A guest post by Andrew Berry, of Donately
If we’ve learned anything from the past year, it’s that we can’t always predict the future. However, we can analyze and report on what nonprofits are doing to maximize their impact. Then, we can take these trends to make the most of every opportunity.
From daily operations to fundraising, everything is changing in the nonprofit sector. At Donately, we’ve seen these changes firsthand by working with thousands of nonprofits. We supply these organizations with the tools they need to engage donors and continue operating. Over the past several months, we’ve recognized a few trends that can be valuable when put to good use.
What can your organization expect over the rest of 2021? We’ll explore five modern trends that are sticking around for the foreseeable future, broken into two main categories:
- Nonprofit Technology
- Nonprofit Fundraising
As you continue refining strategies for 2021, these trends will help stabilize your efforts. That way, your organization can continue growing throughout the rest of the year. Let’s dive in.
Society’s reliance on technology continues to grow. For nonprofits, this means that the possibilities for connecting with supporters expand each day.
Digital operations aren’t a new concept, but 2020 definitely accelerated the process of incorporating nonprofit tech. Organizations across the globe scrambled to start operating behind screens. They readily adopted nonprofit software at lightning speeds. We expect that nonprofits will continue adopting these tools as tech literacy improves.
Let’s take a look at two technology-specific trends that are on the rise.
It’s no surprise that more nonprofits are starting to rely on mobile outreach. We’re more attached to our smartphones than ever before. We use our mobile devices to check social media, search the web, and make purchases. Throughout 2021, we’re hoping to see nonprofits harness this power and encourage supporters to use their smartphones for good.
Here are a few ways your team can account for mobile in its strategies:
- Donations. Double the Donation’s nonprofit fundraising statistics page indicates that mobile users make up half of all nonprofit website traffic. A mobile-friendly donation page is a crucial part of this. Your page’s fields, images, and so on should adjust based on the user’s screen size. More organizations are also taking advantage of text-to-give. That way, the form is delivered right to their devices via text message.
- Event and volunteer registration. Moving away from paper registration and check-in is becoming easier. With volunteer management systems and virtual event apps, supporters can more effectively register for opportunities straight from their smartphones.
- Supporter communications. Email apps and text messaging enable you to connect with supporters on-the-go. They can keep up with your cause from wherever they are. Make sure any content you share displays correctly on mobile devices.
Going mobile opens up the door to a world of possibilities for your organization. No matter how you approach mobile outreach, constituents will appreciate its convenience. Just make sure to respect those who prefer that you don’t contact them in this way.
New Social Frontiers
As of 2020, 3.96 billion people regularly use social media. And that number will continue rising over the coming years. For nonprofits, social media is a must for marketing initiatives and engaging supporters. With so many active users, the majority of your supporters are likely online, making it more important than ever for interacting and solidifying your base of support.
Building a social media presence opens the door to many opportunities, including:
- Expanding your list of prospects by connecting with followers’ networks.
- Promoting giving campaigns to drive donations.
- Sharing pictures and videos of your work.
- Interacting with your followers.
- Gaining traction quicker for social movements and community causes.
If you haven’t already ventured into this realm, now’s the time. Determine which platforms will yield the best results. Facebook is still the preferred choice for many users, but younger generations are moving to different platforms. These include Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok — each of which has its benefits. Twitter is fantastic for succinct updates. Instagram works well for photos and videos. As for TikTok, it can spread cultural movements thanks to its shareability.
For 2021, try out multiple platforms instead of investing all your focus in one platform. Create a communication strategy for each, test the waters, and track your progress. That way, you can figure out which tactics work and which don’t.
The expanding digital landscape enables nonprofits to get creative with their fundraising strategies. So what specific trends can nonprofits take advantage of right now? Let’s dive into three trends that should play into your strategies.
Due to social distancing, more nonprofits ran online campaigns in 2020 than ever before. As society grows more accustomed to online giving, it looks like this type of fundraiser is here to stay.
Digital philanthropy is widely favored among donors thanks to its convenience. Thankfully, you don’t need to be especially tech-savvy to raise money online, and most technology is simple to use. Online fundraising offers many benefits, including:
- Access to a larger audience. Nonprofits are no longer confined by their geographical locations. Going online allows people from around the globe to easily support your cause.
- Lower overhead costs. Compared to traditional fundraising, virtual events and campaigns are less expensive to produce. You’ll eliminate extra venue and catering costs, meaning you get to keep more of the money you raise.
Most nonprofits venture into online giving by featuring a donation page on their website. While this is a great start, you’ll want to get creative if you want your cause to stand out. For example, try out peer-to-peer fundraising to spread the word about your mission.
Nearly seven out of every ten new donors from the previous year didn’t donate at all the next year. Thankfully, technology makes it possible for donors to donate to their favorite causes again and again. As more nonprofits recognize the power of recurring giving, it’s become a major trend in the philanthropic sector.
As one of Donately’s top online fundraising ideas, this type of program makes giving more manageable for donors and the nonprofits that offer them. With the right technology, donors can select the amount and cadence of their gifts, such as giving $25 each month. Plus, your team can receive automatic updates whenever a donor’s payment fails, so you can follow up.
Not to mention, recurring givers tend to donate more over time than those who only donate once a year. Fundraising statistics show that on average, recurring donors give 42% more per year than one-time donors.
If your technology offers this functionality, make sure you’re taking advantage of it. If not, find a solution that does, so you don’t miss out on a more predictable revenue stream.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Despite the pandemic, corporate giving was up last year and continues to rise. More for-profit businesses are becoming conscious of their philanthropic responsibility than ever before. In turn, they’ve developed programs designed to encourage workplace giving and volunteering.
For nonprofits everywhere, corporate giving programs have had a tremendous impact on fundraising. This means your team should be on the lookout for these opportunities. Here are the two primary types of programs that nonprofits are taking advantage of:
- Matching gifts. This is when a company promises to match its employees’ donations to charity. There are stipulations surrounding which nonprofits are eligible and how much the company will match.
- Volunteer grants. Many companies offer to submit contributions to organizations where employees regularly volunteer. Generally, the company donates a certain amount for however many hours are volunteered. These programs also tend to have guidelines, such as the minimum threshold of volunteer hours that needs to be met.
To start, invest in a database that allows you and your donors to research eligibility. Then, pay attention to which companies submit matching gifts and volunteer grants often. This can be a strong sign of which local businesses might be good corporate partners. Forming these relationships may lead to ongoing revenue and marketing for your organization.
While it’s difficult to predict the exact course of the nonprofit sector, we can make educated guesses based on current trends. We may start engaging with constituents in person this year, but many trends will carry over into post-pandemic life. It’s up to you to figure out how you take these trends and put them to use.
From going mobile to promoting corporate social responsibility, there are many steps your team can take over the next several months. Good luck!
Author: Andrew Berry
Andrew is the head of marketing and customer success for Donately. After getting involved with nonprofits at a young age, he discovered a passion for helping the organizations that are making the world a better place. Knowing how vital online fundraising has become, his goal is to help nonprofits raise more money online each year!
In his spare time, you will find him cooking up dinner, playing with his dog or cheering on Boston sports teams.