6 Online Fundraising Trends Your Nonprofit Should Invest In

The nonprofit space is constantly changing. From hosting fundraisers entirely on the internet to utilizing Instagram and memes to promote new campaigns, online fundraising is very different than it was ten years ago.

And on the other hand, as you are expanding your donor network, the new people you are attracting are going to be different and younger—  how are you supposed to know which trends are going to last and which might not be so effective in the long run?

The best way to utilize these nonprofit trends and bring in new donors is to take advantage of the various features that your fundraising software already provides for you. You’re probably already familiar with one or more of these tips and tools, but there are always ways you can improve and tweak your strategies to attract more donors. We’ll be talking about these online fundraising trends:

Donor TargetingMatching Gift ProgramsMobile GivingEmail MarketingSocial MediaPeer-to-Peer Fundraising

The internet is a fickle place, so don’t worry if you don’t know how to navigate the changes. After studying up with this guide, you’re sure to be more confident in your next campaign and improve your fundraising strategy in brand new ways.

1. Donor Targeting

As a nonprofit, one of your main jobs when fundraising is to cater to your donors and make sure that their experience is as easy as possible. You want to ensure that they have a positive experience in order to encourage future donations.

With fundraising software, you can improve your donor relations in different ways. Keeping track of donor information and engagement data is a smart idea in order to better formulate future strategies. You use this information to target your appeals to different groups. One huge trend is to target younger donors, particularly millennials, who have now firmly come into their own as a philanthropic generation.

You should be looking out for software that can track these metrics:

Personal factors – You should keep track of metrics like age, location, gender, and payment preference. These can clue you into what generation the donor is from as well.

Wealth screening data – These points might include real estate ownership, SEC transactions, business affiliations, and political giving history, which can all be researched with a prospect research database. These factors can give you clues to whether the donor may be able to make a major gift, and you’ll be able to target your strategies for appealing to them accordingly.

Philanthropic indicators – This includes information like previous donations to your nonprofit, donations to other nonprofits, nonprofit involvement, and other information about hobbies and social media activity. These factors can indicate how willing this donor will be to give again in the future, and it can be useful for identifying donors, especially younger ones, who might not have the ability to make large gifts but are still extremely dedicated supporters who should be stewarded with extra attention. 

Using these data points to segment your donor database in new ways can really improve your fundraising strategy. Then, you can develop more specific marketing strategies targeted to each segment. For example, when targeting a particular generation, a younger donor will be more likely to respond to mobile or text message-based appeals than an older person would.

On the other hand, major donors usually have very consistent and personable relationships with nonprofits. Having a list of potential major donors can give you a clue into who you should be investing time in and developing a stronger relationship with. This is also called prospect research. Learn about more about different prospect research tools.

Targeting specific donors is a standard best practice for nonprofits, but shifting their focus towards targeting the younger crowd has become a new trend out of necessity. However, it’s hard deliberately appealing to any new demographic if you don’t know who they are, so make sure to develop your research skills and your donor database!

2. Matching Gift Programs

If your nonprofit hasn’t yet dipped its toes into the world of corporate philanthropy, you should. Matching gift programs are a way for your nonprofit to double or even triple the donations that you receive from eligible donors. This occurs when corporations financially match an employee’s donation to a charitable cause.

However, not that many donors know about these programs, and not that many nonprofits know how to take advantage of them, either.

There’s also been a recent trend of corporate social responsibility where companies have realized the importance of showing their commitment to charitable causes and missions. Matching gift programs not only help companies feel socially responsible but also attracts younger donors because they are receptive to philanthropic activities.

Here’s what you should know about matching gifts:

Invest in a matching gift database. You should have an accessible database on your donation page or form in order for donors to look up their own employer and see if they are eligible for a program. There is usually a deadline for the employee. Corporate matching gift programs usually have a deadline by which donors must submit their request in order for it to be fulfilled.Automated reminders are helpful because donors can easily forget about matching gift deadlines, especially when it’s not on their daily radar. 

With this strategy, all you’ll need to do is make sure donors know to search for their eligibility. For a relatively small investment of your time, you can see a considerable return and revenue boost. To learn more, Double the Donation offers a comprehensive guide on corporate matching gift programs.

3. Mobile Giving

It’s pretty clear that smartphones are becoming more and more ingrained in our lives, and that definitely doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon. Kids are getting phones from as young as elementary school, so this device is like a second arm to them as they grow up.

From making sure that your website is mobile friendly to offering a wider variety of giving methods, you should be taking full advantage of the different ways to mobile fundraise

Mobile Friendly Content

How do your website and donation page look on a cellphone?

You might be wondering how important this point really is, but have you ever tried to visit a website on a mobile device and been annoyed because you couldn’t see the whole page? You either have to turn your phone to landscape mode or just annoyingly zoom in and scroll until you find what you’re looking for.

This is a fairly basic example, but it shows how forgetting to optimize for mobile gives your users a terrible experience, not to mention a terrible impression of your organization.Not optimizing your website for mobile use can turn away more potential donors than you might initially assume.

There’s a wide range of issues that occur. Slow-loading pages and malfunctioning donation forms will hurt your fundraising campaign, for instance. Not many people still access the internet primarily through a desktop computer, so investing in a mobile-friendly online presence is critical!

Text Fundraising

Nowadays, your donors can give to your cause all with a simple text message. Text-to-donate services have become increasingly popular because it is a reliably effective way to target younger segments of your donor base. Let’s break down how to use text-to-donate services to increase fundraising:

You’ll get a unique number which you’ll be using to send texts and receive texts from donors.Don’t forget to update your donor database in case some phone numbers need to be updated or changed.Use your own other communication channels to let your donors know of this new way to donate.Establish a predetermined keyword for donors to text that will either send a certain amount or redirect them to your mobile donation page.The donation is then either billed to their cell phone bill or is through the payment processor on their donation page.

Utilizing text fundraising can help you reach new donors and provide a streamlined new way for them to give. Begin looking into the different software you can implement and start increasing donations.

4. Social Media

After talking about the benefits of mobile fundraising, we of course have to bring up social media. Social media is something that, if utilized well, can hugely impact and improve your fundraising. If not done well, though, social media marketing can also embarrass your organization or make you look out-of-touch.

A poorly-run social media campaign can backfire easily. Don’t fall into the trap where you are in a lull with nothing new or interesting to post. Keep your supporters updated with relevant content.

On the other end of the spectrum, don’t try too hard and post too much. Some businesses are trying to market towards younger audiences but don’t do enough research. Their content comes off as fake and not interesting. Social media campaigns, as you can see, need just as much forethought as other marketing campaigns.

However, the best part of social media is that you can do little work but still reach a wide audience. Social media allows users to express their opinion which is why millenials and Gen Z are so active there. If you can get your younger supporters to plug you on their profile, it can go a long way.  Whether people are sharing or liking your nonprofit’s post, it is their way of advocating for your nonprofit.

Here are some tips to help you make your social media campaign the best:

Have a profile for your organization on more than one social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not all of your donors will be on each of them, but people are bound to have at least one.Keep your pages consistently updated! People tend to think organizations are no longer active if their social media pages haven’t been updated in months or years. Post relevant events and fundraisers that your supporters might want to learn about.Use a catchy and casual tone in your posts.Utilize different multimedia like videos, pictures, and audios.Take advantage of trending content to appeal to a younger generation.

 Marketing from your social media can truly change how your nonprofit fundraises. Don’t fall behind and forget to establish and differentiate your brand online!

5. Email Marketing

Email might seem a little outdated and not “cool” anymore, but you should definitely not neglect it. Email is still the top way to promote your fundraiser for nonprofits.

All demographics still rely on email as a primary digital communication method, and it’s still one of the most direct ways to get in touch with donors online. Plenty of fundraising tools include features for email marketing, but there are certain elements you should look out for:

Automated emails – You should send emails automatically to your supporters whenever you have an announcement or new campaign.Nonprofit branding – Your emails should be branded to your nonprofit’s color scheme and logo! This keeps everything streamlined and simple, and donors won’t be confused as to who is sending them emails asking for money.Catchy, short subject lines – A lot of people will not click on emails or delete them because of spam messages, but if you have a compelling and authentic subject line, people are more likely to click!Keep your content personalized – Donors need to feel appreciated, especially after they just gave you money. Try putting little personal details in your messages to establish a relationship, like mentioning the last time they gave. This is where the information from your donor research comes in and you can use it for email segmentation. And if you don’t have enough, just using their name can go a long way. Promote your other social media – Don’t forget to plug your other accounts! Maybe this person scrolls through Instagram more than their email, so now they know!

Email marketing platforms have a lot of features that you should be taking advantage of in order to improve your nonprofit marketing. There is so much that can be done with just email, so don’t miss out on revamping your email strategy.

6. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a major nonprofit trend from recent years that utilizes social media and depends on your extended network of donors, supporters, and their own friends and family.

Basically, your nonprofit recruits volunteers to fundraise online on your behalf. Volunteers then post a donation page on their social media profiles and encourage their friends and family to contribute. Because of its wide reach, peer-to-peer fundraising can raise a lot of money really fast.

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are one of the most popular fundraising trends as younger generations of donors tend to highly value social proof, or seeing that others have publicly advocated and thus vouched for an organization.

If you want to attract new crowds of online donors, definitely invest in peer-to-peer fundraising software. There are plenty of fundraising platforms out there but only some with truly comprehensive peer-to-peer capabilities. Here are some features to look out for:

Intuitive reporting features that can compile data from peer-to-peer campaigns and keep them organized in a central database.Post-campaign data analytics in order to see how you did and how you can make your next peer-to-peer fundraiser better. Customizable but clearly branded donation pages for your volunteers.Campaign updates through text, video, and photo, to keep your supporters engaged and encourage more donations.Sharing ability for social media platforms.

Looking through different technology for these specific features may be tedious, but the Salsa guide to peer-to-peer fundraising software can speed up the process.

So, don’t be hard on yourself if you feel lost with all these online fundraising trends popping up. This guide is here to help you narrow down what’s really important so you can focus on increasing donations and attracting a wider online audience than ever before. Good luck!

Author: Gerard Tonti

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.


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