[GUEST POST] Fundraising Technology: 7 Important Tools You Should Know
As the world around us is constantly shifting, we have to make sure that our nonprofit fundraising practices can keep up. What started out as handwritten fundraising letters and donation jars has morphed into online crowdfunding campaigns and specially designed nonprofit software.
Because of this extensive transformation, it is crucial that you stay up-to-date with current tech trends — particularly within the nonprofit sphere — in order to maximize your fundraising revenue.
For example, online giving continues to make up a growing proportion of individual giving for nonprofits, seeing an online giving increase of over 12.1% in the past year.This is largely due to a plethora of new and improved fundraising resources right at your fingertips.
With the right tech tools, you’ll have everything you need to establish a successful fundraising strategy. And the more funds you receive, the greater the impact your organization can have on local communities and the world around you.
Here are the essential building blocks of a modern fundraising toolkit. Let’s walk through each in greater detail.
- Online fundraising platform
- CRM system
- Matching gifts database
- Volunteer grants database
- Advocacy software
- Text-to-give tools
- Data analytics software
Ready to get started? Let’s jump in.
1. Online fundraising platform
One of the most important tools you’ll need to fundraise in the 21st century is an online fundraising platform. This is what allows you to accept donations, connect with new supporters, and get the word out about your organization.
Consider these key benefits of an online platform:
- Offer easy access to donation forms. Online donation forms allow you to quickly accept donations from all over the world and expand your payment options to include credit and debit cards, mobile payments, bank transfers, and more. A user is much more likely to make a donation if the process is well-structured and quick to complete.
- Encourage recurring donations. Online fundraising platforms often include an option with every donation to make it a recurring one, thus encouraging donors to agree to scheduled weekly, monthly, or yearly gifts. This way, you get the stability of ongoing donations, while the donor is offered an easy way to donate without having to resubmit their financial information each time.
- Allow for social sharing. Be sure to include a “share now!” button with all of your donation forms to give the donor a quick and easy way to share your message with their entire social media networks. This gets the word out quicker and expands the reach of your campaign.
Online fundraising platforms are key to streamlining the donation process and ensuring convenience for both you and your donors, which in turn goes to boosting donations and increasing revenue.
2. CRM system
A nonprofit CRM, or constituent relationship management system, is a crucial fundraising tool that allows you to organize and manage information collected from your campaigns and supporters. This gives you a better understanding of those giving to your organization and how to effectively target like-minded individuals and solicit further donations.
Your CRM can save you time and money by streamlining the following processes:
- Creation of donor profiles: For each individual that gives to your nonprofit, your CRM should create a donor profile that contains key information such as name, date(s) and amount(s) of gifts, prior engagements, and contact information.
- Segmentation: With this information at hand, you can easily divide your target audience into groups based on shared characteristics. For example, you may segment your constituents based on whether they are a first-time, repeat, recurring, or lapsed donor in order to better relate to each group.
- Communication: Donor communications is one of the most important tasks within the fundraising process, and it has become easier and more effective with the help of your handy CRM. With advanced or integrated systems, you can set up automated, yet personalized, email or text messages to thank your donors, keep them updated on current happenings, and request support.
These processes, which can seem intimidating at first, can each be automated with a few clicks of a button within your CRM — which saves you time and money that can be applied elsewhere.
3. Matching gifts database
Matching gifts are an element of corporate philanthropy in which participating companies financially match employees’ donations to nonprofits. Many of your current donors are likely to be eligible for these programs through their employers, although most are unaware of their eligibility.
So how can you educate your supporters and collect these unclaimed corporate donations? With an effective matching gifts strategy, you’ll have what you need to lead donors through the simple process and encourage employer requests.
To quickly find out whether your donors are eligible for matching gifts:
- Embed a matching gifts database search tool, like this one, in your website, donation forms, or email communications. Check out our own matching gift database here to learn about the range of data that these resources should include to be truly effective.
- Explain what matching gift programs are and direct supporters to your matching gifts database search tool.
- Encourage donors to check their eligibility in seconds.
Based on the individual’s eligibility, they will be provided suggested next steps, including any links to online request forms or contact information for their employer’s matching gift support.
When a matching gift request is approved, you’ll receive a check from the donor’s employer.
4. Volunteer grants database
Corporate philanthropy doesn’t stop at matching gifts. Thousands of employers offer volunteer grants as well. Volunteer grants, which can be another source of free money, are available from companies that offer charitable gifts to the nonprofits their employees care about (and volunteer at).
Yet, similarly to matching gift programs, the majority of volunteers are unaware of their eligibility. This is where another database comes in — one containing information on employers’ volunteer grant programs. Check out Double the Donation’s guide to volunteer grants for an overview of volunteer grant programs and how to market them to your key supporters.
For boosted convenience on the parts of both your team and your donors, you can find a single database that provides information on both matching gift programs and volunteer grants.
5. Advocacy software
An advocacy campaign is a unique type of nonprofit campaign. It differs from the traditional fundraiser in that the main goal is not always a financial one.
Nonprofit advocacy is partaking in any action that aims to create a positive impact on the world, and is typically associated with an event or activity related to the general mission behind your organization. Specifically, advocacy is the public support of a particular cause or policy within your community.
Advocacy software, or a set of tools to help you reach your target audience and enable them take your target action, can be a vital piece of fundraising technology. These advocacy tools can help you:
- Build strong relationships with like-minded individuals.
- Increase awareness surrounding your cause.
- Provide ample opportunities for supporters to get involved.
- Change policy through the lobbying of public officials.
- Raise funds to provide a solution to the issue.
Advocacy campaigns tend to work toward three solutions: increased awareness, a policy change, or the raising of funds. After all, advocacy and fundraising go hand-in-hand, and can overlap a bit, even if a campaign does not directly lead to donations.
6. Text-to-give tools
Text-to-give campaigns have become increasingly popular in the last decade, and have been seen to raise millions for nonprofits worldwide.
The basis of the fundraiser is simple. From the donor standpoint, the process goes like this:
- Donors text a predetermined keyword (such as GIVE) and the size of their gift (such as $50) to a phone number associated with your campaign.
- First-time donors are directed to a quick form asking for basic contact and financial information.
- Repeat donors simply have to confirm with two clicks of a button, which takes mere seconds.
The rest happens behind the scenes with the software solutions processing and transferring the funds to your organization. Text-to-give, also called mobile giving, is a great way to reach supporters that are always on-the-go.
7. Data analytics software
As you walk through the stages of a fundraising campaign, be sure to collect engagement and performance data at every step (from donation forms, email communications, social media platforms, and more). The collection and analysis of this data is key to planning, hosting, and evaluating your campaigns.
To maximize the impact of your data analysis, be sure you have the right analytical tools to do the job. These tools can provide you with three types of data:
- Descriptive data: This type of data analyzes metrics such as age and location of supporters, donation size and frequency, and preferred channels for communication and giving. With this information, a basic understanding of your average donor is formed.
- Predictive data: This data analyzes trends in your organization’s fundraising campaigns, including retention rate, ROI, and donation growth, in order to predict patterns of future operations.
- Prescriptive data: This final type of data also allows you to make predictions, but based on potential changes in fundraising strategy, such as the implementation of a new advocacy campaign or the promotion of matching gifts, and measure possible outcomes.
When you use the data provided and analyzed by your various fundraising software solutions, you’ll be able to improve multiple aspects of your marketing strategy, fundraising campaigns, and overall nonprofit operations.
These seven elements of a modern fundraising toolkit are widely available due to the expansion of digitization and tech tools. However, it is important to remember that even in today’s digital world, you are not limited to these new and flashy tools.
After all, sometimes a handwritten letter might be exactly what you need to set your nonprofit apart and break through the digital clutter! With the right combination of new and established fundraising practices, you’ll be seeing increased streams of revenue in no time.
by Adam Weinger, President, Double the Donation
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of matching gift tools to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions. Adam created Double the Donation in order to help nonprofits increase their annual revenue through corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.