How has your fundraising season gone? Are donations up? Or down? Feedback we are hearing is that many nonprofits have seen declines in their donation base. But not The Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army reported record fundraising results from its 2011 Red Kettle. Reports are that they raised $147.6 million. Based on 2010 results that is a 3.4 percent increase in what would certainly be considered a season where people were worried about stretching their dollars as far as possible.

So how the Salvation Army raise record amounts of money? They developed the right strategic partners for their Red Kettle campaign. Reports show that nearly a third of their total came from Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores, where bell ringers collected $41.5 million

They also partnered with Square and with Sprint to accept donations by cell phone in some of the largest markets.

Essentially what the Salvation Army did was to identify better ways to reach people that would be inclined to offer support. They did not count on the way they had always done things and there is a good lesson there for all non profits. Fundraising ideas that made sense 10 years ago might not make as much sense now as they did in the past.

But it goes beyond fundraising ideas. It goes to methodology and implementation. Nonprofits that want to raise record amounts of money need to meet their supporters in the world in which their supporters live. Whether that’s in person, by phone, online or elsewhere, organizations need to stay in front of their potential supporters, create a message that compels people to donate and makes the donation process simple and fast.

The Salvation Army’s results should encourage all of us that even in hard economic times people will be there for organizations they believe in.

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Posted on 02 February 2012

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