Fundraising success is widely thought to come from networking. Having strong relationships with corporate partners and donors can be beneficial for your organization.
There is another way to use networking to improve your fundraising strategy which could have twice the impact for your organization. If you use your network to fundraise, you can get more money for your organization and your network can become a helpful fundraising tool.
With network fundraising, your organization enlists a group of individuals who pledge to raise money on your behalf. Your network of fundraisers can include anyone who supports your organization, such as volunteers, corporate partners, board members, and other advocates.
Most network fundraisers are people who already support your organization and want to do more to help.
Network fundraising is a type of fundraising where you recruit people to fundraise on your behalf, but typically there is no large-scale event like a 5K or fun run.
Network fundraising is a great way for your supporters to raise money on their own.
At the end of mostnetwork fundraising campaigns, there is a small award ceremony. Fundraisers also have opportunities to network with each other during social or after-hours events throughout the campaign.
In addition to hosting in-person events like galas and trivia nights, you can also use online platforms to fundraise. Creating time-sensitive campaigns can help increase the urgency for donors to contribute.
Creating a network fundraiser
A network fundraiser requires a lot of time and networking to plan and execute successfully.
Cultivating a strong network can have lasting benefits that are well worth the effort to plan a network fundraiser.
If you’ve never fundraised by networking, here’s a guide to creating a successful fundraiser by networking.
1. Determine what kind of fundraiser to host
Before you can start recruiting fundraisers, you need to determine what kind of fundraiser to host or come up with a theme for the campaign. If you need ideas for fundraisers, look to see what other organizations in your community have done in the past.
Think about what made their fundraisers successful and try to do the same thing. Think about what you can do to make your fundraiser stand out.
You’ll want your campaign to be eye-catching to draw attention and encourage your supporters to become fundraisers for your organization. Need inspiration?
Don’t be afraid to find inspiration from sources outside of your community. You could be the first to start a successful idea from elsewhere in your community.
As you’re planning, consult with your board and other people involved with your organization, both inside and outside of it, to come up with fundraising ideas. If you want your fundraiser to be successful, you should consider making it a part of your annual fundraising strategy or a signature campaign for your nonprofit. This way, people will be more likely to donate to your cause and you can raise more money for your nonprofit.
If you have had success in the past with a network fundraiser, you could use this method to generate excitement for your future campaign and recruit more fundraisers.
Another way to increase the amount of money raised during your networking fundraiser is to host a fun event for your supporters. This will give them another incentive to donate money and have a good time. Think about whether you want your event to be in-person, hybrid, or fully virtual. If you’re planning on hosting a network fundraiser, this decision will be important.
You can host a gala to celebrate the successes of your fundraisers and conclude your campaign. You could also host a trivia night as a way to fundraise. This would be a fun way to have your various network fundraising teams compete against each other in a friendly way.
fundraisers can come up with their own ways to raise money if they want to do everything themselves There are many ways that they can raise money, such as hosting a bake sale or car wash service. Another option is to just increase awareness and organically reach out to their networks to spread the word.
It is important to keep your fundraisers updated on the timeline for their fundraiser and how much time they have to raise money. This way they can plan their fundraising efforts more efficiently.
2. Recruit your fundraisers
Once you have started planning your campaign and have an idea of what your fundraiser will look like, it is time to start recruiting your fundraisers. You should try to amass a group of contacts and connections who would be willing to help with your fundraising efforts.
The best way to recruit people is to identify those with influence and large networks. Make contact with regional celebrities, city leaders, and social media influencers who could have a personal connection to your company’s purpose.
You can look within your organization to find influential people who are connected to the larger community. Network fundraisers who are also board members or have strong relationships with active donors and volunteers are likely to be the most successful in raising funds. These individuals are also a great starting point for fundraising.
It is important to nurture your relationships with your current volunteers and donors, as well as discussing your fundraising needs with your board members. This way, you can see if they would be willing to become fundraisers.
Once you have talked to everyone in your organization, look to see if there are any networking events happening nearby. At these events, you can connect with businesses and potential corporate partners to build relationships.
These events are opportunities to meet new people and create connections, so go in with the intention of getting to know others. Before attending any event, it is advisable to research who might be in attendance and what their interests are. This will make it easier to connect with people at the event.
If you already have partners that are corporations, see if they would be willing to have their employees fundraise for you.
Many businesses and corporations have internal philanthropy programs, which encourage employees to volunteer with nonprofits or lead a fundraising team to raise money for an organization.
Always reach out to your sponsors, even if you’re not sure if they have a program like this. Make sure to offer exclusive benefits to any business who encourages their staff to participate, just as you would with a normal corporate sponsorship.
3. Provide resources for your fundraisers
It’s important to support your fundraisers after you’ve recruited them, as they start their fundraising journey. As a fundraiser, it is important to know that your company will have your back and be a helpful source if you need anything.
Schedule a meeting with each fundraiser to improve your relationship with them. Talk to the potential fundraiser about what interests them and their ideas for raising money. Give them advice on how to overcome any challenges they may encounter.
Go to your fundraiser’s page and click on the ‘Create a Page’ option to get started. These are the places where your fundraisers will go to when they are ready to ask for donations from their networks.
When each fundraiser has their own webpage, it is easier for the individual to track how much money they have raised.
Try creating leaderboards to help your fundraisers track their progress and see who is raising the most money.
Give potential fundraisers a head start by providing a list of fundraising ideas to get them started.
Make a list of ideas of things to fundraise for that fit well with the skills and passions of the people raising money. You can make the fundraising process more fun and engaging for everyone by giving your fundraisers ideas that interest them.
Be sure to also provide your fundraisers with email and social media templates in addition to a list of fundraising ideas. This will help them to be more efficient and effective in their fundraising efforts. They will try to get money from their own sources and while they may be enthusiastic about raising money for your organization, they may not have much experience actually doing it.
With templates, all fundraisers need to do is fill in the blanks and hit send, confident that they’re making donation asks properly and with maximum impact.
4. Do your homework and make a plan
Good networking for any event requires some planning and research, especially if you have a list of attendees. Let’s call it “pre-networking.”
You should make a list of people you want to meet and talk to before you go to any event.
Try to connect with two or three people you’d like to meet before the event by sending them an email or a message on LinkedIn. This information can be useful if you are hoping to connect with someone for the first time.
Hi, my name is _____ and I was wondering if I could speak to you for a few minutes.
Look at the people around you and think about what they might want or need. See if you can help them in any way. Most likely, the people you’re networking with want the same things out of the relationships as you do. These may include exposure to new opportunities, marketing advantages, connections with powerful people, and more financial advantages.
Checking the social media pages of an event can be helpful when doing homework related to that event. This can help you find dedicated accounts, pages, and hashtags.
Try to find people who are already interacting with the pages you are on and send them messages. Let the person know you’d like to connect with them in the future.
It’s important to remember to not only plan for scheduled networking events, but to also leave room in your plan for spontaneous meetings that may arise. If you attend a conference, the people you meet there could have a big impact on your life, even if you just meet them by chance.
5. Come prepared and arrive early
If you were to attend a fundraising event, you might be surprised at how many of the professionals there are only armed with their hopes, goals, and positive attitude.
Make sure you have your business cards and any relevant information about your organization ready before you leave home. You don’t want to look desperate or unprofessional by writing your contact information on a napkin or coaster. It’s better to exchange business cards.
It’s a good idea to show up early so you can talk to people before the place gets too crowded. Make sure to never miss an opportunity to help out! If you volunteer to help with the clean up, you will have more time to interact with a smaller group of people. You never know where that might lead.
6. Ask the right questions
The right questions will often make or break your networking. In order to start a conversation, ask questions that will elicit responses and show that you are interested in the person you are talking to.
Never ask these common questions:
- “Is there anything I can help you with?” They don’t know you, and they don’t know what you can offer them. It also shows that you didn’t do your homework and come prepared to meet them.
- “Tell me about yourself.” What are they supposed to tell you?
- “What’s your story?”
- “What do you do?” Again, you’re showing that you don’t know them and haven’t done any homework.
How would you answer those questions? You probably wouldn’t know how to start sharing information. If you ask where someone was born, you will likely get a boring and unhelpful answer.
If you are too busy to respond to an influencer, they will likely become annoyed with you. They are not interested in making friends or chatting with you. Instead, ask questions that will help you get to know the person:
- “What’s giving you energy right now?”
- “What’s your organization working on right now that’s going really well?”
- “I was reading about (insert relevant information that you learned about their business or organization), and I know (insert name of a person you actually know) that might be an excellent fit for you. Are you interested in meeting them?
Can you see the difference between the types of questions? The first questions are too generic, open-ended, and frustrating. The “should ask” questions will help you determine if the relationship is worth pursuing.
Questions are a great way to learn about people. Try to ask as many questions as you can to get to know someone better.
As your relationship with potential donors develops, you can begin asking questions like, “What types of organizations do you enjoy supporting and why?” “What issues or causes are closest to your heart, and why?” Of course, you’ll want to avoid prying or asking questions that are too personal.
Practice reading the conversation and asking appropriate questions.
7. Consider utilizing the “strategic selfie” strategy
It’s generally considered inappropriate to take selfies at business events. In many situations, it is more acceptable to take a selfie with someone than to simply exchange business cards. A “strategic selfie” is often more memorable than a business card. Let me explain.
Highly influential people are often given a lot of business cards. People tend to put their business cards into their pockets, briefcases, and wallets and then forget about them. Don’t let your business card get lost in the pile, take a selfie with it instead.
Give them your business card and take a selfie with them. I’ll email you the photo with my contact info. It will be easier for them to remember you if they have a face to associate with your name. They will also remember where you met. They’ll probably chuckle and agree.
Why does this work? First, it’s different. Since this networking strategy isn’t used by very many people, your interaction will be distinctive.
Additionally, you can email them the photo with your contact info which will give you their email address. That’s what you want! After the event, those who took a selfie with you will have your email and contact info. Quite memorable, right?
8. Always look for ways to give something valuable
Everyone is trying to get something, even businesses. It typically benefits most people involved if the one person tries to add value to the relationship. One way to build a strong network is by giving referrals and making introductions to others.
It’s important to keep track of the people you’re connected to, like donors, board and committee members, other nonprofit workers, business leaders, etc. You should look for opportunities to connect these people with each other, because it can be strategic.
If, for example, you meet with a business owner who tells you that they are looking for a CPA, you could offer to introduce them to one of your donors who owns a reputable accounting firm. Don’t just recommend the business, introduce the two individuals.
If you’re interested in helping someone you’re talking to at an event, ask them who they would like to meet. And, they will probably ask you the same question!