Building a comprehensive, flexible, and tech-heavy fundraising strategy might sound like a major challenge, particularly if your organization doesn’t have a ton of experience with web-based fundraising.
Of course, by now most nonprofit organizations have dipped their toes into the world of online fundraising, most often through crowdfunding and customized donation pages. While these fundraising outlets are crucial parts of any updated strategy, they’re not the whole story.
Your organization’s entire toolkit should bolster your fundraising strategy by streamlining processes, engaging more donors, and managing data in smarter ways.
DNL OmniMedia develops customized technology solutions and offer nonprofit strategy consulting to organizations of all sizes. Working with a wide range of missions, I’ve seen firsthand how implementing the right tools and building smarter strategies from the ground up can boost the fundraising performance of an organization.
Developing an adaptable and robust fundraising strategy starts with building a more tech-savvy culture.
Let’s walk through a few ways your nonprofit can implement smarter uses of tech into both your internal and external operations and begin constructing a powerful fundraising infrastructure. I’ve broken them down into 3 key categories: fundraising channels, data management, and marketing strategies. Let’s get started!
As I mentioned above, donation pages and crowdfunding platforms are essential for any modern fundraising strategy, but they represent just one part of what should be a more complex digital fundraising equation.
Tech-savvy nonprofits have a number of digital fundraising channels and techniques in their toolkits. The key is incorporating them into your other donor engagement strategies in new ways with each campaign. Here are a few ideas:
Smarter Fundraising Events
There are a number of ways to incorporate technology into your fundraising events. You might encourage registrants to create their own peer-to-peer fundraising pages in the lead-up to your annual 5K, or you could use smart mobile bidding and management tools in your next live auction to increase engagement and offer new experiences.
The main idea is that new tools can be extremely useful for broadening the audiences of your events. With the right tools, you can even use your annual fundraising events to continually identify new major gift prospects.
Consider creating a program for passionate donors to receive special benefits in exchange for more structured annual support. This is an incredibly flexible strategy for boosting your fundraising efforts, strengthening your community ties, and stabilizing your revenue stream.
Use dedicated membership management tools, preferably integrated with your CRM platform, to improve both the member experience and your ability to track essential data.
Depending on the nature of your mission and the size of your organization, the scope of your program will vary. Offering an online community element, member profiles, and easy self-service options is a smart move for any membership.
Plenty of nonprofits already tap into the opportunities of merchandise as a viable fundraising channel, but few of them regularly and fully leverage the power of online merchandising platforms.
For small to mid-sized organizations, t-shirt crowdfunding can be a perfect way to reach new audiences and connect with supporters in new ways. Incorporating apparel fundraising into events can boost impact even further. For more context, explore Bonfire’s description of the t-shirt fundraising process and how to get started.
Nothing is as important (and often overlooked) for growing nonprofit organizations as proper data management processes and toolkits.
Collecting, storing, managing, and analyzing all the data that your fundraising campaigns generate is the best way to ensure even more successful campaigns going forward. Identifying techniques that engage donors and eliminating those that don’t, for instance, is much easier when you’ve got the numbers to back up your strategy development decisions.
Small and mid-sized nonprofits often wait longer than they should before investing in strong data toolkits and habits, despite that fact that strong data management is the key to growth. Keep these data management tactics in mind as your organization researches and implements its own data solutions:
Building stronger data management practices at your organization starts with choosing the right database. If you’ve outgrown your previous CRM, it’s crucial that you take your time choosing your next one.
Many organizations ultimately find themselves choosing between two leading platforms, Salesforce and Blackbaud. While there are benefits and drawbacks to both CRM suites, there’s a reason why they’re both incredibly popular.
The main idea is not to be afraid of making a large investment when it comes to CRM upgrades. When properly utilized, these platforms serve as foundations for your organization’s future growth, a huge return that shouldn’t be underestimated.
If your organization has already made the move to a professional-grade CRM platform, don’t ignore the integrations that can really take your fundraising to the next level.
Plugins, apps, integrations, and custom development projects (from an expert nonprofit tech consultant) can all serve to fill out your organization’s toolbox. Look for direct integrations with the fundraising software and online donation platforms that you already use. Ensuring that your campaign data flows seamlessly into your database should always be a top priority.
Prospect Research Techniques
Boosts to your major gift fundraising are some of the greatest big-picture perks of investing time and resources in your data management tech.
Take the time to ensure that your CRM is properly recording relevant major gift prospecting metrics. The ability to sort your donor lists by engagement history, donation size, various wealth markers, involvement with other nonprofits, and any other relevant data points can quickly reveal new prospecting insights.
You just have to make sure your major gift officer is able to fully customize donor profiles in a systematic way across your database. TeamDNL specializes in helping nonprofits build out custom tech solutions and strategies just like the ones you’ll need to support a comprehensive and updated approach to donor prospecting.
You already know that marketing plays an essential role in the success of your online fundraising campaigns, but are you making the most of all the opportunities out there?
It’s easier than ever to reach new audiences online, raise awareness of your mission, and promote your giving channels, but you have to know where to start. There are a few tried-and-true methods for boosting your online marketing efforts:
Social Media Campaigns
Most nonprofit organizations have their own social media pages by now and recognize that they’re invaluable for directly engaging supporters.
Many organizations, however, haven’t truly tapped into the power of social media by conducting a deliberate social media marketing campaign. I’ve all seen viral challenge videos that have raised thousands overnight, but even more modest campaigns can yield huge results.
For example, peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are perfect opportunities for honing your social media marketing skills. Use your social media pages to rally your volunteers, post content for them to share, announce engaging contests, and more.
Matching Gift Promotions
One of the most effective nonprofit marketing techniques is also one of the most underutilized. Corporate philanthropy represents a significant area for growth for most nonprofit organizations, and the right tech tools can take all the guesswork out of maximizing that growth.
Matching gift eligibility search tools, databases, and automated software for identifying and messaging eligible donors can go a long way to increase revenue from corporate philanthropy.
Investing in these tools can provide major benefits to your marketing campaigns, too: 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, and 1 in 3 donors say they’d give a larger gift if they knew it could be matched by their employer.
Email Automation Strategies
Easy-to-use email automation platforms have grown in prominence in recent years. Now, professional-grade email marketing tools are within easy reach of businesses and organizations of all shapes and sizes. Hopefully your nonprofit is already tapping into the power of email.
However, simply setting up an email automation platform to keep in touch with your subscribers isn’t enough; poor email marketing practices can kill your fundraising campaigns!
Pestering disengaged donors with repetitive emails only drives them further away. Your marketing team needs to put careful thought into developing strategies for segmenting recipients and developing specific email campaigns, like a flow of messages designed to welcome new subscribers or to re-engage existing ones.
There’s one big idea to keep in mind whenever your nonprofit is in the market for new tech tools or strategies:
Technology only truly benefits your organization in the long run when it fosters deeper engagement.
Many organizations make the mistake of investing in new toolkits but never developing a comprehensive plan for how the big picture comes together. Your database, online fundraising platforms, management tools, marketing automation software, and more all need to work together towards the shared goals of streamlining your operations and (directly or indirectly) improving the donor experience.
For large overhauls or updates, always consider reaching out to a nonprofit technology consultant for guidance on developing a comprehensive strategy. Even if you choose to go it alone, just be sure to take your time, weigh all your options, and consider how any new tools and strategies will help to better engage your supporters.
For more information and context on individual tactics, explore some of the resources I’ve cited above: