Five Ways to Increase Your Fundraising Efficiency

Last updated: September 5, 2022

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If you are responsible for fundraising or prospect research for your nonprofit organization, you know that it takes a great deal of organization, time, and strategy. Raising money for your mission is challenging, but when you are equipped with the right tools you can optimize your time and energy to find the major gift donors needed to reach your fundraising goals, with confidence. 

Here are five methods for increasing your fundraising efficiency: 

In simpler terms, this is what fundraising efficiency is.

What is fundraising efficiency ratio?

Fundraising efficiency is the amount a nonprofit organization spends to raise $1.

In more technical terms, it is the ratio between contributions and expenses incurred to raise these contributions.

Take a step further and it is defined as the ratio between unrestricted contributions and unrestricted expenses incurred to raise those contributions.

Food for thought: Why do you think only ‘unrestricted contributions’ are considered for the fundraising efficiency ratio?

How to increase fundraising efficiency?

Here are five methods for increasing your fundraising efficiency:

1. Use Tools That Work Fast

Before thinking about fundraising efficiently, you need to ensure all the tools in your toolbox are fast. I know what you’re thinking— fast is a relative term. How can you tell if something is fast and something isn’t? With Fundraising Intelligence, there is a rule of thumb. If building a prospect profile takes longer than a few seconds or receiving a list of screening results takes a week or longer, it’s not fast. This means you could be operating on old or dated intel, which in turn will decrease your overall confidence. 

When sourcing a new Fundraising Intelligence tool, look for one that provides screening results, prospect profiles and scores in a matter of minutes (rather than days or weeks). This will ensure you’re always acting on the best quality information and not relying on old or dated intel. This detail, though small, can greatly increase your organization’s fundraising efficiency.

2. Avoid False Positives 

Have you ever looked at a prospect score and thought ’that can’t be correct, it should be much higher ’. If so, you might need to reevaluate your fundraising tool. Because a prospect score is the baseline for prospect research and major gift fundraising, the factors that affect them are critical. At any time, you must be able to look at scores and validate how they were derived. Without this, you or your gift officer may be asking for a gift that is way too large (embarrassing!) or leaving money on the table (unfortunate!). It comes down to having confidence in the data you’re basing gift asks on.

Confidence of match is a feature that controls what data, intel, and records are matched to a prospective donor. The higher the confidence of match, the stricter the matching algorithm will be, and fewer records will be returned. Conversely, the lower the confidence of match, the more records will be returned, with the possibility of some not being related to your prospect. 

Confidence of match means you control how wide you cast the net when searching for information about donors. If you want to increase your fundraising efficiency, you need to understand your prospects and your organization’s goals to accurately tailor your confidence of match.

3. Propensity and Affinity

The days of capacity being the only important factor in finding a prospective donor are behind us. An ideal donor is now not only someone who has the capacity to give but also who is philanthropic and connected to your cause. If your fundraising tool only provides results based on a prospect’s wealth capacity, you won’t be able to work efficiently.

Long before comprehensive fundraising tools, nonprofits would focus solely on a prospective donor’s wealth capacity to gauge their propensity to give. This information predominantly came from real estate information, as it was the easiest to obtain and provided fairly accurate insight into their wealth. Fast forward to 2020 and nonprofits now have access to comprehensive tools that look at the ’entire’ donor rather than just their wealth. This information on a prospect’s propensity (frequency) to give and their affinity (linkage) towards your cause is vital to finding your next major gift donor. 

For example, the old way would identify an individual with a $500,000 property as a perfect ideal donor.  This is fine until your fundraising team makes an ask and you learn the prospect has never made a donation in their life (and never plans to). Conversely, Fundraising Intelligence may suggest a prospect without property holdings but with a history of charitable giving to organizations such as yours. Tiny details like this are the key to fundraising efficiently and stop spinning your tires. 

Related: Get the Three Keys To A Better Major Gift Ask ebook

4. Learn To Double Your Donations

A quick way to increase efficiency is to instantly double your donations. Sounds too good to be true right? It’s actually possible! Using a database like HepData, you’re able to identify organizations that offer matching gift programs. Much like a rewards program your favorite big-box retailer or global coffee chain offer, you get rewarded for doing something you were going to do anyway. In this case, your reward is more donations for making a gift ask.

In case you need a quick rundown on matching gifts, here is one courtesy of Nonprofit Hub; A matching gift is a charitable donation by a corporation that matches an employee’s donation to an eligible nonprofit organization, most often dollar for dollar. A situation like this doesn’t require any different work on the fundraiser’s part, except for possibly educating the prospect on matching gifts. This is especially true if they are unaware of their employers matching program.

And that’s it! A successful major gift ask placed strategically in front of the proper prospect will double instantly (well almost).

5. Integrations 

The ability to integrate your Fundraising Intelligence tool with your donor management system (DMS) or customer relationship management (CRM) system is an effective way to save time and simplify processes so that you can better focus your time and energy on your best major gift prospects. Instead of using multiple systems for conducting research, delivering communications, and tracking fundraising campaigns, you can combine your internal data with Fundraising Intelligence solutions to align your prospect research and fundraising efforts. 

When in search of a Fundraising Intelligence tool, look for one that offers the flexibility to integrate with leading DMS, CRM, and technology platforms so that you can access wealth and philanthropic data insights on your prospective donors directly within your existing software application. Integrations like these make fundraising and research efforts more effective and efficient.

Get the Major Gifts from Major Donors ebook!

What’s Next?

What do you think? Is your nonprofit organization fundraising efficiency? Have you decided that your organization needs to take a look at your prospect research and fundraising methods? Before building another profile or making one more gift ask, we recommend taking stock of your internal processes to ensure that you’re operating at your maximum efficiency. If you need some help, might we recommend iWave? Let’s chat.

Written by Guest

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