Post by Kerri Moore
Kerri Moore is the Director of Marketing at Booster, Created by CustomInk. She and her team help create content aimed at maximizing organizers’ fundraising potential and furthering their mission to raise awareness for the cause or passion that means the most to them.
Whether you’re a new nonprofit or are simply looking to cut down on fundraising expenses, developing a low cost fundraising strategy ultimately serves your mission.
After all, the less you spend to generate fundraising dollars, the more funds you can send directly to your cause.
Of course, it takes money to make money; this is the reality for all nonprofits.
But minimizing the “take” can help you maximize your “make.” That’s why we’re bringing you the 6 top techniques for low cost fundraising:
- Create an action plan.
- Focus on current supporters.
- Go digital.
- Leverage your board.
- Procure cost-effective products.
- Team up with sponsors.
Following these techniques will get your nonprofit ready for fundraising — without the major expenses.
Low Cost Fundraising: 6 Techniques For Fundraising On A Limited Budget
1. Create An Action Plan
Why is planning ahead so important for low cost fundraising? Because the more you can anticipate your expenses, the better you can offset them.
Planning your strategy will help you prepare for costs so that you can be realistic about what you stand to gain from each fundraising campaign.
For example, say you’re planning an event fundraiser. You may, for instance, find that your event will be too expensive to feasibly earn a profit. If you catch this fact far enough in advance, then you can swap your pricey event fundraiser for a more cost-effective one.
A fundraising plan enhances your adaptability as an organization, allowing you to make adjustments that will ultimately lead to greater fundraising rewards.
“A fundraising plan enhances your adaptability as an organization…” tweet this
When it comes to actually creating your plan of action, follow these steps:
- Ask the right questions. To create the best fundraising plan, you’ll first need to decide on your overall goal. From this central question, delve into the details of your fundraising campaign. How long will it last? Will you incorporate events or products? All of these elements will add up as you calculate expenses.
- Budget, budget, budget! The key to keeping your fundraising low-cost is to prepare a thorough budget. That way, you won’t be caught off-guard by any unexpected expenses, and you’ll be able to target areas where you may be able to cut costs. Budget for the worst (i.e. how much would it cost if it rained on the day of your walkathon?) so that you’re fully prepared.
- Monitor progress with fundraising metrics. Fundraising metrics are numbers that you can use to track your progress. To keep costs low, you’ll want to use the metrics that account for expenses. Net profit, for example, is the amount raised minus the cost of the fundraising campaign. Likewise, cost per dollar indicates how much it cost your organization to earn one dollar (hint: you want to keep this number below $1).
Takeaway: It takes deliberate action to keep costs low. An action plan will keep your fundraising targeted toward your goal and help you financially prepare for any eventualities.
2. Focus On Current Supporters
It’s more affordable to retain donors than it is to acquire new ones.
“It’s more affordable to retain donors than it is to acquire new ones…” tweet this
After all, former supporters — even lapsed donors — have already demonstrated an affinity for your organization.
By focusing on your current supporters, you’ll cut your acquisition costs and have the opportunity to market to people who have demonstrated their support for your nonprofit.
To make the most of your current relationships, follow these tips:
- Segment donor database. Donor segmentation involves grouping your donors based on certain characteristics. You may, for instance, want to identify your major donors so that you can inform them of your campaign in person. Knowing which donors require more of your attention will help you allot your time, resources, and funds wisely.
- Determine preferred communication channel. Time is money! Sending communications to people who won’t respond is a waste of both. Keeping your fundraising campaign low-cost involves efficient, effective communication that will inspire steady giving. Knowing your donors’ preferred communication channels will help you reach them in a way that resonates.
Remember, different donors will require different marketing. Using the information you have about your current supporters will help you target your marketing accordingly. Otherwise, you could be losing funds on marketing that your supporters won’t respond to!
Takeaway: Focusing on your current supporters is the most cost-effective way to fundraise. Directing your resources based on your relationships with your donors will help you market efficiently and effectively, so that every penny spent is productive to your cause.
3. Go Digital
While it’s important to remember your donors’ preferred communication channels, going digital as a general practice can help you cut costs and keep them low.
Online fundraising tends to be more cost-effective than events. Furthermore, it helps cut down on postage costs from mailed marketing materials.
More importantly, online fundraising is a cost-effective way to reach a large supporter base quickly. Online posts that can easily be shared will be spread to each supporter’s network. Your supporters then have the opportunity to fundraise directly from their connections.
“Online fundraising is a cost-effective way to reach a large supporter base quickly…” tweet this
This type of peer-to-peer fundraising is a cost-effective way for your supporters to get directly involved with your campaign. As such, online fundraising allows your nonprofit to reach a wide audience without the traditional time and labor costs.
Takeaway: Optimizing your online components can enable low cost fundraising due to the reach, accessibility, and convenience that digital fundraising offers.
4. Leverage Your Board
Your board members may have valuable properties or connections that you can leverage to keep your fundraising costs low.
After all, you know that your board members already support your nonprofit.
As long as they’re on the same page about your fundraising, they’ll probably be glad to offer their services!
For example, your board members can:
- Host personal fundraising events. Targeted, personal events can be more cost-effective than large-scale events. A willing board member may offer their home as an event site for major donors and top individual fundraisers. At this more intimate setting, you can connect with donors as you would at a traditional event without paying a penny for the venue.
- Use their connections. Just like P2P fundraisers, board members can reach out to their networks to help lower your fundraising costs. One member, for instance, may be able to find a catering company to donate food to an event. Another may know a videographer who can create a campaign video for a discounted fee.
Asking your board members for help directly involves them in the fundraising process. Further, asking for their help to keep costs low allows them to take an active role in supporting the mission by using their resources.
You can extend this technique across your nonprofit. Why stop leveraging with your board? Reach out to your fundraising director and see what kind of help they can offer. Or, if your organization is a church rather than a traditional nonprofit, don’t exclude the church administrator from your asks.
The key point to remember is that you want to make your goal clear to all parties: lower fundraising costs.
“You want to make your goal clear to all parties: lower fundraising costs…” tweet this
As long as everyone is on the same page, allow your board members to have a say in how they can best serve this goal. Listen with open ears — you never know what someone can offer.
Takeaway: Your board is full of resources that you can leverage for your fundraising. Working together with your board can help you cut costs and establish strong relationships with your board members
5. Procure Cost-Effective Products
Product fundraisers are popular, and it’s easy to see why — products are a great incentive to inspire donations, and they help market your nonprofit (tip: always include your nonprofit’s name or logo on your products whenever possible).
Product fundraisers are quite often low-cost, depending on the items that your nonprofit sells.
Additionally, product fundraising companies that don’t charge nonprofits for unsold items will help keep your costs low. These companies usually take a small portion of the funds raised by each product sale. That way, your nonprofit won’t end up “in the red” if your product doesn’t fare as well as you’d hoped.
That said, you’ll want to sell universally appealing items that your supporters will be excited to buy. Popular low cost items, like T-shirts, tend to sell well without driving up expenses for your nonprofit. To get more ideas for products and compare their costs, take a look at this guide with 60+ product fundraising ideas.
Product fundraisers can be implemented on their own, or they can be incorporated into events.
For events like auctions, your “products” will be the items that participants will bid on. Keeping these item costs low can be a challenge, but reaching out to your supporters, as well as local businesses, could result in high-quality item donations.
Of course, you can always turn an auction into a raffle, or host a Chinese auction, which is a combination of the two. Allowing supporters to purchase raffle tickets will help offset the expense of the items.
Takeaway: The cost of product fundraising depends on the product itself, the company that provides the product, and the event (if applicable) that showcases the product. Keeping your fundraising low-cost will require you to consider all three factors in conjunction.
6. Team Up With Sponsors
Bringing sponsors on board can boost your fundraising campaign and keep costs low. After all, sponsors can help cover the costs of events that you decide to host, or they can support your general fundraising efforts.
Some sponsors may offer promotions to both advertise and fundraise for your nonprofit. This action-triggered donating (i.e. for every sandwich purchased, $1.00 will go to your nonprofit) can spread the word about your nonprofit and cut the overhead costs that hosting your own event would incur.
Partnering with sponsors can help you reach a larger audience without the expenses of marketing. Sponsors can then share your posts and fundraising metrics to their consumer base, inspiring new donors.
“Partnering with sponsors helps you reach a larger audience without the expenses of marketing…” tweet this
Sponsors can also make direct donations to your organization, such as food for events. And since sponsors can be anything from local businesses to major chains, you have a diverse range of options to choose from.
Create strong, personalized asks for the sponsors that will benefit your nonprofit the most.
Ultimately, sponsors can enable low cost fundraising from a variety of angles, so determine your needs before you make the ask.
Takeaway: Sponsors can supplement your fundraising efforts to keep costs low, providing valuable opportunities for your nonprofit to gain a wide audience without paying for an event or venue.
Low cost fundraising helps direct your funds to what matters most: your cause. The less money you have to spend on earning donations, the better.
How do you feel about these top techniques? What can you do keep fundraising costs low? Let us know in the comments!