11 Proven Digital Fundraising Strategies & Best Practices for Nonprofits
Nonprofit fundraising often involves several events and campaigns with little connection to each other. The Covid Pandemic changed that, and digital fundraising became a lifesaver for many nonprofits. With new opportunities to reach a larger audience, and the ability to automate and integrate campaigns and stewardship techniques, nonprofits learned new ways to reach a new…
Nonprofit fundraising often involves several events and campaigns with little connection to each other. The Covid Pandemic changed that, and digital fundraising became a lifesaver for many nonprofits. With new opportunities to reach a larger audience, and the ability to automate and integrate campaigns and stewardship techniques, nonprofits learned new ways to reach a new audience, steward new donors, and build stronger relationships with the donor base they already had.
This article will discuss why digital fundraising is essential for nonprofits and go over 11 fundraising strategies to increase your organization’s funds and donor base.
Here’s a list of 11 Digital Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits:
But before that, let us take a few moments to understand what is digital fundraising and why it is important for nonprofits.
What is Digital Fundraising?
Digital fundraising uses online fundraising techniques and applications to reach a larger audience, steward new donors, and build greater relationships with your donor base. Digital fundraising is an ongoing process to start with online outreach techniques using websites, emails, and social media. After donors have made their first donation, you can create an automatic response where your organization stewards their gift and moves the donor in the direction of your choosing. Finally, as you continue to reach out to the donor and see how their actions change, you can build a stronger connection and develop a long-lasting relationship with the donor that benefits your organization.
Why is Digital Fundraising Important for Nonprofits?
In the past, building strong donor relationships took more time and effort than many nonprofits had the resources to accomplish. Smaller nonprofits have fewer staff and volunteers to steward donors and connect with donors on a personal level. Digital fundraising has made outreach and stewardship easier for these organizations.
1. Raises more awareness
Digital fundraising can help nonprofits reach more people through social media applications and online fundraising techniques. Nonprofits can excite donors and increase their involvement with techniques like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising. As donors become more involved in a nonprofit’s fundraising campaign, their community becomes more aware of the organization and is more likely to act on its behalf.
2. Improves donor retention
In addition to crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns, nonprofits have found other digital fundraising techniques to increase donors’ involvement and improve retention. Text to give campaigns, recurring donations, and gift matching are ways donors can easily give to a nonprofit without a lot of extra effort. This convenience encourages donors to stay involved and continue giving.
3. Reduces nonprofit workload
Thanks to updates in technology, the cost of automating a nonprofits’ online fundraising and donor management is easier and more affordable. With these technological advancements, nonprofits can automate sending out gift acknowledgments and monitoring any donation changes.
4. Increases donations
Donors appreciate the convenience, and digital fundraising has made it possible for nonprofits to offer more convenient options for their donors. Donors also want to know they matter. Digital fundraising has increased the time nonprofits can connect with their donors in several ways.
The convenience and increased contact donors receive thanks to digital fundraising has increased donations for many nonprofits.
11 Digital Fundraising Strategies for Nonprofits
Digital fundraising has changed what nonprofits can do, but many are overwhelmed by the different online applications. The following eleven steps are meant to give nonprofits a better understanding of using these applications to increase outreach and steward donors.
If people do not know who you are, the chances of getting a donation are slim to none. This is where digital fundraising has made the most significant difference for nonprofits. Thanks to social media applications like Facebook and Instagram, donors can find new and exciting ways to reach a new audience.
1. Set up a branded donation page
It all starts with a nonprofit’s website. The branding of an organization is how people remember them. Large corporations like Coca-Cola, Walmart, and Amazon are experts at this, but that does not mean nonprofits cannot do the same. Digital fundraising platforms like Donorbox include the ability to include an organization’s branding on their online donation pages. This branding builds trust with the donors and increases their chance to donate again.
2. Launch a crowdfunding campaign
Many donors want to feel useful, not just a piggy bank an organization keeps shaking down for money. With crowdfunding campaigns, organizations fundraise for specific programs and can reach donors who care about these projects. Donors who give to the crowdfunding campaign will receive social media updates on how the online fundraiser is going. Organizations can add a goal meter to these updates and allow donors to track how close the organization is to the goal.
There are several different crowdfunding platforms out there. Donorbox has a crowdfunding option that allows nonprofits to:
Create campaigns in 15 minutes
Send updates to donors and email subscribers
Add social proof with a donor wall that includes names and messages
This affordable option for nonprofits integrates with other applications like Mailchimp, Stripe, and Salesforce. The inclusion of donor management makes crowdfunding with Donorbox a useful way to develop these new contacts into long-time donors.
Google Ads have historically been out of the price range of many smaller nonprofits; recently, Google has changed that with Google Grants. The company has realized its impact online and wanted to give nonprofits a fighting chance. With Google Grants, nonprofits can apply for the opportunity for $10,000 in Google Ads to reach a larger audience they could not access before. Google ads are often the only way companies can rank higher on a Google page. This inclusion will make a huge difference.
4. Get active on social media
Many people only look at social media for their news and connection with the larger world. If nonprofits ignore this fact, they are missing their chance to reach these people. Sending outposts and videos using social media applications gives nonprofits the chance to connect with their donors and the donors’ larger community. Remember, if a donor likes a nonprofit’s post, they will share it with their friends and family.
5. Focus on local SEO
More nonprofits are small local organizations that affect the community around them. Techniques like crowdfunding may not make sense to these organizations. Instead, these organizations can focus on SEO techniques that target their local area. Using keywords and online applications that connect nonprofits with local donors will significantly impact who these organizations can reach online.
Once an individual makes a donation, the nonprofit can choose to acknowledge that gift and move on or to steward that gift and help the relationship with the donor grow. Innovative nonprofits choose to steward donor gifts whenever possible and give donors new and better ways to continue their support. Digital fundraising has increased the opportunities nonprofits have to do this.
6. Create and share videos
A picture is worth a thousand words, so we can only imagine what a video is worth. Videos are compelling because they show a nonprofit’s work in real-time. Donors can see the faces of people their donations will affect and view how an organization’s programs make a difference. Thanks to social media, more people can see these videos every day.
7. Enable recurring donations
Recurring donations are worth more in some cases than a one-time large donation. Not only can nonprofits depend on this gift weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually, they can take this opportunity to further build a relationship with the donor. Donors who are willing to give regularly to an organization are interested in what the organization has to say and may become one of its greatest supporters in the long run.
Donors text the campaign ID to the text number and get a link to the nonprofit’s donation page
The ease of this campaign makes giving by text an excellent option for donors on the go
With the repeat donation feature, donors can repeat their donation without any new forms or web pages. Donorbox will send a text to donors with their last amount, asking if they’d want to repeat the same donation. No extra forms to be filled, no inputting details either! Here’s a short video for you on how to use our text-to-give features – steps explained!
9. Form a strategic partnership
Event sponsors can often be forgotten in between campaigns. Nonprofits will reach out to potential and past sponsors once a year and expect them to give the same amount. This may work for a while, but companies are solicited by hundreds of nonprofits every year, and if a nonprofit does not put in the work, this relationship can quickly go stale.
Digital fundraising can help nonprofits build strategic relationships with sponsors by offering them the chance to give to a matching gift or other campaigns that can increase their impact on the organization and the number of times donors see their business. By thinking out of the box, nonprofits can impress sponsors and keep these relationships going for longer.
10. Build a segmented email list
Emails are still the best way to reach donors, but nonprofits may be sending their emails into the abyss without a segmented email list. Donorbox offers nonprofits the chance to segment donors by programs they support, past donation amounts, and more with the ability to send out regular emails through Mailchimp. This integration can give nonprofits a better response rate to their email campaigns.
11. Offer gift matching
There are two ways digital fundraising can help offer gift matching.
Many companies match their employees’ charitable gifts, but too often, employees are unaware of the practice. Donorbox has partnered with Double the Donation to give nonprofits an affordable price for their services. Double the Donation lets donors input their company on a donation form to see if they will match their gift. There is no easier way to increase a nonprofits’ donations.
The other way nonprofits can use digital fundraising to get matching gifts is by getting donors to reach a specific amount before a company will match. Donors react best when there is a time limit. This type of digital fundraising campaign gives donors that sense of urgency. It can encourage more donations with regular social media posts and a digital thermometer to monitor how the campaign is doing.
Pro tip: Be sure to find a past sponsor to give this matching gift before the campaign in exchange for free advertisement with your donor base.
10 Best Practices in Digital Fundraising for Nonprofits:
Let’s have a look at the best practices for making the most of digital fundraising for your nonprofit.
1. Invest in a digital fundraising platform
Digital fundraising needs a quality online donation platform. While it may have been expensive in the past, there are now several affordable options for nonprofits of all sizes. To learn more about what to look for in a digital fundraising platform, visit our blog post on the subject. Donorbox offers affordable prices and several options for nonprofits to increase their digital fundraising impact.
2. Use visual storytelling
Images and videos used on social media, email, and an organization’s website can have a greater effect on donors’ actions than nonprofits may think. Donors respond strongly to a picture or video when it tells the story of how their donation can change a life. Whenever possible, nonprofits should use powerful images to tell their story.
Donors will quickly click away from a nonprofit’s donation form and never return if the process is difficult. They make this decision in only seconds, so it is best to spend time making the process to donate as easy as possible. Limit the text and the options that donors have to choose from and keep the form clear and easy to read.
4. Leverage existing donors
Donors can be some of the best fundraisers for a nonprofit if given the chance. Nonprofits can use savvy online donors to spread their stories and raise funds within their community through crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns.
5. Use social proof
Donors will give more when they see others have given. This is a marketing technique for-profit companies have used for centuries with customer testimonials and real-person interviews. Nonprofits can do the same with a donor wall that shows how many supporters give to that organization every year. A donor wall is not only an excellent way to show social proof but also a way to thank existing donors for their gifts.
6. Offer multiple tiers and payment options
While a nonprofit does not want to overwhelm the donor with options, giving donors multiple tiers and payment options will increase their chances of giving. It is best practice to include six donation amounts based on the donors’ past gifts if possible. It is also a good idea to give donors the chance to pay with their credit card, ACH, PayPal, and Google.
7. Thank donors
Nonprofits should acknowledge a donor’s gift within 48 hours. This practice is expected, but with digital fundraising, nonprofits can do even better than that. Donation receipts can be automatically added to a nonprofit’s online donation platform. This addition will send the donor a thank you email immediately after their donation. Donorbox allows nonprofits to create different branded thank you acknowledgments for each campaign.
Integrations can offer nonprofits more time to spend on building those donor relationships. Thanks to digital fundraising technology, nonprofits can work more efficiently by integrating all aspects of donor outreach into one online donation platform. Donorbox offers nonprofits the chance to integrate their existing website with our online donation forms. Other ways Donorbox offers integrations are with Zapier for donor management, Mailchimp for email fundraising, and Salesforce for donation reports.
9. Close the Loop for Donors
Donors will continue to give if they know their donation is making a difference. For donors, the chance to see their gifts in action is the best way nonprofits can continue to build that relationship. Digital fundraising gives nonprofits the ability to show how donors’ gifts impact their communities in several ways. Social media images and stories, acknowledgments with a message from a beneficiary, or a video email sent from a person whose life has been changed will increase a donors’ involvement.
10. Measure performance
As mentioned earlier, digital fundraising can increase donor involvement and retention, but only when done correctly. Without a clear understanding of what donors want and what works, a nonprofit’s efforts can be for naught. By measuring the performance of each campaign and outreach sent out, nonprofits can be sure to get the best return on their investment.
Take Your Digital Fundraising to the Next Level
Digital fundraising has changed the story for many nonprofits. Donor outreach and retention are easier than ever before. With online fundraising techniques like crowdfunding, marketing opportunities through social media and Google Ads, and donor retention additions like recurring donations and matching gifts, the chances of finding the best way to reach a donor have increased tenfold.
Nonprofits now have several affordable options to find digital fundraising tools that work best for their organization. If you want to learn more about Donorbox and what we have to offer, visit our website. For more tips on how to improve your fundraising outreach, check out our blog.
Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.