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35 Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies to Help You Raise More

21 min read
August 12, 2022
Rachel Clepper headshot
Rachel Clepper
Content Marketing Specialist, Neon One

A diverse and holistic fundraising strategy is crucial to a nonprofit’s success. Whether you are fully dependent on donations or utilize a variety of revenue sources like government grants, corporate partnerships, major contributions, or membership fees, successful fundraising is key to maximizing your impact on your mission.

But with so many elements to modern fundraising—online and offline—it can be tough to keep up. That’s why we’re starting with the basics and sharing nonprofit best practices that cover the most important elements of your fundraising strategy. Keep reading for an overview or use the links below to skip to the topic where you need the most help.

Nonprofit Fundraising Best Practices

Two women stand a large whiteboard in a conference room mapping out a project together
Two women stand a large whiteboard in a conference room mapping out a project together

Before we dig into fundraising strategies by channel, it’s important to set a few reminders for nonprofit fundraising best practices.

1. Track Performance Using KPIs

Before any fundraising campaign begins, you should set goals and track them with key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs give your organization a way to measure the success of campaign-specific goals and your nonprofit’s long term goals. 

Common examples of nonprofit KPIs include average donation size, number of recurring or repeat donors, new donor acquisition rate, and donor attrition rate. Depending on your organization’s focus you can track event registrants, number of third-party donors, and the number of peer-to-peer fundraisers.

2. Prioritize Donor Stewardship

Donor stewardship is the practice of building strong, long-lasting relationships with your donors. Any good stewardship plan involves consistent and strategic engagement with your donors through a number of channels and with a variety of touchpoints.

For example, you don’t want to only reach out when you’re making an ask. Be sure to share impact stories, campaign progress, and program updates to keep your community in the know. Creating organic channels of communication versus a one-sided slew of asks is how you turn a first-time donor into a long-term supporter. 

Even small adjustments like sending a thankyou the day after a donation versus three days later can have a great impact. Above all, be sure that, as a team, you have created organization-wide expectations for how often and when you will be communicating with donors so that everyone knows it’s a priority.

3. Use Technology to Automate Processes

Take advantage of the tools and technology that you have—especially those that are built specifically to handle fundraising for nonprofits. Whether you are tracking donations, organizing volunteers, or communicating with members, automation is key. The more you can automate tasks like email sends, donation receipts, and event registrations, the more bandwidth your team will have to focus on donor stewardship.

Conversely, if the technology your nonprofit’s using is actually making things harder for your team, it may be time to evaluate a new solution. Many nonprofits start out by tracking donors in an Excel spreadsheet. Eventually, though, they’ll grow to a size where they need something better: They need a nonprofit CRM

Neon CRM has helped many nonprofits transition from simple spreadsheets to a robust donor management system. Check out the story of our work with the Chicago Repertory Ballet to learn more!

4. Be Authentic

No matter which channels you’re using, you have to lead with authenticity in your messages and imagery. When you speak from the heart, you make the most impact. 

Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies by Channel 

There is no one right way to fundraise for your nonprofit. When choosing how to make your fundraising ask, one of the first questions you should answer is which channels you’re going to use. 

Each channel has different pros and cons and many fundraisers take a multi-channel approach. We suggest using several channels for each campaign and ensuring your platforms are all updated so that you have a cohesive brand. This could be updating your donation form to match your email ask or leading with a social media campaign and a corresponding social advertisement. 

Don’t forget: Different types of donors often prefer different kinds of channels. An older donor might prefer direct mail, while a younger donor might prefer a text from a fellow supporter with a link to your donation form. The best way to know which donors prefer which channels is to leverage your existing donor data to create separate donor segments.

No matter what you choose, don’t forget to consider your target audiences and resources available to put that plan into action.

Neon One Tip: To help users get started with donor segmentation, Neon CRM comes with built-in donor segments for at-risk and lapsed donors in the “Saved Reports” section.

Learn More About Neon CRM

Website Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies

The homepage for a nature conservation nonprofit featuring the image of a woman sitting cross-legged in the woods and staring up happily at the trees above her.
The homepage for a nature conservation nonprofit featuring the image of a woman sitting cross-legged in the woods and staring up happily at the trees above her.

Your nonprofit’s website is the cornerstone of your digital fundraising efforts. It’s where many supporters will first come into contact with you, and it’s where people will make a donation. Follow these tips to maximize the potential of every site visit.

1. Update Your Website

It sounds simple, because it is! Keep your website up to date with your most relevant information, recent photos from the field, and program highlights. Make sure your mission statement, about us page, and user experience are optimized so that users can easily find what they’re looking for. An up-to-date website will establish greater credibility with your donors and extend their site visits, both of which result in more online donations.

2. Make Your “Donate Now” Button Stand Out

If you want visitors to donate, then you have to make it easy for them! Place your “Donate Now” button in a visible spot on every page of your website to make it easier for your donors to give.

Keep your donate button above the fold (the part of the page that’s visible when it loads) so that users don’t have to scroll to find it. Use a standout color that really sets your button apart from the rest of your content, and make sure that your language is clear, concise, and actionable.

3. Tell Your Nonprofit’s Story

The main reason donors give to organizations is that they feel a personal connection to the cause. One of the best ways to share your story with supporters is to include it on your website. Remember to keep your story focused on your beneficiaries and how donors make your work possible.

4. Promote Volunteer Options

Including non-financial ways to support your nonprofit lets visitors know about alternative ways to contribute ( volunteering, in-kind donations, attending events) and will give them the information they need to get involved. When people can choose how they get involved, there’s a greater chance that they’ll support you.

5. Make It Mobile-Responsive

With 60% of users on mobile, your website should be mobile-responsive to provide the best experience for all browsers. If your website isn’t mobile-responsive, you could be missing out on donations from more than half of your users!

Design Tip: If your donors have to pinch, swipe, and zoom to view your pages, they’ll be far less likely to submit donations. Use a vertical, one-column layout and a large, easy-to-read font (sans-serif fonts look best on screens) to optimize your website for mobile. The best way to make sure that your website is mobile-responsive is to view it on your smartphone or tablet.

6. Make Your Website Accessible

You want your nonprofit’s website and content to be accessible to everyone, and that means removing potential barriers that a person with disabilities might encounter. There are so many different factors to website accessibility that we can’t begin to scratch the surface here. For an overview of the basics, check out our blog post on creating an accessible donor experience online

Online Donation Form Strategies

donation form best practice: a section where you can write an appeal to donation page visitors
donation form best practice: a section where you can write an appeal to donation page visitors

Your online donation form is the key player when it comes to facilitating online donations. When your donation form is user-friendly and accessible, your donors will be far more likely to give to your organization. You’ll then see higher digital retention and conversion rates. That means improved nonprofit fundraising results both now and in the future.

7. Brand Your Donation Form

The design of your online donation form should mirror the look and feel of your website. When branding a form, you should use the same font, colors, imagery, and language included on your website. And don’t forget to include your logo. An unbranded form can reduce a donor’s confidence in the security of their data—especially if they’re visiting the form directly from an email or social link.

8. Use Unique Forms for Each Campaign

Each of your nonprofit fundraising campaigns have unique goals and appeals. Creating individualized online donation forms for each of your campaigns allows you to better target your intended donor segments, tailor your appeals, and increase your conversion rates.  In Neon CRM, users can create an unlimited number of donation forms, which is great for creating individualized forms specific to each campaign.

9. Include Compelling Images

Including compelling images that evoke emotion is a simple but effective way to make your forms more impactful. On a purely aesthetic level, photos make your forms more visually appealing, but their emotional impact can move donors and convince them to give.

Design Tip: The most captivating images will be original to your organization, so try only to include photos that either one of your staff or your constituents have personally taken.

10. Keep Your Donation Form Minimal

A long or complicated form can prevent donors from completing their donation, so keep your form as simple as possible while still collecting the information you need. Similar to having a mobile-optimized site, you want to provide a convenient giving experience where someone can provide their information, make a gift, and even share your campaign in just a few clicks!

Neon CRM’s donation form is a 3-step process that uses visually shorter forms to increase conversion rates. Check out the following resources to learn more about donation form best practices:

11. Provide Suggested Donation Amounts

Including a range of suggested gift sizes can help encourage a larger donation. Many donors aren’t sure how much they’re expected to give, so being presented with options can make them more confident about donating. But make sure to always include an option for the donor to choose their own donation amount.

12. Offer Several Payment Method Options

Many donors will want to pay with their credit card, but  tech-savvy donors want to use mobile wallet options like Google Pay and Apple Pay (both of which come standard with Neon Pay). Mobile wallet offers the most convenient experience for donors because they can give anywhere, anytime. Others might prefer to use their PayPal account for donations, so make sure to have several options, including a few that don’t require them to type in their credit card information. This can help remove a barrier to entry and increase your donation form conversion rate.  

13. Encourage Recurring Donations

Recurring givers are some of the most valuable donors for nonprofits. They give more over the span of their relationship with your organization than the average one-time donor. Make sure to encourage donors to sign up for recurring gifts by including the option on your donation form and adding an impact statement specific to how those sustainable gifts allow your organization to allocate funds. 

To encourage recurring gifts, Neon CRM donation forms included the option to highlight “monthly giving” as the default gift type, including pre-filled suggested giving amounts. Research has found that having the monthly gift tab highlighted as the default increased recurring donor conversion by 366%! 

With Neon CRM, you can easily build your own donation forms that come with best practices built in. Our drag and drop form builder uses modern, branded templates and a clean, multi-step process to help you capture more donations. To learn more about how Neon CRM can help your nonprofit grow, schedule a demo today!

Schedule a Neon CRM Demo

Email Fundraising Strategies

A woman's hands type on an Apple laptop.
A woman’s hands type on an Apple laptop.

Email is one of the primary channels that nonprofits use to keep up with their donors. Organizations use emails for sending program updates, newsletters, volunteer opportunities, campaign progress updates, and of course, sending appeals. 

However, since donors have to leave their email and visit your website to submit a donation, convincing them to give over email definitely takes a bit of strategy.

Read on to learn how you can write more engaging emails that result in more donations.  

14. Split Test Subject Lines

Your subject lines are the first thing that donors see when they receive your emails. Achieving the highest email open rates with attention-grabbing subject lines means getting more donors to read your content. The best way to test your subject lines’ efficacy is by running split testing (or A/B testing). This allows your organization to send multiple versions of the same email to different recipients to gauge which performs best.

15. Be Direct

Your donors are busy people, and chances are, they’re constantly flooded with emails. Being direct in your emails makes your donation asks more explicit. When donors know exactly what you’re requesting, they’ll be more likely to help.

16. Focus on Individual Stories

It might be tempting to tout the wide-ranging impact that your nonprofit has on the community. But research shows that it’s far more effective to describe the positive impact to a single person. This is called the identifiable victim effect. Focus on how your nonprofit has positively impacted the life of a single client (or composite character) and it will help donors understand the difference they can make by giving.

17. Keep It Short

Keeping your emails brief and to the point ensures that they’ll read the entire email and make it to the ask. Aim for two to four concise paragraphs that focus on sharing impact statements, creating a sense of urgency, showing gratitude for their previous gifts, and a clear call to action.

Design Tip: When formatting, try to make your messages as scannable as possible; avoid using big blocks of text and bold the points that you want to highlight most.

18. Engage Before Asking

Remember when we talked about donor stewardship and how you should reach out with messaging other than appeals? We’re bringing it up again because it’s just that important. Your team should make relationship building the overall focus of your outreach, with appeals as your secondary focus. Sharing content through email is an excellent way to give back to your donors by providing them something valuable and to start (or keep) building those connections.

19. Segment Your List

Segmenting your list simply refers to splitting your email list into smaller groups based on certain criteria. By doing so, you can ensure that your organization will always send the most relevant content for the greatest chance of engagement. Most nonprofit CRMS come with features that help you build audience segments.

20. Build Trust Through Consistency

Email inboxes are a favorite target for online scammers and identity thieves. If you aren’t consistent with your campaign’s messaging and imagery across each step of the donation process, you could leave donors thinking your emails are part of a “phishing” scheme to steal their credit card info. Make sure that your emails and your donation pages have consistent messaging, imagery, and branding; it will help put your donors’ minds at ease and build trust in your nonprofit.

21. Follow up Properly

A proper follow-up to a donation will include an immediate confirmation and receipt and a personalized thank you. Providing a receipt lets them know you’ve received their donations, and acknowledging their gifts makes them feel appreciated, both of which lead to higher retention rates.

Neon CRM allows you to automate receipts and thank you emails once donors submit a gift online. For large gifts you should send another form of outreach like a phone call or direct mail. 

22. Ask for a Small Favor

The Benjamin Franklin effect describes how people have a more positive attitude towards someone after having helped them. After someone has made a donation, use your thank you message to ask a small favor of them like sharing that they donated on social media or filling out a brief survey. Over time, these small favors will add up and help your nonprofit further its larger organizational goals. 

Social Media Fundraising Strategies

A man has a twitter profile page open on his laptop while he also scrolls through open apps on his smartphone.
A man has a twitter profile page open on his laptop while he also scrolls through open apps on his smartphone.

Social media has quickly become one of the most popular ways for people and organizations to connect with one another, and it can be an excellent outreach channel for nonprofits.

When used strategically, social media can help your organization raise money and expand your reach in a short amount of time.. All it takes is a concerted effort to engage your supporters and patience to try different types of content to see what your audience connects with. 

Check out some of our tips to see how you can make the most out of your social media presence.

23. Spend 15 Minutes per Day per Platform

It can be hard to keep up with your organization’s social media pages, especially when you have a million other efforts running simultaneously. Setting aside at least 15 minutes per day for each site ensures you’ll be able to maintain your pages, reply to comments and messages, and engage with followers.

24. Run a Peer-to-Peer Campaign

Peer-to-peer campaigns allow nonprofits to mobilize their supporters to ask for donations on their behalf, often over social media. It’s an effective strategy because it can help you reach a fundraising goal more quickly and grow your network exponentially.

25. Add a “Donate Now” Button to Your Facebook Page

Adding a “Donate Now” button will make giving through Facebook much more convenient for your followers. In 2022, however, Facebook changed their policy regarding “Donate Now” buttons. Currently, organizations can only use a “Donate Now” button that uses Facebook’s in-platform donation tools. If you want to link to an external page—like your nonprofit’s own donation form—the button on your organization’s Facebook page will have to read “Learn More.” The ease of giving through Facebook for your supporters might be worth the hassle of accepting donations through an outside platform. While the “Donate Now” button isn’t as useful as it once was, it’s still an avenue for your nonprofit to consider.

26. Use Video (With Captions)

Video is a powerful tool in the nonprofit fundraisers toolbox, and it works especially well on social media. Make your video short (approximately a minute) and remember to use captions. Most people watch videos with the sound off when viewing on social media apps and captions will make sure that your message still gets through. Make sure that you also include a clear call-to-action at the end of your video telling people how they can get involved.

27. Participate in GivingTuesday

GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that takes place every year on the Tuesday after Black Friday. In 2022, GivingTuesday falls on Tuesday, November 29. The event challenges your donors to meet a fundraising goal in 24 hours, and often kicks off year-end campaigns. If you’d like some help launching your GivingTuesday 2022 fundraising campaign, check out Neon One’s GivingTuesday Resource Center by clicking the image below.

28. Include Social Share Buttons on Your Website and Emails

By incorporating social sharing buttons into your website and email donation confirmations, you encourage donors to share their contributions, which will naturally expand your base!

29. Recruit Social Influencers

Social influencers are people outside of your organization who have a prominent social media presence and post positive messages about your organization. When you recruit social influencers, you’ll be able to create a more consistent and varied social media presence and provide more trust in your organization.

Nonprofit Advertising Strategies

A cab speeds by a jumble of large billboards in Times Square, New York City, advertising several Broadway shows and a host of other products.
A cab speeds by a jumble of large billboards in Times Square, New York City, advertising several Broadway shows and a host of other products.

While advertising isn’t a nonprofit fundraising strategy in and of itself, strong advertising can do wonders for your fundraising success. Advertising allows you to get the word out about your campaigns and events, which raises more awareness of your cause.

By running advertising campaigns, you’ll reach more donors and keep engaging existing ones to see better fundraising results all around.

Keep reading to learn some excellent advertising strategies that are sure to help your organization gain more exposure. 

30. Use Google Ad Grants

With Google Ads, eligible nonprofits can qualify for up to $10,000 a month in grants for search ads. Google Ads allow you to target specific search phrases and pay to have your organization’s ad displayed at the top of that phrase’s search results. Google Ads can be a great way to increase your nonprofit’s online presence—-and did we mention these grants mean that it’s effectively free? Once you’ve set up your Google Ads account and campaigns, check out this Q&A on Google Ads for nonprofits for tips on how to run your campaigns effectively. 

31.Take Advantage of Affiliate Programs

Many websites have affiliate programs in place, where a website will donate a portion of their profits to your organization in exchange for advertising their services or research. Each program’s format will vary, but your organization generally won’t have to do much beyond searching the web or shop online like you normally do.

32. Explore Ad Retargeting

Ad retargeting allows your organization to show targeted advertisements to people who have visited your website. When visitors land on your site, an invisible piece of script (also known as a “cookie”) is placed on their browsers. Once they leave your site, this piece of script is read by a retargeting platform that displays ads based on the pages they visited previously.

33. Consider Investing in Facebook Ads

Using Facebook can be an inexpensive way for your organization to run targeted ads. You can segment your followers into different lists based on certain criteria like location and interests. Facebook has additional restrictions for ads that relate to certain categories of information including “Social Issues” and “Political Issues” Facebook ads that fall under these categories will see restrictions like less specific geographic targets and an inability to restrict any groups from seeing your ads. Even with these restrictions, Facebook ads could be a good way to raise your nonprofit’s profile and market your services.

34. Expand Your Offline Outreach

To make the most out of your fundraising campaign, you should establish a cohesive, multi-channel outreach strategy. All of your donors have different outreach preferences, so it’s important to connect your offline and online advertising as much as possible. In fact, about 35% of donors who receive direct mail asks choose to follow up by giving online.

35. Use QR Codes

QR codes became a lot more popular during the pandemic, and they can be a great way for your nonprofit to easily shepherd offline donors to your online donation pages. Your nonprofit can produce QR codes that store your organization’s website or donation page; when someone scans the QR code using the camera function on their smartphone, the code will open that page on their phone. Neon CRM has a feature that allows users to instantly generate a custom QR code in their system.

Strategic Fundraising Helps Your Nonprofit Raise More

We’ve covered fundraising strategies that extend to your website, email, social media channels, donation forms, and advertisements. We hope that you learned some new tips to try out to improve this for your upcoming nonprofit fundraising campaign.

Putting your new fundraising strategies into action is going to require a lot of hard work. But if you have a powerful, easy-to-use nonprofit CRM, it can save you boatloads of time and effort. Neon CRM has tools to let you build your own donation forms, collect and analyze donor data, and automate functions like emails, receipts, and event registrations. It will help you increase your giving, excite your supporters, and take your mission to new heights. 

See how Neon CRM can help your organization today by scheduling a free demo.

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