Skip to Content

Online Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits

By Michael Seiler February 11, 2022

This just in: online fundraising is on the rise! This isn’t a surprise — the world was becoming more digital prior to the pandemic — but the shifts we’ve all made in the past two years have really accelerated digital adoption for the impact sector. So what is online fundraising, exactly? Online fundraising is simply a way for nonprofit organizations to raise money online, rather than the more traditional in-person fundraising route. Organizations can use a donation form on their website or social media channels to solicit donations from anywhere in the world.

Hopefully by now, all fundraising practitioners and development leaders at impact organizations large and small have begun testing and seeing success. Whether your organization already has a developed online fundraising plan or you’re just getting started, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Big opportunities are being presented to nonprofit fundraisers, but it’s easy to miss them if you aren’t proactively looking for them.

At Salesforce.org, we have the honor of working directly with thousands of nonprofits on their fundraising strategies, which gives us a good sense of where things are headed. Our 2021 Nonprofit Industry Trends Report revealed that within three years, the majority of nonprofits surveyed expect to do 100% of their fundraising online. In order to accomplish this feat, their adoption of technology and data acumen must hasten.

Person making an online donation on the phone
Organizations can use a donation form on their website or social media channels to solicit donations from anywhere in the world.

Now is the time to take hold of this opportunity to embrace digital strategies in order to raise more funds with less effort. In this post, we’ll share some successful nonprofit fundraising strategies.

1. Act Like For-Profit Brands

As nonprofit fundraisers, we are competing for space in the minds of our donors with the brands they interact with on a daily basis. Think about it: these days, our groceries are being ordered and delivered via app, and our devices push us recommendations and discounts on things we might want to buy based on our purchasing history. We’re able to watch any show or movie we want, on demand, on a variety of devices. At this point, whether we are on the couch, or on the go, most of us are always tuned-in. If our phone buzzes, we check it.

Nonprofit fundraisers must integrate their organization into the habits of their donors. How might you leverage text-based communications with your donors? Are you tracking their previous interaction with you to determine the next opportunity or communications to offer them? Can they access your organization on demand?

2. Gamify Fundraising

Competition is human psychology — we love games! Just look at the recent obsession with the daily word game, Wordle, or the increased popularity of at-home fitness classes with a real-time leaderboard. When we’re engaged in an activity, and when we can invite and compete against our community, our investment grows. Gamification allows us to take ownership in something, rather than just being a spectator or silent donor.

Peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding campaigns have skyrocketed in popularity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. When your donors fundraise for you, they build credibility for your cause. In fact, one in four solicitation emails from peer-to-peer fundraisers result in donations, compared with one in 1,250 emails from a nonprofit

3. Make Online Donations Easy

If you don’t already have a place online to take donations easily, it’s time to get that set up. An easy way to get started is with a clean and simple donation page on your website. Even better, have one that’s integrated with your CRM system — this way you can have a complete view of all your supporters and their activities in one place.

The Salesforce.org Elevate Power of Us Edition provides nonprofits the ability to get started with a donation page on their own, and at no cost. Now is the time to ensure you can easily take donations online. Learn more about getting started with this program at your organization.

4. Create Moments of Connection

In a time where it’s been hard to get together with our communities, we have opportunities to create moments of connection online. You can do this through large programs like an annual gala that’s reimaged online. In this case, your community has a date they are anticipating, and thinking about as the event draws near. And when the event begins, your whole community is there, together, in one place, ready to support your mission.

You could do something similar with a series of live-streamed events and webinars. Consider inviting your donors to a town hall to hear from your organization’s leadership to discuss the programmatic impact of their donations. You can work around birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, or just pick a day and do a ‘day of giving’ blitz — this way, all of your supporters are standing by and activated to create noise and raise funds on your behalf.

We just came out of the holiday giving season, where nonprofits have an opportunity to garner extra support at the end of the year. If you haven’t taken advantage of the giving season at your organization, take a look at the resources we put together to help you prepare for 2022.

5. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

If your audience is on social media (and let’s be real, who isn’t?) then why wouldn’t your organization be on those same platforms too? Social media is a good place to inform your supporters of your impactful work, but it’s also a great place to drive fundraising revenue.

We’ve seen many nonprofits have success with social media fundraising blitzes, which are typically organized as a one-day event, where all of your channels are taken over with one fundraising campaign. Set a dollar amount goal, tie it to a specific impact measurement, and hit go! You can post updates frequently throughout this 24-hour period, letting your supporters know how much you’ve raised and how far you have left to reach your common goal.

6. Lean into Corporate Partnerships & Matching

How strong are your relationships with the corporate for-profit sector? Every company these days knows that their customers and employees demand that they take a stand and do something good for the world. As a result, more companies than ever are dedicating resources and finances to support causes that are aligned to their mission. For example, a toothpaste company is very likely to support a nonprofit that’s focused on dental hygiene in underserved populations.

Connect authentically to aligned companies, and see if they will join you in a fundraising campaign to match all the donations you are able to raise through your community. That way, you’ll be able to tell your donors that each dollar they donate becomes two dollars. Additionally, you’ll be able to leverage new marketing channels through your new matching partners.

7. Speak the Language Your Donors Speak

We recently published a blog entitled “Why it’s Time to Rename our Sector from ‘Nonprofit’ to ‘For Impact’. We weren’t actually suggesting renaming the sector — although it did spark some interesting debate! Really, what the post showcased is how the words we use matter when engaging with our communities.

This is especially true in a digital environment where you only have a few moments to capture a potential and existing donor’s attention. It’s important to craft your language based on what your audience is familiar with and looking for, otherwise they’ll glance over and keep on scrolling. So think with an innovative mindset — try something new, test, iterate, and test again.

8. Engage More Diverse Donors

How do you grow your pool of donors in a digital world? The answer is to look outside of your existing community and to authentically engage new audiences. Personalize communications based on identity to attract diversity in donors and teams. Create a strategy that prioritizes diversity based on the communities served. Leverage holidays from various cultural celebrations to engage a diverse audience year-round and to remind your community that it’s important to remain inclusive all the time — not only in a particular month.

This might be one of the biggest opportunities to unlock new funding sources. Check out this recent blog on DEI Strategies for Fundraising Success for tips on getting started.

For more on nonprofit fundraising, download our most recent Nonprofit Trends Report and read about 5 Ways to Increase Online Fundraising.


About the Author

Michael Seiler, Community and Marketing Strategy, Salesforce.org
Michael Seiler
Community and Marketing Strategy at Salesforce.org
 
I am a social impact strategist, helping mission-driven organizations grow by leveraging new technology, cross-sector partnerships, and creative media campaigns. With a background in scaling and capacity-building in technology and startup acceleration, tech education, nonprofits, music industry, and events/festivals, I am passionate about creating big cultural and business-for-good movements to drive needed impact across our world’s most pressing challenges.