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6 easy steps to refresh your charity’s income generation strategy

A red charity button on a black keyboard, representing income generation strategy ideas for charity organisations.

Is your charity receiving less income than usual? Or losing supporters?

If so, it’s probably time to review and refresh the income generation strategy of your charity!

While there are lots of external factors that have impacted people’s donation behaviours over the last few years – most notably the coronavirus pandemic – there are also several things you may need to investigate from deeper within.

This might include (and is not limited to) your segmentation, donor trends, ask strategies, test strategies, product popularity, the tone and content of your communications, your supporter journey and so on.

Our experts at Woods Valldata have therefore outlined the following steps to support your charity in reviewing and revamping your current strategy for the ultimate success!

To refresh your charity’s income generation strategy, follow these steps:

1. Re-evaluate your charity’s goals

Having a powerful income generation strategy begins with gaining as deep as possible an understanding of your organisational and fundraising goals. Without knowing exactly what you’re headed towards, it will be difficult to customise a strategy to achieve them successfully!

Think about your short, medium and long-term goals for the most thorough approach, including objective measures such as the following:

Your Return on Investment (ROI).

This measure is a great one to focus on if your charity implements cash cow type programmes.

Your gross income

Not quite the same as ROI, this measure (i.e., how much money you generate for your charity) can come from a variety of sources, such as cold audiences or lapsed donors, as well as donors who are more active.

Donor/programme growth or diversification.

This is a measure of your charity’s acquisition of new (and/or different types of) donors, as well as the retention of existing donors, and reengaging lapsed donors.

A comprehensive forecast against budget to meet your objectives will also provide clarity on your targets and programme aspirations.

2. Get to know your supporters

Knowing your charity donors inside-out is imperative for your income generation strategy success.

By taking the time to understand who your supporters are – from their demographics to more intrinsic details such as their personal goals and challenges – you'll be able to write more compelling messages which resonate with your audience, encouraging higher responses and higher donations.

If you’ve not already established exactly who your supporters are likely to be, be sure to read our blog about how to get to know your supporter personas for long-term benefits as a starting point.

If you do know who your supporters are but haven’t reviewed them for a while, it’s definitely worth giving them another look over as, while your target supporter may be the same, their challenges may have changed.

For example, senior generations may be struggling with the evolution of technology, and how this enables them to donate to or engage with your charity. Or, as the years have gone on, you may discover that you have a whole new kind of audience who want to engage with you that you can target!

Market research is one of the most powerful ways that you can gain insights into your charity’s supporters, which you can then use to influence the income generation strategy for your charity. This will make them feel valued as supporters, and important to your charity as well!

For example, you could run in-depth interviews with your most dedicated supporters to see what they love most about your charity, or focus groups with your most disengaged supporters to discover their thoughts and feelings on the donation avenues available to them.

A senior couple celebrating a lottery or raffle win on their laptop, representing income generation strategy ideas for charity organisations.

3. Build a brilliant supporter experience

Once you’ve got a complete grasp of who your supporters are, it’s worth having a think about how you can effectively target and engage those supporters and provide them with the best possible experience.

This is where having a data segmentation strategy in place can totally transform your approach. It will help you segment your supporters based on the data you’ve gathered about them (from their needs and motivations all the way to their contact preferences) and target those segments with relevant messaging in the right format.

With this approach you’ll create an unforgettable supporter journey, build more powerful, positive relationships with your supporters, and subsequently boost their willingness and enthusiasm to engage with your fundraising initiatives!

4. Conduct a programme and campaign analysis

The results of the initiatives you’ve run across your charity’s fundraising programme can tell you so much about the success of your income generation strategy.

Take a look at which products are delivering the most and least against your objectives, such as weekly lotteries, raffles, appeals and direct debit-based programmes , and compare these to your audience segments, transactional history and giving history data to draw conclusions.

You can then look at adapting your strategic approach against these fundraising pillars to ensure they remain fresh and engaging with the relevant audience segments.

For example, if you find that the numbers of supporters playing your weekly lottery have been dwindling over the last few months, you can investigate this more deeply, keeping your charity goals and supporters in mind, to see why certain aspects are working well and why others are not in order to make improvements.

5. Conduct research outside your organisation

It’s amazing what you can pick up from having a quick look into what other charities are up to , why they’re doing it, and what the response has been from their supporters, and ultimately how successful they’ve been.

You may even discover some new income generation channels that you may not have previously considered (and be able to work out ways of doing them even better) or find out if there are any strategies which are best avoided.

Knowing what is going on in the charity industry in general too will give you some fantastic insights from which to build or embellish the income generation strategy for your charity. There are some fantastic benchmarking and industry reports available out there that can help.

For example, here at Woods Valldata, we’ve run successful webinars on individual giving trends and prize-led fundraising trends, which our charity clients have found exceptionally useful for amplifying their own strategies. The Chartered Institute of Fundraising also created a brilliant report in collaboration with Salesforce.

Check out the fundraising events out there that your charity’s representatives can attend, which include lots of useful talks on all aspects of fundraising, talks from charity peers about their experiences forward-thinking supplier partners, such as Woods Valldata.

Some of the ones we’d recommend include:

6. Test and learn!

All the above steps are not a one-stop solution. Your charity fundraising should aim to always be improving, and therefore generating more income through refinements and amendments to your strategy, so be sure to keep this cycle of testing, learning and adapting on the go!

Would you like a helping hand carrying out any of the above steps?

At Woods Valldata, we’ve helped our charity and not-for-profit clients raise over £100 million in fundraising income – and counting – through our income generation strategy and fundraising support services. So, when you choose us as your charity services partner, we’ll make it our mission to help you achieve your ambitions.

After all, at Woods Valldata, we believe that we are stronger together!

To get started, book your free consultation with us today...

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