Technology is dramatically changing the rules of nonprofit fundraising. As more philanthropic supporters connect with causes they care about online, fundraisers have had to adapt their tried-and-true direct mail and phone solicitation strategies to cater to an online audience. Here are some of the positive aspects and challenges nonprofits are facing in regard to emerging technology.
Pro: Technology Encourages a Connected Donor Base
Technology connects people to people, people to businesses, businesses to nonprofits, and so on. The great thing about this is that all the ways nonprofits use to connect with donors, volunteers, and other supporters online are the same ones those nonprofit supporters use to connect with the world around them. This is advantageous for nonprofits because most charitable organizations are constantly and sometimes urgently looking for ways to expand and retain their donor bases. The role of technology in connecting nonprofits with current and prospective donors cannot be overstated. Due to emerging technologies and social media in particular, donors have unprecedented “behind the scenes” access to the inner workings of nonprofit organizations. Giving donors access to special information such as client stories, emotionally compelling videos, and pictures of an average day at the office humanize a cause and put a face behind the organization. At the same time, nonprofits can engage with their donor base on a frequent, informal basis. Instead of just contacting donors after making a donation, nonprofits can interact with donors on social media at a moment’s notice. To ensure you’re connecting with your nonprofit’s donor base, follow these best practices:
- Stick to a communications schedule to guarantee you’re reaching out across multiple online channels.
- Engage with those interacting with you through email and social media.
- Create valuable, shareable content, and ask supporters to share this content on their own social media pages and profiles.
With technology, nonprofits aren’t just connecting with their own online audience, they’re connecting with the friends, family, and other connections of their online audience.
Con: Technology Creates a Lot of Noise
With so many people, businesses, and nonprofits online, how do you stand out? One of the biggest problems nonprofits face when it comes to technology is the sheer amount of “touches” out there. Nonprofits must constantly find ways to stand out and remain relevant without inundating supporters with too many of those “touches.” Do this by creating purposeful content and avoid filler. Keep these tips in mind to stand out from the crowd:
- Tell your nonprofit’s story with every touch point, whether it’s through an image, video, or a small quote from a client.
- Ace your fundraising emails using urgent, time-sensitive subject lines and to-the-point content.
- Focus on “shareability” on social media by providing content that is of use and relevant to your average donor. This way, your audience members are more likely to share it with their own networks.
Every day, numerous nonprofits asking for money, volunteer support, or a minute to learn about a worthwhile cause contact your donors. Your nonprofit must find a way to rise above this noise and be heard.
Pro: Technology Provides Another Way to Engage Supporters
One of the main roles of a nonprofit fundraiser isn’t raising money; it’s raising friends. However, friends aren’t made overnight, which is why many nonprofit fundraisers follow the donor engagement cycle. The first step of the donor engagement cycle is inspiration. Nonprofits inspire donors online through social media posts, email marketing campaigns, and a variety of other marketing materials. Next, to further solidify the donor to nonprofit relationship, engagement is necessary. Donor engagement takes many forms, but technology has made it easy for donors to engage often online. Encourage engagement from your donors by trying one of these actions:
- Asking donors to like, tag, or otherwise engage with your social media posts.
- Recruiting supporters as volunteers to raise money for your organization through an online crowdfunding or peer-to-peer fundraising campaign.
- Rallying your online audience to share a link to your online fundraiser.
When a supporter is actively engaged with your organization online, he or she is more likely to remain a loyal supporter for years to come.
Technology Is Shaping the Future of Fundraising
Fundraising is inherently social. In fact, the role of the fundraiser is akin to a facilitator connecting those who care about a cause to an organization committed to helping and/or solving it. Online fundraising methods such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising are two ways that a nonprofit’s own base of donors can engage and raise money online. Likewise, there are many ways to incorporate best practices and distribute a high-performing email marketing campaign. The key is to remember that, although you’re connecting online, you’re still interacting with people and not just another number. When it comes to the role of technology in nonprofit fundraising, it’s important to look to the future. As businesses, brands, friends, and family connect online through email and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, it’s only natural for nonprofits to follow suit. Moving forward, nonprofits must find ways to optimize fundraising efforts to work online to meet donors where they’re at.