The vast majority of nonprofits have had to flip their fundraising plans upside down as a result of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines. Large-scale fundraising events are being cancelled, employees are beginning to work from home, and donor wallets are tightening due to a looming recession. Many nonprofits are worried about securing the funding needed to sustain daily operations and philanthropic projects.
However, this unprecedented time has also been a unique opportunity for nonprofits to refresh their fundraising strategies and integrate modern approaches into their plans. If that’s where you and your organization land, it’s important to make the most out of this time by finding ways for your team to be productive (and innovative!) in the midst of a crisis.1
Let’s walk through four of our favorite modern fundraising approaches, what they can bring to your nonprofit, and how to get started with each:
- Use text-to-give fundraising so that donors can give on-the-go.
- Employ peer-to-peer fundraising strategies to gain traction.
- Host virtual fundraising events to boost donor engagement.
- Incorporate individual outreach to personalize relationships.
Finding new ways to engage with your donors and secure fundraising revenue are essential for keeping your organization afloat in a time like this. Ready to get started? Let’s jump in!
1. Use text-to-give fundraising so that donors can give on-the-go.
If you’re looking for new and exciting ways to engage with your donors,2 especially younger donors, text giving might just be the perfect method. Text-to-give is a relatively new fundraising strategy that allows donors to give in seconds from any mobile device.3
In the last year, mobile giving has increased by over 50%,4 meaning if your nonprofit has yet to establish text fundraising practices, now is the time to do so! To get started with text-to-give fundraising, all you have to do is:
- Choose a text-to-give provider and receive a unique mobile giving number. Be sure to find the right service provider for your organization based on platform fees, features offered, and user-friendliness. Once you settle on a text-to-give service, they’ll provide you with your very own mobile giving number that you can start sharing with your donors.
- Set a particular keyword (or multiple) for donors to text. This is going to be the body of the message that your donors send to your specified mobile giving number. Be sure to pick something unique, relevant, and memorable to make the process easier on your donors, like give, gala, or your organization’s name!
- Promote your mobile giving number and keyword far and wide. Use social media, your website, emails, newsletters, and more to make sure every donor has access to your mobile giving campaign. The best part is you’re not limited by any geographic boundaries!
Text fundraising campaigns often grab donors’ attention because their phones are rarely out of reach, making donating very accessible. Plus, the donation process is incredibly simple, making it more likely donors will follow through to submission— while more complicated processes lead to donation form abandonment.
2. Employ peer-to-peer fundraising strategies to gain traction.
Organizing a peer-to-peer fundraiser is a great way to get the word out about your organization and raise money for a particular cause.5 After all, individuals are much more responsive to a request for donation from a friend or family member than that of a national organization.
By using social proof as a fundraising tool, you can appeal to donors because their friends and family are getting involved with the campaign, so they should too. In fact, over 47% of donors giving through a peer-to-peer campaign are first-time donors for that organization.6 That means it’s a great way to expand your donor network and reach new people.
When you’re ready to launch a peer-to-peer fundraiser, you’ll want to:
- Recruit supporters to become volunteer fundraisers. This can be a tough job, so it’s a good idea to focus on past donors who are already highly engaged with your organization and care deeply about your cause. Then pitch the idea to these supporters and see if they’re interested in taking the next step to become a fundraiser themselves.
- Equip individuals with the right peer-to-peer fundraising tools.7 Even once you’ve gathered your volunteer fundraisers, they won’t be able to accomplish much without the right tools. Be sure to provide fundraisers with your donation page, sample social media posts, and scripts to share with family and friends who may be interested!
- Encourage fundraisers to promote your campaign to friends and family. Now that you’ve set your fundraisers up for success, you watch and wait for the fundraising revenue to start coming in. During this time, it’s important to monitor each fundraiser’s progress and encourage those who may be struggling. Plus, you can employ some friendly competition between fundraisers to drive motivation.
Nonprofits everywhere are quickly moving their fundraisers to the virtual sphere, just like you are, which means there’s an increase in clutter you’ll have to break through to bring attention to your own fundraising campaigns. Luckily, unique peer-to-peer fundraising pages will stand out from the crowd!
3. Host virtual fundraising events to boost donor engagement.
In a time of social distancing, many donors will warmly welcome the opportunity to take part in an exciting virtual fundraiser. That’s why now is a great time to plan and host online events. After all, events are one of the most engaging types of fundraisers, making them a great way to boost virtual donor engagement and sustain relationships.8
To create a virtual fundraising event that your donors will really want to partake in, be sure to:
- Plan activities your supporters will want to take part in. Whether you decide to host an online auction, talent show, or gala, make sure it’s something that your particular audience will be interested in.
- Promote your event online and through social media. Get the word out through your online platforms so that donors everywhere know exactly how to get involved.
- Personally invite donors to participate in your online event. A personal invitation can go a long way, especially for donors who have been major contributors in the past. Make sure your top donors are aware of and excited about your virtual event!
- Encourage participants to register online.9 This way you’ll be able to plan for your audience more effectively, while also collecting participants’ contact information for future reference.
The possibilities for virtual events are essentially endless. You’re no longer limited by a choice of venue nor are attendees restricted by travel distance. You can even save money while hosting your event online and bringing in fundraising revenue at the same time.
4. Incorporate individual outreach to personalize relationships.
While social media and other digital marketing tools are great for nonprofits to raise awareness for their cause and even promote their own fundraisers, it’s important that you don’t forget the power of personal outreach. After all, a general request for donations is easier to ignore than an individual ask in your donor’s inbox.
There are many ways you can personally reach out to donors, including through a phone call, handwritten letter, or text message, but email is one of the easiest and most effective.
Here are four key steps to optimize your email outreach and personalize your relationships:
- Start building an email network. Be sure to collect email addresses at every possible avenue, including donation forms, event sign-ins, and virtual registration forms. Then store this information, along with other detailed information you have about each donor, within your CRM, or constituent relationship manager.
- Segment your audience. Using the information you collect about each of your donors, divide individuals into groups based on their similarities. For example, you might have different segments for first-time donors, repeat donors, those on a recurring schedule, and lapsed donors.
- Craft intriguing email messages. Lead into your email with a compelling message demonstrating the impact of the work your organization does. Consider telling a true story of a constituent whose life was changed so that donors can feel emotionally involved with the philanthropic success. Be sure to include imagery as well to illustrate your emails.
- Employ a clear call-to-action. End your message with a clear, compelling, and specific call-to-action so that donors know what the next step is. For example, you can send donors to your online donation page or include your text-to-give number.
Just because you can’t be physically close to your nonprofit supporters doesn’t mean your relationships should suffer. Instead, try implementing these strategies to strengthen donor engagement during this time.10
COVID-19 has resulted in an unpredictable year. But, as a nonprofit working to continuously support your community, it’s important to make note of the positives associated with the time as well. After all, it’s provided an opportunity for organizations to expand their virtual strategies and improve digital connectivity available to organizations.
Sometimes all you need to get started is the right fundraising software!11 During the move to largely-virtual fundraising practices, it’s important that your team is equipped with the necessary tools to ease the transition.
For more information on strategic fundraising practices within a pandemic and into the foreseeable future, check out the following resources:
John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations. Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.