6 Tips For Non Profits to Do Better Online Fundraising

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Published: May 24, 2022

Anyone who has worked at a nonprofit knows that fundraising is hard. With everything a non-profit staff must manage, it’s easy to forget some of the regular engagement tactics that we can implement online. These tips will help engage donors, increase return on investment, and generally help power your mission.

  • Tip 1: Personalize Interactions with your donors.
  • Tip 2: Set up automated reminders and follow-ups for recuring and additional donations.
  • Tip 3: Ask your donors to help hover processing and admin fees.
  • Tip 4: Utilize technology to upgrade your donors to more engaged peer-to-peer fundraisers.
  • Tip 5: Ask your donors if their workplace has a matching gift initiative, then use technology to do the legwork.
  • Tip 6: Leverage technology to automate your workflow.

Let’s take a look at each of these items.

Tip 1: Personalize Interactions with your donors.

The single most important metric when tracking donors is the first-time donor retention rate. Depending on how much money (in time or actual cost) you spend acquiring a donor, it’s possible that one-time donors actually leave your organization with a loss. Retaining existing donors is significantly less expensive than acquiring new ones. So, make sure you provide an easy pathway for second gifts.

The best way to retain existing donors month after month, or year after year, is to develop a deeper relationship with them. One way to do that is by personalizing every interaction.

Here are some ideas to personalize your interactions with your donors:

  • Use merge tags to refer to them by name. In every email, greeting, mailer, or meet-up you should engage with them by name.
  • Create specific donor segments and send separate newsletters to each segment. Once you understand why your donor gave in the first place, you can create engaging content that speaks directly to them for a second and third (fourth/fifth…) donation. Each message to that donor should be specific to their segment group.
  • Include donor-specific details in your communications. Proper donor management software plays a huge role in maintaining and communicating donor engagement. If someone in your organization met with a donor, follow up with thank you for that meeting. If your donor attended an event, thank them for coming and refer to that specific event. If they gave a specific amount, make sure the thank-you note includes the specific amount.

Each donor will have different information associated with them, and their profile will evolve as they become more and more a part of your organization. Leverage as much as you can in each interaction and learn more with every engagement.

Tip 2: Set up automated reminders and follow-ups for recuring and additional donations.

Most organizations use some sort of online donation form as a way of collecting donations. These forms capture significant and useful information. Leverage the data you collect to create automated reminders and follow-ups. In the business world, this is called drip marketing, or drip campaigning. By automating simple follow-ups it’s possible to keep your donors engaged and informed.

A couple of simple automated messages might include:

  • An ask to change their one-time donation to a recurring donation. Maybe instead of giving one $50 donation, your donor might like to give $50 monthly. Another option is to split their one-time donation into smaller recurring monthly donations. One $100 donation could become a $10/month donation that lasts for a year or more.
  • If a donor makes a donation in response to a specific ask, make sure to automatically email that donor when the ask comes around again.
  • Recurring events are perfect opportunities for engaging donors. Make sure your entire guest list from the previous event is saved and is specifically invited to the next event.

Tip 3: Ask your donors to help hover processing and admin fees.

Unfortunately, processing and admin fees are part of the online donation game, and they take a significant amount out of the donation. Ensuring your donation forms have an option to cover these fees will mean your organization collects the full amount. Typically these fees are around 4% which can add up with hundreds of donations every year, but asking a donor to turn a $100 donation into a $104 donation is a fairly small ask, especially because they know exactly what it’s going toward.

Tip 4: Utilize technology to upgrade your donors to more engaged peer-to-peer fundraisers.

Fundraising events are important for any non-profit. They provide a way to get to know donors personally and provide a venue to ask for larger amounts without the awkwardness of a cold ask. But, getting people to take part in these events can be a task by itself. This is where your donors come in. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns offer a couple of opportunities:

  • Let your supporters create their own fundraising pages and raise money on behalf of your organization. This lets your team focus on the event itself and lightens the load of event promotion.
  • Provide your supporters with tools that can help them promote the event on your behalf. This might be an event registration confirmation page that asks them to provide a few email addresses. Or, give them 2 free tickets that they can gift to their network of friends. You could also offer tickets in groups of 3 or 5 at discounted prices to get more people in the door.
  • Confirmation emails and event follow-ups are useful as well. Slowly provide your supporter with information about your event, and ask them to forward those emails to their network.
  • Referral campaigns can be a useful marketing tool even for non-profits. Maybe they get free raffle tickets for each person they bring to the event.

Tip 5: Ask your donors if their workplace has a matching gift initiative, then use technology to do the legwork.

Many larger companies offer matching donations to organizations that their employees support. This makes a huge difference because it can often double a donation. Many donors, however, are unaware of these programs, but we can help. In your donation form ask for the contact information of their employer (and be clear about what you’re going to use it for), then automatically follow up with that employer asking about matching gift programs.

If you have a large donor base it might also be useful to create a matching gift database that allows your donors to select their employer from a dropdown during the giving process.

Tip 6: Leverage technology to automate your workflow.

Much of the work of development teams is follow-up. This process can be incredibly time-consuming, but there is hope in technology. Many of the basic steps in donor follow-up can be automated. In order to create automated followups and marketing tools, it’s important to identify your ideal donor pathways. Then identify the type of engagement required for each step.

For example, you might know that you want all of your $100 or fewer donors to be upgraded to the $100-$250 level. To do this you might automate a recurring donation ask that gets sent 1 or 2 weeks after their initial donation.

In another example, you might want to invite all of your mid-level donors to engage their network. Creating automatic email campaigns and specific landing pages can make the ask as easy as forwarding an email or posting a link on their social media profiles.

All receipts, thanks yous, and event reminders should be automated, but make sure you are directly engaging your donors. Refer to them by name, and reference their interests. The point is, even though your follow-ups are automated they should still be personal.

It’s important to engage with your donors where they are in the donor lifecycle. Too large of an ask too quickly can sour the deal, but just as important, not asking enough means you are leaving money (or opportunity) on the table.

Maximize your engagement by being specific with your donors. Make sure you and your team understand why they give and create specific pathways to upgrade them to more engaged members of your organization.