8 Proven Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies

April 18, 2024
10 minutes
A chess board is set with opposing pieces, ready for an epic strategy battle of nonprofit proportions! It's a fundraising face-off.

Your nonprofit's fundraising strategy is the best way to bring in funding, spread awareness, engage donors, and set up predictable, consistent services and programming. Of all the fundraising strategies available, your nonprofit can find one that fits your needs and draws in the most donations. 

The nonprofit world is a labor of love, and we're all involved because we care about what we do, but the hard truth is that you've got to keep the lights on somehow.

You don't have to guess or resort to trial and error, there are tried-and-true methods that never go out of style, and to that end, we've compiled some of the best fundraising ideas for nonprofits. These proven nonprofit fundraising strategies can help you succeed no matter your size, location, or mission. Let's dive right into the ways in which you can make nonprofit fundraising a breeze!

5 Essential Elements of Any Fundraising Strategy

Through this article (and all over the internet), you'll see detailed instructions for every type of target audience, fundraising approach, social media campaign, strategic partnership, and fundraising objective. But if you boil them all down, every fundraising strategy boils down to just a few things. Here are the essential elements that should be included in any fundraising strategy to ensure its success.

  1. Donor stewardship
  2. Expand Awareness
  3. Clear Funnel
  4. Easy Giving Experience
  5. Intelligent Reporting

1. Donor stewardship

There's nothing like holding a donor's hand through the giving process, showing them the positive impact, giving them time and attention, and sharing your movement. Fundraisers everywhere subscribe to some level of donor stewardship efforts—because it's an essential element of any strategic fundraising plan.

2. Expand Awareness

Expanding awareness is both a goal and a happy result of a detailed fundraising strategy. No matter the channel, it's natural that your nonprofit story is a marketing tool that hits your donor base as well as making its way through personal connections and relationships with supporters and on to prospective donors.

3. Clear and Actionable Funnel

There's nothing worse than trying to do something good and getting caught up in actually making it happen. As nonprofiteers, you definitely know the feeling. So as you put together an innovative fundraising campaign, keep in mind that successful campaigns take a potential supporter and turn them into a passionate donor without the donor losing that loving feeling. 

4. Easy Giving Experience

In the same vein as a simple, streamlined journey, a key element of any effective fundraising strategy is making the donating process easy. Offering different impact levels, tools like recurring upgrades, and all the payment methods as well as easy-peasy follow up, tax receipts, and recurring gift management is the best of fundraising best practices. 

5. Intelligent Reporting

No, donors don't see it, but that doesn't mean that intelligent reporting isn't a secret weapon that you need in your online fundraising campaigns. It's a powerful tool that will allow you to work behind the scenes to build stronger relationships within the professional and personal networks of your donor base.

Online Donation Form Fundraising Strategy

Or: How to Spend Time Developing Your Online Donation Form. Your donation form is a reflection of your nonprofit. When your online donation form is strong and friendly, your target audience is motivated to give deeply.

Nonprofits have a million things to do at all times and it might not seem like a smart use of time to spend hours on your online donation form. After all, as long as people know where to click and you have basic fields that capture their information, you should need much else, right? Think again as the way a nonprofit presents itself online can make a huge impact on whether people donate at all and how much they contribute if they do.

  • Your online donation form should transition seamlessly to your website, so it’s important to use the same logos, colors, font, and anything else that makes your brand stand out against others that have similar missions. Make sure your branding is consistent!
  • Remember that a little goes a long way. Attention spans are short these days! Make sure to share the most important points of your message and use compelling images to capture viewers’ attention but don’t overload them with text.
  • Provide options for donors with multiple donation levels and the choice of single or recurring gifts. Don’t be afraid to put some high ticket selections there as well (it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?)

Nonprofit fundraising relies heavily on your online donation form so now’s the time to create one for the first time or revisit the one you’ve been using since the early 2000s. You don’t need any special design or coding skills when you use Funraise, which means you can create beautifully designed forms with just a few clicks.

Build a custom nonprofit donation form in Funraise in minutes.

Text-to-Give Fundraising Strategy

Otherwise noted as: "Let People Text You Their Money!" Text Engagement, aka text-to-give, is a modern way to get your appeal right into donors' hands and in front of their eyes—and make donating as easy as hitting Send. 

Some people are going to continue to insist on mailing paper checks, but this is the mobile age, and most people conduct their financial business online or on their phone. An online donation form is an easy way to solicit donations, but not everyone is going to take the time to sit down at their computer and complete it. Instead, a more practical nonprofit fundraising strategy is the use of text-to-give.

  • Encouraging people to donate via text is applicable to a variety of situations like during live events, collecting funds during an emergency, or as a reminder for regularly scheduled outreach efforts.
  • Keeping your text short and sweet is still the most effective strategy. People get a lot of texts and emails! A short text asking for a donation is the best way to engage busy individuals.
  • Nonprofits should understand the difference between text-to-donate and text-to-give as the two have their own nuances. While the verbiage appears to be interchangeable, the consequences for a nonprofit are important to consider.

Most organizations find that text-to-give helps them achieve their nonprofit fundraising goals with ease. Not only does it allow them to reach any donor anywhere but it also appeals to younger individuals who are eager to contribute to their favorite cause. Funraise allows you to seamlessly integrate text-to-give features that are easy to use.

See how this works for yourself! →

Recurring Monthly Donations Fundraising Strategy

Subscriptions, i.e. Don't Discount the Recurring Monthly Giver. Recurring donors are the gift that keeps on giving when it comes to nonprofits. And as a fundraising strategy, using an upgrade feature to turn individual donors into subscribers means predictable income and consistent impact.

A huge one-time donation is great, sure, but as exciting as that can be, nonprofits should be equally thrilled when they see consistent contributions month after month. It can be hard to plan when donations come in randomly, pushing many organizations toward developing campaigns around recurring givers.

  • Although it comes along with the territory, constantly asking for donations can become exhausting. With the implementation of a monthly giving program, your staff is asking fewer people for gifts each month. Donors tend to love this type of setup as well because once their donation is set up, they don’t have to do a thing!
  • Checking in with recurring givers shouldn’t be overlooked, however, because even if they’re only contributing $5 per month, each individual counts. Your organization can even host special events just for those who give regularly.
  • Consider starting a recognition campaign for those who give monthly. Branded items, recognition on your website, or even their name on a brick somewhere all matter to those who contribute regularly. While they may not be on your payroll, monthly givers are certainly members of your nonprofit team.

Monthly giving programs aren’t any harder to develop than other types of donations with Funraise. Simply set up the option for your donors and they can complete their monthly recurring gift in just a few minutes. Advanced tools ensure you never miss a donation including automated emails to remind donors of credit card expirations and credit card auto-updating.

Social Media Fundraising Strategy

We like to think of this as "Reaching More People With Social Media" strategy. Social media is an integral part of modern fundraising, providing social proof so that your network expands as donors take public pride in your work. 

Even your older donors are likely to be social media users, and the younger your target market skews, the more likely they are to use one or more social media platforms regularly. Rather than investing exclusively in your website or on in-person events, make sure you're carefully and deliberately curating your social media posts.

  • Including your campaign on social media naturally brings more eyes to your cause with minimal effort and allows you to show donors your progress in real-time. Instead of worrying about how to develop a new page on your website for each of your campaigns, simply add your information and photos to Facebook and it does the rest!
  • Our own data shows that Facebook integration is extremely effective—connecting Funraise with Facebook increases donations by 85%!
  • Many consider a social media profile as an “insider look” into nonprofit fundraising efforts. Your potential donors can see photos and videos of the impact you've had in your community and can find all of your information in one organized place. The social proof is in the pudding!
  • Just like social media is utilized in our personal lives, these platforms can help your nonprofit to develop relationships that may otherwise wouldn't form. Viewing a website can be a very one-sided experience for a donor, but with Facebook, Instagram, and more, they have more of an opportunity to become involved.

Using social networks may not sound like a revolutionary nonprofit fundraising strategy, but it's proven to work. It's also easier than ever to expand your social media presence intelligently and successfully.

The Funraise Facebook integration for nonprofits allows you to sync all of your Facebook donation data to your CRM.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Strategy

Explore how peer-to-peer campaign fundraising works—as a fundraising strategy, it expands your network, brings a celebratory vibe to fundraising, and, depending on the campaign, motivates the fundraiser to smash fundraising goals in the interest of influencing impact. 

Sure, some things you'll need to do yourself, but when it comes to nonprofit fundraising, the more help you can get, the better. In recent years, peer-to-peer or P2P fundraising has taken off as a way to expand your reach and exponentially boost campaign results.

  • The average P2P gift is nearly three times larger than the average online gift, and when paired with recurring donations, raises three to four times more than other fundraisers!
  • It can be discouraging to throw a wide net and catch nothing, so leveraging the power of your peers can make a world of difference. When you post about your cause on social media, anyone and everyone can like and share, thus encouraging more people to get involved.
  • Consider developing a rewards program for your most successful supporters. It may take a little extra time to create fundraising reports that show who brought in the most donations but that can also be a great incentive for people to share as much as they can.
  • Just because you have more people involved in a peer fundraising campaign doesn't mean you have to work harder. Make sure you have a solid foundation set up before you embark upon this adventure, including an easy-to-navigate online donation form, a social media presence, and the ability to receive donations via text.

Funraise helps you create impactful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns with minimal effort, allowing nonprofits to develop customizable supporter pages, integrate their campaign with Facebook, and more. When you have the tools for success, P2P can be one of the most effective fundraising ideas for nonprofits.

Nonprofit Website Fundraising Strategies

Just like any other business, nonprofit websites are built to draw in traffic, to convert visitors into buyers—or, in this case, donors—and to tell the nonprofit's story. As a fundraising strategy, websites are the bait, net, and the plate you're dining from. 

Nonprofit websites are Funraise's specialty; as the leading online fundraising platform, we've made it easy to build websites from scratch. By selecting a pre-built template, your nonprofit benefits from a wealth of nonprofit-specific features built by people who have been in your shoes as nonprofit professionals and donors. 

  • The on-site elements that make a great online giving experience—themes, impact cards, sections, videos—can make or break your fundraising strategy. 
  • Funraise makes making a fundraising website easy with a standard wysiwyg and drag-and-drop action. Just grab, move, and get ready to fundraise. 
  • When writing is more than your poor brain can take (we know the feeling) and the message feels too big, it's time to bring in artificial intelligence. Just input your mission, what you need, and where you're going to place the copy and let a robot do the heavy lifting. Funraise has a light tool called AppealAI that provides copy for emails, social posts, and more. 

Adopting an amazing website will have a significant effect on every effort your nonprofit makes, not just the fundraising efforts. Think FAQ, branding, awareness, community-building, and more.  

Strategic Fundraising through Intelligent Reporting

No matter what your nonprofit's fundraising strategy is, you need reporting that you can rely on and that helps you make better decisions every time you embark on a new, innovative fundraising campaign. Funraise's Fundraising Intelligence offers data that speaks to you so that you can turn numbers into dollars.

  • AI forecasting: Using data generated by your past performance, Fundraising Intelligence's AI models allow you to predict both donation revenue and new donor activity
  • AI explanations: If you're looking for new strategies, look to AI data explanations. It delivers exactly what it advertises, an explanation of your data. This makes looking at a spreadsheet or a graph and knowing what's underneath it into one of your superpowers.
  • Data alerts: Is your fundraising strategy doing great or going down the drain? Trust Fundraising Intelligence to tell you when you've exceeded a revenue threshold or are seeing something unexpected. 
  • Report templates: We're shouting it from the rooftops; stop building the same reports over and over! Fundraising Intelligence has all the reports you need, built by fundraising experts. 

It may feel like reporting is just a bunch of numbers collected after the fact, but, in fact, intelligent reporting is the key to making your innovative fundraising campaigns successful. 

Email Fundraising Strategies

Email either gets a bad rap or is exulted as a marketing miracle cure. But let's meet in the middle, aka reality, and acknowledge that while it's no silver bullet, email is still relevant to nonprofit fundraising as a strategy that puts your appeal in front of donors' eyes and fingers.

Katelyn Baughan, nonprofit email marketing expert, and consultant to Trevor Project, UNHCR, and Amnesty International, says everything you need to know about how to make email marketing into a fundraising strategy goldmine.

How much is too much email?

It's funny, everyone wants to know how many emails is too many emails. You can never send enough emails, in my opinion.

Email strategies play well with technology

Automation and segmentation, I think are the two biggest ways that you can use technology and tools to really scale and and see that return on your investment.

Market your nonprofit's impact

We’re saving the world... My clients are doing amazing work. And people want to hear about it.

Keep the branding consistent

Make sure that the emails that you're sending and the campaign messaging and branding match. Make a unique donation page that matches the campaign and any of the content that you're using. Email and social should should really match up as well.

Level up your email and giving experience: 

Combine an abandoned donation email with a tracking link, then follow up with an email series reminding donors to finish making their impact.

Finally, Katelyn has identified three key ways that email could be your best nonprofit fundraiser strategy:

  1. People who have opted in to email are literally saying, "I want to hear from you via email." Give the people what they want!
  2. Email has enormous ROI. With an average ROI of 4200%, you can be confident that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, another $42 is headed your way.
  3. Your email list is ownable (by you), grow-able, and not at the mercy of fickle social media. Think for a minute about what would happen if your Meta accounts got shut down tomorrow!

Keep enabling email! It's a smart source of donations and a fantastic fundraising plan.

6 steps to start your fundraising strategy

Implementing a successful fundraising campaign requires steps to help you develop and execute a successful fundraising strategy. But when you break it down, it's not so hard! Just like anything else, take your nonprofit's fundraising strategy one piece at a time.

  1. Set goals and benchmarks
  2. Make a plan
  3. Create the assets
  4. Build reports
  5. Go live!
  6. Follow up

1. Set goals and benchmarks

Step one of any plan, know where you're headed. And when you're planning a fundraising campaign, your key performance indicators aren't just funds raised; think donor base expansion, return on ad spend, or increase in subscribers. 

2. Make a plan

Now that you know where you're going, let's map out how to get there. Back up from the goal, and trace the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Then you'll find yourself back at the starting line, but this time you'll have the strategy and tactics you need to traverse the fundraising landscape.

3. Create the assets

Build the emails, edit the video, clip the images, collect tracking links, write social copy, and take care of anything that requires words, visuals, audio, a message, emotions, engagement, or swag. Then make sure it's all in the right format and in the right hands. 

4. Build reports

Don't wait until you've already started fundraising to put your reports together—that'll be too late. Build your reporting now; especially since you have defined, concrete goals, you should know what you're looking for.

5. Go live!

'Nuff said!

6. Follow up

You've got the reports fielding the data. You just need to do the Thank You dance, send out any swag, and make changes that'll take your next fundraising campaign to even higher heights.

Bonus elements to take your fundraising strategies to the next level

Nonprofit fundraising is never boring, but sometimes the campaigns blur together. If you want to fundraise with successful campaigns, you've got to make those run-of-the-mill strategies into innovative fundraising campaigns. Here are four ways to go from ho-hum to heck, yes!

Gamify it!

Nothing motivates donors or peer-to-peer fundraisers more than competition. Add in some layer of winning (or losing), and see donations triumph!

Layer it!

Why use one fundraising strategy when you can layer them? Combine email with a great giving experience with social fundraising and a recurring focus. Seriously, if one is good, all of them must be the best! 

Contextualize it!

Contextual giving is when you put the donation form in front of your potential donor at the moment of maximum emotion. Think of a landing page on your website that has a heart-wrenching video, and a donate button that pops the donation form up right on that page. No hopping from page to page, no wait or delay, just pure donations. 

Personalize it!

Especially with 1:1 engagement fundraising strategies like text or email, personalization is like a turbo charge. Pull in names, past donation amounts, or contributions to specific past campaigns. 

Fundraising Campaign FAQs (answered by AI friends, edited by humans)

What is a fundraising campaign?

A fundraising campaign is a strategic effort to raise money for a specific cause or organization. It involves planning and implementing various initiatives to generate funds from donors as opposed to soliciting funds through grants or other large funders. Fundraising campaigns can take many forms, including fundraising events, online appeals, direct mail campaigns, peer-to-peer fundraising, and more.

Why is it important for nonprofits to run fundraising campaigns?

Fundraising campaigns serve as a primary source of funding for nonprofit organizations, enabling them to provide essential services and programs to their communities consistently.

When should my nonprofit run a fundraising campaign?

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to when you should run a campaign, timing is crucial. Key moments to plan a fundraising campaign are Giving Tuesday, year-end, and for most nonprofits, either spring or fall. You can also have an ongoing fundraising campaign that your organization maintains year-round.

What is a nonprofit fundraising strategy?

A nonprofit fundraising strategy is a fundraising plan that outlines how a charitable organization will raise money to support its mission and programs. This plan typically includes a mix of different fundraising tactics and techniques designed to attract potential donors and generate revenue.

What are the benefits of a strong fundraising strategy?

A strong fundraising strategy helps an organization set clear goals and objectives for its fundraising initiatives. This allows them to focus their resources and efforts on activities that will yield the best results and means that clients can rely on consistent services and predictable programming.

Need help implementing your nonprofit fundraising strategies? Funraise can help.

Innovation is important, but so too are the fundamentals. Some strategies are always going to work, and it's good to have a foundation, whether your nonprofit is well-established or just starting out. Even if you are exceeding your goals regularly, consider streamlining your efforts with Funraise.

Mobile phone with donation form and donation charts floating around the phone.Mobile phone with donation form and donation charts floating around the phone.Woman looking at fundraising chart with button to book a call.Yellow shapes in background with donation form in front with stylized text, build an intelligence giving experience.Sparkling star.
Sparkling star.
Start For Free
Sparkling star.Sparkling stars.
Blue shapes.Blue shapes.Blue shapes.