Trends come and go, and it’s up to your nonprofit to time it right and ride a trend’s wave for as long as possible. In the past decade, the Internet has grown so much (and is still growing) that taking advantage of certain online fundraising trends will only continue to increase your online reach and revenue. It seems every day there is a new fundraising term, but you just have to develop the right strategies to manage them.
In this guide, we’ll walk through different nonprofit online trends and the ways you can conquer them. We can group them into three general categories:
- Donor Management
- Digital Marketing
- Online Fundraising
These days it’s not just about having high-quality content and a compelling cause to inspire supporters. You need to be utilizing the right software and digital strategies to leverage those online fundraising trends to your advantage.
If you’ve already implemented one or more of these strategies into your nonprofit’s operations, it’s always a good idea to review best practices as they continue to evolve. There are always improvements to be made (and often very easily)!
1. Donor Management
Nonprofits have always needed to manage their donor networks and databases. How else are they supposed to keep track of their supporters and develop any kind of strategic plan for growth?
It used to be harder - involving a ton of manual data input and wasting time that could be used towards developing smarter fundraising strategies, actually engaging with supporters, and simply pursuing missions.
With all-in-one donor management software, you can manage your donors all from your computers and use the information that had been purposefully tracked to strengthen your relationship with donors and increase your organization’s revenue.
If your organization hasn’t yet graduated to dedicated database software, it’s time to explore your options. There’s a huge range of options available these days, and they can all improve how you track data and engage donors.
Once you’ve got a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or other database solution in place, your next step is to build out your digital toolkit so you can draw from or help contribute to your new pool of data! Here are a few of the most effective strategies for organizations of any size:
Online Prospect Research
Some of the most useful online fundraising tools will support your prospect research efforts. This is a process used to gain deeper insights into donors (and often potential major donors) and incorporate those findings into more personalized fundraising strategies.
If you want to invest time in prospect donor research you should be looking at tools with these features:
- Wealth screening - This is when you look out for different markers that can indicate that this donor has the means to give larger or even major gifts. Your tools should track real estate ownership, SEC transactions, business affiliations, and political giving, and then automatically scan your donor database for opportunities.
- Philanthropic indicators - This is when you follow information that can tell you whether a potential donor has the inclination to make a larger or major gift. You should track things like previous donations to your nonprofit, donations to other nonprofits, nonprofit involvement, and other information about hobbies and social media. Not all prospect research tools prioritize philanthropic history, so look for databases and services that take a more holistic approach.
Major donors usually have very personal and ongoing relationships with nonprofits. Using wealth screening and philanthropic indicators can give you clues as to which donors you should be investing more time in to develop a better relationship.
Promote Matching Gifts
Matching gift programs are a way for your nonprofit to double or even triple the impact of individual donations— but not many are fully taking advantage of them.
If you don’t know what gift matching is, it is when a corporation will financially matchan employee’s donations to eligible nonprofits. However, the donor has to know that their employer offers this perk and then know reach out to them in order to complete this process, which is where a lot of the matching gift opportunities fall short. Donors need to be made aware of their eligibility to ensure effectiveness.
How can you make sure donors know if their business will match their gift? First, track their employment information in your donor database when possible. Next, use an online matching gift search tool to make the process effortless for online donors!
You should look for gift matching tools that you can integrate into your online donation form and website so that donors can look up whether they’re eligibility right as they’re about to start or have just finished making an online donation Also, you should email donors to remind them when their matching gift deadlines are because many companies have different rules.
For examples of some of the top corporate philanthropy programs out there, check out 360MatchPro’s list of matching gift companies!
Donors are people too! You should be working to personalize your communication with your donors whenever possible to better build your relationships with them. The data that your online fundraising software collects during each interaction is integral to this process.
Segment your donors based on age, location, gender, and payment preference so that you can market toward them in different ways.
For example, a younger person may respond better to a mobile-based fundraiser than an older person will. If you can’t find out that much information on your donors, simply configuring your email tool to pull their names from your database and automatically populate them on each message can go a very long way.
Donor management is always tough, but with the right software in place you can take advantage of these more advanced strategies and start to increase donations and engagement.
2. Digital Marketing
Now, let’s start talking about how you communicate with donors. Best practices for marketing to nonprofit donors are constantly changing. Let’s walk through a few large-scale developments from the past decade that your nonprofit should definitely be on top of by now. For even more in-depth advice, head over to Salsa’s tips for nonprofit marketing.
The best part about the social media wave is that its users can help fundraise for you and spread your message on your behalf.
Make sure that your organization has various social media pages and that you have a team to keep it actively updated. You don’t want someone new coming to your Instagram page and seeing that your last post is from three years ago.
How should you be mobilizing your supporters on social media to fundraise for you or help spread your message? For example, you can make a status update about a recent fundraising event and have users “share,” “like,” or “comment on” your campaign. When people like or share your post, it is like they are publicly advocating for your cause. And with the option to comment, you also get feedback on whether what you’re doing is working or not.
If you’re thinking about using social media as your main marketing tool, try to emotionally invest your supporters with updates and new events. Creating some emotional appeal will get people’s attention and is perfect for viral content— meaning it will be shared over and over again!
Email may not be a new trend for your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, but there are some ways that you can make it more current. You should be working to brand your organization’s emails in order to keep your nonprofit looking established and consistent.
Keep in mind color schemes, the style you write your emails in, catchy subject lines, and the content you are sending.
Combine Direct and Digital Mail
You’re probably thinking, isn’t direct mail not considered an online fundraising trend? Even though not as many young people receive actual mail, marketing campaigns that combine both direct mail and digital mail actually have a 25% higher conversion rate. Look for software that can support your efforts on both ends.
For example, you can coordinate your direct mail with both social media and email to create a comprehensive campaign leading up to an event. Maybe you can thank your donors with a physical gift if they promote your event and campaign. Be creative and keep in mind the audience you want to target with each communication channel. Younger people tend to engage on social media more than older people do, for instance.
Digital marketing can be daunting to handle, but with the right tools, you can handle these online fundraising trends like a professional.
3. Online Fundraising
Figuring out your digital marketing and being able to manage your donors has probably led you to wonder— how are they going to donate? With the Internet, people can donate from their computers or their phones, all from the comfort of wherever they want to be. This has transformed the nonprofit space because now the Internet is the new norm.
The Internet isn’t a new trend, but it is a trend that is constantly evolving, so you should be evolving with it. There are many instances where someone will click out of a webpage just because it looks outdated or is hard to use. You should actively make sure that you give donors the best online experience or else you risk driving new donors away without realizing it.
Read on to learn about these trends, from what to put on your donation page to how you thank your donors.
Online Donation Forms
There are tons of fundraising software options out there that can help you create the best donation form possible. Look for technology with these features:
- Customizable fields. Being able to choose which fields you want in your form allows you to only collect the data that you need. You can also make some fields “not required” to give your donors some privacy.
- Recurring donation options. Many donors want to donate more consistently or don’t currently have enough to donate the amount they want. Giving the option for recurring donations can greatly increase funds.
- Multiple payment processes. Supporters often decide not to donate because the payment options offered don’t work for them. Invest in software that has a reliable payment processor with a variety of options.
Mobile Friendly Content
Keeping your content cell phone friendly is very important. This is because so many people are using their phones more than their computers to browse the Internet or update their social media. Because mobile phones are, well, mobile, people use them on the go and when they’re not at home.
So, make sure that your website and especially your donation form is able to be viewed and easily used from a mobile device!
Automated Gift Acknowledgement
One of the things that you should make sure to do is thank your donors. After all, these are the people that keep your organization alive and are helping the cause that you are working for. Look for online fundraising software that has the ability to automate your gift acknowledgment.
Here are a few ideas and best practices for thanking your donors:
- Have an automated email be sent every time they donate.
- If they have agreed to text alerts, you should send them a quick text.
- Always use their name when thanking them.
- Update them with any monumental milestones your nonprofit has reached so that they know that their contribution has had an impact.
- Include a quick link to your matching gift search tool in the thank you email.
- For more ways to appreciate your donors, click here.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the most successful online fundraising trends to emerge in recent years. It’s already radically transformed how fundraising is conducted online.
Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns involve recruiting a group of volunteers to fundraise for you. By letting each volunteer create an individual donation page, they can easily post it on social media to ask their friends and families for support. Campaigns like this are extremely successful for some organizations and have raised a lot of money fast.
To really be successful in your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you shouldn’t try and do it on your own. There are plenty of nonprofit software options out there that can help you. Look for features like:
- Event pages that can be fully customized to your campaign
- Registration pages and forms that are accessible through the event page
- A donation thermometer to help keep track of how much has been raised
Here are some great examples of peer-to-peer fundraising software.
Taking your fundraising to the online sphere is obviously important, and these key trends are what you should be investing time in. Don’t fall behind and miss out on increasing your revenue!
Online fundraising has so many opportunities that your nonprofit should aware of. Don’t let this slide because you think the trend won’t last forever. Good luck!
- Click on the links throughout the article for more information on online fundraising trends.
- Read Gerard Tonti’s article, Enhancing Your Fundraising Campaign: Three Savvy Strategies.
- Explore the PathFinder for more fundraising resources.