How Fundraising Is Evolving: Digital Fundraising Trends
Posted on October 25, 2019
Fundraising has come a long way from the traditional in-person giving to online giving. Giving through digital platforms has opened new doors for donors and simplified donating. And, it comes as no surprise that the number of people involved in philanthropic activities is on a rise. Giving grew by 4.1% last year, which is the sixth consecutive year of growth. (Source: Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics 2019)
Digital fundraising comes in the wake of technological innovations that have transformed our lives. Today we look for instant responses through messages, customized shopping experience where the online store suggests options based on search history, etc. Donors are also not left far behind. The awareness for various causes has increased thanks to the efficient communication channels. Donors are eager to donate. But they are also interested in knowing the impact their donations have made. If they are happy with the response provided by the nonprofit organization, they are likely to become recurring donors.
Nonprofits need to cater to the growing demands of the donors. Besides, nonprofits now focus not only in engaging the donors but also retaining them.
Digital evolution of fundraising has helped in meeting goals!
Before we look into the digital age, let us take a peek at traditional fundraising. Traditionally, fundraising entailed donors attending fundraising events and donating during the event to the charity or participating in the charity in some way or the other. When charity auctions were organized, donors would attend the auction and write their bids on paper which were given to the auctioneer to announce the highest bid. Donations to charities entailed filling lengthy forms. Donors were approached through direct mail and giving was always face to face.
It was all good at that time since the means were limited.
These methods had certain drawbacks. The reach of the nonprofit was limited. It was not always easy for donors to reach the location of the fundraising event, etc.
Fast Forward to the digital age!
All these limitations have been overcome. Nonprofits can communicate about their charity through various online platforms. They can reach a global audience. They can offer simple methods of donations to donors. They can strategize to retain their donors.
How fundraising has evolved digitally:
One of the initial steps through which nonprofits made a foray into the digital realms was through websites. These websites communicated the mission of the nonprofit. The content was published on the website to keep the audience informed about the activities of the nonprofit. The website also indicated to the audience how they could connect with them.
The websites had to be designed such that they loaded quickly and had a good user interface.
These websites had a wide reach. They enabled the nonprofit to connect with a global audience.
It was not just enough to have a good website design, the website needed to rank highly on SERPs. For this effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is required.
Optimizing the websites was the next step in the digital evolution of fundraising. Digital marketing would enable the website to get more hits from the audience.
Doing away with forms
The websites now offered a means for online giving. Donors were not required to visit the nonprofit. Websites offered a means to donate directly by clicking a button on the website.
This did away with the lengthy paper forms. The donors were required to fill online forms but these forms were designed in a step-wise manner making it easy to fill them.
This motivated more donors to participate in philanthropy. Online Giving grew by 12.1% over the past year.(Source: Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics 2019)
Going ahead with the evolving digital innovations, donors were contacted through emails. They were given sent messages about the nonprofit and events, etc. being organized, etc.
However, the email messaging methods have undergone several changes over the past few years. This is because the focus of the nonprofit has now shifted to retaining the donor rather than just engaging. The email messages sent to donors are more personalized now.
Email messaging has further evolved with software for sending automated emails. Automation in email messaging minimizes errors and ensures regularity in sending.
Smartphones have taken the world by storm. Today, people look to accomplish most of their tasks through their mobiles. It became imperative to have mobile-friendly website designs.
The websites needed to load quickly on the mobile. Also, these designs needed to facilitate donations through the mobile.
Stats would have us believe that donations through mobile devices increased by a whopping 50% during the past year. (Source: Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics 2019)
The next stage in the digital evolution can be said to be the hosting of online fundraising events such as charity auctions.
Online charity auctions entailed inviting online bids for the items auctioned. This meant that the auction was now open to a global audience.
The growing impact of social media has prompted nonprofits also to leverage social media for their benefit.
Most nonprofits have social media pages where they advertise about their nonprofit and attract donors.
Social media marketing also enables the nonprofit to connect with the audience on a personal level.
Nonprofits include a donate button on their social media pages as well, enabling easy donations.
Nonprofits are benefiting from taking data-based decisions. Today we have large volumes of data available. This data can be effectively leveraged by nonprofits to get insights about their donors. Data can help analyze donor demographics, patterns in their behavior, etc. An analysis of donors and volunteers can help the nonprofit make decisions about organizing fundraising events. This is because data will reveal the concentration of donors in a specific area and whether a fundraiser will be successful there or not.
Data also provides inputs to the nonprofit about the kind of content they should be sharing with their audience.
Automation in fundraising has the potential to make the donors happy and retain them. One example of automation is sending automated personalized emails to donors. Another example is sending tax-compliant receipts to donors.
Donors of today are not just satisfied with donating to charities. They want to know how their donations have been used, the impact they have made, etc. They expect complete transparency from a nonprofit. The digital evolution of fundraising has enabled nonprofits to understand their donors better and offer them complete transparency. Additionally, digital fundraising has opened doors to a global audience for a nonprofit and establish connections with volunteers and donors across the globe.