August 19, 2018

5 Successful Fundraising Strategies: A Year in Review

The past year was a productive one for fundraising. With technology always changing the way we accept donations and spread the word about our fundraising efforts, we didn’t slow down all year.

But right now, it’s time to take a breath. So finish your annual fund campaign thank-you letters, update your followers with your year-end fundraising statistics, and reflect on the past year.

We can learn a lot from looking back — not just about where we’ve been, but how we got there and where we’re headed next.

 

Here are five remarkably successful fundraising strategies that paid off in the last year:

  1. Integrating fundraising software.
  2. Launching crowdfunding campaigns.
  3. Enabling mobile giving.
  4. Hiring a fundraising consultant.
  5. Getting creative with corporate giving.

Ready to take a trip down memory lane to get inspired for the next year’s fundraising efforts? Let’s go!

1. Integrating fundraising software.

The more isn’t always the merrier. In the past, nonprofits have loaded up on too many software solutions at once because they all offered something different.

Of course, running your nonprofit becomes difficult if different aspects of your daily operations don’t work together. For example, if your CRM doesn’t integrate with your event management software, which won’t connect with your marketing software, then it’s hard to send invitations for your next event to your major donors.

Last year was the year that nonprofit software companies and nonprofits both moved significantly toward integration and consolidation when developing and purchasing fundraising software.

If you’re thinking you need to jump on this strategy for this year, here are some common features you should decide if you need before purchasing all-in-one software:

  • Event management: Do you host lots of events, and how many guests typically attend? Do you need a way to register your guests and sell tickets? Do you want to implement mobile bidding at events?
  • Donations: Do you need mobile donation forms? Will you need an included payment processor, or is a third-party service like PayPal okay?
  • Donor management: What kind of information do you need to store about your donors? Can you customize forms where they input that information themselves? Can you segment and group your supporter base?

Chances are, you won’t need some of these features. Make sure you figure out what you actually do need before you start looking. Your budget will thank you!

Takeaway: By implementing more all-inclusive software solutions, nonprofits have been able to streamline their fundraising strategy. Be discerning when looking at features you want for your own all-in-one solution!

Social media use continues to become more widespread with every that year passes. Nonprofits have always known that one-time social media pushes like #GivingTuesday pay off, but how else could they harness the power of social media on a more regular basis?

One form of fundraising that thrives on social media is crowdfunding.

There are many explanations for crowdfunding and social media’s love affair:

  • Reach: Crowdfunding usually draws lots of small donations instead of a few large donations. Social media is one of the easiest ways to get the message out to as many people as possible, even people you don’t have direct contact information for.
  • Design: Crowdfunding campaigns are typically hosted on one central website. Well-designed crowdfunding websites with videos and “share now” buttons make it easy and attractive for social media users, which encourages sharing.
  • Content: There’s nothing social media users love more than a good story that they can get invested in. Most successful crowdfunding campaigns are highly personal, with emotional stories behind them.

To see how reach, design, and content work together to create an outstanding, social-friendly crowdfunding campaign page, head over to Fundly’s top 20 successful crowdfunding campaigns that met or exceeded their goals!

The power of crowdfunding is obvious during times of widespread political activism and disaster relief — both of which we saw plenty of last year. But it doesn’t take a national movement to make a crowdfunding campaign work.

Whatever cause you’re supporting, it might be time to give crowdfunding a try this year. Take a look at your supporters’ social networks to see if your organization could feasibly sustain this type of campaign.

Takeaway: Crowdfunding is a highly successful form of fundraising in the social media age. Take a page from highly successful crowdfunding campaigns to see how you should organize your own!

3. Enabling mobile giving.

Smartphones have only become more popular every year, and that trend is unlikely to slow down soon. They’re so widespread that we’re now banking, making grocery lists, and storing our boarding passes on our mobile devices. It seems like everything is moving to mobile.

In response, nonprofits have become better at leveraging this smartphone ubiquity in their fundraising efforts by implementing mobile giving.

It might not seem like mobile giving would be any different than online giving — or mailing in a check, for that matter. The donations all end up in the same place, right?

But mobile giving is highly successful, for a few key reasons:

  • Mobile giving is logistically smart. Your supporters don’t have to walk to the mailbox or even, with some software solutions, go to your website or type in a password! Mobile giving brings fundraising to where your donors already are: their phones.
  • Mobile giving boosts event participation. Not everyone who supports your organization can make it out to your events. But if you can accept mobile donations or mobile bids for charity auctions, even absent donors can participate.
  • Mobile giving leads to information capture. Nonprofits want to collect certain details about their donors to make segmentation more effective later. Mobile giving provides nonprofits with another way to gather name, phone number, and other useful info.

At its core, mobile giving is a convenient and accessible decision for nonprofits as well as their donors.

Plus, by developing mobile-friendly ways to donate, nonprofits are showing their donors that they respect their time and effort.

Takeaway: Mobile giving is an effective way to take advantage of every opportunity for donations and to show donors you care enough to make donating easy for them.

4. Hiring a fundraising consultant.

Staff members at nonprofits have had more on their plates than ever this past year. You’ve probably noticed that not everyone could pick up little tasks they’ve helped out with before and still do their jobs well.

You could do less, but you want to grow and support your cause in every way you can! So what do you do?

Smart nonprofits recognized the gap and filled it by outsourcing some of their most intensive work to an expert: a fundraising consultant.

A fundraising consultant can take the following off your plate:

  • Campaign planning
  • Feasibility studies
  • Campaign direction
  • Executive search
  • Leadership training
  • Embedded staffing

Fundraising consultants can be short-term or long-term partners depending on what you need.

If you’re a large nonprofit ready to kick off a huge capital campaign, maybe you just need an extra pair of hands to help with the organization. Smaller or younger nonprofits might need embedded staffing or leadership training as they tackle their first big projects.

One of the best ways to find a reliable fundraising consultant it to consult other nonprofits similar to yours or reputable online resources.

If a fundraising consultant sounds like a good solution for your organization, check out DonorSearch’s guide to the top 10 fundraising consultants for nonprofits to find the perfect one for you.

Takeaway: To ensure that your fundraising is done right even when your staff has a lot going on, hiring a fundraising consultant is a popular solution. A fundraising consultant can shoulder many of the tasks that keep you away from the rest of your job!

5. Getting creative with corporate giving.

Corporate giving has always been a staple of nonprofit fundraising. Between matching gift programs, volunteer grants, and sponsorships, major donations can come from companies partnering with nonprofits.

It’s really no surprise that corporate giving plays such a significant role in fundraising. Nonprofits benefit from the resources companies have to offer, and companies benefit from being associated with a charitable cause.

Though companies have long partnered with nonprofits, this past year, corporate giving got more creative.

We aren’t kidding! Check out these two creative examples of corporate giving from the past year:

  • Drive to Donate: Lyft drivers can submit an application to donate half of their fares for a period of four weeks to the nonprofit of their choice. Read more about this partnership here.
  • National Root Beer Float Day: To celebrate Marriott’s humble beginning as a root beer stand in 1927, donors could buy a scoop of ice cream and a can of root beer on National Root Beer Float Day (August 6), with proceeds benefiting Children’s Miracle Network. Read more about this partnership here.

Perhaps it’s the effect of social media and the positive publicity feel-good viral content can lend to a business. Maybe it’s donors getting bored with traditional programs. Or maybe companies really are just getting more creative!

Looking forward to the new year, try looking up companies with a history of traditional corporate giving and sending a more creative proposal their way. Support your proposal with the success of Lyft, Marriott, and other creative corporate partners.

Takeaway: Corporate giving programs are getting more creative as they become more popular. The next time you reach out for a corporate sponsorship, don’t be shy to ask for something a little different.


Last year had a lot to offer the fundraising world. We hope that you’ll take the strategies discussed here and look for ways to keep the trend going for your own organization this year!

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