Nonprofit fundraising is evolving rapidly thanks to the rise of tech, AI, and social networks. So, the tried-and-true fundraising techniques of the past may not serve you as well in today’s changing landscape. Instead of simply holding a raffle or a 5k, you can leverage technology and wealth insights to level up your fundraising game. That being said, let’s explore the best, modern nonprofit fundraising ideas that have the greatest potential of helping you bring in gifts, today!
The Changing Landscape of Nonprofit Fundraising
For the past decade, nonprofit fundraising has advanced tremendously. With the abundant technological changes, the rise of social media, and the budding influence of Millennials and Gen Zs, nonprofits are transforming. So, what should you bear in mind as you engage a new generation of donors?
- Millennials and Gen Zs cannot be overlooked. Millennials’ median annual giving is twice as much as Boomers and Gen Xers at $13,654. Gen Z will also account for 40% of all consumers by 2020. As you can see, their growing influence is unquestionable. And, since they’ve grown up in the age of social media, it’s important to account for the ways they connect with causes. By adopting a digital fundraising strategy, you’re in a more favorable position to appeal to younger donors.
- Hyper-personalized marketing is no longer a benefit. It’s a necessity. Millennials and Gen Zs are constantly sifting through information through social media and other channels. So, since they’re processing large quantities of information all the time, they can only dedicate so much attention to each item. In that sense, it’s incredibly important to generate outreach that appeals to their interests. By doing that, you’re recognizing and acknowledging them in ways that make them feel valued as a donor.
- Artificial Intelligence is transforming how we work. With the rise of AI and ML, more nonprofits are adopting these technologies to help them gather data to solve societal problems. Both can help you plan, learn, and problem-solve effectively and efficiently. They can also help you understand your donors better, and determine how to appeal to them in the future.
All of these changes are fundamentally changing how you can communicate with and inspire donors to give. Based on these evolving trends, let’s take a look at the best nonprofit fundraising ideas you can implement.
Nonprofit Fundraising Ideas
1. Start a Matching Gift Drive
This is one of the more traditional nonprofit fundraising ideas. Usually popular in the space of corporate giving, gift matching allows donors to make donations, and then have their company either donate the same amount they have, or more. By doing this, you receive double the funds! To boost this process, you can set up a limited window of time (24 or 48 hours) where donations will be matched. Having that designated window of time creates a sense of urgency, and drives donors to take action. And, if you set up an online drive, you can receive donations from anywhere, without geographical limitations.
2. Set up a Crowdfunding Page
Another nonprofit fundraising idea that is gaining popularity is crowdfunding. Although crowdfunding seems like a platform used to support individual endeavors, organizations can benefit from them as well. However, instead of crowdfunding for your organization in general, these spaces create good opportunities to introduce potential and existing donors to specific, topical projects you’re working on. On these platforms, it’s important to outline what your organization is fundraising for, why you are fundraising for it, and to tie it back to your mission.
3. Hold an Online Auction
Auctions have traditionally been a popular nonprofit fundraising method. Now, instead of holding in-person auctions, organizations are beginning to hold auctions online. This is a more economical way of hosting an event without having to rent a physical space. When you hold an online auction, a prospect can participate as actively as an existing client. Additionally, auctions allow donors to bid on something tangible in exchange for their donation. The process feels mutually beneficial. In that sense, this nonprofit fundraising idea presents donors with extrinsic motivators.
4. Set up a Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
Another nonprofit fundraising idea, similar to crowdfunding, is peer-to-peer fundraising. This is a more layered approach, where individuals can personally fundraise on a cause’s behalf. This can be done either online or in-person. For an in-person fundraiser, activities are set up where donors sign up their friends and family to participate and donate. These family members and friends then have the opportunity to pay it forward, by inviting their communities to donate. Many nonprofits have done this by creating things like golf tournaments and fun runs.
Now, nonprofits are changing this method by enabling individuals to create their own personalized donation pages or posts. By doing this, individuals can involve people, beyond their immediate communities, from anywhere at any time. Additionally, in peer-to-peer fundraising, it’s far easier to establish trust and action among your prospects. By communicating among people they already know, prospects may feel more inclined to give, knowing that the cause means something to them. This way you are also tapping into your prospects’ extended networks.
5. Engage in Facebook Fundraising
Fundraising via social media channels is a relatively new idea. Since social media is primarily a space in which people connect, different platforms are leveraging this to bring attention to causes. As you may have seen, while scrolling through your own Facebook feed, birthday fundraisers are gaining significantly more attention. Users can create a post explaining what cause they’re supporting, and begin collecting donations from their network.
Within the first year of creating birthday fundraisers, Facebook users raised more than $300M for causes. As of now, Facebook allows you to choose a cause to donate to from a list of 750,000 nonprofits. So, if your nonprofit is listed, users are taken directly to your nonprofit’s donation page. Similar to peer-to-peer fundraising, donors and prospects learn about the nonprofit from someone they know and trust. They then have the ability to donate if they choose to.
6. Partner with Amazon Smile
Amazon Smile allows Amazon shoppers to donate 0.5% of the price of their purchase to a cause of their choice. Similar to Facebook fundraising, users have the ability to instantly donate to your organization. Users don’t have to mull over how much to donate and when. The convenience factor is a great motivator for various types of donors. By doing this, a constant and predictable stream of donations will pour into your organization. Donors and prospects alike can contribute to your cause consistently. If you’re interested in partnering your organization with Amazon Smile, you can learn more here.
7. Have Your Organization Listed with Round Up & Donate with Lyft
Much like using Amazon Smile for nonprofit fundraising, using Lyft can also deliver a steady stream of donations. Lyft gives riders the option to round their ride fare up to the nearest dollar, then donate the difference to a cause. By doing this, users relinquish the need to consciously decide whether or not to donate every time. By setting up an autopay structure, donors and prospects can contribute little bits at a time. And since people have access to the platform across different areas of the U.S., the collections of those minor gifts can ripple out in big ways.
8. Create and Sell Merchandise for Your Cause
Merchandising is a time-tested nonprofit fundraising idea. Whether you’re selling Pop sockets, pens, water bottles, or t-shirts, these branded items are great tangible reminders of your cause. Not only do your donors walk away with something for themselves, but they also have a visible item that can spark conversations with potential donors. For example, (RED) partners with the world’s biggest brands, to bring awareness and raise funds to eliminate HIV/AIDS. Their products range from portable phone chargers to iPhones. 100% of the money that is poured into (RED) products funds HIV/AIDS programs all over Africa.
Therefore, more people are becoming aware of your cause and are a step closer to donating. And, with the rise of online fundraising, if the items you’re selling are online, interested donors can purchase the items at any time. All of which goes back into funding your organization’s campaigns and projects.
9. Generate Personalized Email Campaigns
Not only are email campaigns cost-effective, but they are also able to cut through the noise generated on social media. You can segment your audience based on demographics, interests, as well as their propensity, and capacity to give. By doing this, you can tailor your outreach to highlight the values and interests of each donor and prospect. If existing and prospective donors see their values being reflected on an individual level, they’ll feel more inclined to give. By using WE Insights, you have the tools to understand what your audience responds to, and how best you can appeal to them.
Online resources are 20% more useful than direct mail when it comes to influencing donors. Email campaigns also have the highest ROI of any other marketing channel (about $40 for every dollar spent). And, on average, email users give an average of $140 per donation.
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10. Create a Model of Your Best Donors
Before you opt for general fundraising tactics, it’s important to ask yourself: who are our best donors? What do they have in common? How do they connect with our mission? And, how can we find more donors just like them?
Using WealthEngine’s modeling solution, you can create a core donor persona. From there, you can find overlaps in demographic data, preferences, and giving history among your existing donors. This will help you understand potential donors you should be reaching out to. This also gives you a better impression of what this segment of donors will respond to (direct mail, peer-to-peer, etc.) Essentially, you’re creating an impression of your ideal donor and then using those traits to find more people like them.
By creating a model of your best donors, you can connect with prospects who are the most likely to give. You also have an opportunity to find the most effective fundraising methods to suit the preferences of your segment.
11. Create a Designated Giving Day and Hold An Email Flash Fundraiser
This nonprofit fundraising idea can be adopted by all causes. As has been popularized by colleges and universities, Giving Day is a specific 24-hour window where your nonprofit can accept gifts from anyone. Contributions are made online, so donors and prospects can lend support from anywhere in the world.
Due to their viral nature and convenience, Giving Day is becoming more and more popular. For higher education institutions, some have enacted #GivingTuesday on their campuses, and others have created their own days. By holding a specific day for people to give, there’s a greater sense of urgency created for existing and prospective donors. For example, Vanderbilt University raised $9.4M from less than 8500 donors on their Giving Day.
12. Set up a Donation Kiosk for Your Cause
Another nonprofit fundraising idea is to use a donation kiosk. Unlike other fundraising tools that are reliant on cash or cheque donations, these kiosks are more digital-fundraising friendly. A donation kiosk is a digital fundraising solution that can accept credit card donations at events and on-site. Now that people carry less cash, donation kiosks are an innovative way to accommodate those who still want to give, but can only do so by card. And, depending on which platform you use, your donation kiosk can be accessed online. So, existing and potential donors can use your kiosk on the go.
13. Create an Interactive Video Fundraiser
Given how connected we are over social media, we are constantly sharing content with each other. By holding an interactive video fundraiser, you are creating an opportunity for your cause to engage people in an activity or conversation. This puts a face to your cause, gives your donors visibility, helps them amplify their actions, and involve others they think will help. For example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge (a challenge designed to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) was a viral video sensation in 2014. Although some wrote off the challenge as trivial, it raised a great amount of awareness, and supporter ended up raising $115M for the ALS Association.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to create a viral video challenge for people to participate in. But, you can pass around videos articulating your cause’s mission and what you’re trying to accomplish. Propose the fundraising goal, or challenge, within your video and then rely on a peer-to-peer structure to make sure the content is shared and gifts are being collected. A nonprofit fundraising idea like this has the potential of rippling out and reaching people all over the digital world.
14. Set Up a Text-to-Give Structure
As the title of this nonprofit fundraising idea suggests, text-to-give allows donors to give to your organization via text. Like donations made through channels such as Facebook, Amazon, and Lyft, donors can give whenever and wherever they’d like when they text-to-give. Typically, particular keywords are attributed to specific donation amounts. All your donor has to do is confirm their billing zip code. Once they do this, they’ll be billed directly on their phone carrier’s invoice. Not only is this method economical, but it’s also a convenient and quick option for your donors.
The nonprofit fundraising ideas listed here are only the tip of the iceberg. Using wealth insights to inform your fundraising, there are even more ways you can engage your prospects and donors to bring in major gifts.
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