5 Versatile Fundraising Strategies for Small Nonprofits

If your nonprofit is just getting started, it’s easy to be daunted by the challenges that arise with fundraising efforts. This is especially true if you compare yourself to larger and more established organizations, which draw on brand recognition and longtime supporters to reach their goals.

However, while you need to work hard, you don’t need to worry. Believe it or not, your small nonprofit has some advantages over your larger counterparts, one of the most important being your ability to interact with donors on an individual basis.

With the right fundraising strategies, your small nonprofit can find donors who share your mission and want to form lasting partnerships with your organization. A strong first step is to reach out to them where they already are—on social media—through a crowdfunding campaign.

1. Reach fundraising goals with a crowdfunding campaign

If your organization is looking for a relatively inexpensive fundraising method that spreads the word about the good work you do, consider a crowdfunding campaign. In this fundraising form, your organization creates a donation page to which supporters can contribute to your next project. They can then share on social media, encouraging their friends and followers to do the same.

All your organization needs to start a crowdfunding campaign is a platform to host your fundraiser. Important considerations include cost and sharing ability. You’ll want to pick a platform that makes it easy to share your campaign on your supporters’ social media sites. 

Once you’ve chosen the right platform and your campaign is up and running, you’ll be able to share it via email and social media with supporters and followers who will, in turn, share it with their networks in turn. Crowdfunding is perfect for small nonprofits because:

  • It doesn’t take a large team to set up a crowdfunding campaign. Nonprofits of any size can start and manage online crowdfunding campaigns.
  • It puts your cause and your goals front and center. Want to share your message with people who may want to support your cause but haven’t discovered your organization yet? Boost your crowdfunding results by using your campaign to tell your organization’s story.
  • It helps you reach new audiences. Crowdfunding works because it introduces your organization and your mission to wider networks of potential donors. Your current base of supporters may be small, but it will grow as those individuals share the campaign with members of their social media networks.

2. Engage with your supporters at community events

Even the newest nonprofits know how important it is to build lasting relationships with donors. These relationships create the foundation for the recurring support your organization needs to continue and expand. A community event provides an opportunity for you and your donors to get to know each other and understand each other’s goals and interests.

It’s likely that donors will be inspired to give at your event, so ensure that you have a fast and easy giving method already in place. Consider offering a text-to-give service so that your attendees can complete additional donations at the event, or encourage them to give through your website.

Your community event will require some advance planning, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot or require a large fundraising team to be successful! Many popular fundraising ideas, especially outdoor events such as walkathons, are relatively inexpensive to host. Choose an event that suits the needs and resources of your community and your nonprofit.

Want to combine your event with your crowdfunding campaign? A recent survey shows that fun runs are among the most profitable nonprofit fundraising events, in part because they tend to go hand-in-hand with crowdfunding efforts. They’re also easy to organize and inexpensive.

3. Spread the word with branded merchandise

Branded merchandise serves multiple purposes within your nonprofit’s fundraising effort. For your supporters, it incentivizes donations and thanks them for their support. For your nonprofit, branded merchandise is a wonderful way to spread the word about your organization and develop the brand recognition that your larger counterparts leverage.

There are several ways in which you can incorporate branded merchandise throughout your fundraising process. If you’re using a crowdfunding campaign to lead up to a community event, consider:

  • Offering merchandise to crowdfunding campaign supporters. One popular crowdfunding strategy is to offer different merchandise to donors who give at different predefined levels outlined on your campaign page.
  • Offering merchandise to event registrants. Boost donations and attendance at your event by offering branded products to your registrants. Hosting a fun run, walkathon, or another athletic event? Consider offering items such as t-shirts that are relevant to the activity in which they’ll be participating.
  • Selling merchandise at your event. Motivate your attendees to make additional donations—and provide them with a tangible reminder of the fun they had at your nonprofit’s event—by selling merchandise to your guests.

If you’re looking for a product that will encourage supporters to give and spread the word about your nonprofit, consider t-shirts. You don’t need to be a design expert to create a shirt your supporters will love: a platform like Bonfire offers templates and design help to ensure  your final product is high-quality.

T-shirts are also an effective means of promoting your organization, an important factor to consider if your nonprofit needs to build its brand recognition. Whenever your supporters wear your shirt in public, they create the opportunity to start conversations about your organization and all of the good work you do!

4. Encourage participation in corporate matching gift programs

Donors who share your mission know that larger gifts are essential to your organization’s future. You can help them increase or even double their gift eligible donors to participate in their employers’ matching gift programs.

Recent nonprofit fundraising statistics indicate that the majority of potential donors are more likely to support a cause if they know their employer will match their gift. Matching gift programs also encourage many donors to give more.

Corporate matching gifts, which typically match your donors’ gifts in a 1:1 ratio, are a free way to increase giving to your organization. However, most matching gift revenue tends to go unclaimed. There are several reasons why:

  • Donors don’t know that their employers offer matching gift programs. Although they want their employees to take advantage of matching gift programs, corporations don’t tend to remind them that these programs are available.
  • Donors don’t know or don’t remember their employers’ matching gift policies. Most corporations include parameters within their matching gift programs, delineating the smallest and largest gifts they will match and identifying any categories of organizations for which they won’t match.
  • Nonprofits don’t remind donors to submit matching gift requests. Donors have to submit a match request to their employers as part of the matching gift process. Without a reminder from your nonprofit, many donors forget to submit these requests!

Your nonprofit wants to incorporate matching gifts in your fundraising strategy to raise as much in donations as possible and make your donors feel great about giving. You can help make them aware of their potential eligibility for corporate matching gift programs by:

  • Including a reminder on your crowdfunding page. When your supporters share the page on social media, their friends and followers will see this reminder as well.
  • Reminding event registrants and attendees. Many companies will match their employees’ individual contributions made toward your fundraising event, so ensure that your registrants are aware!

5. Let donor data inform your communication

Your nonprofit’s growth and the growth of your support base are inextricably connected. To achieve your goals, you need continued support from your most committed donors as well as new individuals ready to contribute to your cause. As your nonprofit gains supporters, make sure that you’re gathering all the information necessary to communicate with them effectively.

You can improve donor relations by keeping your donor data organized and accessible in a donor database. Keep your database up-to-date by inputting all donations and all new donors and event registrants. The information you’ll want to have regarding each donor includes:

  • Preferred name and contact method. You’ll always want to personalize your communications, such as when you ask for a gift or thank them for one.
  • Past giving history. Have some of your donors supported your nonprofit from the beginning? Do some have extensive records of support for organizations with missions like yours? These are donors you’ll want to prioritize in your fundraising efforts.
  • Other forms of past involvement with nonprofits. Current and potential donors who have volunteered for causes like yours and those who regularly express their support on social media are worth reaching out to.

Once your donor data is stored and organized, you can use it to segment your list of donors, dividing them into categories according to shared attributes that will inform your communication strategy.

Small nonprofits are especially capable of interacting with their donors at the individual level. Your organization will benefit when you take advantage of this ability to build relationships, as it will support your work and future growth.

fundraising strategies

Lomesh Shah

Lomesh Shah has over 25 years of experience in international corporate leadership with a strong emphasis on marketing technology and data management systems. Lomesh has worked with small to mid-size businesses, privately-held companies and Fortune 500 corporations in various capacities; from sales and marketing to overseeing automation and re-engineering of processes and operations. As CEO of Fundly, Lomesh spends much of his time immersed in the nonprofit industry both as an industry leader, speaker, and in service to several organizations as a board member and volunteer. Outside of the industry, Lomesh is a technology junkie and will give anyone willing to listen an assessment of the latest trends in anything from espresso makers and mobile gadgets to electric cars and wind power.

February 13, 2019

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