If your nonprofit organization is pursuing an ambitious new fundraising goal or needs to refresh its existing fundraising approach, it’s important to consider not only which strategies will provide a strong return on investment but also which are the most likely to engage new donors.
In the fundraising world, the best way to reach this intersection of cost-effective and engaging is to find and use the new.
New fundraising technologies (and the products and services that connect your organization to them) are a crucial element of any successful campaign! So many nonprofit success stories involve organizations using innovative tools and structures to both pursue their missions of social good and engage their donors in new ways.
Check out these best practices for incorporating technology into all the aspects of your fundraising and donor engagement strategies:
- Streamline your online donation process.
- Use innovative donation tools to boost your intake.
- Conduct networked fundraising campaigns.
- Cultivate your digital brand and influence.
- Find tools to support a culture of transparency.
You likely already follow your organization’s own set of online campaign best practices, so you know that some guiding principles can go a long way to boost performance. Think of these tips the same way.
It’s entirely up to you how your nonprofit will adapt new technologies to its specific goals, but use these fundraising technology strategies as a launchpad. You might be surprised where they take you!
1. Streamline your online donation process.
One defining feature of our current technological age is an overarching concern with design and experience.
Elements of strong design inflect everything on the web, from the appearance of our pages to the entire user experience of a website. From the first to last moments of a visitor’s time on your site, it’s important to consider their experience at every critical juncture.
That is, if your website serves to provide information and collect donations, walk through the online donation process:
- The donor searches for your site on a search engine.
- The donor finds your homepage, enters your site, and browses the top content.
- The donor decides to donate and looks for your donation page.
- The donor finds your ways-to-give or donation page.
- The donor completes your donation form and submits a donation.
At each step, there’s a chance for your donor to lose interest or become turned off by an inefficient piece of the process. For instance, what if your site ranks poorly on search engines, or what if your donors have a hard time navigating your website?
One of the most important steps in this process is the last one: your donation form. This is the crucial element that separates a potential supporter from a committed donor, so always consider the technologies and services that can strengthen this final link in the chain!
Strong donation platform and customization services are among the best tools for improving user experience since they allow you to easily create forms that are:
- Efficient, without any clunky or unnecessary fields to complete.
- Intuitive, providing just the tools and options that donors will want.
- Flexible, able to be seamlessly embedded on any of your pages.
For an example of what a fully optimized donation form might look like for your organization, check out Donately’s customizable donation forms in action. They’re an excellent model for intuitive options and functionality blended with strong design.
2. Use innovative donation tools to boost your intake.
Fundraising strategy should revolve around two things: fully engaging your new and existing donors, and creating strong infrastructures to make the most of that support.
Innovative technologies and donation services can provide you with a permanent inbuilt donation boost by augmenting any donation revenue you take in. For instance, matching gift programs are corporate philanthropy policies in which an employer will match part or all of an employee’s contribution.
Matching gift programs, particularly, represent a major opportunity for nonprofits, and innovative services like Double the Donation, 360MatchPro, and others, provide ways to help your organization make the most of it, including:
- Access to a matching gift database of corporate policies
- Embeddable matching gift search tools for websites and emails
- Automated matching gift reminders and messages
- Donor database screening tools to identify eligible donors
Matching gift services are a great example of the innovative resources that can help your organization create the strong financial bedrock necessary for sustained growth.
Always consider the tools and resources at your disposal that can boost or better secure the impact of your donors’ support. Look around the nonprofit environment for some inspiration! It’s possible for small (even brand new) organizations to leverage innovative financial services, networks of connections, and a creative spirit to find success and start making a difference.
Always stay on top of developments in the nonprofit world, since new technologies and innovative services emerge practically every day.
Remember, a great financial or donation tool will not only be innovative, provide you with new resources, and boost your donations, it’ll also let your donors enjoy the fact that their gift has been made doubly impactful. This can be an invaluable asset for your donor relations.
3. Conduct networked fundraising campaigns.
Your organization is likely already familiar with some of the new types of online campaigns that the rise of network technology and social media platforms has allowed, but you might be unaware of how easy they can be to conduct.
A broad network has always been valuable for nonprofit organizations. After all, the more people connected to your work, the larger your pool of potential donors and supporters. Digital technologies and services, however, have taken this concept a step further.
Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising tools let you tap into your own network, those of your donors, and those of your donors’ friends in potentially limitless ways.
Crowdfunding involves creating a dedicated page where donors can view your campaign content, make a donation, and help the total to reach a pre-set goal. There are several great crowdfunding websites designed specifically for different types of issues or nonprofits, so be sure to research some platforms before getting started.
Alternately, peer-to-peer fundraising platforms make further use of your network by allowing your volunteers to essentially direct the growth of your campaign. Volunteer hosts will create their own mini campaign pages, which they’ll promote individually to their own networks of online connections.
There are a number of huge advantages to using digital network tools to run an online fundraising campaign, including:
- Greatly increased levels of donor engagement that can translate to in-person support
- Opportunities to create exciting donation incentives or fundraising contests
- Increased online visibility for your organization and its work
- Much lower costs to manage and conduct versus traditional in-person fundraising
Consider everything you can accomplish with a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, for instance. You’ll simultaneously engage your volunteers, expand your donor network, hit your fundraising goals, and grow your relationships with online supporters.
Thanks to networked campaign platforms and technologies, there are more opportunities than ever for nonprofits to connect with their supporters and grow their bases online.
4. Cultivate your digital brand and influence.
Branding has quickly become a prerequisite element for success for groups, businesses, organizations, and even individuals in the digital age.
The goals we pursue, the impressions that we give, and the tones that we strike are all integral parts of the ‘brand’ we convey, which is why an organization’s website is among its most important places to clearly communicate and cultivate its brand.
Even if a central concern with cutting-edge technology isn’t entirely ‘on brand’ for your organization, it’s essential that you take the time to research and implement some of the digital tools that can contribute to your public image and set the tone for your interactions with supporters.
Consider some of these digital tools for refining your brand and boosting your nonprofit’s online influence:
- Cultivate a responsive and thoughtful social media presence on multiple platforms.
- Optimize your blog, newsletter, social media, and other communication strategies to support one another.
- Use streamlined donation forms to improve online user experience.
- Broadcast live video feeds of your events and announcements.
- Conduct an online product fundraising campaign or research ecommerce tools.
Branding is essential to building relationships with donors and supporters online. If these supporters will rarely get the chance to directly interact with your work, it’s especially important to provide them with a sense of your nonprofit’s identity.
Plus, cultivating a strong brand and online authority in your field can pay off big-time during your online fundraising campaigns.
By presenting a polished, unified image of your work, social media users and other web visitors will be much more likely to remember your organization and take note the next time your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign appears on their newsfeed, for example.
5. Find tools to support a culture of transparency.
As an element of both branding and ethical operations, transparency and communication should be prioritized in your organization’s internal culture.
Importantly, a reputation for transparency is in itself invaluable for any nonprofit organization. This is not only because transparency-tracking groups like Guidestar will promote the most trustworthy and transparent nonprofit organizations but also because a healthy reputation should always be part of your brand.
Transparency and openness are parts of an organization’s internal culture, and there are some ways to cultivate the growth of these attitudes within your nonprofit by implementing some innovative data technology into your operations and decision-making processes.
Your organization already has a CRM or other management software solution, but an ideal nonprofit software solution will provide you with a whole range of tools to transform the way your organization shares and uses its data.
Some effective management, database, and software technologies that can help you to prioritize transparency in your organization include:
- Comprehensive CRM systems, which allow you to incorporate, track, and use your data like never before. Use this data to appeal for support for a new campaign or to provide progress reports to donors.
- Member management systems, which let you communicate with your members in new ways while giving them the freedom to form groups, vote on decisions, and view reports.
- Leading prospect development resources, which allow you to get a fuller sense of your prospects as individuals. Build personal relationships with your major donors to both show your gratitude and secure your support.
Be sure to research the latest developments in the nonprofit technology world whenever your organization is ready for an update. Strong CRM systems like Salesforce or others can give you all the features you need to keep your data collection and decision making both useful and transparent. Check out Fonteva’s list of the top Salesforce features for more examples.
Use your data in ways that make it easier to communicate your goals and methods to your base of support!
Remember, new technology strategies aren’t meant to replace the tried-and-true principles of nonprofit fundraising. Rather, they augment and boost nonprofit fundraising when thoughtfully adapted and applied to an organization’s specific goals.
Implementing some innovative tools into your organization’s digital operations is the best way to get a cost-effective (and often huge!) return on your fundraising investments.
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