As you’re well aware, fundraising is a major challenge. Asking people for money, even when it’s for a charitable cause and they’re loyal supporters of your mission, is never easy. However, fundraising is completely essential to your work as a nonprofit professional.

In the world of nonprofit fundraising, it is important to always be on top of things lest you miss out on an opportunity to expand or improve your organization. Growing your nonprofit’s impact should always be a top priority, and fundraising is the engine that powers it all.

By staying on top of new strategy trends and updates, you can bolster your ability to fundraise, engage your supporters, and pursue your mission over the long run. Plus, as we head into 2020, it’s never a waste of time to re-examine your fundraising approach and look for potential improvements!

Check out these 5 ways to spruce up your fundraising strategy:

  1. Always focus on donor engagement.
  2. Look for opportunities to keep growing.
  3. Put a twist on your typical campaign strategy.
  4. Take a big-picture approach to fundraising.
  5. Update your tools and resources when needed.

Ready to review some tried-and-true ways to strengthen your fundraising strategies? Let’s get started. 

1. Always Focus on Donor Engagement.

Donor engagement is what keeps supporters involved with your nonprofit, and it’s ultimately what powers your organization over the long-run. After all, constantly finding brand new donors is expensive and time-consuming, leaving you and your organization with little to no room to grow. 

Instead, focus on developing your relationships with current donors and getting them excited to stay involved with you and the cause you are working for. This creates a much more sustainable approach to fundraising and opens up tons of new opportunities to keep growing. 

Part of keeping donors engaged, though, means offering new types of campaigns and opportunities to get involved. Here are a few of our favorite ways to help boost donor engagement:

  • Use online pledge software. A pledge is a promise of a donation to be collected sometime in the near future rather than the actual donation itself— to keep the donor’s excitement alive and encourage higher rates of follow-through with the funds. Additionally, many pledge software platforms offer a simple way for the donor to create an online account with the nonprofit, building a foundation to stay in touch. Click here to learn more about using pledge software to keep the focus on recurring donors. 
  • Use storytelling strategies. Storytelling-focused marketing is an effective tool for keeping donors engaged with your message. The inclusion of a story will allow the potential donor to better understand your organization and the role it plays in its community. Plus, when the donor sees exactly who or what their gifts are helping, it becomes obvious why a donation is so important. In turn, this can increase the level of engagement and lead to a greater chance of becoming a repeat donor. 
  • Conduct a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Once you have those donors hooked, you can then persuade them to get even more involved by becoming fundraisers themselves. Peer-to-peer fundraising is an excellent, tech-savvy way to boost engagement at a more personal level. One of the most classic forms of peer-to-peer fundraising is that of the walk-a-thon, in which a participant recruits family and friends to pledge a certain donation per lap completed. Say, $5 per lap for 20 laps equals a $100 donation! 

Combined with tech-savvy, storytelling-based marketing strategies, peer-to-peer fundraising is particularly effective at boosting engagement and growing your relationships. That’s because your new audience of potential donors can see that a donation would help both their fundraising friend or family member on a more personal level, and your organization on a larger scale—  the ultimate goal being that this new donor becomes a recurring partner as well. 

2. Look for Opportunities to Keep Growing.

Just as donor engagement is essential for retaining the support of donors over time, it’s equally important to look for ways to keep growing those relationships whenever possible. 

We mentioned earlier that continually looking to attract new donors becomes expensive and unsustainable. By focusing on engaging your current donors and identifying opportunities to grow their support, you can greatly boost the efficiency of your fundraising strategies. One of the most effective ways to do this is through prospect research.

This type of research involves studying the ability and affinity of your donors to give larger gifts over time, thus allowing you to have prior knowledge concerning the donors that you are looking to attract.

  • A donor’s ability to give is just that, their financial ability to give larger donations to your organization. Publicly-available records of investments, property ownership, and more can give you an idea of which of your donors might be able to give more. Their personal connections and job titles can also be helpful clues.
  • A donor’s affinity to give refers to their natural draw to your organization and the cause it supports. Building off what was previously said about storytelling-based marketing, if a donor feels a strong connection to the mission of your organization, they will be much more likely to help out financially in generous portions. Learn more with this DonorSearch guide to understanding a donor’s affinity to give.

Both ability and affinity are equally important parts of the equation, but it’s important to keep your efforts focused. Remember, no matter how much someone loves your organization’s work, if they don’t have the money to make a larger gift, they don’t have the money. That’s why researching your donors’ ability to give and then screening further to find those with the deeper emotional affinity to give is the most effective approach to take.

3. Put a Twist on Your Typical Campaign Strategy.

It’s important to never let your campaigning get too redundant! Keep supporters excited to see what’ll come up next by constantly brainstorming new fundraising ideas.

Check out the complete Snowball fundraising ideas directory, divided into categories of easy, quick, cheap, unique, etc., to explore a few of our favorites that will hopefully get the wheels turning and the ideas churning for your team. 

Anything out of the ordinary will make your campaign stand out amongst others, which is important when there are thousands of other choices to which a donor could give their money. This could be a pet costume contest, dance marathon, street fair, talent show… and the list goes on. 

Of course, you would never consciously go out of your way to host a boring event or share a bland donation appeal, but the danger lies in relying too much on what’s always worked in the past. Just because a fundraising idea served your organization well several years ago doesn’t mean you have to repeat it each year. 

Instead, expand it, tweak it, and adjust it to keep your supporters on their toes and ideally attract broader audiences. Repetitive or uninspired campaigns can actually do your nonprofit a disservice when you are not only not gaining new donors, but also losing some of your repeat donors to the flashier campaign nextdoor. 

Remember, prioritize donor engagement! The best campaigns are the one that the donor is more closely involved with rather than simply throwing a check at one cause or another. This will attract both new and recurring donors, as well as encourage those new donors to become recurring ones.

4. Take a Big-Picture Approach to Fundraising.

Taking a strategic approach to fundraising can produce the best results. Having unorganized strategies or failing to understand how all of your campaign goals fit together can become extremely inefficient over time, thus leading to loss of funds and loss of donors behind those funds.

A successful campaign will have many different pieces and moving parts, each of which must work together towards a common goal. 

Project management is vital to the success of any fundraising campaign, in part because it takes abstract concepts and translates them into specific, concrete tasks that can more easily be recognized and completed in a timely manner. Anyone who’s ever led a fundraising campaign before can tell you how quickly all the tasks can pile up without an organized way of arranging and prioritizing them!

This guide to developing a complete nonprofit digital strategy breaks the process down into four core stages:

  1. Identification. This involves understanding your campaign’s or initiative’s goals, audience, and constraints.
  2. Planning. This step includes gathering the right tools and then crafting the specifics of your strategy.
  3. Execution. Executing your campaign involves bringing it to life through fundraising ideas and marketing strategies.
  4. Analysis. Tracking, measuring, and studying your performance is a crucial final step of any project.

In addition, by utilizing the stages of pre-campaign, campaign, and post-campaign to mentally organize the steps you have to go through to fundraise, you can more easily divide the project into smaller pieces without losing sight of the big-picture. 

And to make things even simpler, there are a plethora of digital tools available to track your progress at each and every stage, including websites, digital advertising, social media, and email marketing. Using digital tools gives your campaigns the major boost of generating data, which you can then continually refer back to, quickly revealing the strategies that work best and those that need improving.

5. Update Your Tools and Resources When Needed.

Fundraising has very quickly become a tech-heavy undertaking, and outdated tools might hold your team, and your mission, back without you ever realizing it.

Continually reviewing your digital toolkit to look for areas in need of improvement will allow you to recognize any concerns and plug any holes if and when necessary. 

However, this doesn’t just mean regularly upgrading your technology. It also means ensuring that your team’s fundraising and tech knowledge stays up-to-date, too! There are numerous  free training programs out there to teach the nonprofit professional about the ever-changing world of fundraising plans and trends. 

For more thorough strategy upgrades and comprehensive training support, you might also consider bringing on a nonprofit technology consultant. These experts will easily be able to determine what is and is not working for you at the moment and provide actionable suggestions on how to best move forward. 

At the current rate of technological expansion, what worked for your campaign last month might not work today, and what works today might not work next week. There are tons of software options and online platforms out there when it comes to raising funds for your nonprofit, so try your best to stay on top of the constant developments in the field.

Make sure you keep these 5 tips in mind as you begin to draft a fundraising plan for your nonprofit. The world around us is constantly shifting as the internet is evolving. Reading through and implementing these practices will ensure that you bring your organization and its ability to fundraise with you into 2020 and beyond!

January 21, 2020


John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations. 

Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.


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