As a fundraiser, you’ve surely run into obstacles during fundraising campaigns before. Maybe you’re still a few hundred dollars away from your goal during your most important fundraiser of the year, but it feels like you’ve totally run out of donor opportunities. Or, perhaps your staff and volunteers are carrying far too many responsibilities and struggle to complete all of their tasks.
Issues like these can make it feel like the sky is falling, but investing in the right software solution can help you overcome them. For instance, you might already use a marketing tool to schedule posts and emails in advance or have a CRM to track donor relationships to free up your team’s bandwidth. Specialized fundraising tools play a similar role in your campaigns, streamlining the process and helping you raise more for your cause.
Additionally, these tools have benefits (like increased efficiency) to offer any social good organization, whether you’re raising funds for children to access books or to conserve land of historical and ecological significance in your community. To get started, we’ll focus on one of the most common—and frustrating—fundraising challenges: a lack of reach and disengaged donors.
Hurdle 1: Limited Reach and Engagement
While it’s important to have a core group of passionate supporters who are dialed into each of your fundraisers, it’s essential to consistently reach and recruit new supporters to grow your organization.
However, it can be difficult to find ways to expand beyond this core group or to reach those outside your local area. Digital fundraisers supported by fundraising software offer a low-lift, cost-effective way to cultivate new supporter bases, extend your reach, and engage your existing supporters more deeply.
Here are a few simple digital fundraising methods you can pair with your theme or idea of choice:
- Peer-to-peer. Bloomerang’s peer-to-peer fundraising guide describes this method as “a fundraising strategy where individuals organize personal campaigns to raise money on behalf of a nonprofit organization.” The pledge fundraising model, in which supporters contribute pledged donations that are delivered after the fundraiser, can easily fit into this strategy. For example, you might organize a fun run, have participants collect $5 pledges from their peers per mile they run, and collect donations via online channels.
- Virtual challenges. These challenges take place primarily on social media, and they urge supporters to take part in a challenge (which can be funny, difficult, etc.). Think back to the Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014 which raised $115 million for the ALS Association. Design a challenge your audience is likely to be interested in, does not have a high barrier to entry, and aligns with your organization’s identity and mission.
- Text-to-give. Text-based fundraisers are extremely sharable and make it as simple as possible for your supporters to donate. Typically, you’ll need to use a special software solution to facilitate the process of creating the phone number and codes that supporters will use to donate. Then, all you need to do is write a compelling request, promote the challenge online, and urge supporters to share the campaign with their friends and family.
Each of these methods empowers participants to make the fundraiser a huge success. For example, if your marching band is holding a peer-to-peer fundraiser, students and their families will feel motivated to post about their individual donation pages in order to generate enough revenue to reach the fundraising goal.
This feeling of shared responsibility to your cause will inspire participants to engage more deeply with your organization and work to share about the cause with their networks.
Hurdle 2: Overworked Staff and Volunteers
Most effective campaigns rely on help from your organization’s support system, whether that be staff members, volunteers, members of your PTA, or other supporters. But without the right tech to take recurring administrative tasks off your plate, you could quickly end up with too much work to go around.
Fundraising software can lift the burden of repetitive administrative tasks off your organization’s shoulders. This way, staff and supporters can allocate their time toward more productive tasks, like preparing decorations for your upcoming fundraiser event or scheduling meetings with major donors.
Here are some of the tasks fundraising software can do for you:
- Set up team, individual, or organization-wide donation pages
- Track and log each donation made
- Send automated donation receipts and thank-you messages
- Allow you to send mass messages to participants and donors in just a few clicks
- Collect and consolidate data, making the process paperless
- Process payments for you, quickly delivering the total funds raised to your account
Because your staff will have more time to dedicate toward other tasks, consider making an effort to recruit more volunteers to help out with offline responsibilities, like event setup and tear down. After all, not all of your communications must be about financial support—instead, ask supporters if they’d like to help out by donating their time.
Hurdle 3: Difficulty Tracking Donations
Closely tracking donations is critical to ensure that your organization can accurately report the revenue it made on tax forms, maintain transparency with donors, measure profitability for campaigns, and continue to fund its work. Ensuring that you are meeting fundraising goals and minimizing costs is more important than ever as the U.S. begins to see a dip in donations.
However, if you’re tracking donations without software, the process can get messy. This is particularly challenging when it comes to pledged donations because they are completed after the fundraiser wraps up.
Rather than struggle to keep up with the influx of donations, make sure to invest in software that automatically tracks gifts and processes payments as we discussed in the previous section. If you choose a method like a pledge drive fundraiser, it can be helpful to find a solution with features like automatic payment reminders to prompt donors to honor their pledged gifts. And to make giving as convenient as possible, 99Pledges recommends choosing a software solution that accepts and tracks popular payment methods such as major credit cards, PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay.
While these are some of the most common fundraising challenges, your organization might face other obstacles that software can assist with. For example, fundraising software can support donor retention efforts by sending automated thank-you emails when a donation is made. When powerful tech is paired with expert nonprofit management techniques, your organization will be able to reach and retain new audiences, automate tasks, and accurately track data.
About the Author
Brad Dowhaniuk is the co-founder of 99Pledges, which provides schools and teams with an easy-to-use, web-based fundraising solution to manage and drive success in Fun Runs, jog-a-thons, baseball hit-a-thons, and much more.