Through an arrangement with TechSoup, PND is pleased to offer a series of articles about the effective use of technology by nonprofits.
The combustible political environment has sparked a groundswell of digital campaigns aimed at mobilizing volunteers to support various resistance and social movements. At the same time, natural disasters in Northern California, Texas, and Puerto Rico have caused Americans to dig deep to support families, communities, and first-responders.
Against this backdrop, technology and media continue to evolve, challenging consumers, donors, and fundraisers to adapt. Here are six trends for nonprofits to consider as they create and implement their fundraising and donor engagement plans for the year.
1. Mobile Matters. We've been saying it for years, and it's truer today than ever — everything you do with fundraising and donor engagement needs to be oriented to the mobile experience. Simply put, it's past time to redesign your emails, website pages, videos, donation pages, and anything else you do online so they fit and can be read and used on a small screen. There's a direct correlation between donor engagement and mobile responsiveness, especially in situations where you're looking to catayze a rapid response.
2. Monthly Giving Has Emerged. Studies I've seen recently from Blackbaud and Classy, which track giving trends across thousands of nonprofits, show that monthly giving is now the fastest growing segment of the giving universe. For many donors, it's easier to make a gift if it can be spread out across twelve months of the year. And donors who make monthly gifts are more likely to support your organization over a longer period of time.
If you don't currently have a monthly giving program, it's time to either develop one or to retool your existing fundraising program. For some ideas, check out my list of tactics to build a monthly giving program.
3. Growing Your List Is the Donor Engagement Strategy. There has never been a better time to engage your supporters and grow your donor list. Cultural, social, and political issues have moved to the forefront, making this the perfect time to devote time and money to engaging with potential supporters via email, social media, and any other channels at your disposal. Be sure to create an "acquisition team" tasked with sharpening your efforts. And if you have money set aside to grow your list, consider an acquisition campaign on Facebook or with Care2.com.
For more ideas, check out my blog post on how to grow your email list without spending money.
4. Invest in Social Media. Although many nonprofits have yet to see direct evidence, social media continues to be fertile ground for nonprofit fundraising and engagement. Big social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter can help your nonprofit boost its visibility and engagement with donors, fans, and volunteers.
To take advantage of this trend, you'll want to spend some time in 2018 determining which social media platforms are the most valuable to your organization in terms of engagement. Then focus your efforts, staff time, and budget on those platforms. Set up tracking mechanisms to measure traffic flows between your email messages, website, and social media channels so that you better understand the online behavior of your supporters and potential supporters. And be sure to create dedicated donation pages for each platform so that you can measure the number of donations, average donation amount, and total dollar amount of donations originating from each platform.
5. Focus on Facebook. Facebook has emerged as a critical tool for nonprofits looking to boost donor engagement. Take advantage of Facebook Live to create visibility for your cause. And if your organization is in the habit of creating videos, Facebook is the platform where they're likely to be shared the most. Experiment with FB's Custom Audience advertising campaign feature, which enables you to direct ads to donors who have given you their email addresses, and be sure to check out Facebook Fundraisers. Last but not least, spend some time learning how best to convert a Facebook like into an email subscriber through things like offering a free digital download or an engagement quiz.
6. Use Peer-to-Peer Fundraising. Asking your supporters and volunteers to raise money from their friends and family is the oldest fundraising trick in the book. Now commonly referred to as peer-to-peer fundraising, the approach continues to grow in popularity and sophistication, especially as digital platforms mature. I've already mentioned Facebook Fundraisers (see above), but there are other platforms out there that make it easy to empower your supporters to help you raise money. Fundly Indiegogo CrowdRise, Razoo, GoFundMe, or CauseVox (available through TechSoup) all offer affordable and easy-to-use fundraising tools to organizations of any size.
More Nonprofit Fundraising Tips
- Learn how to find the best donor management software for your nonprofit.
- Discover how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.
- Check out ten tips to improve your donor newsletter.
Michael Stein is a writer and digital strategist active in progressive social causes and the author of three books as well as numerous articles chronicling the rise of digital marketing, mobile, and online fundraising. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.