June 8, 2021 | Categories Featured

10 Transformative Online Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

10 transformative Online Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

Those aboard the online fundraising train tend to not look back. That’s because a digital strategy can truly transform every aspect of your organization’s work – from marketing to events. So much so that online revenue in the nonprofit sector grew by 32 percent in 2020.

Let’s have a sneak peek at your top-to-bottom transformation.

Why Online Fundraising?

Skip the setup

From finding a venue to managing volunteers, the undeniable stress of event planning dissolves when you welcome online fundraising with open arms. Leaving the more frustrating tasks to nonprofit technology allows your nonprofit to focus on strategy and goal-setting instead.

Keep it cost-efficient

Lowering overhead costs doesn’t mean accomplishing less. Online fundraising tools like DonorPerfect save your organization time and money spent on manual data entry, in-person events, and printed materials, reserving your precious resources for more pressing matters.

Spread your wings

Geography no longer limits your organization, and there’s no doubt that donors outside your community are passionate about your cause. Online fundraising tools make it easy to engage your future fans on social media, via email, through a video platform – wherever they are!

10 Transformative Online Fundraising Ideas

Even if you’re confident that online fundraising is the right direction, it’s hard to know how and where to get started. The good news is that once you embrace digital donor engagement tools, most of the grunt work – like donation forms and gift acknowledgement – is done for you through automation. For fundraising initiatives that require a little more love – like charity auctions and virtual events – we put together a list of ideas to help you pave your new-and-improved path.

  1. Encourage birthday fundraisers
  2. Host a hybrid auction
  3. Engage via virtual events
  4. Offer a monthly giving option
  5. Plan a matching gift campaign
  6. Prompt text-to-donate giving
  7. Stay in touch with facetime
  8. Catch donors while they shop
  9. Share on social often
  10. Connect your mission to current events

Online fundraising idea #1

Start crowdfunding with a birthday fundraiser

Giving comes more easily when the cause is close to home. That’s why peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns do so well – people want to give to their friends, or their friends’ friends, and rally around their loved ones.

Birthday fundraisers are a great way to get started with crowdfunding because they encourage giving within a limited timeframe (ex. for my birthday this week, please help me reach my goal of $1,000 to rescue foster animals like mine). If you keep a record of your donors’ birthdates, you have the unique opportunity to make crowdfunding a timely ask. Send them a friendly reminder and a link to get started, along with your birthday greeting.

Online fundraising idea #2

Host a hybrid auction that anyone can attend

As your supporters slowly get more comfortable with stepping out in 2021, there are plenty of opportunities for in-person, virtual, or hybrid auctions, depending on their needs. For example, you could auction items online, face-to-face, or a mix of both, using an event website or a handy mobile auction tool guests can access from the ballroom or their living room. Not to mention, this approach allows for a much larger pool of bidders to drive up bids and raise more for your cause.

Each of these popular items can be sold and redeemed online:

  • Fitness or cooking classes
  • Personal training sessions
  • Consulting services
  • Custom artwork
  • Signed memorabilia
  • Outdoor sports gear
  • Travel packages

These items tend to sell quickly at any auction, but you can generate even more excitement with pre-bidding and mobile notifications.

Online fundraising idea #3

Engage with supporters through virtual events

No more worrying about babysitters or busy schedules, as virtual events are much easier for supporters to attend. And they actually provide more opportunities to engage than you might think. Even though you won’t be networking in person, with online fundraising tools, you can still share success stories, celebrate your donors, energize your audience, and stay on brand the same way you would at an event that’d cost big bucks to put on.

Online fundraising idea #4

Offer a monthly giving program to retain donors

Six out of every ten donors will stop giving to your organization next year, but you can nip this negative trend in the bud with a recurring giving program that automatically collects their preferred amount each month. This model has become popular due to donors’ expressed interest in making incremental payments over time to stay active with your mission.

Online fundraising idea #5

Secure a major donor for a matching gift campaign

Small, one-time donations can seem transactional, and that’s not how donors want to feel. They truly want their effort to make a difference. A matching gift campaign (usually sponsored by a major donor) can double each individual gift, no matter how small, OR double the total of all donations once a certain amount has been reached.

This helps supporters feel like the valuable part of your success that they are, and may inspire them to take part in your monthly giving program to spread out their donations over time and receive a comprehensive impact statement.

Get help with finding and engaging major donors >>

Online fundraising idea #6

Encourage easy text donations

In the past year, mobile giving has increased 205 percent, with a quarter of donors completing their donations on mobile devices. Most texts are read right away, so the easier it is to get involved, the more likely donors are to take action then and there.

To take advantage of the “anytime, anywhere” nature of mobile giving and engage with your mobile-minded supporters, try sending an actionable text message with a link to your donation page.

Online fundraising idea #7

Stay in touch with some facetime

Fundraising isn’t about the cash – it’s about the community. The more personal your interactions with supporters, the better. That’s why video engagement is quickly coming to the forefront of nonprofits’ digital strategies.

The best thing about incorporating video in your strategy is that no special skills are needed. All you have to do is plan your personal message, then press record. Think of the possibilities: you can generate personalized impact reports or catch donors “in the moment” with targeted calls-to-action.

Online fundraising idea #8

Catch donors while they’re already shopping

Online giving should be accessible for all who want to participate, even if they only have a few dollars to spare. Now you can help your smaller supporters give while they shop for essential items on their mobile device.

Online fundraising idea #9

Share to social media as often as possible

Investing in social media is a safe bet. It’s no secret that Generations Y and Z heavily rely on it, but you might be surprised to learn that more than half of Gen X is inspired to donate by a post or image they saw on social media.

Aside from the fact that many of your donors already know and love it, social media sharing allows you to get your message out in more than one place to maximize its reach. Even if your supporters don’t check their email often, they won’t miss an opportunity to donate if they see your call-to-action on several sites.

Online fundraising idea #10

Connect your mission to headlines donors care about

It pays to pay attention. With social unrest weighing heavily in recent years, online fundraising has helped donors amplify the causes they care most about. In 2020, nonprofits that responded to current events saw noticeably higher growth in one-time giving revenue than those that did not.

That’s because these days, social media users are logging in to see crowdsourced news and imagery from their peers. Younger folks were quick to take action on social media as the events of 2020 unfolded, with great emphasis on searching for their truth and standing up for what they think is right. So why not join them? After all, your nonprofit work shares that same purpose.

However you plan to implement online and mobile strategies in your fundraising workflow, you aren’t likely to regret it. Your reach will increase, and so will your impact – and that’s what matters most, no matter how donors choose to engage with your organization.

Download your free Digital Fundraising Makeover for Nonprofits

Emily Patz
Meet the author: Emily Patz

I'm a freelance copywriter and content strategist with over ten years of experience creating community-building content strategies and compelling copy for websites, mobile, marketing campaigns, and social media.

Want to see if I'm a fit for your next initiative? Check out samples...

Learn more about Emily Patz
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