How to Get Donations: 11 Simple Tactics for Nonprofits
Are you trying to get donations for your organization? It can feel difficult to begin to gain traction on any new fundraising endeavor. With some simple tactics and some keen execution, your nonprofit can be well on its way to getting more donations than ever. In this article, we’ll look at 11 simple tactics for…
Are you trying to get donations for your organization? It can feel difficult to begin to gain traction on any new fundraising endeavor. With some simple tactics and some keen execution, your nonprofit can be well on its way to getting more donations than ever.
In this article, we’ll look at 11 simple tactics for how to get donations as well as the best practices to keep in mind when implementing these fundraising methods.
11 tactics on how to get donations for your nonprofit organization:
Let’s dive in—and get your organization more donations!
How to Get Donations:
It can feel intimidating to get started. What’s the best way to get donations and make long-lasting relationships with those new donors?
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and learning the best way to get donations can take a while. With the right ideas and tools, you can smoothly begin soliciting, accepting, and utilizing donations.
Here are some simple tactics that are vital to any successful fundraising strategy.
Last year alone, online giving grew by 12.1%. More donors than ever are looking for quick, easy, and secure ways to give online.
This is where your Donorbox account comes in handy. When you sign up for a free Donorbox account, the first thing you do is create a customized, branded donation form that you can easily embed into your website without any knowledge of coding needed.
Pro tip: You should make your donation page as simple as possible for your donors, so think about what kind of information you absolutely have to have from donors (name, email) and what kind of information would be nice to have (address, employment info). Decide how you can make the most streamlined form possible to keep your potential donors from getting burned out before they complete their donation.
Donorbox’s donation forms are designed to both look great on your website and be easily navigated by your donors. Here’s an example of how Code for America integrates their Donorbox donation form into their website:
Remember that in the mind of the donor, your organization’s donation form represents how your organization operates. If giving is a smooth, seamless experience, your donors will think your organization is top-notch and worthy of their gift.
Now that you have your online donation form set up, remember to add a crucial option: recurring donations.
Recurring donations are automated donations given at a certain interval of time. On average, a recurring donor will give 42% more annually than a one-time donor.
With Donorbox, you can customize your donation form to offer the following intervals as options for your donors:
You can mark your organization’s preferred donation intervals. Don’t be afraid to let your donors know how their donations can do the most good!
Changing up the donation intervals on your donation form is easy. From your dashboard, simply go to edit your donation form and mark which intervals you’d like to offer. With the drop-down options, select which interval you want to set as the default and which interval you want to recommend (whichever is your preference).
Pro tip: Remember that you want to keep your donation form as simple as possible, so try to choose 2-3 intervals that make sense with your fundraising schedule. If you can’t decide which intervals to use, start with all 4 options and then analyze the giving patterns of your donors to decide what works best for your organization.
3. Send segmented email campaigns
If your organization is already sending emails, you’re off to a great start. If you want to take your fundraising a step further, consider segmenting some of your email campaigns.
Segmenting emails means breaking up your email list into groups based on certain criteria. The goal with segmenting is to target your audience in the best way possible with the right message.
Some common criteria for nonprofit email segmenting include:
Age. Depending on who you’re trying to reach with a certain campaign, you may need to generate slightly different materials.
Giving history. Someone who has already invested in your organization—with a donation—has a slightly different expectation for content than someone who has yet to donate. Plus, a previous donor might feel overwhelmed with too many solicitation emails, whereas someone who is thinking about donating might need all the help they can get to follow through and give to your organization.
Location. Are you hosting an event in your area but you have supporters on the other side of the country? You want to let all of your supporters know what you’re up to, but you might only target those closest to you for more information about the upcoming event.
Targeting with segmented email campaigns means you can get more potential donors to donate by focusing your energy on the groups that need it the most.
Pro tip: No matter what segment of your list you’re connecting with, your emails will have a higher open rate if they demonstrate their value immediately. Since your email will be competing with an average of 88 emails a day, many of which might be other nonprofits, it’s important to grab their attention with the right techniques.
4. Leverage text-to-give campaigns
We’ve all seen text-to-give campaigns run by larger organizations like the Red Cross’s Haiti Earthquake relief campaign which raised over $43 million through text messages. But text-to-give can work for organizations of any size.
Because everyone is on their smartphones these days, you want to offer as many ways for a donor to give on their mobile device as possible. That’s why leveraging text-to-give is so important. It’s a fast, comfortable way for potential donors to give to your cause when it’s still on their minds.
Donorbox’s text-to-give feature streamlines the process for both you and your donors. You can create a campaign on Donorbox, choose one of the two text-to-give plans, and activate the feature from the dashboard itself. Your donors will then text your unique campaign ID to the text-to-give number and they receive a link to your online donation form where they can quickly and easily complete their donation. This is what it looks like for your donors:
Whenever a donor is ready to give to your organization again, Donorbox’s repeat donation feature makes it easy. All they have to do is text the keyword “YES” to the same number and they’ll be asked if they want to give the same amount again. Once they reply “CONFIRM,” they’ve donated again to your organization—without even leaving their text messaging app.
Our short code plan gives your a shorter number (801801) that’s easier for your donors to remember and type in and a custom keyword for a specific campaign.
Tips to maximize text-to-give fundraising:
Here are some ways to get the word out about text-to-give so your organization gets the full benefits of this tool:
Share your Campaign ID, the text-to-give number, and the simple instructions to give everywhere. It should be on any physical materials you hand out, on your website (so donors remember it’s an option in the future), and if you have a site or office, it should be posted around the building.
At your next event, use it as the primary mode for collecting donations (with other options available, of course). Promote it as a fun, new thing to try that really helps your mission.
Remember to be mission-oriented in your communications. Try to think of a specific reason text-to-give helps you support your mission. With text-to-give, you get your funds quickly—no waiting for cash or checks to hit your account. What can be accomplished by those quick donations? Think of some concrete scenarios and use them to convince your donors that giving via text is a great option.
Utilizing every option available to you means you’re giving donors every possible option to support you. To get donations, you have to have attractive and easy ways to give—and text-to-give will only become more popular in the future.
5. Ask for donations at community events
Are you hosting any upcoming events? A 5K, an auction, a community learning event? These are great opportunities to ask for donations. Here’s why.
Your event has a registration form and/or a participation fee. If your event already requires the participants to fill out a form or pay a fee, it’s a great idea to ask for donations on the registration form. People are more likely to give when they already have their wallets out or are already providing their information.
Your event is beneficial to the community you’re serving. If there are donors at your event and they can clearly see the value your organization is creating, they’ll be all the more inspired to give.
Your event promotes excitement around giving. If you’re hosting a fun event with fundraising in mind, find ways to make giving exciting! At an auction, cheer whenever someone makes a bid. This both congratulates them for amping up the price of what could be a significant donation to your organization and encourages others to partake in the fun.
If someone is at your event, chances are they’re interested in your organization’s work. Use that momentum to get more donations and hopefully establish long-lasting relationships with new donors.
6. Mail out fundraising materials
Don’t sleep on direct mail! Although other, more digital ways of connecting with potential donors are only going to become more important, you can’t forget about the tried and true power of mailing out fundraising materials.
The American Cancer Society recently ran an experiment to see if their direct mail campaigns were worth the cost in the face of decreasing responses and the potential for Millenials to change the effectiveness of mail altogether. They found that after 18 months of halting just their acquisition mailing program, their number of new donors dropped by 11%. That is a huge amount of potential donations to miss out on.
Although mailing can be expensive, if you get a little creative you can still take advantage of this useful way to get new donations.
Pro tip: Consider using smaller mailings like well-designed postcards. This cuts back on your material and postage cost (less material, less weight)! Your donors will also be able to see your branding, mission information, and solicitation without having to tear through an envelope.
If you’re in the US, consider applying for a nonprofit mailing permit that allows you to mail with a special nonprofit discount. Take advantage of every opportunity to save some cash and get more donations!
7. Promote your cause on Facebook
Facebook is an excellent tool for fundraising. Part of this is due to the fundraising options Facebook has built-in like the ability for your supporters to host their own fundraisers, the ability to collect donations through a Facebook Live video, Facebook’s Tuesday Giving matching program, and more. But in order to use Facebook to its full advantage, it’s important to understand how Facebook advertising works.
Here are some things to consider when it’s time to promote your cause on Facebook:
Use organic posts. Sometimes, sharing the word about your new campaign is as easy as posting about it. The term “organic” means you haven’t spent any money to promote it—it’s a post on your organization’s page that can gain traction based on how popular it is with your subscribers.
Use boosted posts. With Facebook’s boosting option, you can pay to give your content more views. This feature also allows you to target specific groups—much like you would with segmented emailing—based on geographic location, websites visited, or even by email list. This gives you the power to make your ad and your boosting budget count.
Add a donate button. Take the additional steps to install the clear, call-to-action button at the top of your organization’s Facebook page that allows your donors to give to your organization through Facebook. To do this, you have to sign up for Facebook Payments first and register with Facebook as a nonprofit organization.
Protip: Use donation management software to keep track of your Facebook donations so all your donation details can be organized and easy to find. With Donorbox, you can manually enter any Facebook donations you receive into your donor management system. Just go to “Add Offline Donation” from your Donorbox campaign dashboard:
No matter what kind of post you use, remember to link your Donorbox campaign so your followers can quickly find where to donate.
8. Showcase the impact of donations
People are more willing to give if they think their gift will make a real difference. Don’t be afraid to show them exactly what their donation can do—buy school lunches for a class of students, cover the cost of new clothing for a family who lost everything in a natural disaster, or pay for clean drinking water.
Once your campaign is over, be sure to show off all you accomplished! Donors want to see their dollars in action, so be sure to share images, charts, and any data you’ve collected to prove how you turned those donations into meaningful action.
9. Use social proof to build trust
What do we mean by “social proof” here? It’s just what it sounds like: proof that others are doing it, too. Potential donors are more likely to give if they see other people give, especially if those other people are their friends, family, colleagues, or neighbors.
You can take advantage of social proof by letting people post to social media after they’ve given to your organization. With Donorbox, social sharing buttons are automatically added to your campaign’s donation form so donors can let their network know they’re proud to support you.
Donorbox also has an automated donor wall that updates with donor names. This means donors get recognition and that their name is out there—and potential donors can see just how many others trusted your organization with their hard-earned money.
10. Blog about your activities
Creating a blog for your organization’s website can do a couple of things. For one, you can keep the public up-to-date about any new initiatives like a new campaign and any needs your organization has to carry out its mission.
You can also use your blog to publish mission-oriented content that new donors can find on Google. Through Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can write blog posts that show up whenever someone searches for something related to your mission. The key is to create quality content that’s factual, interesting and appeals to your donor’s emotions.
Blogging, when handled the right way, can generate not only new donations but also life-long donors.
11. Incentivize giving
Some donors respond well to clear incentives for giving. If there’s a clear reward for giving—besides helping your awesome cause!—there’s a good reason to give that grants some kind of immediate benefit.
If you’re a 501(c) nonprofit, you already have the added benefit of donations to your organization being tax-deductible for the donor. This is a great fact to advertise to give would-be donors the extra push to give this year. But get a little creative to think about other incentives you can offer, like:
Physical items. Are you fundraising for something local, at an event or in your facility? Give t-shirts to anyone who gives over a certain threshold. You could also make branded keychains, mugs, masks, etc. Something fun that immediately gives a potential donor a reason to give—free stuff!
Digital items. These require a little more creativity, but with the right mindset you can come up with an incentive that’s valuable to your donors. Do you have space on your website for advertisements? You could offer advertising space to anyone who gives over the threshold. Once your blog is up and running, you could give a special shoutout to outstanding donors there and on your social media page.
Whatever incentives you come up with, be sure to be clear about your terms so a potential donor knows exactly what to expect.
5 Best Practices for Getting Donations
1. Be specific
Whether you’re running an email campaign or leveraging text-to-give, give your potential donors a specific reason to donate to your organization. The more focused your ask, the more donors will feel compelled to give.
Try to add some context to your ask. How will their donations help you achieve your mission? Be an open book about your expenses and your budget.
Here are some examples of clear, mission-specific language to use when soliciting new donors:
$25 will fund fresh, clean water for four families.
Giving to our building fund means you support our goal to outfit our museum with the newest technology, giving our young visitors the ultimate educational experience.
With our annual granting program, we spend $1,000 a day helping our community. Can you chip in $50 to join us in our mission of housing everyone in our community?
Don’t be afraid to be specific! Your donors will appreciate the transparency and you’ll get exactly what you need.
2. Create urgency
Remember that your communications are competing with a lot to get a potential donor’s attention. Urgency helps you capture their attention and can help convince them to make a donation.
When you’re about to launch a new fundraising campaign, ask yourself these questions to help develop this necessary sense of urgency:
What do we need right now in order to be successful in our mission?
What will or won’t happen if we don’t meet that goal?
Whatever your answers, it will pay to be transparent about them with your donors.
Pro tip: Remember that you don’t want to come off as negative—giving to your organization should make donors feel good, not stressed! They should complete their donation and feel like they helped you meet an urgent, mission-based need.
3. Inspire emotion
People give because they want to help. They want to know that they are doing something good. That their gift is necessary and powerful.
Studies show that supporting others triggers a stronger sense of self-esteem and purpose. Our brains are hard-wired to want to help and to feel better about ourselves when we do.
Your organization has a mission to help. Be honest about why your mission is important and connect with the emotions of your audience.
4. Make it easy to donate online
Once you make the ask, don’t complicate things by making online giving difficult! Here are some important things to consider when it comes to simplifying the online donation process.
Make the donate button easy to find! Typically, you should put your donate button on every page of your website, usually in the upper portion of each page. It should stand out from any other text or images on the page. Placing it above the navigation bar is a good practice to make it noticeable.
Properly link your donate button. What good is the button if the link takes users to the wrong page? When a potential donor clicks that link, they should be taken straight to your secure online donation form.
Get an SSL certificate. This allows your site to be listed as https, which is more secure than just http.. This is important both to keep your donor’s information secure and to prevent their browser from telling them your site is unsafe. Don’t miss out on online donations because you didn’t take this extra step.
Have a clear link or button in your emails. A potential donor should easily be able to locate the link that takes them to your secure donation form.
Streamlining the online giving process as much as possible will reward you with more donations. The more donors can quickly find your donation form, the easier they can give to support your urgent need!
5. Thank donors
One way to get donations? Build a good relationship with existing donors! Show donors your genuine appreciation for their gifts to inspire them to give again.
With Donorbox, your customized thank-you email is sent automatically whenever a donation is received. This means your donors feel your appreciation right away, which is key both to tap into that good feeling that giving inspires and to confirm that their donation was successful.
Beyond these thank-you emails, get creative with your thanking! Set up a virtual donor wall with Donorbox so your donors automatically get recognition. Give them shout-outs on your social media accounts. If you get creative, the possibilities for thanking donors are endless.
Use Donation Software to Get More Online Donations
Getting more donations requires using the right tactics of course, but the right tools are just as important. Ultimately, these tactics rely on a solid, online donation system. To get more donations, you need to have a clear, good-looking donation form that your donors can easily find through text, Facebook, email, and in-person.
That’s where Donorbox comes in. Keeping all of your fundraising efforts together with the same piece of software means less work for you and a more cohesive experience for your donors, no matter where they find your donation button.
Lindsey Baker Bower is a writer, educator, and nonprofit professional. She has years of experience helping arts nonprofits with their fundraising messaging and strategy. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.