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raise more in your first
year or your money back.

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Help! I’m Struggling to Raise Funds Because My Mission Isn’t Appealing

MEOW Now! (managing and ending overpopulation wisely) is a TNVR  (trap, neuter, vaccinate, return) organization. We deal with the free roaming (often referred to as feral) cats throughout our large county.  We are 6 years old and struggle to raise donations. If not for the board donations, we could not operate. We are not “sexy” or “fur baby” per se, and think perhaps that is why it is so hard to raise funds. We do small fund raisers and can’t do any large “galas” as our donor & volunteer base could not support or bring in enough donations to pay for the event.

Any ideas on how we can be more appealable? All suggestions are appreciated.  Thank you.

With all due respect, I disagree – addressing the challenges of free-roaming cats in your county is very sexy in my book.

First, congratulations on a smart and realistic event strategy. I love a party as much as the next fundraising coach, but I see too many organizations invest an excessive amount of time and resources in a fabulous event to achieve their goal with little appreciation of what it takes to convert an attendee to a donor.

Second, it is not uncommon for a six-year-old nonprofit to receive the majority of their contributions from their board. You are at a stage in your growth where it is time to diversify your donor base and the key to doing so is COMMUNICATION. How much do county residents know about the services your organization provides? If your answer is “not enough” or “very little,” I’ve included three recommendations below to help you get started.

The key to success at this pivotal time in your organization’s growth is to be consistent, responsive, and organized. Shameless plug time! Network for Good’s fundraising software provides the tools you need to accomplish all of the above.

In any case, here’s your three-step plan: Educate, Engage, and Empower.

Educate: What is your mission and why does it matter?

Launch a 15-day social media campaign across two or more platforms (YouTube + Instagram or Twitter + Facebook).  Post daily to increase views, likes, retweets. Unsure of what to talk about? Answer the questions listed below.

  • How does your organization’s services benefit the community?
  • How much does it cost to deliver your services (per cat, per day, per month)?
  • How is your work currently funded?
  • Are you able to meet the current need?
  • What are the health and safety risks associated with NOT ending overpopulation wisely?
  • How many cats have received the TNVR treatment?
  • Is TNVR safe?
  • How do you measure success?

Pro tip – Make sure all posts include a “Call to Action” for users/viewers to share their name and email address to learn more.

Engage: Share more about what you do while getting to know new contacts.

Create an email series to welcome and educate new email subscribers. This is where consistency matters. Plan to email your new contacts every 3-5 days.

  • Email 1: Thank you for your interest in MEOW Now! Provide an overview of your mission.
  • Email 2: We want to get to know you! Include a form for recipients to provide additional contact information and select areas of interest (volunteer opportunities, advocacy, host an event)
  • Email 3: Join us for a LIVE Webinar with our Executive Director and Board Chair to learn more about MEOW Now’s mission
  • Email 4: Thanks for signing up for the MEOW Now! Webinar, here is a link to the recording (please feel free share it with your network)
  • Email 5: Why I Give – Interview with a MEOW Now! board member or monthly donor
  • Email 6: Thanks Again – here is how you can help!

Pro tip – Be sure all emails have the same look as your social media campaign to maintain the momentum that prompted the individual to sign up and learn more.

Empower: Invite new contacts to help advance your mission.

At this point, incorporate various channels (email, phone calls, direct mail, social media) to deepen the engagement.  A few ideas listed below:

  • Interested in volunteer opportunities?  Here is how you can help MEOW Now! in March
  • You’re Invited – become a member of our monthly giving group or make a one-time gift to advance MEOW Now’s mission today
  • Looking for a new way to celebrate your birthday or anniversary this year? Host a Facebook Fundraiser for MEOW Now!

Good luck and try not to get discouraged. It can take a lot of work and a long time to make your community take notice. Keep at it and be sure to let me know how it goes!

Ask a Fundraising Coach is Network for Good’s weekly advice column, where Personal Fundraising Coach Andrea Holthouser tackles your toughest challenges in the world of fundraising, nonprofit management, donor relations, and more.

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