Fundraising is one of the most important tasks, if not priority number one, for nonprofit organizations every year. The same goes for schools, businesses, clubs, and churches. If you rely on the generosity of your supporters — whether you’re fighting global hunger, crowdfunding a startup idea, or covering soccer uniform costs — it pays to keep up with the latest fundraising best practices.
We’ve got you covered! This guide is packed with strategies, ideas, and free resources to take your fundraising efforts to the next level. Get started with the nine fundraising best practices below.
1. Establish an annual fundraising plan
A written fundraising plan keeps your team laser-focused on the activities that raise the big bucks for your cause, rather than getting caught up in the day-to-day rush. Another reason to plan your year? Half of nonprofits receive the majority of their annual donations in October, November, and December!
- One primary fundraising goal for the year
- Any secondary or supporting goals
- Specific fundraising strategies
- Tasks, assignees, and deadlines
- Budget, resources, and how you’ll secure them
- Metrics to measure success
Build yours from scratch or save some time with these free nonprofit fundraising plan templates.
2. Get to know your target audience
Of course, you can cast the widest net possible when you’re raising money and hope your campaign succeeds. But your fundraising strategies will be much more effective if you identify your target audience. These are the people, businesses, and organizations that are most likely to support your cause. For instance, you can count on your students’ parents and guardians to give to your PTA fundraising campaign.
So, get to know your potential donors! Who are they? What motivates them to give? Which social media channels do they prefer? What obstacles do they face? This info lets you craft the perfect communication strategy. You can send out supporter surveys, use social media analytics, or even look at competitor marketing for clues.
3. Use segmentation and personalization
You’ve got a deeper understanding of the people and organizations you’re asking for money — or volunteer help, corporate sponsorships, or free catering. Now, divide your base into distinct segments using your customer relationship management (CRM) system.
This step makes it much easier to determine which content and fundraising requests are most likely to resonate with them. After all, we naturally do this in our everyday lives. Think about how you talk to a family member versus a former co-worker or someone you just met!
Common ways to segment audiences include:
- Demographics (like gender, age, race)
- Giving level (under $25, over $500, small donor, major donor)
- Supporter type (volunteer, donor, board member)
- Relationship length (two years)
- Geographic location (Midwest, East Coast)
- Priority projects (school supplies, mentoring program, building renovation)
Another fundraising best practice? Use these details to personalize your requests (and create long-lasting donor relationships).
For instance, use their name and last gift amount in your message. When they read a fundraising email or get your gala invite, they should say, “Wow, it’s like they read my mind!”
4. Choose the right fundraising software
An online fundraising platform is an invaluable tool in today’s connected world. It allows your supporters to donate, buy tickets, or spread the word with ease, while you manage your campaign from one convenient hub.
The built-in automation also saves serious time. We see too many fundraisers spend time entering data instead of brainstorming ways to boost donations. Most platforms automatically create donor profiles, track goal progress, send donation receipts, and collect campaign metrics, so you can focus on improving your campaign.
We admit we’re a little biased, but if you’re looking for top-notch fundraising software, Givebutter is an excellent choice! Our free platform is featured-packed with:
- 😍 Fully customizable fundraising pages
- 💸 Free to use and transparent pricing
- 🎫 Seamless events and offline or online donations
- 👀 Trackable team progress and goals
- 💳 Plenty of payment methods: credit card, Venmo, and text-to-donate
- 🎨 Live supporter feed with GIFs, pictures, and video
Create your free account and get stress-free campaign management at your fingertips.
5. Put data at the center of your strategy
When it comes to fundraising best practices, we’ve got to talk about metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs). Fundraisers who don’t define success, measure their performance, and reflect on results will watch their fundraising revenue grow at a snail’s pace!
Set KPIs and goals that are clearly defined, quantifiable, and ambitious but realistic. Here are some metrics most nonprofit fundraisers watch at the organizational level:
- Fundraising: Number of gifts, average gift amount, campaign return on investment (ROI), average cost per donor, donor retention rate, total funds raised
- Marketing: Conversation rate by channel, email opens and clicks, landing page views, social media likes and comments
- Project or program: Number of beneficiaries served, beneficiary satisfaction rate, number of hours per project
Creating a data-driven strategy — and launching better and better campaigns — starts with tracking the above metrics. Your team or nonprofit can collect and monitor them simply by using a CRM and fundraising platform.
6. Demonstrate your impact
Your supporters don’t just want to be told their donation made a difference, they want to see how!
Demonstrating your impact builds trust with your supports and invites them to give again and again. There are plenty of ways you can communicate impact to your passionate donors, volunteers, and sponsors:
- Highlight compelling facts about your work and show progress over time with visual tools like infographics, charts, and graphs.
- Release annual reports that break down your team’s accomplishments and challenges.
- Put a face to your mission with individual stories and testimonials from your dedicated donors and beneficiaries.
- Celebrate everyone’s impact and bring your supporters together with live events, like community potlucks or virtual galas.
7. Accomplish more with peer fundraising
You know the saying, “Many hands make light work”? Peer fundraising brings this concept to life, and that’s why it’s on our list of fundraising best practices! Peer fundraisers are supporters that raise money from their inner circle on behalf of your cause. In the past, fundraisers like you had to make do with their limited staff and volunteer network. Now, your awesome supporters can tag in.
Even better, peer fundraising taps into the power of social proof. Social proof is the theory that people pay extra attention to something when their peers do. For example, if your friend hosts a birthday fundraiser, or likes a soccer club’s video, you’re more likely to donate or learn more. In other words, peer fundraising is an amazing way to raise funds quickly and attract new donors year after year.
8. Ask for feedback regularly
The only way to find out what your audience prefers is to ask.
Regular feedback, even from a handful of people, could reveal valuable insights.
For instance, it only takes a few survey responses to learn that your donation form looks jumbled on iPhones, or that Thursday isn’t the best night for a restaurant fundraising event.
Make sure you have multiple avenues to collect feedback, both at the campaign-level and the organizational level. This might include:
- Donation follow-up questions
- Post-campaign surveys
- Donor focus groups
- Supporter appreciation events
- In-depth annual surveys
- Social media listening
Improve your fundraising strategy quickly with one or all of these tools.
9. Don’t be afraid to try something new
Even with this handy list of fundraising best practices in your back pocket, the truth is that unexpected things happen. The COVID-19 pandemic may have been the first major social event to force fundraisers to adapt to new strategies, but it won’t be the last.
So, always be prepared to pivot! Have a variety of fundraising ideas and potential revenue sources ready to go so you meet your annual fundraising goal. A fantastic example of this is THE PLACE, a youth homelessness nonprofit, that raised over $35,000 (beating their original goal) with their first-ever virtual event.
As fundraiser Kasi put it, “Instead of having Plan A and Plan B, just have a combination of both and be ready to flex in either direction!”
Raise better with Givebutter 💛
We hope this guide helped you understand how to approach the yearly fundraising cycle with confidence. When you’re ready to raise funds, get started with Givebutter. Our free fundraising platform lets you whip up donation pages, create exciting events, and launch online fundraising campaigns in seconds.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.