The convenience and expansive capabilities of digital tools make online fundraising a powerful method of raising money for nonprofits. However, monetary contributions are only one aspect of nonprofit fundraising. To effectively garner support for an organization’s cause, donor engagement is crucial.
Whether donors give their money, time, recommendation, expertise, or any other resource for the sake of your nonprofit, their involvement is crucial to furthering your work. In this guide, we’ll explore four digital fundraising tools that your nonprofit can use to effectively engage these donors and boost their support:
Among a wide variety of fundraising software choices are several options that allow you to pair nonprofit fundraising and outreach efforts. When your nonprofit invests in these tools, donors will become invested in your cause and be more likely to continue giving their support.
1. Text-to-give software
The popularity of mobile-based communication strategies for nonprofits is ever-increasing for good reason! Whether you’re recognizing donors with a thank-you phone call or sharing volunteer roles through event management apps, supporter communication is undeniably simplified by the use of mobile devices.
Since donors likely access your nonprofit’s website, social media accounts, and other platforms from their phones, adding text messages to your fundraising strategy should be a logical next step. Get started by using text-to-give software, which allows nonprofits to accept donations via text message. To set up text-to-give, follow these steps:
- Choose a software provider. Research text-to-give platforms and compare their features and prices to decide which one will best fit the needs of your organization.
- Create a number. Choose a number that will be easy for your supporters to remember. They’ll send text messages to this number, so it’s important that they get the number right.
- Promote your cause and unique number. Leverage your already existing communications platforms to provide easy instructions and encourage participation. Since the process is straightforward, a quick step-by-step guide will be more than enough to guide them through the process.
- Accept and track donations as they’re submitted. If you choose a text-to-give platform that automatically tracks your fundraising data for you (and you should!), then all of your information will be in one place. As it automatically updates to reflect your fundraising progress, you’ll be able to track details such as the amount raised, average donation size, and total progress made toward your goal.
Allowing donors to participate in your fundraiser from their phones is a surefire way to secure future engagement since text communication is such a personal and direct way to get in touch with supporters. Their initial donation will be convenient, but you can also offer text updates as a way to continue contacting supporters after the fundraiser.
2. Crowdfunding platforms
If you’ve ever contributed to a GoFundMe campaign, you’ve participated in crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a fundraising process that collects a large number of small donations. Instead of securing one major gift, your organization focuses its efforts on soliciting small gifts from many donors.
Smaller gifts are often perceived as a more reasonable appeal for donations, and donors are more likely to participate in a fundraiser when the requested donation size makes sense for their budgets. Plus, these requests can be tied to more specific, actionable results than a large gift. For example, a $10 donation might cover the cost of one book for an underfunded school, whereas a $100,000 donation might be broadly budgeted throughout the year.
As you explore your options for crowdfunding platforms, find one that includes:
- Social media integration. Choose a platform that makes social media sharing easy so that you can promote your campaign on your usual platforms. This capability will also allow your supporters to share the fundraiser on their personal accounts so your marketing can reach a larger audience.
- Customization options. Since crowdfunding campaigns raise money for a specific project or cause, you’ll want to leverage your organization’s specific appeal to gain support. Find a platform that allows you to customize your donation page and incorporate your branding so supporters can easily associate the appeal with your organization.
- Similar campaign capabilities. Crowdfunding campaigns can often supplement other fundraisers. In this case, an online platform that can manage both fundraisers will streamline your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts.
When a large number of supporters work together to fund a specific initiative, donors can truly get a sense of your nonprofit’s community. Although this is the foundation of every fundraising initiative, crowdfunding especially puts teamwork on display as your nonprofit accomplishes its goals.
To further engage donors in your crowdfunding campaign, track your fundraiser’s progress with compelling visuals. Double the Donation recommends using fundraising thermometers to encourage greater giving and get supporters excited about your progress. With a clear illustration of the campaign’s goal and progress, donors can easily see the importance of their contributions.
Snowball’s all-in-one fundraising software makes it easy to raise more for your nonprofit.
As with any message, specificity is a key factor in donor engagement. Supporters who feel individually noticed and appreciated will likely be more invested in your cause and return to help with future campaigns.
An eCard is a digital greeting card, typically sent via email, that can be customized to match your nonprofit’s branding and personalized with a specific message for your donors. They’re great options for sending messages of gratitude, but can also be used to invite supporters to events, urge them to make donations, or just wish them a happy birthday.
eCardWidget’s guide to donor retention recommends sending eCards outside of appeals and special occasions to show donors that you care about them. For example, you can send an eCard including a thank-you message to show your appreciation. You can also allow donors to “buy” charity eCards with their donations and send them to friends. By engaging directly with supporters and allowing them to engage with each other, eCards will strengthen your nonprofit’s community.
4. Social media
Nonprofit social media strategies often guide marketing by spreading awareness, promoting fundraising efforts, and sharing updates about your nonprofit’s work. Instead of strictly publishing information, it’s important to remember that these platforms can be used responsively, as well. To effectively engage with donors through social media, you might:
- Ask for their opinions through story polls and comments.
- Respond to their comments on your posts.
- Invite them to reach out via direct message and respond.
- Comment on and share their posts (when the post is relevant to your nonprofit).
- Create posts that thank donors and their significant contributions (with their permission).
When you shift your perspective and begin to view social media as an interactive communication channel, your nonprofit can leverage the benefits of engaging with supporters on these platforms. Although social media messages and comments shouldn’t replace your thank-you letters or appreciation gifts, it’s a great opportunity to make donor engagement a part of your nonprofit’s daily operations.
As with any fundraising strategy, the most effective tool will be the one that resonates with your supporters. Get to know your current and prospective donors, then develop an outreach plan that engages them most effectively.