With that statement, Jess Campbell approached the topic of successful fundraising exactly as one might expect from someone who coins herself as a “fundraising coach for the not-so-average fundraiser.”
It’s this direct, honest, and eclectic approach to nonprofit consulting that has proven to be fruitful for Campbell.
The road to becoming a nonprofit fundraising consultant
Campbell began in the nonprofit sector as a running point for There with Care, an organization dedicated to serving families with critically-ill children. Campbell was the first paid employee and her role covered all facets of running a nonprofit — organizing events, marketing, donor engagement and most critically, fundraising.
A fleeting moment working in Hollywood as a production assistant only confirmed her resolve to work for something that was bigger than herself – a common intention among those dedicated to nonprofit fundraising.
Since those early years, Campbell’s career has changed course. She saw a clear gap in the industry where nonprofit professionals were rarely given a true fundraising education. From that discovery, Campbell’s nonprofit coaching and consulting business, Out in the Boons, was born.
A combination of nonprofit strategy consultation, event production and education on how to amplify impact, Out in the Boons gave Campbell the opportunity to teach the how-tos of fundraising to hundreds of nonprofit professionals.
And the fundraising success stories from her help are impressive. From aiding a client who raised $12,000 in 10 days, to supporting the launch of first-time monthly giving programs for another nonprofit, to producing $1.2M galas, Campbell is providing nonprofits with the runway to dream, invest and plan for the future.
Campbell considers her approach to fundraising a little unorthodox.
She spends her time reading up on buyer psychology, loves to dive into a data report, and prefers her decisions to be backed by science. She consults with forward- thinking organizations who are willing to experiment and try something new. But it might be this unique approach that’s pushing her clients to succeed in the ever-evolving nonprofit sector.
Biggest fundraising blunder many nonprofits are making
Over 50% of one-time donors never donate again. That’s a staggering number in an industry that’s reliant on donations to cover operating costs and support the nonprofit mission.
The biggest mistake Campbell regularly sees are nonprofits believing monthly-giving programs don’t deserve as much attention as getting the mission message out to more people. The snowballing of monthly giving programs allows for:
- Planned money in terms of knowing expected revenue for the nonprofit without any further asks.
- Strategic planning for donor engagement for when you need new donors/donations.
- Strategic planning for donor engagement on when to discuss with recurring donors how they can support your organization further.
- Supports a “work smarter, not harder” nonprofit where the continued investment into current donor relationships trumps the drive for “new” fundraising and can create more time for the mission.
Investing in a successful monthly-giving program now will ultimately pay dividends in the future. Studies show that monthly donors were 440% more valuable than one-time donors.
Social Media. Fundraising success story or waste of time?
When using Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, most nonprofits need a marketing professional on their team to work on every social media platform. While its time consuming, is it just a colossal waste of time for nonprofits?
Campbell believes social media is a great way for nonprofits to build a “know, like, trust” component to their nonprofit brand.
For example, publishing thoughtful content about your work supporting children in Namibia is likely to garner engagement, admiration and consideration for the work you are doing as an organization.
But if the goal is to solicit donations for your nonprofit, social media can be a slog and rarely provide the same return on investment that one might expect.
If time on social media is taking up 30% of your organization’s capacity (especially if you are a small nonprofit), you might need to re-evaluate whether these platforms are right for you, or consider investing in one or two platforms where you’re seeing the highest engagement.
Campbell's top 3 resources for nonprofit fundraising pros
Campbell is always looking for new and innovative ways to reinvigorate the fundraising paradigm at the nonprofit’s she works with.
So, we asked for her top three resources for fundraisers.
- The Agitator – A brilliant group of behavioural scientists who have made it their mission to “think more clearly, innovatively and productively on emerging trends.” Thought provoking and relevant this website is for direct marketing fundraisers and non-profit execs and boards.
- Why She Buys – A business book that truly delves into the psyche of the consumer, 80% of which are women. Campbell recommends this book for nonprofit fundraisers as donors are more often female and your ask should be different than it would be for a male.
- NextAfter– Ever wondered if your digital fundraising process is optimized? Well, the folks at NextAfter help nonprofits grow their digital fundraising by analyzing your process, training your members on fundraising and resources from millions of donor interactions.
Changes nonprofits should make in the near future
While there has been talk of the “Great Resignation” over the last six months, Campbell notes that it actually began 2.5 years ago in the nonprofit sector. It was predicated 50% of fundraising professionals planned to leave their job and 30% planned to leave the field. And this was pre-pandemic.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy report noted the most common reasons for leaving a nonprofit were:
- Feelings of overwhelm and underappreciated
- The fundraising professional role is high-pressured
- Lack of professional development and investment in staff
But Campbell is feeling bright about the future of fundraising.
In her experience, running The Raise More Together Summit with the Make it Happen Conference, the fundraising ecosystem remains full of passionate, motivated fundraisers who are taking her tips and using other fundraising resources to craft donor messages that connect and convert into donations.
Donors are craving connection more than ever before. A well thought-out email or thank you letter can not only fill your donors bucket emotionally, it can also be that moment in a fundraiser’s day that reconnects them to their nonprofit’s mission and the work that they love.
If you are looking to learn more about nonprofit fundraising coaching, consulting or support for your nonprofit, Jess can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org