As a nonprofit professional, fundraising is one of the most important parts of your job. Between stewarding donors, creating engagement opportunities, and planning communication strategies, you have quite a bit on your plate!
That’s where online fundraising comes in. Online fundraising isn’t anything new: nonprofits have been asking for donations on the internet for as long as the internet has been around. But now it’s easier to make online fundraising work for you.
There are a million different ways to raise money online, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite tools that promote donor engagement, streamline data collection, and strengthen your fundraising strategy—all while making your job easier.
So what are these fundraising tools?
- Mobile giving software.
- Peer-to-peer fundraising software.
- Online auction software.
- Matching gifts software.
- Online storefronts.
With these easy-to-use online fundraising tools, you can improve and boost your fundraising efforts without overloading yourself. Let’s dive in!
1. Mobile giving software.
Mobile giving software is a functional online fundraising tool that does double duty: it makes it easier for you to ask for donations and easier for your donors to give!
With mobile giving software, you can encourage donors to give easily from their smartphones whenever they feel moved, and your donors don’t have to whip out a checkbook or stand in line at a donation kiosk.
Mobile giving includes emailed donation appeals, mobile-responsive donation pages, a donor-facing app, and/or text-to-give software.
What are some ways that you can incorporate mobile giving into your next fundraising campaign?
- Create an email fundraising campaign to encourage donors to visit your donation page and make a gift. More and more donors are handling their emails from their phones, so make sure that your website and donation form are totally mobile responsive!
- Encourage donors to pull out their phones and visit your donation page or download your organization’s app during an event.
- Leverage mobile giving during your next urgent fundraising campaign, like a situational crisis. Send out a mass text message or email blast to let your supporters know that your organization has a need, then encourage them to donate right then and there.
Because more and more people rely on their smartphones as their primary method of accessing the internet, your nonprofit needs to be able to request and process donations through mobile devices during your campaigns.
For ideas for including mobile giving into your strategy as well as other fun innovations, check out this guide to the top online fundraising platforms from Qgiv.
2. Peer-to-peer fundraising software.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a strategy that nonprofits all over the country are using to engage their donors, spread awareness about their mission, and diversify their donor pool.
In a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, nonprofits give supporters the tools to set up their own individual fundraising pages and encourage them to spread the word amongst their friends and family on social media.
What could be a better online donation tool? With peer-to-peer fundraising, your donors become your advocates, ambassadors, and fundraising specialists! Peer-to-peer fundraising comes with its own special set of benefits:
- Donors get to own their involvement with your organization and promote their passions and values to their friends and family.
- Their social circles become your organization’s social circles: your fundraisers probably have friends and family living far away from your nonprofit’s home base. The exposure that your organization gets from these fundraising campaigns is invaluable!
- You can use a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign as the lead-up marketing strategy for a fun event, like a 5K, walkathon, danceathon, or bike race. Your fundraisers raise awareness as well as donations, and your event gets free publicity.
When your supporters’ friends and families donate to their peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, odds are that they donated to support and encourage their buddy, not because they’re passionate about your organization.
However, this is the perfect opportunity to take this casual donor and convert them into a lifelong supporter! Reach out to them after they make their donation with an inspiring thank-you note and some introductory materials about your cause and your nonprofit.
They’ll appreciate the effort you took to reach out, and you’ll get a whole slew of new donors to steward.
3. Online auction software.
Charity auctions are a fantastic way for your nonprofit to pull off the event of the year: they’re fun and engaging for donors, and your nonprofit stands to make a lot of money from the cool or unique items that you bring in.
But hosting any fundraising event is time-consuming and expensive, especially when you consider the planning process and hiring a venue, a caterer, an auctioneer, and anyone else you might need. That’s where online auctions come in.
An online auction is essentially the same as a silent auction, with one major difference: your donors are bidding from the comfort of their own homes. What are the benefits of hosting an online auction instead of an in-person auction?
- Saving money. Instead of paying for all of the things that you would have while hosting an event, you only have to pay for the software and the items you’re auctioning off.
- Wider audience. When you hold an online auction, you can include interested parties from different states, regions, or time zones!
- Longer timeframe. With an online auction, you can keep bidding open for anywhere from twelve hours to three weeks, so donors have time to get in on the action.
An online auction is a fun and easy way to hold a charity auction in the most efficient way possible. All you have to do is set up your auction website, upload high-quality pictures of your items, and promote the auction to your potential bidders.
As an added bonus, you can set all of the bidders’ data to flow automatically into your CRM. That way, there’s no chance of missing out on creating a valuable relationships with someone who could be interested in your nonprofit.
When you combine smart online software with fun event ideas, you can improve your fundraising strategy on every front!
4. Matching gifts software.
Have you considered what corporate philanthropy could do for your fundraising strategy? By using matching gifts, you could double the impact of your donors’ contributions without having to work harder.
Matching gifts are donations offered by an employer after an employee offers proof of their own donation and submits a matching gift request. The employer then verifies with the nonprofit that the gift was made, and writes a check to the nonprofit.
Many companies offer matching gift programs to part- and full-time employees, and others even offer matching gifts to retirees!
The biggest obstacle to successful matching gift strategies for nonprofits is that most people don’t know if their employer has a matching gifts program. That’s why using matching gifts software to raise awareness about potential matches can strengthen your fundraising strategy without any extra work from you.
Matching gift software comes in a variety of options. The three most common are:
- A matching gifts database on a separate, branded search page that you can link your donors to from emails, donation pages, thank-you messages, and more.
- A branded plug-in that you can include directly on your website’s donation page to enable donors to search for their employer’s matching gift program.
- A fully automated matching gifts software that tracks eligibility, automates follow-up with donors, and analyzes your matching gifts strategy and success.
Many nonprofits don’t realize the potential of matching gifts. But with some educational resources and smart marketing, your organization can easily start to double or triple the impact of your donors’ gifts.
Using matching gifts software can make this strategy even easier for you, because it removes the need for your organization’s staff to do all the research about employers’ corporate philanthropy programs on their own.
Robust matching gifts software will have parent companies, subsidiaries, and alternate spellings of companies as well as links to the forms that a donor has to fill out when applicable.
For help deciding on the right matching gifts database for your nonprofit’s needs, check out this guide to the best matching gift database from Re:Charity.
5. Online storefronts.
Hauling your nonprofit’s branded merchandise from event to event can be a hassle, especially when it seems like you can’t grab your supporters’ attention and convince them to buy it.
A quick and easy way to make your online fundraising efforts more successful is to set up an online storefront for your merch! You can easily keep track of inventory and options, and offer member or donor discounts for added incentives.
With an online storefront linked to your fundraising campaign, you can encourage donor to wear their support on their sleeves by purchasing some of the most popular items:
- A perfectly designed t-shirt.
- Cool and functional travel coffee mugs.
- Pins with your logo and campaign slogan on them.
- Cozy sweatshirts.
Most robust online fundraising software providers will have a storefront feature, so make sure you’re on the lookout for it while picking a product.
Merchandise fundraising is an effective tactic for nonprofits because donors love sporting your logo or tagline to showcase their support for your mission. Plus, wearing or using your merchandise turns your supporters into walking billboards for your cause!
Consider creating t-shirts for events, then selling them as vintage souvenirs at future events.
As useful as things like PayPal is for charging for merchandise, nothing does it better than a nonprofit-oriented alternative. When you make merchandise fundraising easier, your whole fundraising strategy benefits.
Your team can make your fundraising easier and more productive just by implementing these simple ideas into your strategy! Online fundraising can be your nonprofit’s best friend if you follow these best practices.
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.