10+ Fundraising Best Practices for Nonprofits

Fundraising Practices

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Fundraising is both an art and a science. To make fundraising a little easier for nonprofits, we put together this list of nonprofit fundraising best practices. Each of the items below is a best practice your nonprofit can use to raise crucial funds for your mission. Read on to learn more! 

  1. Employ a strategic fundraising plan
  2. Choose the right tools for your fundraising
  3. Tell stories your supporters and prospective supporters want to hear
  4. Practice good donor stewardship
  5. Establish a recurring donation program
  6. Employ a matching gifts integration on your online donation form
  7. Use Google Ad Grants to promote your nonprofit
  8. Use Facebook fundraisers
  9. Take advantage of giving days like Giving Tuesday
  10. Host fundraising events
  11. Collect and act on fundraising data

1. Employ a strategic fundraising plan

The first of our fundraising best practices for nonprofits is to employ a strategic fundraising plan. It’s important to approach fundraising with a plan in mind. After all, according to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Don’t waste the fundraising year wishing for decent results. Instead, make your fundraising goals a reality by using a strategic fundraising plan.  

A strategic fundraising plan is your roadmap for fundraising for the year. It should outline exactly what you plan to do to raise crucial funds for your mission and when you intend to launch and conclude those initiatives. New to developing strategic fundraising plans? We’ve got you covered! Check out this blog post for step-by-step instructions on developing a strategic fundraising plan.  

2. Choose the right tools for your fundraising

Once you’ve developed the plan, you need to acquire the tools you need to put your plan into action. That can mean investing in a new CRM, acquiring an email service provider, or getting new online fundraising software. Whatever you need, be sure to conduct your research to find software solutions that are perfect for your needs.  

How can you ensure you’ve found the right tools for your nonprofit? We’ve put together a handy eBook on choosing the best software for your nonprofit.

Are you looking for fundraising software to make your life as a fundraiser  easier? Download The Fundraiser’s Guide to Buying Software to make your  software search a breeze!

3. Tell stories your supporters and prospective supporters want to hear 

The third of our fundraising best practices for nonprofits is to tell stories your supporters want to hear. The stories that you tell will inspire your supporters and would-be supporters to give to your nonprofit in support of your mission. For best results, you have to tell the stories that your donors want to hear. Most often, that means telling stories about those you serve at your organization. How did donations to your cause help make someone’s life better? What actions did your nonprofit take to improve that life? What would have been the consequences if your nonprofit hadn’t intervened and offered support? Your stories should answer these questions for donors and inspire them to give. 

Not only should you tell stories that supporters want to hear, you need to tell those stories where your supporters and future donors will be exposed to them. It’s all about reaching your supporters and would-be supporters where they are. Therefore, if you don’t have social media, it’s time to set up your nonprofit accounts online and start telling your stories there. Not only are stories great content on social media, but you can engage with your community of supporters online and ask them to share your stories with their friends and family, easily expanding your reach. Pair that with paid advertising on social media and you can grow your number of supporters exponentially. To learn more about nonprofit storytelling, check out our comprehensive guide to nonprofit storytelling

4. Practice good donor stewardship

The fourth of our fundraising best practices for nonprofits is to practice good donor stewardship. Once you’ve started to acquire new donors or receive donations from existing donors, it’s time to put a donor stewardship plan into action. What is donor stewardship? Donor stewardship is the post-gift relationship-building process nonprofits use to retain and upgrade donors. The first step in any good donor stewardship plan is to send a heartfelt thank-you to the donor.  

But you don’t have to stop at just a thank-you. Sending updates to the donor on what their gift accomplished is key to showing the impact their donation had on your nonprofit organization. This goes back to being able to tell great nonprofit stories. You need success stories as part of your donor stewardship plan so you can adequately express how their donations made a difference in the lives of those you serve.  

Like your fundraising, your donor stewardship should also be planned. That’s why we put together this great template for a Donor Communication and Stewardship Plan.  

5. Establish a recurring donation program

An efficient way to grow donations and improve donor retention is through recurring giving. In fact, a 2016 study showed that monthly recurring donors have a 90% retention rate compared to the average donor retention rate of 46%. Establishing a recurring donation program at your nonprofit is essential for getting donors onboard with recurring gifts. A great place to start is by offering a recurring gift option on your online donation forms. You can also send appeals asking that donors set up recurring gifts with your nonprofit. Explain to them how this helps in terms of providing more stable program funding, even at a smaller monthly gift size. Plus, you can emphasize how their recurring gifts add up to become a major help to your nonprofit, empowering you to do more on a regular basis for those you serve.  

When it comes to recurring donations, you may need to push donors gently toward that decision. Reinforce your recurring donation appeals with a recurring gift nudge or modal on your online donation form. This acts as a second request to donors, asking them to consider turning a one-time gift into a recurring donation. For Qgiv users, you’re in luck! Our platform was built for securing recurring gifts. Learn more about how Qgiv can support your recurring giving program. Check out this blog post for details.

6. Employ a matching gifts integration on your online donation form 

Another great way to quickly grow donations is to embed a matching gifts integration into your online donation form. This empowers donors to search for their employer and determine if their donation is eligible for a gift match, all without leaving your donation form! Why is this important? Often, donors don’t even realize that matching gifts are an option. In fact, according to Double the Donation, between $4-$7 billion in matching gifts goes unclaimed every year. That’s a lot of money left on the table that could be used to do some serious good.  

How do you get donors to use the matching gifts integration? Rather than direct them to a different website to check their eligibility, it helps to have the integration directly added to your online donation form. Qgiv, for instance, offers matching gift integrations with HEPdata, Double the Donation, and CyberGrants. For more matching gifts best practices check out this blog post

7. Use Google Ad Grants to promote your nonprofit

The seventh of our fundraising best practices for nonprofits is to use Google Ad Grants. Google Ad Grants is an exceptionally helpful program for nonprofit organizations. It empowers nonprofit organizations to promote their mission and ask for donations on Google using targeted ads. The best part? Eligible nonprofits get $10,000 per month in free advertising dollars that can be used to create and display Google ads. That definitely helps nonprofit advertising budgets go farther.  

That said, you want to make sure that your ads are performing well on Google. There are performance-related metrics nonprofits need to reach in order to maintain their Google Ad Grants status. You should get familiar with the key ads metrics in order to ensure you’re getting the most out of the program. At the bare minimum, you should understand your click-through-rate, cost per click, and conversion rate to get the most of Google Ad Grants. You can learn more about Google Ad Grants for nonprofits here.

8. Use Facebook fundraisers

Just like you should tell your stories on social media, you should also be fundraising on social media too! One easy way to start fundraising on social media is with Facebook Fundraisers. This is a tool Facebook rolled out for nonprofits so that they can raise crucial funds directly on Facebook. Nonprofits just need to sign up to fundraise on Facebook. Then, once approved, your nonprofit is ready to create its own fundraisers. 

Fundraising on Facebook is a social affair. You don’t just set a goal and wait. Instead, you can post updates on your fundraiser and even write about it on your organization’s Facebook page. That way, your supporters can easily find your fundraising campaign and support it online without ever leaving Facebook. That said, the donor information that Facebook provides nonprofits is limited, so it isn’t great for growing your donor database. When you give, you can choose how much of your data to share with the nonprofit organization, so often nonprofits just receive a donor’s name and donation amount without contact information. This can be a real bummer if it’s a new donor that isn’t already in your database because you’ll have no way to reach out to them.  

That said, it’s still worth it to take advantage of this free fundraising tool because many people who care about your cause would be happy to support you on social media. It’s an inexpensive way to make an ask and supporters can share links to your fundraiser with their friends and family to make it even easier for you to reach your online fundraising goals. For best practices for raising money on Facebook, check out this blog post

9. Take advantage of giving days like Giving Tuesday

Giving days are 24-hour fundraising events geared toward raising donations for nonprofit organizations. Giving days can be organized around specific causes or could be open to all participants like on Giving Tuesday. One thing’s for certain: fundraising during a giving day can be a lucrative way for your nonprofit to receive crucial funds for your mission.  

That said, you want to be sure to prepare your supporters for your participation in a giving day. Send save-the-dates to your supporters to let them know about the upcoming giving day. Then, send follow-ups as the day draws near asking for support when the day arrives. You should also include an appeal for the day of so supporters who did forget can take part.  

Set a time-sensitive fundraising goal for your giving day and encourage your supporters with updates throughout the day tracking progress toward your goal. Explain what you’re able to accomplish if you’re fully funded. This can inspire supporters to give more or even share your campaign with friends and family to help ensure your goal is reached.  

Whether you’re taking part in Giving Tuesday or establishing your own giving day, it pays to be prepared and have a plan in place. Check out this blog post for how to host a giving day.

10. Host fundraising events

Tenth of our fundraising best practices for nonprofits is to host fundraising events. A great way to raise crucial funds while providing entertainment to your community is to host fundraising events. Fundraising events can be a great addition to your strategic fundraising plan. Why? Because they have the potential to be big moneymakers! From individual donations to corporate sponsorships, it’s possible to raise significant funds with a fundraising event. Hosting more than one event a year, if possible with your staff and budget, can be even better. Some of the events you could participate in include: 

Peer-to-peer fundraising

One great fundraising event you can host is a peer-to-peer fundraiser. With peer-to-peer fundraising, you’re asking fundraising participants to raise funds on behalf of your organization. Instead of solely relying on registration fees, 50/50 raffles, and other moneymaking sub-events to raise funds, you’re asking your supporters to raise funds for you. That doesn’t mean that you can’t include those moneymaking sub-events in your event—in fact you should—but your fundraising participants should be the ones raising the bulk of the funds for your event. 

How do you get supporters to fundraise on your behalf? You can incentivize fundraising by offering prizes or offsetting the cost of registration for the event itself if fundraisers raise a certain amount of money for your cause. Many people will fundraise on your behalf specifically because they’re inspired to help your nonprofit organization. But for those who are unfamiliar with your cause, incentives can be a big help. Want to learn more about peer-to-peer fundraising? Check out our peer-to-peer ultimate guide

Auctions

Hosting a fundraising auction is another great way your nonprofit can raise crucial funds for its cause. With an auction, your nonprofit acquires items either by purchasing them or getting them donated (my favorite way to get auction items) and then auctions them off at an event. Your auction can act as a sub-event at another fundraiser, like a peer-to-peer event, or can be a standalone event depending on the number of auction items available. Whether your auction is large or small, you’ll be sure to benefit from the auction success toolkit.  

11. Collect and act on fundraising data

The last of our fundraising best practices for nonprofits is important no matter what size nonprofit you’re a part of. You need to collect and act on your fundraising data. You’d be surprised how easy it is to generate donor data. Most of the time, your donors just need to make a gift. At the bare minimum, you’ve already got their name and the donation amount that they gave. If you’ve got more information, you’re in an even better position to collect unique donor data.  

But what do you do with that donor data? First, look at the insights generated by your donor data. What’s your average gift amount? Are there specific times of the month you get more donations than others? How about different times of year? How did your event this year compare to last year’s event? Next, you can add that donor data to your CRM with an integration. Your fundraising data can tell you a lot about your donors’ giving habits, but only if it’s all together in one place. That’s why it’s important to be able to move your donor data around. An integration that moves your donor data into your CRM is the ideal solution for making your data portable. From there, you can look at the donor’s profile to determine a wealth of information about your donors based on their historical giving data. 

Your data can help you make crucial decisions about how you’ll fundraise during the year. To use your data more effectively check out this blog post to get the most out of your donor data. 

Conclusion

There you have it! This list of 10+ fundraising best practices for nonprofits is designed to help you raise crucial funds and make data-backed decisions that can keep your nonprofit profitable. 

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