28 Proven Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies That Will Help You Raise More

October 30, 2020
Rachel Clepper headshot
Rachel Clepper
Content Marketing Specialist, Neon One
28 Proven Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies That Will Help You Raise More

Without fundraising, your organization wouldn’t be able to stay up and running, further your causes, or help those that you serve.

In other words, fundraising is absolutely crucial to your success. Almost all nonprofit efforts tie into fundraising in some way.

But with the introduction of increasingly advanced technology, nonprofit fundraising is continuously changing. Many organizations aren’t sure how to navigate this ever-evolving landscape.

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of nearly 30 strategies that will help you rock your fundraising!

Use the navigation below to jump down to the categories your organization is most interested in, or read through the full blog to gain a more comprehensive look at nonprofit fundraising strategy.

Nonprofit Fundraising Best Practices

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

Before any fundraising campaign begins, you should set goals and track them with key performance indicators (also known as “KPIs”). KPIs give your organization a way to measure the performance of campaign-specific goals or long-term annual goals your nonprofit may have. 

Donor stewardship matters. Even small adjustments like sending thank you letters one day after receiving a donation compared to three days could be a lost-cost change with a high impact. Be sure that as a team, you have created organization-wide expectations for how and when you will be communicating with donors, whether they are one-time or recurring. 

Take advantage of the tools and technology that you have. If your technology is making things harder for you and your team, it may be time to evaluate a new solution. Whether you are tracking donations, organizing volunteers, or communicating with members, automation is key.

Lastly, no matter the strategy or channels that you choose to fundraise with, the most important part of your strategy is leading with authenticity in your messages and imagery. When you fundraise from the heart, you make the most impact. 

Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies by Channel 

There is no one “right” way to fundraise. When choosing how to make your fundraising ask, deciding which channel or channels you want to use is one of the first questions you should answer. 

Each channel has different pros and cons for every campaign that you plan, and many fundraisers take a multi-channel approach. We suggest utilizing several fundraising channels for every campaign, whether it be optimizing your donation form to match your email outreach or leading with a social media campaign and a corresponding social advertisement. 

No matter what you choose, don’t forget to consider your target audience and resources available to put that plan into action. Now, let’s dig into these awesome fundraising strategies!

Website Fundraising Strategies

Your nonprofit’s website is the cornerstone of your digital fundraising efforts. It’s how many supporters will first come into contact with you, and it’s where the majority of them will give online. 

That being the case, it couldn’t be more critical to optimize your website. By doing so, you’ll be able to raise more now and consistently engage your donors to help you raise more down the line. Here’s how to do it: 

  1. Ensure your website is up-to-date. Keeping your website up-to-date is essential from both a design and user-experience standpoint. 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 sure your “donate now” button stands out. If you want your supporters to donate online (and we’re guessing you do), you have to let them know how to do it! Placing your “Donate Now” button in a visible spot on every page of your website will make it easier for your donors to give.

Design Tip: Keep it 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.

  1. Tell your story. One of the main reasons donors give to organizations is that they feel personally moved by the cause. Telling your organization’s story on your website emphasizes both your specific cause and philanthropy in general. Remember to keep your story as donor-centric as possible; you should be emphasizing how your donors have and will continue to advance your cause.
  2. Include a “More Ways to Give” page. Including a “More Ways to Give” page will let browsers know about alternative ways to contribute and will give them the information they need to get involved. When your donors can choose their own involvement, there’s a greater chance that they’ll support you.
  1. Make it mobile-responsive. Around 60% of users arrive at websites from their mobile devices. Your website should be mobile-responsive to provide the best experience for all browsers (including those on smartphones and tablets). If your website isn’t mobile-responsive, you could be missing out on donations from about 60% of your base! 

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. Of course, the best way to make sure that your website is mobile-responsive is to view it on your smartphone or tablet.

Online Donation Form Strategies

Your online donation form is the key player when it comes to facilitating online donations. It’s where donors will actually be submitting their contributions; that’s why it’s important to optimize your form. 

When your form is user-friendly and accessible, your donors will be far more likely to give to your organization, and you’ll see higher digital retention and conversion rates. That means improved nonprofit fundraising results both now and in the future!

  1. Brand your form to your organization. The design of your online donation form should mirror the look and feel of your website. You can do this by using the same font, colors, imagery, and language as those included on your website. And don’t forget to include your logo. 
  2. Use a unique form for each campaign. Each of your nonprofit fundraising campaigns have unique goals. Using separate online donation forms creates a more apparent distinction between projects and allows donors to give within the context of a certain campaign more easily. When there’s a clearer distinction, your donors will be more motivated to give to multiple campaigns. 
  3. Include emotionally-compelling images. Including emotionally-compelling images is a relatively simple and highly effective way to make your online donation forms more impactful. On a purely aesthetic level, pictures make your forms more visually appealing. More importantly, their emotional nature can move donors with your cause 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 or created. You should stick to one image per form to make the most impact. 

  1. Keep your form minimal. Having to fill out a long or complicated form can deter donors from actually giving. Keeping your form as minimal as possible will make it much more convenient for donors, which is a huge driving factor when it comes to whether or not they’ll donate. 
  2. Include multiple giving levels. By presenting donors with multiple giving levels, your online donation forms will subtly influence larger gifts. Many donors aren’t sure how much they’re expected to give, so being presented with options can make them more confident about donating.
  3. Encourage recurring donations. Recurring givers are some of the most valuable donors for nonprofits. They give far more over the span of their relationship with your organization than one-time donors ever could. By emphasizing recurring giving on your donation form and making it easy for donors to get set up with this option, you should see a greater number of recurring donors. 

Email Fundraising Strategies

Email is one of the primary digital outreach channels that nonprofits use to keep up with their donors. Organizations use emails for many things, including asking for donations, of course.

In fact, about 1/3 of online gifts are made as a result of email marketing. 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 our tips to learn how you can make your email outreach as compelling as possible and see better fundraising results!

  1. Split-test subject lines. Your subject lines are the first thing that donors spot 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), which allows your organization to send multiple versions of the same email to different recipients to gauge which subjects perform best.
  1. 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.
  2. Keep it short. Keeping your emails between 150-250 words creates the best chance that donors will read the entirety of your emails and make it to the ask.

Design Tip: 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.

  1. Engage before asking. Your organization should be varying your email outreach, not just “ask” emails. It’s important to make relationship-building the overall focus of your outreach. 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 relationships. 
  2. 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 be sending the most relevant content to each supporter for the greatest chance of engaging them.

Tech Tip: Segmenting your list is much simpler with the help of the right software. Robust CRMs with email marketing features should let you split up your donor list based on any of the information fields included in the platform. 

  1. Match emails to your donation page. Consistency is key to getting your donors to trust you. Matching up your emails with your donation pages never leaves any doubt in donors’ minds about who they’re communicating with.
  2. Follow up properly. Email is the most common digital channel that nonprofits use to follow up with their donors, especially those that give online! The proper follow up will include both a thank you and a donation receipt. 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 (e.g., more donations!).

Tech Tip: If you’re using a CRM with email marketing features, you can set your software to automate receipts and thank yous once donors submit a gift online. You should still follow up with donors by sending out a more personalized thanks, but at the very least, you’ll be able to ensure that no donations go unacknowledged.

Social Media Fundraising Strategies

Social media has quickly become one of the most popular communication channels and can be an excellent outreach channel for nonprofits.

If you play your cards right, social media can help your organization raise a lot of money in a short amount of time and expand your reach significantly. All it takes is a concerted effort to engage your supporters and an openness to trying out new nonprofit fundraising trends.

Check out some of our strategies to see how you can make the most out of your social media presence to win more donations.

  1. Set aside 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 a minimum of 15 minutes per day for each site ensures you’ll be able to maintain your pages and keep up with your social media followers.
  2. Run a peer-to-peer campaign. Peer-to-peer has become all of the rage in nonprofit fundraising, and for a good reason. During peer-to-peer campaigns, nonprofits mobilize their supporters to ask for donations on their behalf, most commonly over social media. It’s an effective strategy because it can help you reach a fundraising goal more quickly and grow your network exponentially. 
  1. Add a “Donate Now” button to your FB page. Adding a “Donate Now” button will make giving through Facebook much more convenient for your followers. Any organization has the option to add a “Donate Now” button to their page. All that’s required is that your organization’s page is classified as a nonprofit. 
  2. Participate in #GivingTuesday. #GivingTuesday is a fundraising event most are familiar with and takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. #GivingTuesday challenges your donors to meet a fundraising goal in 24 hours, benefiting many year-end campaigns.
  1. Include social buttons on your website and in email. Incorporating social sharing buttons into your website and email donation confirmations encourages donors to share their contributions, which will naturally expand your base!
  2. 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. By recruiting social influencers, you’ll be able to create a more consistent and varied social media presence and provide more trust in your organization. 

Advertising Strategies

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 and work.

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. 

  1. Take advantage of online 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. 
  2. 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 is placed on their browsers. Once they leave your site, this piece of script is read by a retargeting platform that will display ads based on the pages they visited on your site.
  3. Consider investing in FB ads. Using Facebook is an inexpensive way for your organization to run targeted ads. You can segment your followers into different lists based on location, interests, demographics, or other data points. Facebook ads allow your organization to target your supporters’ interests better and send them the most relevant content that’s most likely to engage.
  1. Advertise online fundraising in offline outreach. To make the most out of your fundraising, 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.

As we said above, fundraising is absolutely critical to your success as a nonprofit. We hope that you learned some new tips to try out to improve this for your upcoming nonprofit fundraising campaign.

Put your new fundraising strategies into action. See how Neon One’s fundraising software can help your organization.

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