funding and for how long.
Once you figure that out, you will know which type of donors to target. You want people who have funded similar projects before and with the capacity to make the contribution you are looking for.
Identify Potential Donors
Probably this is the most obvious point, but the one that schools get wrong.
The first thing you need to ask yourself is, do you know the potential donor? Hint: those inaccessible wealthy people are NOT potential donors. The lower and middle-income households do the bulk of donor funding. These are the people you should be looking to attract.
Another thing: does the potential donor care about what you are trying to achieve? It would help if you tapped into their emotional side so they can get invested in your cause. If they don't care about your mission, they won't write you that check. It's that simple.
Perhaps most importantly, does the prospect have the money? All your efforts in identifying new donors rely on their capacity to donate. It's therefore essential to know where you are casting your net. Don't waste time and energy chasing lost causes.
Cultivate Your Prospect
Once you know what you need and the types of donors you will target, it is time to reach out. However, DO NOT send a fundraising appeal just yet. At this point, all you need is an in-person or virtual meeting. You can also get creative by inviting the prospect to school to tour the facilities, interact with the students, etc. A good number will not respond.
You will therefore need to be persistent. The point is to give the prospect a firsthand experience of what you are trying to achieve. This will [hopefully] inspire them to contribute.
When meeting with your prospects, ask them about their plans and priorities and show them how your cause can help them meet those priorities. Avoid asking basic questions whose answers are easily accessible on the prospects' website. Ask the prospect if they would like more information about your school and the programs you are running to help students.
NEVER ask for funding without first reaching out and knowing where the donors' priorities lie.
Allocate Resources Accordingly
Like earlier mentioned, getting a major donor is a lengthy process. Your school will most probably have to budget for this exercise. This could mean assigning individuals to focus on certain donors or using donation management software. Whatever donor acquisition strategy your school employs, you will need to allocate resources accordingly.
Go Digital and Draw Attention
Having an online presence is another obvious thing to do to attract donors. It is 2021, and your school should have a website where you can promote your fundraising efforts. If not, LeanStream can get you a fully customized/school-branded fundraising and e-commerce site.
However, having a website alone is not enough. You must make it attractive and draw the visitor's attention to words like 'DONATE,' 'GET INVOLVED TODAY' and such calls to action. If none are available on your fundraising website, few users, if any, are likely to waste time looking for them. Make these CTAs hard to miss for visitors without being too intrusive.
While at it, make sure your website has a responsive design and, most importantly, is mobile-friendly. The majority of internet users prefer using their smartphones to access the internet. They want to make their donation from the palm of their hands quickly. If your school is not on the internet and users cannot donate using their smartphones, you will struggle to attract funders.
Make the Donation Process Simple
Whatever platform you use to collect your online donations, make sure the information you request is minimal. A donor should be able to donate within a few seconds of visiting your donation page. Credit card information and email address should suffice. It makes it 'attractive' for prospects to fund your initiative. The more information you demand from the donor, the likelier they will abandon the donation exercise without giving their money.
In relation, make your online donation platform safe and secure. Donors should feel safe donating through the platform. Otherwise, they will be scared of giving out their credit card and other personal information.
By getting the above basics right, you will be on your way to attracting funders for your programs. We hope these fundamentals will help your school find more donors. Get in touch with us today and tell us how we can help you achieve your fundraising objectives. While at it, take a look at the fundraising solutions we have for you. We are on this journey together.