The new year is off and running, and many nonprofits are starting to plan for this year’s fundraisers. It’s the perfect time to reevaluate your fundraising strategies, leaving the less effective approaches in the past, and considering the addition of (or emphasis on) some new ones.
But with a limited amount of time and resources, how do you decide which strategies to implement again this year and which to leave behind?
First, we’d recommend considering what’s worked for your organization in the past. However, it might also be a good idea to know what your peers are doing to boost their fundraising efforts. After all, common problems—like the COVID-19 pandemic of the past year—yield common solutions. For example, many nonprofits responded to the pandemic by shifting programs online, hosting virtual fundraisers, and having socially-distanced events.
Just like last year, common solutions to this year’s problems emerge in the form of fundraising trends. Here at GivingMail, it’s our job to keep up with all of the developments in the nonprofit fundraising world—it’s what we do. We’ve been paying attention to these developing trends, and have compiled them here for you. In this year’s spring fundraising campaigns, expect to see organizations:
- Emphasizing mobile giving
- Appealing to younger donors
- Revisiting corporate partnerships
- Investing in AI-powered solutions
Trends become trends for a reason, so if you haven’t already, you’ll want to adopt some of these strategies for your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts. Let’s get started!
1. Emphasizing Mobile Giving
Mobile giving took off with the proliferation of smartphones in the past decade or so, and it continues to grow in popularity. The benefits of mobile fundraising strategies include:
- Convenience: Especially now with in-person events on hold, mobile giving is the perfect way to donate from a distance. From anywhere in the world, a donor can tap a button on their smartphone and contribute to your organization.
- Simplicity: If you’re looking for the donation route with the fewest required steps, you’ve come to the right place. Depending on the program you use for text-to-give, it’s possible all donors will have to do to donate is type a code or keyword into their mobile device to initiate the donation process.
- Communication: Text is a great medium for sending confirmation messages, reminders, and quick alerts to your supporters. Communication via text carries a sense of informality compared to other communication strategies, like email. This can make the interaction feel more personal, and we all know that more personal = better relationships = more loyal donors.
Mobile giving can include any donations made from a mobile device, or incorporate more specific text-to-give programs—so be sure to address both of these avenues. In general, you’ll want to make sure your nonprofit’s website is optimized for mobile browsing, meaning your donation form is fully functional when viewed from a mobile device.
While mobile giving may be trendy, it’s still a good idea to utilize a multi-channel fundraising approach to best engage with your network of support. Consider adding direct mail appeals alongside your mobile strategy to capture a wider audience and boost your conversion rates.
2. Appealing to Younger Donors
Generation Z is defined as including people who were born from the mid-to-late nineties to the 2010s, meaning today they range from 10-25 years old. Sure, the teenagers might not have much to spare for your fundraiser, but the upper end of that bracket—the 18-25-year-olds—could be a valuable target audience for your campaigns.
On average, young people are more active in advocacy for social causes than their older counterparts. They are passionate about making the world a better place—and so are you. If you harness the power of young people properly, they could become lifelong advocates for and supporters of your cause.
So how do you target them to contribute to your organization? Start by leveraging your nonprofit’s donor management software to find and segment out your Gen Zers. Once you have a list of your young supporters, create a dedicated marketing campaign that highlights things you know they’d be interested in. Consider making some small tweaks to the tone of your content to make it more fun, casual, and relatable.
Once you’ve started a conversation with your younger donors, begin exploring new initiatives for them, such as:
- Targeted monthly giving programs.
- Creative, socially-distant fundraising events at local universities.
- Town halls or information sessions to encourage conversation and generate buzz about your cause.
3. Revisit Your Corporate Partnerships
“Corporate social responsibility” (CSR) refers to the efforts companies make to do good beyond their for-profit activities. A few types of common CSR initiatives include environmental conservation, fair labor practices, supporting volunteer activity, and philanthropy.
COVID-19 has led to an increase in interest in CSR programs. This could be the perfect opportunity for you to dig into your corporate philanthropy strategy to seek out more support where you can. For example, you might want to consider:
- Promoting matching gift programs: Matching gift programs are available to many donors through the companies they work for, whether they know it or not. It’s wise to follow up after you receive a donation to prompt your donors to investigate whether they’re eligible for a matching gift from their corporation. According to Double the Donation’s fundraising statistics, between $4-$10 billion in matching gifts goes unclaimed each year. Don’t let your valuable gifts be a part of that stack!
- Exploring volunteer grant programs: Another corporate social responsibility program to promote is volunteer grants. Some corporations offer to donate a set amount of money to a nonprofit if the employee volunteers a certain number of hours. This would be especially useful to leverage with your regular volunteers, but your whole donor base would likely want to know, too.
- Reaching out to a business for a sponsorship: If you have an event or fundraiser coming up, why not reach out to a business for a sponsorship? When seeking a corporate sponsorship, it’s best to start with local businesses, as they’re likely to see the value in sponsoring an event in their own community. And of course, make sure their values align with your mission.
Corporate social responsibility is a valuable area to explore in your spring fundraising measures. No matter which programs you choose to promote, our GivingMail Guide to Marketing for Nonprofits will help you make the most of your campaigns.
4. Investing in AI-powered solutions
The sad truth is that some nonprofit organizations have likely had to downsize their teams at some point due to the crises inflicted by COVID-19. Many nonprofits have access to even fewer resources than they were accustomed to, and are having to make do with what they have.
Fortunately, in some circumstances, today’s technology—like Artificial Intelligence—can help bridge the gap between what you have and what you need. AI allows computers to think, act, and learn in a way usually associated with human beings. AI-powered tools can simplify, streamline, and enable data management that your nonprofit relies on to manage donor relationships. Some of the capabilities of intelligent software include:
- Sifting through donor information for segmentation purposes
- Providing insights into fundraising metrics and trends
- Predicting outcomes
- Automated data cleansing
- Sending fundraising appeals
With these tools, you can not only discover valuable information about your donor base, but leverage that information for future fundraising appeals—as we explain in this article. Including relevant details about your donors ensures that your appeals come across as personal and thoughtful, which makes a conversion that much more likely.
You can’t survive on the status quo.
It’s vital for fundraising institutions to keep up with the times, whether that means pursuing a younger demographic for support or implementing the latest technology to analyze vast amounts of data. Organizations that don’t keep up with new fundraising trends and developments risk falling out of touch with their donors, and we know that’s the last thing your nonprofit needs.
It’s important to keep up with popular communication methods in order to reach the most potential supporters. And of course, you’ll want all of the most advanced tools to keep track of those interactions with your donors. After all, donors are the ones that make the pursuit of your mission possible in the first place.
Implement some of these trends and you’re sure to keep up with your current donors and find entirely new pools of support. Good luck!
Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.