Technological advancements, donor trends, and the current pandemic have all changed how donors give and what tools a nonprofit needs to collect those funds. Choosing the right fundraising tool for your organization will depend on cost, usability, and growth prospects. When researching fundraising tools, it’s essential to keep some key points in mind before making a final decision. Read on to determine how your donors like to give, why you may need a new fundraising tool, and how it can grow with your organization.
How Do Your Donors Like to Give?
Donors are as different as you’d expect. Some would rather mail a check or give a cash donation during an event, but many donors find giving online at a regular interval a more accessible and safer option.
In 2020, online giving saw an increase of 20%. While that may seem like an unimaginable increase, online donations have increased every year, so 2020 was simply following that trend. Interestingly, charitable giving only increased by 2% in 2020, so most of the new online giving came from the current donor base.
The difference was that nonprofit events were canceled, and because of this, many nonprofits had to find new ways to connect with and appeal to their donors. Luckily for them, donors were willing to change their behaviors.
Nonprofits and donors have continued their interest in using online donation tools and a new trend of hybrid events has started. This does not mean you should stop your in-person events or direct mail pieces. It means is that to keep up with your competition, you must include more donation options for your donors.
Why Do You Need an Online Fundraising Tool?
The only way to collect online donations is with an online fundraising tool. Some nonprofits have used PayPal to collect these donations, but there are limitations to what this company can offer. To ensure you are choosing the right tool for your organization, you must find a donation tool that gives you the following options.
1. Collect donations from anywhere
The primary purpose of an online fundraising tool is to collect donations. Companies do this by offering nonprofits donation forms or pages to add to their websites. When choosing your online fundraising tool, it’s vital to find one that is mobile-friendly. In 2020, 28% of online donations were made with a mobile device. This number is likely to increase.
Thanks to that hunger for convenience, more donors are giving online and jumping at options to give through social media platforms, text giving, and recurring donor apps.
Features like QuickDonate let donors repeat donations quickly, without having to refill a donation form. It allows donors to save payment details, easily look at their past donation history, and download receipts—giving them complete freedom to set up and manage their donation plan.
2. Capture more donor information
Cash is always nice, but any fundraiser would agree that they’d rather have a check or online gift. The main reason is that a cash donation usually means there is no way to contact the donor in the future. An organization is only as strong as its donor database. If your nonprofit hasn’t collected information from your donors or only uses a company like PayPal to collect online donations, you are at greater risk of losing the donor.
Fundraising is all about relationship building. Donor management systems are a crucial tool to help with this pursuit. Nonprofits can use donor management to separate donors by interest and giving ability. They can track donor activity and send personal appeals and acknowledgments that have a better response rate.
When researching online fundraising tools, it is essential to learn if and how their management system integrates with email and other online marketing tools. These integrations give nonprofits a seamless option to send targeted email appeals.
3. Increase visibility and awareness
Another benefit to online fundraising tools is the chance to connect with a larger audience. Most online fundraising tools integrate their fundraising pages with the leading social media platforms. When donors give online, you can ask that they share their donations and promote the organization with their online community.
Peer-to-peer campaigns are the best way to leverage the power of your supporters’ network and acquire more donations as well as new donors. Donors can create personalized pages (image below) to share their experiences with the organization and raise funds from their people.
With crowdfunding, nonprofits can collect small amounts of funds from a large crowd of supporters over a limited period of time. This especially helps when you need funds on an urgent basis, maybe for a new facility, for treatment of your beneficiaries, getting new equipment, mission trips for churches, and more. These campaigns (image below) help you spread the word about your nonprofit among potential donors more easily than anything else.
4. A cheaper and safer way to collect donations
Once again, cash is nice, but there is a much better chance of losing cash and checks than an online donation. More donors realize the same thing, and safety is a primary reason people have moved to online donations. Online fundraising tools offer fraud detection and SSL/TLS Encryption to protect donor information.
According to Supporting Advancement, direct mail costs around $1 to $1.25 per dollar raised. The price of direct mail is so high because it includes things like design, print, mail, and even donor prospect lists. Online donation appeal fees are much cheaper depending on the fundraising tool. Since most online donation processors include email marketing, the only cost for these appeals is the platform fee and credit card payment fees.
Nonprofits must be careful when purchasing an online fundraising tool because the costs can add up and may not pay off right away. If your organization does its due diligence, though, you can find affordable online fundraising tools that offer several fundraising options. For example, Donorbox is free to get started and there are no monthly contracts/fees.
5. Integrate online tools in one place
Most online fundraising tools include integrations that help nonprofits raise more money online and maintain an effective database. Thanks to partnerships with other companies, these features are either part of the fundraising tool or offered as integrations.
Data maintenance and automation tools
The integration with Salesforce NPSP is a low-maintenance one that helps nonprofits maintain the complete donor history. It helps you have insightful analytics into donors and donations data, and you can plan ahead with more confidence. Integration with tools like Zapier helps nonprofits utilize their donor data with other popular online platforms like Slack, Google Sheets, Hubspot, ActiveCampaign, Campaign Monitor, Airtable, Quickbook, etc.
Tools like Mailchimp help you customize and improve your communications with your donor base. With these tools, you can sync your donors’ list with your mailing list. It’s also easy to send personalized emails to your supporters without much effort and time spent at your end.
Matching gift programs
Double the Donation is the most popular tool for matching gifts, and many donation processors have formed partnerships with this organization. Nonprofits can add double/triple the donations to their online donation pages through these programs. They also give donors an easy way to see if their company offers matching gifts.
6. An event registration system
Fundraising events remain an excellent way to raise funds. Event registration is one of the primary reasons nonprofits look for online fundraising tools. These tools will provide online ticket sales and registration, maintenance of purchaser details, ticket management, and more. These integrations make event fundraising more manageable and more cost-effective for smaller nonprofits.
How to Find an Affordable and Customizable Fundraising Tool
Now that you understand why to purchase an online fundraising tool, it is time to find the right one for your organization.
Cost is the first thing many nonprofits look for when researching fundraising tools. Some fundraising tools charge a monthly fee that increases with the benefits. Other companies offer online fundraising services for a small platform fee. Plus, there will be payment processing fees.
It is advisable that you choose one that has no upfront monthly fees/ signup costs. It will help you get accustomed to the tool for some time and figure out if the platform fee and extra integration costs are worth it after all. You can always switch to another tool if not.
The best online fundraising tools are easily customizable to your nonprofit’s branding and marketing needs. When donors click on the donate link, you want them to feel like they’re still on your website. Online fundraising tools that allow nonprofits to match the color and font of their website and make other changes help the donor know it’s you.
Will It Grow with Your Organization?
There will be times when your organization feels stuck. There will also be times when your donors are active and it’s exciting to look at your budget. Nonprofit growth is rarely linear, so your fundraising tool should be there to help your organization reach the highs but not cost more than you can afford.
When choosing a fundraising tool, you’ll want options that can be used when essential. Donor management and donation forms will always be necessary. But some fundraising campaign types may not suit your organization. You’ll want the ability to try different fundraising techniques for no or little extra money to find the ones that work best. As your nonprofit learns which campaigns bring in the highest revenue, you’ll better know where to spend additional funds.
Technology has increased the options and lowered the cost of nonprofit fundraising tools. Organizations can try different fundraising techniques without investing in costly and confusing software. Your nonprofit also doesn’t have to spend extra funds on IT staff with online tech support.