Guest blog by Abby Jarvis, Communications Coordinator for Qgiv (Updated 6/5/16 with enhanced tips!)
Your nonprofit’s influencers wear a lot of hats. Not only can they support your organization with their own time and money, but they also have the potential to reach out to new supporters with their enthusiasm for your cause.
When you identify your organization’s influencers, you generally look for some key traits:
- Reach. How many people do your influencers have in their own networks?
- Relevance. How will your influencers’ networks respond to your organization’s mission and cause?
- History. How well do your influencers already know your organization?
When all of the stars align correctly, your organization’s influencers can help you grow your network and reach more people.
But when it comes to fundraising and asking for donations, your organization’s influencers might not be as skilled or as interested as you would like them to be.
That’s where this article comes in!
Let’s talk about how your organization can get your influencers on board with the fundraising process.
We discuss how you can:
- Include your influencers in a component of your annual campaign.
- Encourage your influencers to share your donation page.
- Ask your influencers to speak at your fundraising events.
- Ask your influencers to host a fundraising dinner
- Bring an influencer along to an in-person appeal.
- Start with your influencers during your crowdfunding campaign.
And don’t miss out on these three ways that influencers can drive engagement for your nonprofit.
1. Include your influencers in a component of your annual campaign.
Your annual campaign is the backbone of your fundraising efforts. Without a strong annual campaign, your organization likely wouldn’t be able to fund the projects that help the people, animals, or communities that you serve.
What better opportunity to involve your influencers?
Extending an open offer to get involved in your annual campaign means that your influencers can get involved whenever it works for them. If they have a busy summer schedule, suggest that they help fundraise during the end of the year. If they’re unable to help out every month, offer to put them on an involvement schedule that helps them manage the time they spend with your nonprofit.
Including your influencers involved in your annual campaign doesn’t have to take a ton of effort on your part or theirs. The best part of this strategy is that influencers get to choose how much they want to be involved and can scale back or ramp up their involvement at any time.
2. Encourage your influencers to share your donation page.
Are you collecting donations online? Do you need another way of letting other people know that your donation form exists?
Why not tap into your existing pool of influencers to see if they’d be willing to spread the news about your donation page?
Your influencers’ social networks are expansive and filled with a multitude of potential donors. They just need a little nudge in the right direction!
By encouraging your influencers to share your donation page link across their social channels, you’ll be able to reach more donors and prospects than ever!
3. Ask your influencers to speak at your fundraising events.
Every good fundraising event needs a dynamic speaker to either kick things off or wrap them up.
Instead of always having someone from inside your organization deliver the keynote address or conduct the closing ceremony, why not ask one of your amazing influencers to rally your supporters, donors, and volunteers?
What’s the benefit of having a key influencer address your advocates and event attendees?
Let’s address a couple of points:
- Few people know your organization better than your influencers.
Your influencers are the movers and shakers of your nonprofit. They are the first to tweet about your upcoming volunteer day, and they’re some of the first to donate when you launch a new fundraising campaign.
When it comes to talking to a large crowd of people — some of whom may be familiar with your organization and some who may have no clue what your mission is — your influencers are going to be your best motivators.
- People want someone they can connect to.
Your fundraising event attendees might not know the hierarchy of leaders in your organization. Frankly, they might not care to know who your board members are or be interested in what they have to say.
But their ears may perk up if they hear a firsthand account of how your influencer/speaker became involved with your nonprofit or how your organization has enriched their supporter experience in general.
Comments about an organization can carry much more weight with a potential donor if they come from someone who doesn’t work directly with the nonprofit itself.
Your influencers can be great additions to your fundraisers. They’re likely already attending these types of events anyway; why not make them an integral part of your fundraising process by inviting them to speak at an event?
4. Ask your influencers to host a fundraising dinner.
Are you familiar with hosted fundraising events? If not, I encourage you to check out Joe Garecht’s (of The Fundraising Authority) ultimate guide. He does a great job of explaining how organizations of all sizes can benefit from asking supporters to host their own fundraising dinners or small gatherings.
But basically hosted events are events which a nonprofit’s supporters hold in order to raise money for the organization. These range from small dinner parties to happy hours to fundraising picnics.
Hosted events carry two major benefits that can make a difference for organizations:
- They expand your organization’s network and fundraising reach
- They’re risk-free as typically the host is willing to take on the cost as part of their donation.
Why do I bring this up?
Well they’re great opportunities to engage your influencers! Typically folks who will host a fundraising event are well connected and became influencers because they’re social, outgoing, and love planning or participating in events.
How effective can this be for your organization?
There is no shortage of examples of organizations raising tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars from these hosted events.
For example, SARRC regularly engages its influencer to host events of their choosing. Two supporters, Lloyd Claycomb and his wife Karen, who’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollar for autism awareness, recently organized a private fundraising event to raise close to $75,000.
One of the best parts is how these events can expose successful friends and family members of your best supporters to your organization. In the above example, individuals like Lloyd, who run businesses that have been established in communities for years, are well connected with other influencers.
5. Bring an influencer along to an in-person appeal.
Think back to the last in-person fundraising appeal you made. It may have been a meeting with a local business for in-kind donations, or it could’ve been a lunch with a major gift donor.
Whatever the case, your meeting probably could have been enhanced in some way.
While there are any number of ways to improve on your face-to-face appeal strategy, one easy fix can be to bring an influencer with you to these meetings.
This can be a smart move on your part, especially if your prospect is hesitant to commit to making a donation.
Think back to the points made about inviting an influencer to speak at a fundraising event.
To refresh your memory, those points were:
- Few people know your organization quite like an influencer.
- People connect with individuals outside your organization.
The same rules apply to your one-on-one meetings with business leaders and major gift donors.
Your influencers have vital insight that your fundraisers and major gift officers might not consider when planning donation appeals.
Your prospects might prefer hearing from someone who has worked with (not in) your organization to gain a different perspective.
Both objectives can be achieved by bringing an influencer to your next in-person meeting.
6. Start with your influencers during your crowdfunding campaign.
If you use crowdfunding software to raise money in conjunction with an event like a marathon, walkathon, etc., it might be worthwhile to get your influencers on board in the early stages of the campaign.
Well, think about it. Your influencers are the individuals who are already sharing your content on social media sites. It makes sense that they would be the ones to spread the news about your crowdfunding campaign.
A successful crowdfunding fundraiser relies on everyone pulling their weight. Your nonprofit’s staff can’t be the only ones sharing the crowdfunding page within your immediate circle.
You have to round up the support and get everyone involved.
This is why your influencers are so crucial to the crowdfunding process. They’re passionate about your mission. They have expansive social networks.
They’re able to get the word out quickly and effectively.
If you have influencers who aren’t comfortable being in the limelight of a fundraising event or don’t want to sit across the table from a major gift donor, get them involved in your crowdfunding campaign.
It’s an easy and nearly effortless way to include your organization’s influencers in the fundraising process.
For any nonprofit, the fundraising process requires time, patience, a solid team of staff members, and outside support. To quote the old cliché, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and your fundraising goals won’t be met in that span of time, either.
But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try your best to include your key influencers in your various fundraising strategies.
Whether you invite someone to be a speaker at a fundraising event, have them by your side during a major gifts meeting, or ask them to share your online donation page or crowdfunding campaign, your influencers can be the key that unlocks your greatest fundraising potential.
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faithbased, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or bingewatching scifi shows on Netflix.