Fundraising for nonprofits: 5 key strategies

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Rachel MillsWhite arrow icon

Fundraising for nonprofits: 5 key strategies

No matter your nonprofit organization’s size or mission, a comprehensive fundraising strategy is a must. The giving environment is increasingly competitive, with more nonprofits vying for a smaller pool of donors

And with the variety of fundraising ideals, channels, and platforms — not to mention your different goals and projects — building that fundraising plan can feel like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture.  

The good news is that effective fundraising for nonprofits still comes down to a few time-tested strategies. Here are five fundamental tips, tricks, and tactics that will have donations rolling in.

5 essential nonprofit fundraising strategies

If your nonprofit has been around for a while, you may be familiar with the strategies below, but you’ll notice we’ve included ways to upgrade them for 21st-century fundraising efforts. Let’s dive in.

1. Host memorable special events

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Special events always come up when we’re talking about fundraising for nonprofits because they’re a versatile, exciting way to raise funds — and much more. Your black-tie gala, cooking class, or shoe drive also introduces new people to your cause and unites long-time supporters with new donors. 

The kind of event you can host depends on your fundraiser budget, the size of your volunteer corps, and the other resources at your fingertips. For instance, if you can mobilize a large team, you can host a high-dollar auction night for major donors or an all-ages music festival. 

You can also make sure you cut through the noise with unique fundraising events. In a post-COVID-19 environment, you’ll benefit from adding cost-effective virtual events to your repertoire. The main takeaway? It doesn’t take a huge time or money investment to launch a great fundraising campaign. 

Finally, use free fundraising software like Givebutter to sell event tickets, update attendees, set up text-to-donate giving, and use promo codes to fill remaining seats. You can even give supporters the option of an online donation if they can’t attend.

2. Power up with peer-to-peer fundraising

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Fundraising for nonprofits used to begin and end with what your board members and volunteers could accomplish. But times have changed. If you need a powerful way to amplify your message and bring in donations, peer-to-peer fundraising is the answer. 

With this fundraising method, you leverage your dedicated supporters to raise money on behalf of your nonprofit. Also called team fundraising, this strategy has a group of individuals create custom donation pages to win more support overall. 

The strength of a P2P fundraising campaign lies in your participants’ ability to motivate their friends, family, co-workers, and other peers. Give them the best chance of success by educating them on how to ask for donations effectively. Save time by repurposing your donation request letter into a pitch template.

Some of the most popular P2P fundraising events are walk-a-thons, dance marathons, and endurance challenges, but the options are endless. Need a little inspiration? See how 6AM City, a newsletter network, hit over 1,000 supporters and raised $40,000 in a single day using team fundraising on Givebutter. 

3. Utilize your social media channels

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Social media isn’t just for sharing funny videos, although you can use them to engage your donor base and raise awareness, too. You don’t need to have a presence on every single platform. In fact, it’s better to choose one or two platforms — Facebook and YouTube are popular fundraising channels — and develop your following there. 

As a virtually free fundraising tool, social media more than earns a place in your toolkit. Your target audience is front and center for livestream events like webinars, benefit concerts, marathons, and more. And according to Nonprofits Source, 59% of people who engage with nonprofits on social media end up taking some sort of action. More than half of these people donate money or volunteer for the cause they interacted with. 

Block out time each week to post, respond to, and interact with your social media followers. It’s a great place to share images or news that shows off the impact of a donation — without crowding up anyone’s mailbox. 

Make sure you have a plan that monitors and measures results, like clicks and opens, shares, and comments. Don’t forget to add links to your channels in all your emails, on your website, and your marketing handouts. Check out our top tips on social media fundraising for nonprofits for more ideas.

4. Develop recurring giving campaigns

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A recurring campaign lets your nonprofit earn more from your donors over time, rather than relying on one upfront donation. It’s also beneficial because it provides more consistent, year-round funding. This allows you to craft a more accurate operational budget that covers your nonprofit needs and lets you execute the right campaigns at the right time. 

Even better, monthly online giving is growing. In 2019, revenue from monthly gifts increased 22% — more than twice as fast as revenue from one-time gifts (8%). 

Charity: water is an excellent example of a nonprofit that puts monthly donating at the center of its strategy. Right away, the home page invites visitors to “Join an unstoppable community of monthly givers.” 

You’ll win more recurring donors if you communicate a clear reason for ongoing donations. What will a one-time gift of $100 accomplish versus a monthly gift of $100? Put the impact in tangible terms, like care packages or gallons of water.

Finally, show supporters your gratitude. Add custom thank-you notes to your donation receipts. Offer unique merchandise each month that relates to your core mission, like a calendar of cute dogs for an animal shelter. Give shoutouts on your social media pages. 

Not only is it nice to show your appreciation, it’s key to healthy donor retention in the long run.

5. Regularly optimize your nonprofit’s website

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Nonprofits that see fundraising success go fishing in multiple pools. They take full advantage of mobile, email, in-person, direct mail, and online fundraising. Your strategy may also include methods like crowdfunding and corporate gift matching programs. If we continue our fishing metaphor, your nonprofit website is the net. It’s one of the primary ways you’ll capture potential donors and collect donations. 

It’s faster than ever to create a website that’s effective and easy on the eyes. You can use DIY site builders like Squarespace, Wix, and Constant Contact. Bloomerang also maintains a list of trusted web design consultants for nonprofits that can offer one-on-one guidance.

After you lay the foundation, start optimizing: 

  • Add a prominent donation button: This might sound like Fundraising for Nonprofits 101, but take a look at your website. As users browse, is the donate button available on every page? Try your navigation bar for maximum visibility. Offer multiple ways to pay like Venmo, Apple Pay, and credit card. Remove the guesswork by suggesting several different donation amounts.
  • Make your site mobile-ready: In 2019, half of all nonprofit website visits came from users on mobile devices, and these mobile users generated 25% of revenue. Choose mobile-responsive templates with clean, vertical layouts and large fonts and buttons. Then, grab your smartphone and see how it looks. 
  • Choose your lead magnet(s): A lead magnet gives you an opening to start a relationship with your site visitors and build your email list. Popular examples include e-books, checklists, and cheat sheets. You can also hook participants with quick ways to take action, like signing your online petition. 
  • Follow SEO best practices: You’re asking humans to donate, but your website also needs to “talk” to search engines. Using search engine optimization (SEO) helps more people discover your cause. Get going with this handy guide to SEO for nonprofits.

The tool that simplifies fundraising for nonprofits

A free fundraising software like Givebutter makes it easy to manage every piece of your multifaceted strategy. You’re able to tap into over 70 unique fundraising features from one convenient dashboard. 

Whip up fundraising pages in seconds and embed them on your nonprofit’s website. Take secure payments, track progress on fundraising goals, send unlimited emails, and share social updates in one click. Givebutter helps you raise money for your nonprofit organization without breaking a sweat. 

Written By

Written by
Rachel Mills
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.