The pandemic has completely changed the face of fundraising, with new strategies and campaigns taking center stage as the field diversifies and evolves. Do-it-yourself style peer-to-peer fundraising is the perfect example.

DIY fundraising, whether it takes the form of a one-time campaign or evergreen fundraising opportunities that are always available for supporters, has become a prominent strategy to get supporters fundraising for your cause.

But benefits extend beyond just short-term fundraising goals. Encouraging supporters to take an active role in your fundraising efforts can actually increase your donor retention rates. With DIY fundraising, supporters get personally connected to the mission and stay motivated to fundraise because they know what they do makes a difference.

And the best part? Because they are social fundraising campaigns, DIY fundraisers help you reach new donor segments. According to The Giving Experience study by OneCause, 54% of first-time donors to these campaigns contribute because they wanted to support the person who asked them.

But how can you strengthen your DIY fundraising strategy and provide supporters with the best possible experience? Here are our top four strategies for effective DIY fundraising:

  • Encourage passionate fundraisers.
  • Tap into supporters’ broader communities.
  • Use gamification strategies.
  • Offer plenty of support.

While DIY fundraising can take many different forms, following these best practices ensures that your participants stay motivated and engaged from start to finish. Let’s take a closer look at how DIY fundraising can amplify your fundraising strategy.

What is DIY Fundraising?

DIY fundraising, or do-it-yourself fundraising (also known as supporter-driven fundraisers), empowers supporters to fundraise for your nonprofit in their own way. You’ve likely already encountered some forms of DIY fundraising, including:

  • Birthday fundraisers
  • Memorial or tribute fundraisers
  • Personal fitness challenges
  • School-wide fundraisers
  • Individually organized runs, walks, or rides
  • Supporter hosted events (celebrity bartending events, concerts, food & wine parties)
  • Ambassador campaigns for galas

To get the most from DIY peer-to-peer fundraising, nonprofits need to provide supporters with centralized fundraising resources and tools. From toolkits to peer-to-peer software to personal fundraising pages, you need to have the right resources to set up your supporters (and your nonprofit) for success!

Although your nonprofit won’t be fundraising directly in this type of campaign, strategic vision and guidance from your team are actually quite important for overall success. There are a ton of ways that you can support your fundraisers and help them get the most from their social networks.

Strategy 1: Encourage passionate fundraisers.

Have you ever connected with a supporter and thought they’d be a great ambassador for your cause? These passionate, committed, and impact-driven supporters are likely already in your contact list. All you need to do is sit down and think about who they are. Talk to your team, your volunteer managers, or look back at your donor data to help you identify the perfect people to lead your DIY peer-to-peer fundraising initiative.

Passionate supporters might surprise you and start fundraising on their own if they have the option. You won’t always have control (and you don’t necessarily need to) over who decides to launch a birthday fundraiser for your organization, for example.

But that’s okay! The beauty of DIY fundraisers is you can recruit your participants and set up evergreen DIY fundraising programs that allow engaged supporters to come to you on their own. When identifying potential DIY participants, look for the following traits:

  • Passion: Your fundraisers should be excited to be involved. Perhaps they have a personal connection to your cause or are deeply motivated by your mission. Excitement is contagious, so find supporters who will help spread enthusiasm about your nonprofit and the work you’re doing.
  • Knowledge: Be sure that any fundraiser, whether you specifically recruited them or not, has access to relevant information about your cause. Share an online library of brand assets and mission resources so it’s easily accessible to all your DIY fundraisers.
  • Past Support: Consider a fundraiser’s previous level of engagement with your nonprofit. Invite supporters who have a history of giving, event attendance, and/or volunteering. Past engagement is often a good indicator for DIY success.

No matter what, do everything you can to encourage your DIY fundraisers’ passion. Taking the time to identify the right people for your supporter-driven strategies ensures you have the best of the best on your DIY team and maximizes the chances of retaining them over the long run.

Strategy 2: Tap into supporters’ broader communities.

As you encourage your DIY fundraisers to spread the word, they’ll promote their giving page to friends and family. But consider other pre-existing groups they may be involved with—churches, schools, workplaces—where their connections can generate even more support for your mission.

Workplace giving is a perfect example, and it’s one of the greatest untapped resources for nonprofit organizations. According to this 360MatchPro resource on matching gifts, an estimated $4-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year.

DIY fundraising is an ideal way to better incorporate workplace giving into your fundraising strategy. It helps you tap into supporters’ broader circles of contacts, reach brand new supporters, and forge valuable relationships. You can even reach out directly to a business to see if they’ll launch a campaign of their own.

By bringing DIY fundraising to the workplace, you can:

  • Connect with local businesses: Any nonprofit knows that partnerships with for-profit businesses are important. By encouraging local businesses to take action through fundraising, you can begin cultivating these relationships. Plus, if a local business has already run a fundraiser for your nonprofit, they’re more likely to continue sponsoring your work, like by donating items or services to your upcoming auction.
  • Get your fundraisers involved: If you’ve connected with a passionate supporter, ask them if they’d be interested in hosting a fundraising event at their workplace. There are all kinds of workplace-friendly fundraising ideas out there to help them get started, and it’s a great way to broaden your network.
  • Increase visibility: Whether you’re working directly with a business or with an individual fundraiser, bringing fundraising to the workplace allows you to connect with all of the employees working there. This way, you can expand your donor base by meeting potential supporters you might not have encountered otherwise.

By empowering passionate employees to get involved and bring fundraising into their workplaces, you can enhance your DIY fundraising efforts.

Strategy 3: Use gamification strategies.

One challenge of DIY fundraising is keeping everyone motivated from start to finish. The best way to keep supporters engaged is to make it fun! We recommend gamification tactics to bring both competition and enjoyment to your DIY fundraisers.

Incorporating gamification strategies takes even the most creative fundraising ideas to the next level. To add gamification to your DIY fundraiser, try:

  • Fundraising leaderboards: Motivate your fundraisers by showing off top performers. A little healthy competition can go a long way to keep supporters engaged throughout the fundraiser and can help everyone raise more funds.
  • Implement rewards: Offer rewards to incentivize your supporters to hit or even smash fundraising goals. These rewards could include anything from branded merchandise to a facility tour to a prize provided by a local business.
  • Create milestone achievements: Set milestones or goals for your peer-to-peer fundraisers to work toward. Giving people concrete goals to achieve is a great motivator and can help make their impact feel more tangible.
  • Involve teams: To get more people involved and to keep your fundraisers motivated, encourage them to get their friends and family members involved by forming teams. This way, team members can lean on each other for support and work to motivate each other.

If you find that gamification works very well with your donor base, consider investing in dedicated P2P fundraising software to streamline the process and seamlessly integrate gamification into your participant experience.

Strategy 4: Offer plenty of support.

Your fundraisers will feel motivated to continue fundraising if they feel like your nonprofit is there to support them along the way. Be sure to offer your DIY fundraisers a helping hand with:

  • Detailed fundraising guides: If your supporters want to run a virtual program or engage in a more complicated activity, create a step-by-step guide and other training resources. These helpful tools set them on a path to success and provide a roadmap for how to execute a successful DIY fundraiser.
  • Shoutouts on social media: Your DIY supporters deserve public recognition! Share their extraordinary efforts on your social media pages and thank them for their participation. This is also a great way to bring even more visibility to your support-driven fundraising efforts.
  • Share impact: For today’s donors, it’s essential that nonprofits share the impact of their work. Doing so boosts your fundraising efforts by showing donors that their DIY support really does make a difference. Your fundraisers want to know how they’ve impacted your cause, so tell them!

Supporting your fundraisers with guides, social posts, and impact-sharing creates a culture of gratitude and teamwork for your DIY program. It also allows you to support these efforts at scale, giving your participants a helping hand but not overburdening your team. No matter what kind of DIY program you launch, just remember to build in support structures and reach out to your supporters along the way!

Your DIY fundraisers have dedicated time, passion, and energy to raising money for your cause. Some of them have had your help and some of them haven’t, but regardless, make sure to say thank you. Expressing gratitude demonstrates that you are thankful for all their hard work.

Be sure to continue supporting your donors and giving them the tools they need to be successful. You’ll have all kinds of effective DIY fundraisers up and running in no time.

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors and raise more funds for their cause.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world was forever changed. The pandemic’s impact extended far beyond the actual disease and the terrible health crisis. One of the many changes we saw was in the nonprofit sector. Organizations needed to quickly shift their events from an in-person venue to becoming virtually accessible.

At first, event planners had to scramble to move events online so that they’d be accessible even from a distance. But now, organizations have the time to optimize their virtual opportunities and expand into hosting hybrid events as well! Virtual and hybrid opportunities not only allow nonprofits to make their fundraising events more accessible, but they also allow organizations like yours to reach an even broader audience! 

Due to their many advantages for nonprofits, virtual and hybrid events are sticking around for a while. One winning idea that your organization can prepare for your next fundraising event? A fundraising gala! These events are chock-full of opportunities such as silent auctions, interesting speakers, delicious food, and musical talent that engage both in-person and virtual audiences.

In this guide, we’ll use the experiences gained from several years focused on virtual and hybrid events to discuss how your nonprofit can make the most of your next fundraising gala. Let’s get started!

Understand what makes a virtual or hybrid gala unique.

Simply using the same gala strategy you’ve used in the past, but moving it online won’t be the best path forward for your next event. The first step to hosting an effective virtual or hybrid gala event is to recognize how this type of opportunity is unique from traditional in-person events.

Here are some of the differences that you might encounter during your preparation for your virtual or hybrid gala:

  • The use of live streaming tools. One key activity at your gala will likely be some sort of speaker who inspires your event attendees to take action for your cause. You wouldn’t want your online audience to miss out on this awesome opportunity! Live streaming these elements of the event helps everyone participate.
  • Shorter event duration. While people may plan the majority of their days around your in-person event, the same can’t be said for virtual and hybrid opportunities. It’s much more challenging to engage your online attendees for a long period of time. Therefore, plan for these events to be slightly shorter — between 60 and 90 minutes is ideal.
  • Lower event costs. Online events don’t require your organization to book a venue or a caterer for your gala. All you need is an online platform, which comes at a much lower rate. While you may still have some of these in-person costs for hybrid events, by collecting RSVPs, you can see who will attend in person versus online. Chances are, your in-person attendees will be lower than a fully in-person event, bringing these types of expenses down as well.

Regardless of if you’re hosting a hybrid or online gala, it will still take a few months of planning to create an event that wows your attendees. Don’t shorten your preparation process simply because you’re hosting the event on a different platform!

As you begin marketing your opportunity (particularly if this is your first time moving your gala to a virtual or hybrid format), emphasize the benefits of online events for your attendees. For example, you might discuss the convenience of bidding for silent auction items online or the comfort of being able to attend the event online from the couch or in their PJ bottoms.

Start planning your gala programming.

When you prepare for a virtual or hybrid gala, you first and foremost want to make sure that your attendees are engaged throughout the entire event. Therefore, you need to plan proper programming that will keep them entertained.

Some of the ways you may decide to spice up your next gala programming include the following:

  • Launching a silent auction. Procure items that will inspire friendly competition and start a bidding war among your attendees. Handbid’s guide to silent auction items emphasizes that your procured items need to align with the interests of your audience to entice them to bid. Not only that, but they should be items that would be challenging to get anywhere else other than your gala.
  • Incorporating gamification. What’s more entertaining than competition among friends? Gamification brings to light opportunities for nonprofits to encourage light rivalry among supporters. For example, you might offer a leaderboard for those who have made the greatest impact by bidding at your auction. Attendees will chase this type of recognition! Or, you may offer a fundraising thermometer, showing how close your nonprofit is to reaching a goal and encouraging attendees to do their part.
  • Live streaming entertainment. Entertainment options are plentiful whether you’re hosting an online or hybrid auction. You might insight some laughs with a comedy show for your audience, offering it live in person and live streamed over the web. Or, you could provide musical entertainment for guests with a band!

Keep your audience in mind as you choose your auction’s entertainment and programming. If you want your guests to engage, they need to be interested in your opportunities! For example, you might not play a loud rap show at an elderly home, and you probably wouldn’t host a risqué comedy show at an elementary school.

Instead, gauge your audience’s interests and plan programming that will fall into those interests. This will serve the dual purpose of driving engagement at your auction and building long-term relationships with your supporters for the future.

Invest in necessary software.

Once you’ve determined the type of programming you’ll have as a part of your gala, it’s time to make sure you have the tools necessary to make those plans a reality. Online and hybrid galas will require specialized software with the capabilities necessary for your event to succeed. For example, for your gala, you’ll probably need access to tools such as:

  • Registration forms. When you promote your gala, you’ll need to provide links to your registration form, allowing your attendees to sign up for your event.
  • Live streaming software. If you host a hybrid event, live streaming tools will make your in-person activities available for your at-home audience. If you host a fully-online event, you’ll need these tools to provide an immersive experience for your online guests.
  • Mobile bidding tools. If you’re hosting an auction as a part of your gala, invest in auction software with mobile bidding tools. This will allow any in-person guests to bid on your auction from their tables and your virtual audience to also easily engage with the auction.
  • Donation pages. If an event attendee wants to donate to your cause, why deny them? In fact, you can encourage these additional donations with easy-to-access donation pages built through your organization’s software.

Consider all of the additional features you’ll need for your organization’s unique event needs. In fact, make a list of all of these features! Then, when you enter into conversations with providers, you won’t be distracted by fancy bells and whistles of solutions that may not serve your unique needs. Always consult your list and make sure you’ll have everything necessary before investing.

Promote the gala.

The next step for an effective gala? Telling people about it, of course! You’ve planned an entertaining evening, so you simply need the guests to attend. When you promote your hybrid or virtual opportunity, be sure to meet your supporters where they are: online.

Create a full-fledged promotion strategy for the gala, taking into account tips and best practices that will help you reach more people. For example, consider these strategies:

  • Use a multi-channel marketing strategy. A multi-channel strategy will reach your supporters on several platforms, informing them about your gala and encouraging them to get involved. Getting Attention’s marketing guide suggests leveraging platforms like email, direct mail, video marketing, social media, your website, and more for promotion.
  • Feature auction items on promotional materials. If you’re hosting an auction as a part of your gala, your prospective attendees will be intrigued by all it has to offer! Feature the top auction items on your promotional materials, telling your audience that they could have a shot at winning those great items.
  • Get supporters excited about programming. Market the specific, exciting elements that you’ve planned for your event such as the band you chose to perform or the keynote speaker who will deliver a speech. You might even ask performers if they could also promote the event on your behalf.
  • Ask team members to spread the word. Team members, volunteers, board members, and even other supporters can all do their part to promote your event. Ask them to share key pages on social media to get their friends and family excited about the event.

In all of your promotional materials, be sure you provide a link, URL, or QR code to make it easy for potential attendees to find your registration page. This makes it more convenient for them to RSVP and let you know they’re coming right away!

Nail your follow-up communications.

After you’ve hosted your event, you may be tempted to start the celebration on such a successful affair. But there’s still more to do! Your nonprofit needs to follow up with all of the supporters and guests who worked hard to make your gala a success.

To nail your follow-up communications, consider the following strategies:

  • Send personalized thank-you cards to guests. Nothing says thank you like a handwritten or personalized card. Say thank you to all of your guests with a note of thanks that extends beyond an automated appreciation email.
  • Set up meetings and phone calls to directly thank major donors. Major donors gave a great deal to your cause, so show them the gratitude they deserve. Set up meetings with them and call them on the phone to thank them for their generous support.
  • Don’t forget to show gratitude to your volunteers. In the hustle and bustle of thanking donors, many nonprofits forget about another key group that made the event possible: their volunteers. Reach out to these supporters and thank them for their generous contribution of time.

In these messages of appreciation, you should always address the supporter by name to personalize the interaction. Then, directly say thank you for their specific gift. These supporters gave to make a difference, so this is a great opportunity to explain the impact they’ll have. Finally, provide the next steps to continue their engagement with your cause, whether that be by following your organization on social media, asking them to check their eligibility for matching gifts, or informing them of the next event opportunity.

At the beginning of the pandemic, we had to scramble to create an amazing online event for our supporters. Now we no longer need to scramble! Providing virtual opportunities for our event guests is a tried and tested strategy now. We can take what we’ve learned over the past few years and strategically build the best possible event that maximizes our return on investment. By using the tips and strategies in this guide, you’ll be well suited to create one of these incredible events.

Peer-to-peer fundraising can sometimes seem like a daunting venture. With this strategy, your success or your failure rests in your supporters’ hands. You’re relying on your supporters to champion and fundraise for your cause as proxies for your organization. 

When you have invested supporters, peer-to-peer fundraising allows you to expand your reach and engage new, potential donors in their individual networks. Because these donation requests are being made by a trusted friend or colleague, these potential donors are also more likely to donate to your cause.

However, without supporters’ dedicated participation, this type of campaign is likely to fall flat. So, how can you encourage participation from both existing and potential supporters? 

Whether this is your first peer-to-peer campaign or your fiftieth, follow these four tips to set your fundraising campaign up for the best possible engagement:

  • Set SMART goals.
  • Leverage regular, multichannel communication.
  • Choose powerful peer-to-peer fundraising software.
  • Show your appreciation.

Even though your supporters are in the driver’s seat, you can’t sit back and relax as the donations roll in, especially in the planning and preparation stages. The more work you put in upfront, from recruiting a stellar fundraising team to sending letters requesting donations, the more likely your supporters (and thus your campaign) will be successful.

Set SMART goals.

So where should you start? Before you launch your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and reach out to supporters, you’ll want to be clear about what you and your supporters will be working toward with your campaign. 

Campaign Goals

In conversations with your financial and development departments, you’ll establish your organization’s overall campaign fundraising goal. Consider: How much revenue do you intend to raise? What will be the impact of that money? Where and how will it be used? 

We recommend that the goals you set follow an established framework such as the SMART model:

  • Specific. Your goals should be narrowly-focused and identify specific, tangible resources, outcomes, and impacts for both your organization and community.
  • Measurable. Your goals should have a quantifiable definition of success and clear, accessible metrics
  • Attainable. Your goals should be achievable within reason. Sometimes organizations will have two goals: a “baseline” goal and a “reach” goal.
  • Relevant. Your goals should be meaningful to your organization, your donors, and the community you serve. 
  • Time-based. Your goals should have a defined target date as well as checkpoints along the way.

Determining the timeline and deadline for your campaign is a crucial but oft-forgotten part of the goal-setting process. If your campaign is associated with a specific event (such as a fun run or gala), you’ll likely align your deadline with that date. If you have more flexibility in your timeline, consider what time of year your supporters are most likely to be able to fundraise and donate. 

For example, if a large portion of your proxy fundraisers are teachers, you might plan the campaign for the summer—when they’ll be off from school and more available. Or since 30% of all annual giving occurs during the month of December, you might choose to host your campaign accordingly.

Individual Goals

While your organization will have an overall fundraising goal, you should also give your supporters the ability to set individual fundraising goals. Depending on the functionality of your fundraising platform, you can suggest achievable individual fundraising goals (plus their associated impact) and allow supporters to then make adjustments to their goal. 

For example, if your organization has an overall goal of $20,000, a supporter with a large network and free time might set a goal of $1,000, while a supporter with a busy schedule might set a goal for $100. Taken together, these smaller goals add up—and give individual supporters a sense of responsibility for meeting their commitment. 

Leverage regular, multichannel communication.

When you clearly articulate deadlines, impacts, and goals, you put your supporters in a strong position to set forth on their individual fundraising efforts. They’ll feel their involvement is making a positive, tangible impact and will communicate that to their network.

Thus, it’s imperative to keep your supporters apprised of how well the campaign is going, how close you are to reaching the overall goal, how they can get involved, and particular highlights and successes. But unfortunately, you can’t reach everyone on the same platform or with the same approach. Some people, for example, don’t use social media. They would miss your clever posts on Twitter or Instagram completely. 

In order to reach as many supporters as possible, plan to share these updates across a variety of channels, including:

  • Email. According to Donately, 28% of all online nonprofit revenue is generated via email outreach. People are constantly checking their emails, so this is one of the easiest ways to get your campaign in front of your supporters. Since emails can be easily forwarded and shared, write them with both your supporters and potential supporters in mind.
  • Social Media. Love it or hate it, social media is now an all but necessary fundraising tool to reach potential supporters beyond your immediate network. Focus on the platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter) your followers use most. 
  • Google Ads. While for-profit corporations pay large sums of money to advertise on Google search results pages, your position as a nonprofit makes you eligible for free advertising on Google with their Ad Grants program. With up to $10,000 worth of ad placements a month at your disposal, you can connect with a broader audience and engage them to join your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. 

Whatever channels you choose, you can use storytelling to effectively engage your audience. According to Getting Attention’s Guide to Nonprofit Storytelling, while 63% of people will remember a story, only 5% will recall a statistic. Using personal narratives, first pose a problem that your nonprofit is working to solve. Then, give followers a way (peer-to-peer fundraising!) to take an active role in shaping the story.

Choose powerful peer-to-peer fundraising software.

You can do everything in your peer-to-peer fundraising outreach right, but your fundraising software will ultimately make the difference in whether that work pays off. The best fundraising platforms are easy to use, offer robust sharing, data tracking, and integration capabilities, and are fully customizable. When choosing your software, consider its: 

  • Usability. Usability is just as important to your proxy fundraisers as it is to their donors. Participants don’t want to struggle to set up their personal campaign page—which can be an immediate deterrent to their participation—and share text and visual updates on their progress. Moreover, many of their donors will abandon the donation process at the first hint of a roadblock. Your platform should make it as easy as possible for visitors to donate without having to jump through multiple hoops.
  • Sharing capabilities. With so many people on social media, your platform’s sharing capabilities are crucial to the success of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Consider how easy it will be for participants and donors to share using your peer-to-peer solution. What social platforms will it connect to? Will sharing be burdensome or ignored, or actively encouraged with noticeable buttons and prompts? 
  • Data tracking capabilities. The right peer-to-peer fundraising software will support easy and organized data tracking and analysis. You should be able to track your most successful fundraisers, popular donation amounts, and giving trends at the click of a button. Use this information throughout your campaign to adapt to new trends and the needs of your fundraising participants and their networks. Some software can even help you fill in missing data, like employer information, at the click of a button.
  • Integrations. Nothing’s worse than having to retype hundreds of email addresses from one platform to another. For the sake of efficiency, your fundraising software should be able to connect widely to other software, such as MailChimp, Double the Donation, and WordPress. Integrations can also have significant implications for donor participation. For example, when 84% of potential donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered, integration with corporate donation matching software can dramatically increase both your number of donors and donation amount. 
  • Customization. While customization is certainly important to your peer-to-peer fundraising participants, it’s also important to how your organization presents itself to the public. For a consistent brand experience, you should be able to set your organization’s colors and logos across all pages.

Don’t let your fundraising software hold back your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. As you choose your software, consider these factors alongside the needs and budget of your organization. 

Show your appreciation.

Don’t save your appreciation till after your peer-to-peer fundraiser is over. Instead, make it a practice to show your appreciation to your supporters at regular intervals. 

Unsure about the best way to say thank you? Ask your supporters how they’d like to be appreciated! Popular thank-you ideas include:

  • Public recognition. Throughout your campaign, highlight your peer-to-peer fundraising participants with shoutouts and profiles in your email newsletter and on your social media accounts. Like any positive reinforcement, sharing positive recognition will deepen your participants’ connection with your organization, incentivize participation, and drive traffic to their individual fundraising pages.
  • Exclusive events. In addition to hosting a celebratory event at the end of your campaign, consider also hosting informal events during the campaign. Use these events to show your thanks and give peer-to-peer fundraising participants opportunities to connect with one another. If your participants are spread across the country—or the world!—use virtual event software to strategically host a hybrid or virtual event.
  • Personalized thank-yous. Once the campaign is over, don’t forget to send participants thank-you letters or emails. You can use your CRM to automatically personalize these with their names, their titles and pronouns, and the amount they fundraised in the campaign.

In addition to thanking your proxy fundraisers, you can also take steps to thank those who contributed to each individual’s campaign page. While they may not yet be invested in your cause, you can leverage your shared connection to convert them into loyal supporters.

As you plan your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, don’t forget to ask for help. Especially with this type of fundraising, your supporters will be your best resource. So ask for their input! Reach out to trusted donors, volunteers, staff, and board members. If you’ve run a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign before, you can ask past participants for feedback on those campaigns—where they were successful and where they could be improved. 

Not only will you gain valuable insights, but your supporters will also feel that their voices are being heard. With this in mind, go for it! We’re excited to see your campaign in action.

New donors help your nonprofit grow. After all, with each new support, your nonprofit should logically see increases in total revenue coming in. However, this is only true if you’re also retaining the supporters you currently have. While acquiring new supporters is important, there are many often overlooked benefits to forging long-term relationships with your existing donors. 

Retaining supporters requires a mix of appreciation strategies, strong communication practices, and a continued dedication to fulfilling your mission. While this can take quite a bit of effort, in exchange your nonprofit will begin forming relationships that can potentially span decades and enjoy all of the benefits those long-term connections bring. 

To help your nonprofit understand how investing in these long-term relationships can make a difference, we’ll explore four tangible benefits your nonprofit can look forward to:

  1. Reliable support. 
  2. Increased value. 
  3. More networking opportunities. 
  4. Greater return on investment. 

Remember that these long-term relationships often start small. For example, a supporter who joins your recurring donations program might need to make a few donations to make up the return on investment spent on marketing to attract them to your nonprofit. However, with patience, those donations can add up to fund much more. 

1. Reliable support. 

Having to guess if your nonprofit will have enough funding to continue one of your initiatives is never an enjoyable experience. Most nonprofits experience fluctuations in revenue from month to month based on the time of year, their current campaigns, and their overall success at bringing in new donors. 

Fortunately, with long-term donors, your nonprofit can look forward to reliable support on a routine basis. Here are just a few ways your long-term donors can continually support you:

  • Routine donations. Having a stable revenue stream allows your nonprofit to more accurately plan your budget. With reliable donations, your nonprofit will be able to allocate your spending for future growth and have a cushion to fall back on if another fundraiser falls short. 
  • Campaign support. New donors want to support campaigns they know will succeed. When you host a campaign, your long-term supporters will chip in and their contributions will make new supporters feel more confident giving as well. This is especially true when your total raised is visible to supporters, such as during the public phase of a capital campaign
  • Event attendance. Events are at their most fun and successful when there are enough guests to participate in your activities, socialize with each other, and donate if it’s a fundraiser. Your long-term, dedicated supporters are often also reliable event attendees, and their regular presence at your events can help build a sense of community and make event management easier for your planning team. 

Not all of your long-term supporters will participate in your nonprofit’s activities the same way or to the same extent. But whether they’re a dedicated fan of your organization who attends every event you host or someone who quietly donates each month, their regular support gives you the ability to keep your current operations sustainable, while also looking to the future. 

2. Increased value. 

Few donors make major gifts to nonprofits they’re just getting acquainted with. Long-term relationships are essential for earning the major gifts that make up the backbone of many nonprofits’ fundraising revenue. 

Mid-level donors also tend to give more the longer their relationship with a nonprofit lasts. The longer a donor has been with your organization, the deeper their investment in your cause becomes, and the more receptive they are to requests for increased support. 

Here are a few ways you can earn more from your moderate donors: 

  • Increased gift amounts. Mid-level donors often increase their support over the course of their relationship with a nonprofit. For example, a donor who gives $10 a month will likely be receptive to a request asking for $15 a month after they’ve been with your nonprofit for a significant amount of time. 
  • Likelihood of participating in multiple fundraisers. Supporters who are familiar with your nonprofit and your usual fundraising methods may become interested in supporting you in other ways as well. This can include volunteering, but also making additional monetary contributions such as buying your merchandise, supporting you through passive fundraising opportunities, or seeing if they qualify for a matching gift.
  • Planned giving opportunities. Planned giving is not as commonly discussed as other giving methods, but it can help nonprofits gain significant funding, and long-term relationships are vital to its success. NPOInfo’s charitable giving statistics found that for donors to enroll in a planned giving program, nonprofits often need to have decades long relationships with them, usually starting in a donor’s 50s or 60s, rather than later in life. 

To track your supporters’ contributions over the years, make sure to note their donations and participation in fundraisers and events in their donor profiles in your CRM. This way, you’ll know exactly where each donor is in their donor journey and be able to ask for a donation increase at the right moment. 

3. More networking opportunities. 

As mentioned, your current supporters can often attract new donors to your cause. Seeing an active community around your nonprofit will make your organization seem healthy and successful, which will make new donors more comfortable donating. Additionally, your long-term supporters can also take active steps to grow your nonprofit network, such as:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing. If there are two nonprofits you’re unfamiliar with, you might be unsure which to donate to. However, if a friend or family member vouches for one, you’re far more likely to consider donating to it—or at least spend the time learning more. With long-term relationships, your supporters are likely to participate in word-of-mouth marketing, improving your nonprofit’s reputation while attracting new interest from their friends and family. 
  • Peer-to-peer campaigns. Peer-to-peer campaigns leverage your supporters’ relationships as they fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit. Then, rather than giving to an organization they’re unfamiliar with, new donors will give to a trusted friend or family member. Plus, with social media, your supporters will be able to reach out to a large online network of their friends and followers. 
  • Prospective donors introductions. Your major donors have made an investment in your nonprofit, and some of them may be interested in getting their similarly affluent friends and family interested in your cause. Major donors who you have a long-term connection with can make introductions between you and their personal friends, which can get these relationships off to a strong start. Plus, if you’ve discovered a potential major donor through wealth prospecting, you can see if you have any donor with pre-existing relationships who would be willing to set up an introduction for you.

Remember that donors are most likely to help your nonprofit network when they have a strong relationship with your organization. Create a positive donor experience for all of your supporters to ensure that when they discuss your nonprofit with friends and family, they’ll have many positives to share. 

4. Greater return on investment. 

Attracting new donors is expensive. For each new donor you attract to your cause, you’ll need to spend time and resources researching your target audience, creating marketing materials, and tracking your engagement rates. 

To earn another donation from a new supporter, you’ll need to go through the process again, but once a donor has already learned about your nonprofit and decided to donate, there’s no need to go back to square one. Instead, you can continue the donor journey to lead them towards their next donation. 

This means that encouraging your current donors to continue giving is ultimately more cost-effective than bringing in new donors. While you should continue your donor outreach efforts, don’t forget to keep stewarding your current donors. 

CharityEngine’s guide to monthly giving walks through a few basic strategies for identifying and stewarding long-term supporters:

  • Identify recurring giving candidates. Once you have basic information about a supporter, such as their contact and giving information, you can determine how likely they are to become a long-term supporter. For example, you might not have much success with a supporter who gave once during a peer-to-peer campaign, whereas a supporter who already gives in significant amounts on an annual basis is likely a strong candidate for your monthly giving program. If you aren’t completely sure about your donor’s eligibility for perks like corporate sponsorships or matching gifts, data appending services can help you fill in the gaps.
  • Show appreciation. After a supporter gives, show your appreciation with a thank you message. Nonprofits can benefit from setting up automatic thank you messages for supporters who donate online, but there are other ways you can say thank you, such as sending donors a card, sharing the impact their donation will make, or even calling them on the phone for a quick conversation to show your appreciation. 
  • Collect supporter feedback. Why do your donors support your nonprofit? By collecting feedback straight from your supporters, you won’t need to guess why your supporters have stuck around. Plus, the sheer act of asking can help many supporters feel acknowledged and appreciated. 

Compared to the marketing required to attract a new donor, these steps require few resources other than your time and a robust CRM system. While you should still work to attract new donors, taking these additional steps can help retain your current base and ensure you receive a return on your marketing investment. 

Your supporters ensure your nonprofit is able to continue fulfilling its mission, and your long-term supporters have made the greatest investment in your cause. By maintaining these important connections, your nonprofit can look forward to reliable support, increased revenue, and opportunities to grow your organization. Use your donor management tools to keep an eye open for ways to build and maintain these relationships with your long-term supporters. Good luck!

Author: Leigh Kessler

Leigh Kessler is VP of Marketing and Communications at donor management software platform CharityEngine and a frequent speaker on branding, fundraising, data and technology.  He is a former nationally touring headline comedian and has appeared on numerous TV shows including VH1’s “Best Week Ever”, CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight”, Discovery Channel & Sirius Radio.​ He has overseen and informed research and branding strategies for some of the most well known brands in America.

Are you looking for the ultimate guide to matching gifts?

You’re in the right place!

Matching gift programs are one of the best channels to tap into when you want to take advantage of corporate philanthropy.

Don’t believe us?

Check out this statistic: an estimated $2-3 billion is donated through matching gift programs each year.

That’s a lot of money, but an even bigger stat to note is that about $4-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year.

So the question you should be asking is: what can I do to tap into matching gift programs, and how will they benefit my nonprofit?

Lucky for you, we’re going to cover all of that and more in this guide. 

Matching gifts can significantly boost your fundraising revenue, which means your team will have more funds available for programs, events, and everything else you do to serve your mission. Let’s get started on the basics so you can begin tapping into this channel ASAP.

What matching gifts are…

In a nutshell? A matching gift is a donation a company makes to match an employee’s initial donation to a nonprofit. So when an individual makes a gift of $50 to an organization, their employer will make an additional gift of $50, for a total of $100.

A matching gift is a donation a company makes to match an employee’s initial donation to a nonprofit.

Now, that’s assuming the employer offers a 1:1 match ratio (a dollar for dollar match). A match ratio can range anywhere from .5:1 to 4:1.

So, let’s say that $50 was matched at a 2:1 ratio instead. That means that initial $50 donation turns into $150 ($50 from the donor plus $100 from their employer)!

Now that our math lesson is over, let’s talk about how matching gifts actually work.

The overall process is pretty simple and tends to be the same across the board:

  1. An individual donates to a nonprofit.
  2. The individual checks their eligibility for matching gifts with their employer.
  3. The individual submits a request for a match to their employer.
  4. The employer reviews the request and verifies the donation with the nonprofit.
  5. The employer matches the gift.

The thing is, most companies have their own policies and guidelines when it comes to their employees submitting matching gift requests. 

These can include:

  • Minimum and maximum match amounts
  • Match ratios
  • Nonprofit eligibility
  • Employee eligibility

Not being able to figure out their employer’s guidelines can turn donors away from the process altogether, which brings us to our next point.

What your nonprofit could be missing out on…

Matching gifts seem like a pretty good deal, don’t they? Turning one donation into two? Well, as we’ve already indicated, not every donor knows how to go through the process of submitting a match request. Remember that number we mentioned earlier? Billions of dollars in matching gift funds go unclaimed every year.

Far too many organizations and donors overlook matching gift programs because there are too many company guidelines to keep track of, and nonprofits can’t easily track the companies their donors work for. Likewise, donors don’t always know whether their companies even offer matching gift programs.

So, it’s simple: matching gifts get overlooked.

But there are more reasons to pursue matching gifts than not.

For example:

Matching gifts have a huge impact on donations.

Did you know that 84% of donors say they’d be more likely to donate if a match was offered? That means if a donor is on the fence about giving to your nonprofit, notifying them that they might be eligible for a match through their company could be the extra push they need to make their donation.

But it doesn’t stop there.

In addition to the donors who would give if a match were applied, 1 in 3 donors say they’d give a larger amount if a match was available.

So not only would you get a donation in the first place, but the amount could be even bigger than it would have been otherwise!

We’ve talked a lot about company matching gift programs and how they can differ from each other. But a common theme is that many of these programs are pretty generous. To give you an idea of what your organization could be missing out on, here are some incredible matching gift programs:

The Coca-Cola Company matches donations made by full-time employees or retirees up to $10,000. As if that’s not enough, they offer a 2:1 match, which means the total maximum cap is $20,000!

Soros Fund Management matches donations made by full-time employees to most nonprofits at up to a 2:1 ratio, with a maximum cap of $100,000.

Merck & Co. matches donations made by active employees at a 1:1 ratio up to $30,000. Most nonprofits are eligible for these matching gifts.

This is just a taste of how generous a lot of these matching gift programs can be. Many companies’ maximum match amounts are in the thousands, and their minimum match amount can be as low as $25, if there’s even a minimum at all.

It should be pretty clear by now that there are a lot of benefits to tapping into matching gift programs. That’s why we’re going to dive deeper into those benefits next.

Who benefits from matching gifts…

As we get into the benefits of matching gift programs, we should also note that it’s not just nonprofits that can benefit from them.

In fact, matching gift programs benefit nonprofits, donors, and companies. Here’s how:

Benefits for NonprofitsThese are the benefits of matching gifts for nonprofits.

Let’s start with you. Matching gifts benefit many types of nonprofit organizations. While some companies are specific about what type of organization they’ll match donations to, a majority of 501(c)(3) organizations are usually eligible. And as a nonprofit, every donation dollar counts. Beyond just doubling donations, matching gifts offer nonprofits a way to build long-term relationships with companies and donors. The more support you have, the more you’ll be able to accomplish.

Benefits for DonorsThese are the benefits of matching gifts for donors.

Matching gifts benefit donors, too. When a donor gives to your organization and then successfully requests a match from their employer, they’re essentially doubling the impact of their gift. This gives donors a greater sense of pride knowing that their donation went twice as far.

Benefits for CompaniesThese are the benefits of matching gifts for companies.

There are many benefits for companies, too. By taking part in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs like matching gifts, companies maintain a positive public image, keeping their employees and consumers happy. In terms of tax benefits, companies can also deduct the amount they matched from the original donation.

In short, matching gift programs benefit everyone involved. Nonprofits get extra support, donors feel proud for making their contributions go even further, and companies look great for supporting nonprofits.

Top 3 benefits of matching gift programs…

As a nonprofit specifically, there are even more benefits of matching gift programs you should be aware of. For that reason, we’ve compiled the top three perks you should keep in mind when deciding whether you want to pursue this type of corporate giving program: 

1. A second donation for the cost of soliciting one.

The most obvious benefit? Matching gifts are cost-effective—you get a second donation for the cost of soliciting one. Basically, this means you’ll get more revenue from one donation without asking donors to reach back into their own pockets. You’ll also save the time you would’ve spent soliciting a separate donation from another donor. It’s a win-win!

2. A deepened relationship with supporters.

Beyond just the monetary aspect, matching gifts allow your nonprofit to develop a deepened relationship with supporters. Matching gifts can actually help with donor retention, which means the more you mention matching gifts and keep your donors in the loop, the higher your retention rate will be. Donors will also feel more engaged with your organization when they know they’re making a bigger impact with their gifts. 

3. Increased fundraising revenue to put toward your programs.

When your organization actively pursues matching gifts, you can significantly increase your fundraising revenue. That means you’ll be able to put on more programs and events that benefit your constituents. 

Matching gifts can also aid in prospect research and finding major gift donors. Imagine if a major donor was eligible for matching gifts through their company—that would be a huge boost for your nonprofit!

Just thinking about these top benefits of matching gifts should get your team excited. There’s so much untapped potential out there that you can explore.

How to raise even more from matching gifts…

You might be thinking that making matching gifts part of your fundraising strategy is easier said than done. 

But there are ways you can benefit from matching gifts without requiring too much extra effort from your team.

We’ve written about promoting matching gifts before, and one of the best ways you can leverage matching gift programs is to meet donors at the point where they’re most engaged: the donation process.

Once a supporter lands on your donation page, that means they’re serious about donating to your cause. Remember how donors are more likely to give if a match is applied? That means if you actively promote matching gifts during your donation process, your donor will be more likely to give and check out the matching gift opportunity.

So, what’s the best way to promote matching gifts during the donation process?

In a nutshell: make it easy for the donor to find out about their company’s matching gift program.

Investing in a matching gift search tool, for example, is a great way to do this. All you have to do is embed the tool into your donation page (or anywhere on your site, really!), and donors can type in the name of their employer. If that employer offers a matching gift program, all of the info about their program (match ratios, eligibility, etc.) will pull up right away.

Here’s what that kind of search tool looks like:

Here's a matching gift search tool that is embedded into a website.

The great thing about matching gift search tools like the above is that they can be customized to match your organization’s branding. And when the tool is embedded directly into your donation process, more donors will see the matching gift opportunity and search for their employer. 

Don’t have your donors’ employment information? Some matching gift tools even come with real-time employer appends, meaning the tool will find and add that data for you instantly.

If you want to take this process several steps further, you can invest in a matching gift automation platform. An automation platform takes the info donors provide as they give to your nonprofit (such as email domain or employer name) and runs it against a database of thousands of matching gift programs. If it turns out your donor works for a matching gift company, the platform will automatically send out a customizable email to that donor that explains how they can submit a match request.

Here’s what that email could look like:

This email is sent from an automated matching gifts platform.

Notice how the email identifies the donor’s employer and offers actionable steps to complete the matching gift process. A customizable experience will make the donor even more likely to be responsive.

When you drop matching gift solutions like these into the mix, you have a chance to skyrocket your matching gift revenue. If you really want to benefit from matching gifts, consider adding these to your team’s toolkit.

Sample matching gift letters…

If you’re looking for some guidance as you start to reach out about matching gifts, here are some basic matching gift letters you can use to tell donors about the opportunity. You probably already send out thank-you emails once a donor has contributed to your cause. Why not include these templates, too?

Sample Matching Gift Letter for Small Nonprofits:

Dear [donor’s name],

[nonprofit’s name] could not do what we do without you. Our mission needs all the support and help we can get, and your donation of [donation amount] has brought us further than we ever have been before. We are so close to our goal of [fundraising goal] and making [your mission] happen.

There’s a good chance your employer offers a matching gift program to help double your impact. The process is simple, and we would love to do most of the work for you. In a few simple steps, you can increase your donation and continue to change lives:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website [website URL] or phone number [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

[nonprofit’s name] appreciates each donation and act of support you make.

Thank you,

[nonprofit’s name]

Sample Matching Gift Letter for Large Nonprofits:

Dear [donor’s name],

Here at [nonprofit name], we appreciate every gift we receive. Your donation of [donation amount] has made such an impact to [your mission] and has done [a recent accomplishment] for us.

We are so close to our donation goal of [fundraising goal] and we think you can help get us there. Your contribution has already done so much, but we believe your employer, [donor’s workplace], may have a matching gift program that will match your generous donation and double your impact!

Taking the steps to increase your gift is a simple process. Please see the instructions below:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website [website URL] or phone number [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

We appreciate your support tremendously. You are the reason we are able to reach our goal of [fundraising goal] and achieve [your mission.]

Thank you,

[nonprofit’s name]

Use templates like these to guide you as you set out to find matching gift revenue for your organization. Then, if you ultimately decide to invest in matching gift solutions, you’ll already have a great foundation for communicating with your donors!

Additional matching gift resources…

Hopefully our matching gifts guide has helped you learn more about this giving opportunity. If you want to do further reading, here are some awesome resources you can check out:

Find more matching gift revenue with a matching gift database!

When you Google the American Cancer Society (ACS), the second organic listing is for the nonprofit’s Facebook page. When you click on the first listing— American Cancer’s website— and navigate to opportunities to get involved, Facebook fundraisers are placed front-and-center. In fact, these fundraisers are listed as an opportunity to “make the most impact.”

ACS has a well-established Facebook fundraising foundation and because of that, is very successful when engaging supporters through the platform. Can your organization say the same?

We would guess that you probably maintain Facebook profiles, post regularly to market upcoming opportunities, and even have supporters conducting fundraisers on your behalf. But, there’s still something missing from your strategy, and it’s holding you back from the success ACS and other organizations have experienced.

At GoodUnited, we work with nonprofit organizations to raise their relationships with supporters on social media. We’ve researched and reported on Facebook fundraising for nonprofits, and discovered just what’s missing from traditional social media guidance. We’re going to cover this through the following points:

Before we explore what’s missing from your nonprofit’s social strategy, let’s discuss the best practices that have been commonplace in recent years.

Examining Traditional Nonprofit Social Media Best Practices

Until very recently, the pervading advice surrounding how to use social media for nonprofits went something like this:

  1. Post regularly and create valuable content to increase your social media followings.
  2. Incorporate social media into your overall multichannel marketing strategy, using the platforms to share your online donation, volunteer, and advocacy opportunities.
  3. Make it as easy as possible for users to click on a link in a post, leave your social media page and donate/register to volunteer/complete some other action through your website.

Lather, rinse, repeat. The overarching narrative was that you want to build an audience on social media and then send them elsewhere to take action. That’s no longer the case.

In this GoodUnited guide to Facebook birthday fundraisers, we discuss a narrative that quickly emerged as the platform’s fundraising tools did— the idea that organizations shouldn’t invest time, energy, and resources into Facebook fundraising because it’s a shallow, ineffective way for supporters to give. In our guide, we discuss how that couldn’t be farther from the truth, and in fact, we’ve found that Facebook fundraisers are the first step toward building impactful relationships with the next generation of social supporters.

Here’s What’s Missing: Connecting with Supporters Where They Are

Connecting with supporters where they are— directly in-channel on Facebook— is what’s missing to elevate your nonprofit’s social strategy. Recognizing supporters and donors, having one-on-one communications, and creating a community for your supporters to connect can now all happen directly on the platform.

With tools built directly into Facebook’s platform, you can put a concentrated focus on each individual supporter. You can understand these supporters more comprehensively, create experiences that inspire them to support your organization time and time again, and grow your relationships through regular one-on-one communications.

This is the key to turning a one-off peer-to-peer fundraiser on Facebook into a lifelong supporter of your organization. Rather than a short-term expansion of your audience, gathering a few additional supporters that are willing to conduct a Facebook fundraiser in your next P2P campaign, you can retain these supporters for the long haul.

Let’s explore what this will look like in action.

How To Raise Your Relationships Directly on Facebook

There are two tools built directly into Facebook’s platform that you can use to grow strong relationships with each of your nonprofit’s social supporters. These tools don’t require any additional investments or complicated back-end processes— simply the willingness and efforts of your team.

Facebook Groups

Did you know that Facebook groups are now favored over individual posts in the platform’s algorithm? This means that if you make a post through your nonprofit’s main Facebook page, and then make the same post in a group containing your supporters, these individuals are more likely to see the group post than the profile post.

Beyond the enhanced visibility, groups offer the benefit of an in-channel community for your supporters to connect. For example, here are a few unique ways you can use groups to unite your social community:

  • Hosting fundraising events. You can create a closed Facebook group, charge a small donation fee for admission, and livestream an engaging virtual fundraising event from within the group. Further, with Facebook Live, you can make live appeals and receive donations throughout the event.
  • Creating communities for supporters with similar interests. Whether ambassadors, advocates, volunteers, or even those who enjoy conducting Facebook fundraisers on your behalf, create groups for these supporters to connect and bond over their shared interests. In these groups, tailor the information you share to be interesting to each particular audience— such as information about upcoming P2P events in a group for users who are interested in Facebook fundraisers.
  • Uniting participants in peer-to-peer challenges. Let’s say you’re hosting a virtual walk-a-thon, which is an engaging virtual peer-to-peer fundraising idea. Invite participants to connect within a Facebook group, donate to one another’s fundraisers, and share training tips to meet their walking goals.

Once you’ve created communities for your social fundraisers, the fun begins. Share tips to help users reach their fundraising goals, present discussion topics, provide updates on the work of your organization, and even share educational resources. But remember— it should be a two-way conversation. Encourage users to add their own unique voices by posting in your groups as well.

Facebook Messenger

Just like you can use Messenger to connect with your Facebook friends, you can do the same with your nonprofit’s supporters on the platform.

Similarly to sending a thank-you letter to donors, you should also thank each user that creates a fundraiser on your behalf on Facebook. The easiest way to do this is to comment on the fundraisers that users create and post a personalized, genuine thank-you note.

With that note, invite users to connect with your organization via Messenger. You can then tailor this one-on-one conversational messaging to each individual supporter, building unique relationships with your social supporters. For example, you can:

  • Share updates about your organization. You can share upcoming fundraising events, volunteer opportunities, and any new developments within your organization. This information can be tailored to be interesting to the user you’re connecting with.
  • Answer questions and provide tips. If a user is encountering a fundraising challenge, provide tips to overcome those challenges. This will result in fewer unsuccessful fundraisers and set users up for success.
  • Connect during big milestones. If a user has a birthday coming up, you can send them well-wishes and encourage them to start a fundraiser aligning with the effort. Users will notice you went above-and-beyond to acknowledge their special day and feel encouraged to give back.
  • Learn more about your supporters. You can share surveys and ask one-off questions. From contact information to longer answers, such as why they support your mission and how they want to engage going forward, you can learn a good amount about your supporters.

With Messenger, you don’t just connect with users when they’re raising funds for your organization— you can stay in touch year-round and show supporters that you appreciate them for their contributions.

Wrapping Up: Why Invest in Social Fundraising Solutions?

When organizations stumbled across Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics and realized that anywhere from $4-7 billion in matching gifts goes unclaimed each year, did these organizations accept that their matches would never be realized?

No, they invested in technology and processes that would help them secure the unclaimed funds.

Similarly, if your organization doesn’t have an impactful Facebook fundraising foundation comparable to that of the American Cancer Society, you don’t just have to accept that your social efforts are subpar. You can optimize your Facebook efforts by investing in social fundraising solutions.

We’ve presented a variety of ways that you can engage with supporters directly on Facebook to improve your efforts. However, not every organization can dedicate the time and resources internally to connect with each and every Facebook supporter— especially if you have hundreds or thousands of supporters on the platform.

There are now turnkey social fundraising solutions— such as those offered by GoodUnited— that will empower your team to grow these relationships at scale. This provides your team with the people, processes, and technology needed to foster relationships with the next generation of supporters, including thank-you notes sent to every user that starts a fundraiser and custom automated messaging sequences via Messenger.

With these tips, and perhaps managed services for Facebook fundraising, you can take your social media efforts to the next level. Good luck!

About the Author:

Nick Black is the Founder and CEO of GoodUnited, a venture backed Software as a Service (SaaS) startup that helps nonprofits like Wounded Warrior Project, American Cancer Society, World Wildlife Fund create 1:1 relationships with their donors through the combination of data science and human judgement delivered in conversational messaging platforms. Nick’s work with GoodUnited resulted in being named The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s 2017 Distinguished Young Alumnus. 

Nick has been an innovator and leader at the intersection of business and social impact for over ten years. The concept for GoodUnited came through Nick’s work co-founding and leading Stop Soldier Suicide, a 501c3 that grew from startup to national leader in reducing veteran suicide to the national average in ten years. Stop Soldier Suicide’s growth and impact resulted in Nick being selected as a Presidential Leadership Scholar and a Leadership North Carolina Fellow. 

Nick co-founded Stop Soldier Suicide stemming from his experiences leading Paratroopers as a Ranger qualified Army Officer with the 173rd Airborne during 27 months deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan. During Nick’s six years of service he was awarded two Bronze Stars, an Army Commendation Medal for Valor and as a Field Artillery Officer, was repeatedly ranked 1st among 50 peer Officers in a premier Infantry Battalion.

Nick received a BA from The Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, Nick was a four-year member of the Varsity football team, the first two-time President of Alpha Delta Phi Fraternity and a four-year scholarship winner of the Army ROTC program. Nick received an MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. At Kenan-Flagler, Nick was awarded the Rollie Tillman Award for Leadership, selected as a Kenan Institute Leadership Fellow, was President of the Veterans Club and awarded the 2018 Distinguished Young Alumnus

Nick lives in Charleston South Carolina with his wife Amanda. Amanda and Nick have a five-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.

As a nonprofit organization, everything comes down to your fundraising efforts—whether you’ll be able to meet your program goals, put on a large event, pay for overhead costs, and most importantly, serve your mission.

Sometimes it can be hard to admit this, but fundraising revenue alone isn’t always enough. So what if you could double some of these existing dollars without asking donors to contribute more than they already have?

The answer is simple: matching gifts.

In this article, we’ll be talking specifically about corporate matching gifts, which allow donors to maximize their donations by reaching out to their employers for a company match. If you’re looking for ways to tap into this form of corporate philanthropy, you’re in the right place!

Let’s begin with the basics of matching gift programs, and then we’ll show you how to promote matching gifts to your donor base. Ready to get started? Let’s dive in.

1. Matching Gift Basics

The concept of matching gifts is pretty simple: donors give to an organization, submit a match request to their employer, and the employer sends the organization a matching donation.

It seems like everyone should be doing this, right? But there’s a problem: many donors don’t realize their company offers a matching gift program, and even if they do, they aren’t sure how to submit a match request.

Clearing up the haziness surrounding corporate matching gift programs is the first step you need to take as a nonprofit so you and your donors can fully take advantage of them. That starts with understanding the rules of these programs.

Rules for Corporate Matching Gifts

In general, corporate matching gift programs have thresholds that need to be met before the company will issue a matching donation. It’s important to know what these thresholds are so you can make the matching gift process run a lot smoother.

Consider these rules so you can understand how to promote matching gifts.

Here are the basic thresholds you should be aware of:

  • Minimum and maximum match amounts. Typically, companies have a minimum and maximum donation amount they’ll match. The minimum amount is usually around $25, while the maximum can be in the thousands.
  • Match ratio. Most companies match dollar for dollar (a 1:1 ratio), while some companies match at an even higher ratio. In general, ratios can range from .5:1 all the way to 4:1.
  • Employee eligibility. Another guideline to be aware of is whether a donor’s employment status is eligible for a company match. Companies typically specify whether full-time employees, part-time employees, or retirees are eligible. In some cases, this can even expand to spouses or domestic partners of those employees.
  • Nonprofit eligibility. This is a big one. Is your nonprofit eligible to receive a matching donation from the donor’s company? Most companies have a set list of organization types that they’ll donate to, which can include educational institutions, arts and cultural organizations, health and human services, and others. The most common restriction is around religious organizations, but again, this can vary by employer.

Understanding these rules for corporate matching gift programs will ensure that your nonprofit makes the most of eligible donations. But there’s more that goes into the matching gift process than meeting the initial guidelines. Your organization plays a key role in the next step: verification.

Verifying Corporate Matching Gifts

One of the most common ways nonprofits accidentally miss out on getting a matching donation from a company is by not verifying the gift. It might go without saying, but actually confirming with the matching gift company that your organization received a donation is pretty important.

Many companies use a third-party vendor to manage their matching gift process and allow nonprofits to verify donations. If your organization will be dealing with these vendors, you’ll want your team to be up-to-speed on how to use them. Whether it’s logging into an online portal or mailing in a letter, do not forget to verify the donation.

Once the donation has been verified, the company will submit their match!

2. Promoting Matching Gifts

Making the most of matching gift programs means understanding how they work. But you won’t get very far past that stage if your organization doesn’t actively promote this giving opportunity to your supporters.

There are several effective ways your team can get matching gifts on your donors’ minds. Check them out below:

If you want to know how to promote matching gifts, consider placing info about matching gifts on your donation page.On the Donation Page

If you think that supporters are most engaged with your organization during the donation process…you’re correct! Those who land on your donation page are seriously considering donating to your nonprofit. That much is certain.

But what if we told you that 84% of donors say they’re more likely to donate if a match is offered? That would mean if they saw an opportunity about matching gifts on your donation page, it could be the extra push they need to submit their donation.

Just a simple mention of matching gifts or using a matching gift search tool (more on that below!) will notify donors that their gift can go twice as far and encourage them to begin the process of requesting a match.

Another way to promote matching gifts is through your confirmation page.On the Confirmation Page

Congratulations—your supporter made a donation to your organization! Now what?

The first thing they’re likely to see after pressing Submit is a confirmation page that acknowledges their donation. For many donors, once they’ve given the gift, the process is pretty much over for them. Lucky for you, they’re still close to the height of their engagement.

That’s why promoting matching gift opportunities on your confirmation page is an excellent way to go. Donors already feel good about their gift. Why not make them feel even better by promoting an opportunity to stretch their contribution even further?

Learn how to promote matching gifts by using a dedicated matching gifts page.On a Dedicated Matching Gift Page

Even if supporters are just checking out your organization for the first time and browsing around your website, there are other ways you can promote matching gifts—even if they’re not actively looking to donate.

A dedicated matching gift page, or even a “Ways to Give” page, should include detailed information about matching gift programs and their impact on your nonprofit. Featuring this information in a prominent place on your website will both educate supporters about matching gifts and encourage them to donate in the first place.

Social media is another great place to promote matching gifts.On Social Media

If your organization is active on social media, consider using your platform to share information about matching gifts. Even better, you can schedule posts throughout the year so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Link your followers back to your website for more information, use visuals when you can, and keep your messages short and sweet.

If you want to know how to promote matching gifts, use your communications.In Your Communications

Beyond promoting matching gifts on your website or social media platforms, your email list is a huge opportunity to get the word out about doubling donations.

There are a few different ways you can incorporate matching gift letters as part of your email outreach and promotion strategy:

  • Thank-you emails. Once a donor has submitted their gift, they’re likely going to receive a confirmation email from your nonprofit thanking them for their donation. This is the perfect spot to also mention that their donation can go twice as far with a matching gift.
  • Newsletters. Does your team send out newsletters on a regular basis? Why not include matching gift information in a dedicated section of the email? Or, you can even send out one or two dedicated matching gift newsletters each year.
  • Year-end emails. A majority of charitable giving takes place during the holiday season. Send out holiday messages as part of your year-end campaign that highlight matching gifts to potential donors. Many companies also allow donors to request a match through the end of the year in which they gave, so be sure to encourage existing donors to check whether their earlier gifts are eligible.

Include links in any of these emails that direct donors back to your website for more information. This is why it’s a good idea to have a dedicated matching gift page on your site.

If you’re looking to take your email outreach a step further, consider using specific links within your messages that redirect donors to different pages of your website. For example:

  • If a donor has submitted a match request, encourage them to click a link in your email that will redirect them to a thank-you page on your website.
  • If a donor determines that their donation is not eligible for a matching gift, offer a link they can click that will show them alternate ways to show their support.
  • If a donor wants to unsubscribe from emails, redirect them to the corresponding page on your website.

Not only does this improve the donor journey, but it also gives your team a way to keep track of which donors have submitted matching gift requests, which donors are not eligible, and which donors want to unsubscribe.

Lastly, don’t forget to incorporate direct mail! Include postcards or inserts that contain info about matching gifts with an easy link or QR code to send donors to your matching gifts page. These inserts can go into any of your printed communications to help spread the word about the opportunity.

Sample Matching Gift Letters

If you’re looking for specific examples of the matching gift communications we’ve talked about, you’re in luck! Here are some sample matching gift letters your team can send out to promote matching gift opportunities:

Sample 1: The simple nonprofit matching gift letter.

Dear [donor’s name],

Thank you so much for your generous donation of [donation amount] to our nonprofit. Your contribution has already made such an impact to [your mission] by [example of physical impact]. We cannot thank you enough.

We think you might be able to double your impact! Your employer, [donor’s workplace], may offer a matching gift program that can increase your gift! Matching gift programs are a form of corporate philanthropy where businesses match the donations their employees make to charitable organizations.

Taking the steps to get your gifts matched is a simple process and we are happy to walk you through the process:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at [website URL] or [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

We appreciate your support tremendously. You are the reason we are able to [recent accomplishment].

Thank you,

[nonprofit’s name]

This letter is personalized to the donor and includes actionable next steps the donor can take to determine their matching gift eligibility. There’s also an educational element to this letter, which explains what matching gifts are and how they tie into corporate philanthropy.

Sample 2: A higher education institution’s matching gift letter.

Dear [donor’s name],

The students of [school’s name] are eternally grateful for your generous support. They cannot thank you enough for bringing [recent school renovation or improvement, like an improved library, new building, or renovated dorms] to life and providing a space for them to learn and grow.

Last year we raised [last year’s total matching gift revenue] all from matching gifts, or donations made by businesses to match those made by their employees. With very little extra effort, many of our donors were able to double their original contributions because their employers had matching gift programs in place.

In a few steps, you can check to see if your company will match your gift. Here’s what you can do:

Step 1: Contact your employer’s HR head to see if they offer a matching gift program to increase your donation.

Step 2: Your HR head will point you in the right direction and let you know if you need to fill out any necessary forms and be aware of submission deadlines.

Step 3: Once you have submitted your matching gift request form or if you have any questions about the process, please contact us at our website [website URL] or phone number [phone number].

Additionally, if your company doesn’t offer a matching gift program or won’t match your donation, please let us know as well.

Your impact has already created a difference in the quality of life and the academic accomplishments our community has made recently. Imagine what can happen when your gifts are matched.

Thank you,

[school’s name]

This letter outlines the impact matching gifts have had on the institution and provides specific instructions the recipient can follow to submit a matching gift request. This letter in particular also highlights tangible results of the financial support already received (a new building, updated library, etc.).

Using a Matching Gift Database

While promoting matching gifts through all of the above channels can be effective, you can kick it up a notch or two by using a matching gift database.

A matching gift database is the key to finding tons of information on matching gift programs all over the world. They list thousands of companies, along with those companies’ matching gift guidelines, forms, and instructions. 

So how do you get access to a matching gift database?

This kind of info can be accessed in a couple of ways:

Matching Gift Search Tool

Invest in a matching gift solution that offers a matching gift search tool to embed anywhere on your website. That means on your donation page, your confirmation page, and your “Ways to Give” or dedicated matching gift pages.

Here’s an example of a matching gift search tool in action:

One matching gift best practice is incorporating a search tool as part of your website.

This search tool auto-completes the company name that’s being typed in, making it easy for the donor to select the name of their company and load the results.

Matching Gift Automation

Another awesome tool that can come in handy for larger organizations is a matching gifts automation platform. Once donors fill out the donation form on your website and submit their gift, this platform scans their info for any indication of matching gift eligibility (a work email address, employer details, etc.) and then triggers out customizable emails on your behalf.

Here’s what such an email would look like for someone who was determined to be match eligible:

Another matching gift best practice is to invest in a matching gifts automation platform.

This email explains to the donor that their donation is eligible for a matching gift from their employer. There are buttons the donor can then click to indicate their matching gift status.

Using a matching gifts automation platform saves your team time because each match-eligible donation will automatically go through the platform’s email stream and trigger the appropriate message. This leaves your organization more time to focus on high-value matching gift opportunities.

3. Other Matching Gift Best Practices

If you’re looking for more matching gift best practices beyond promotion, we’re going to conclude with a few last suggestions that can help your team bring in more revenue to fund your mission.

Demonstrate the Impact of Matching Gifts

One thing donors love is to know their donation is making an impact. And not just that—they want to know what their specific gift went toward.

In the case of matching gifts, share with your supporters how much money has been raised specifically from corporate matches. Explain how this doubled (or even tripled) your fundraising revenue and met your goals.

Then, go even further and explain what reaching your fundraising goals accomplished. For example, did the extra revenue help your organization feed 1,000 more people? Be specific!

You can share this in an annual report, on social media, on your website, and through other channels of communication.

Follow Up on Incomplete Matches

As we’ve mentioned before, keeping track of the status of donors and their matching gifts can help your team stay organized and maximize your revenue from this channel.

This means you should be following up on incomplete match requests—though this can be challenging to do manually.

Using an automation platform, you’ll be able to follow up with donors automatically, but not bombard them to the point where they get annoyed or disinterested.

Automation platforms incorporate sending limits, which helps your team limit the number of emails sent to donors within a given period of time. All you have to do is configure it in your settings. This applies to recurring donors, one-time donors, and even major gift donors. And once a donor indicates that they’ve submitted a matching gift request, they won’t be contacted again about that particular donation.

Following up gets much easier when you have an automated system in place. Don’t let your donors forget to submit a matching gift request if they’re eligible, but keep your communication to a reasonable level. 

Acknowledge Matching Gifts

Last, but certainly not least, thanking your donors at each stage of the process is essential. Of course, you’ll thank donors after they’ve made their initial donation, but you’ll also want to thank them:

  • After they’ve submitted a matching gift request.
  • After the company match has been received by your organization.

Keeping your donors in the loop shows that you value their support and want them to know their efforts made a difference. You should also keep in mind that the matching gift company might have a set preference for acknowledgement, as well. Most companies don’t need to be acknowledged and will say so—but if a company does want an acknowledgment, look for instructions from their outreach.

Incorporating these matching gift best practices and promotional strategies can help your organization raise the funds you need. Now that you have a basis to go off of, it’s time to get back to work!

Additional Matching Gift Resources

We hope these tips have given you some great ideas for your organization! If you’re looking for even more information about matching gifts, check out these additional resources:

Put more matching gift best practices into action with a matching gift database!

Direct mail is an integral part of any multichannel fundraising campaign. Your organization benefits from mail’s high visibility, response rates, and separation from online marketing clutter. There are a few best practices you can take to make the most out of your direct donation request letter efforts. 

Effective direct mail can be the turning point in meeting your goals. A physical fundraising appeal can work to direct readers to your donation page, ask for volunteer time, spread news, and anything else you may need to drive your mission forward. The opportunities are vast with effective communication via physical mail. 

Here at iATS Payments, we’ve worked with a wide range of nonprofits to increase their ROI in their fundraising efforts. A common challenge we’ve seen organizations run into is converting direct mail supporters to actual donors. There are a few practices you can use to make your mail work for your nonprofit:

  1. Strategize your direct mail fundraising appeal with donor segments.
  2. Add a personal touch to your mail for each supporter.
  3. Write effective copy in the body of your letter.
  4. Provide ways for donors to give through a payment processor.

With these tips in mind, you’ll get the highest ROI out of your direct donation request mail campaign. Let’s unpack some of the necessary steps.

1. Strategize your direct mail fundraising appeal with donor segments.

One of the first steps your team should take in creating a marketing strategy is to segment your audience. Categorizing your donors is easy and helps you specifically target those who can push your mission forward. Here’s how taking this simple step benefits your marketing efforts:

  • Higher conversion rates
  • Increased ROI
  • Targeted communications

This way, you’ll be sending mail to the segments that have taken previous similar actions to help your mission. These recipients are more likely to help out versus someone who has never interacted with your cause. If you’re looking to move forward with segment your audience, here are three simple steps you can take to do so effectively:

Utilize your CRM data. 

Your CRM works with the data you retain to build profiles and sort your valuable fundraising data. For example, you’re able to see the data inputted during the giving process from your donors. This can look like recent giving, events they’ve registered for, and contact info. Additionally, you’re able to track their interactions with emails you’ve sent and any other interactions with your digital marketing. If your CRM or donor database is missing key data points like date of birth, employer information, mailing address or phone numbers, a data append service can help you fill in the gaps.

Put your CRM to use by incorporating your data insights into your direct mail strategy by focusing on targeted appeals to recipients for the most effective fundraising letter possible. 

Characterize your donor groups. 

When you characterize your donors into groups, you will notice that each segment becomes its own subset within your organization. When this happens, it’s indicative that your data effectively targets different people who participate in your efforts. For example, a school’s groups may look like this: 

  • Students
  • PTA Parents
  • School Board Members
  • Faculty and Staff

With these groups, your team can paint a picture of what it looks like to contribute to each subsection and how to communicate with them efficiently.

Plan separate outreaches to your donor subsections. 

Now that your groups are separated by characteristics, your communication should be strategic for targeting their interests. For reference, DNL Omnimedia provides specific tips for segmenting your donors that your team should consider. A good way to ensure you’re leveraging this data is to make sure your fundraising letters for each group cater to their interests. Be sure to keep track of how they’re responding and adjust accordingly. 

2. Add a personal touch to your mail for each supporter.

The next step after determining your donor segments is to draft your letters with personalization to each recipient. According to Experian, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates (source). You’re already making a specific ask to your subgroups, and it’s worth it for your team to go the extra mile and incorporate a bit of extra information from your CRM into each letter. Your fundraising software should even automate this process.

Here’s how to catch your donor’s eye. 

  • Writing Dear [their name], rather than a general salutation.
  • Taking care to include the proper spelling of their name and address.
  • Including details about their prior engagements.
  • Recognizing donors for their previous efforts.

These personalized details can save your letter from looking like junk mail to the recipient. In taking these steps, your relationships with your donors also grow that much more. Going the extra mile confirms to your recipient that you recognize their efforts and care about them as an individual. 

3. Write effective copy in the body of your letter.

Now that you have a strategy for targeting individual donors, be sure to incorporate specific writing strategies to fully establish the mission of your letter. Think about how your team can write a letter that both tells a story about your specific fundraising campaign and why you’re asking for their contributions. 

Stories leverage your letter by:

  • Having an emotional appeal to the reader.
  • Being more memorable than numbers and facts.
  • Sharing the reason why you’ve dedicated your time to this cause.

You can tell the story of why you’re devoting time and energy to this specific fundraiser in a variety of ways. For instance, communicate this through how your past efforts have positively affected the community. When recipients read of tangible results, they know your organization is capable and worth investing in. 

Another storytelling route you can take is communicating why you’ve decided to form this nonprofit in the first place. If you’re stuck in writing the body of your letter, refer to this guide of fundraising letter templates for inspiration.

However you tell the story of your mission and efforts, be sure to make the donor feel like they are the hero of your story. This is effective writing because the reader will begin to picture themselves as part of the change your group is making. For example, you’ll want to directly address them as “you”.  Remember, they care more about what they can do for your organization rather than general actions you’ve done on your own.

Finally, end your letter with a straightforward call to action for a donation, whether online or through physical mail. Make sure that you tell your reader exactly how you want them to take action. Don’t leave details up for interpretation as it may confuse them. These details can include:

  • Asking for specific amounts. Include a variety of options for donation amounts. For example, writing out “$10, $25, $50, $100…” can help your donor picture what amount will serve your organization.
  • Cater these amounts to your donor segments. With your CRM’s data, you’re able to get an idea of each recipient’s giving history. With this, you can ask for larger gifts to people with the willingness and ability to give more.
  • Direct them to your giving options. The goal of your letter is to convince your reader to give to your organization. Make sure it’s clear how they can contribute with a link or QR code to a donation page, or a physical donation form.
  • Provide clear contact information. If your recipient has any questions about their donation, be sure to provide multiple lines of contact. This will reinforce your relationship with them even further if they pursue this option.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be writing an effective direct mail appeal in no time. 

4. Provide ways for donors to give through a payment processor.

Now that you’ve inspired your recipients to give to your cause, make sure they’re able to complete the process quickly and easily. iATS Payments explains the impact of your donation page and how its design affects the completion of the donation. If your system is confusing, it can scare away potential donors at the final step. On the other hand, providing a quick and convenient way to give encourages increased or recurring giving!

Let’s get into important items to consider when developing your donation form. Your goal is not not only to capture a single donation but to increase your efforts in any way possible. For example:

  • Suggested donation amounts help donors picture what is needed for your organization to reach its goals. These can also persuade donors to give a little more than they would have previously.
  • Including a recurring donation option can increase the likelihood that your supporter will consider and follow through with this giving tactic.
  • Provide multiple options for giving; this can be through a physical prepaid envelope, your website, etc. 
  • Continued communications that donors can opt in to. Include an area where visitors can indicate that they’re interested in attending events or giving time are great for recruiting more volunteers.
  • A few optional questions to boost your donor data. Consider asking simple questions such as “how did you hear about us?” to track the ROI of your direct mail campaign.

Overall, your donation page is the final and crucial step to securing donations. The choices you make can provide an easy and fast experience for donors, and ultimately can encourage future engagement and increased donations. 

Your direct mail fundraising campaign can bring in a lot of donations for your organization. Be sure you’re taking the above tips into consideration to make the most of your efforts. Get the most out of your CRM and personalize your letters for increased readership, then drive them to your optimized donation page. Happy fundraising!

Author Biography

Robbie Bernstein 

Author photo

Robbie Bernstein, an iATS Payments Account Executive, uses her wealth of payment processing knowledge to help nonprofits thrive. Robbie puts her heart into fundraising for Cancer research, the Make a Wish Foundation and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  

Capital campaigns can be absolutely critical to take your nonprofit’s work to the next level. These campaigns are periods of concentrated fundraising efforts to raise a significant amount of money to achieve a substantial goal that will allow your organization to more effectively work toward its mission. 

Your nonprofit might decide to launch a capital campaign to construct a new building, create a new program, or purchase a necessary but expensive piece of equipment. No matter what level of experience your organization has with capital campaigns, a refresher of outreach basics will help you make the most of your campaign. In addition, many nonprofits have had to adjust to coronavirus-related restrictions that place new challenges on capital campaign outreach efforts.

Although your outreach efforts might look different this year due to these changes, your capital campaign will still consist of two outreach phases: the quiet phase, where you reach out to your existing network of major donors, and the public phase, where you introduce your campaign to the general public and solicit final donations to your cause. 

Both phases have their own specific outreach opportunities to help achieve the goal of getting a sizable number of donors on board to meet your fundraising needs.

To make your next capital campaign a smashing success, we recommend a blend of tried-and-tested techniques such as letter-writing campaigns with a dash of the latest trending virtual tools to round out your outreach efforts. 

We’ve compiled a list of the six best outreach methods to use during your capital campaign depending on the phase you’re working on:

Quiet phase outreach methods: 

  1. Sending fundraising letters
  2. Making phone calls
  3. Polishing and publishing campaign website

Public phase outreach methods:

  1. Incorporating giving (and fun!) into kickoff event
  2. Reaching out via social media
  3. Following up with thank-you letters

According to Bloomerang’s guide to capital campaigns, organizations that conduct successful campaigns also see greater returns in their annual giving programs and an increase in subsequent major and planned gifts. Therefore, in addition to helping your nonprofit reach its immediate fundraising campaign goals, these tips can plant the seeds of giving in your community for years to come. Let’s take a closer look at the best outreach methods for each phase.

Quiet Phase Outreach Methods

The first outreach phase of a capital campaign may be called the quiet phase, but that doesn’t mean you literally stay quiet about your plans. In this phase, you’ll set up meetings with your major donors who have previously given large sums to your mission to see if they’re interested in supporting your current campaign. In the pandemic era, these meetings will be virtual, but these tips will also apply when in-person meetings resume.

The first phase of your capital campaign is where you’ll receive the largest donations to your campaign, so it’s important to optimize your outreach efforts during this phase of the campaign to make significant strides to your goal.

One of your greatest outreach assets in the quiet phase of your capital campaign is your nonprofit CRM database. You can use the information stored in your CRM to not only identify past major donors to connect with, but also identify other donors who have the potential to become major donors. For instance, your regular mid-tier donors who have the capacity to give more might be willing to do so because it’s a one-time campaign designed to accomplish a single specific goal. 

Look for these opportunities in your donor database by analyzing the potential generosity of your existing supporters (using prospect research software) as well as their engagement metrics. Supporters with a high giving capacity who are regularly engaged with your organization are the most likely to contribute during the quiet phase of your campaign. 

To maximize your fundraising results in the quiet phase of your next capital campaign, consider these outreach methods that rely on your nonprofit CRM and other digital tools:

Sending Fundraising Letters

Even though it may seem old-school, a well-crafted fundraising letter can make all the difference between a rejection or a donation boost in your capital campaign. 

Use fundraising letters to reach out and inform supporters about your campaign before setting up a meeting, or send a letter after the meeting to put the information you’ve discussed in writing for reference and to make a final appeal. 

When you’re ready to write your letters, Fundraising Letters offers pre-drafted letter templates for all kinds of organizations including nonprofits, churches, public schools, and more. We have a few tips to help customize these templates and apply them to your capital campaign: 

  • Describe the goal of your capital campaign and how it fits into supporting your organization’s overarching mission.
  • Tell a compelling story of how the fundraising from your capital campaign will enhance your organization’s ability to help people in the community. 
  • Input the names of the recipients and the fundraising request amounts you gathered from your CRM to personalize the messages. 
  • Customize the templates to match the tone of your organization. 
  • If this is a preliminary letter, request a virtual meeting with the donor to offer further information on your campaign. If this is a summary letter after you’ve already held a meeting, thank the donor for their time and provide your contact information for any further questions. 
  • Sign the letters with your name—people appreciate knowing they’re corresponding with another human and not a robot. 

Following these tips will help you customize your outreach letters to match the urgency of your current capital campaign and connect with potential major donors.

Making Phone Calls

Similar to a letter-writing campaign, some people may shy away from making phone calls because it seems like an outdated, unproductive marketing tactic. However, making personalized phone calls to donors goes a long way toward fostering donor relationships and maintaining their support. Think of these outreach calls as calling up a trusty friend to seek their support for a new venture. 

Specifically, you might want to use your outreach phone calls to see if donors might be willing to be a sponsor of your capital campaign kickoff event and set up an ensuing video chat meeting to explain your request further. You can use Fundraising Letter’s sponsorship letter templates to guide the script for your outreach phone calls. These additional tips will help you have a successful phone campaign:

  • Make your calls during the evenings from 6-9 p.m. when people are generally at home and done working for the day. 
  • Use donor data from your CRM to reference the donor’s specific history of engagement with your organization and how grateful you are to have their continued support.
  • Use your script for reference to keep the conversation on track and include the ask amount that’s personalized to each donor.

Phone calls offer another COVID-safe outreach method that sets the stage for an eventual face-to-face donor meeting using video conferencing or live stream software. 

Polishing and Publishing Your Capital Campaign Website Content

As your quiet phase winds down and you start preparing to introduce your campaign to the public, ensure that content on your website devoted to your capital campaign is optimized for educating the public on the goal of your campaign and providing easy access to donation pages. 

Your capital campaign website content can be a separate microsite linked to from your main organization site, or a page within your website. Be sure this optimized information is ready to be pushed live on the day when you kick off your capital campaign.

Your capital campaign page or website should include an overview of the goals of your campaign and illustrate the ways that donations will help achieve your mission. Include prominent call-to-action buttons that encourage supporters to “Donate now!” and take them to a well-designed donation page where they can easily input their credit card information. 

Ensure your website is optimized for receiving a high volume of donations and ready to be presented as you transition to the public phase of your capital campaign. 

Public Phase Outreach Methods

After you’ve received the support of several major donors in the quiet phase of your capital campaign (nonprofits typically receive anywhere from 50-70% of total capital campaign donations during the quiet phase), you’re ready to launch into the public phase of your campaign where you garner support from the larger community for your cause. 

The aim of this phase is to reach out to as many potential donors as possible in a wide range of public-facing events and communications. Your outreach efforts should focus on energizing your audience to reach your fundraising goals. A few outreach strategies you can use to make it through the second half of your campaign include incorporating giving into your kickoff event, reaching out on social platforms, and following up with thank you letters.

Incorporating Giving (and Fun!) Into Kickoff Event

Just because your capital campaign kickoff event goes virtual doesn’t mean it has to be any less fun. Your virtual kickoff event can actually look fairly similar to in-person events. You can host a virtual concert with a well-known artist, an online gala with special entertainers like a comedian or public speaker, or a live-streamed groundbreaking ceremony for your new project. 

Use your kickoff event to not only make people aware of and excited about your capital campaign, but also provide donation opportunities during the event itself. In your virtual kickoff live stream or video, point people to your donation page on your website. Keep a running log of donations received on your website to allow donors to see how their donations are pushing you further toward your goals. Creating and refreshing a fundraising thermometer graphic is a fun way to continuously update supporters. 

Fonteva’s guide to virtual events provides virtual event best practices that all nonprofits should be aware of such as collecting key event data, fostering communication with and between attendees, and keeping an eye out for any technical challenges. Your virtual event kickoff will set the tone for the rest of your capital campaign, so use it to generate buzz at the start of the public phase. 

Reaching Out Via Social Media

Social media will be your best friend and one of your greatest outreach assets in the public phase of your capital campaign. 

Post to your social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep your supporters updated on your campaign progress and reach out for additional donations needed to reach your goal. Make sure to customize the content you post to be specific to the platform you use and the way that supporters interact with it. You can use Instagram Stories or Facebook Live to give people more information on your campaign or start up a Twitter hashtag with your campaign title to generate conversation. 

Depending on the size of your social media following, your campaign posts have the potential to reach hundreds, if not thousands, of potential supporters of your cause. Keep your social media posts concise and to the point so anyone who scrolls past immediately understands the purpose of your campaign and how their donations can help achieve your goal. 

Following Up With Thank-You Letters

Finally, as the donations pour in during the public phase of your campaign, be sure to thank each donor with a personalized message of gratitude.

Demonstrating appreciation and fostering donor relationships is a crucial part of donor retention. Donor retention is the calculation of how many donors continue to give to your organization year after year. According to this guide to donor retention from Bloomerang, boosting your donor retention rate has major payoffs because your organization won’t have to spend as much on donor acquisition and donors tend to give in higher quantities over time. 

Be sure to go above and beyond to show your appreciation to donors to boost your donor retention rate. For example, in addition to an initial thank-you in the donation confirmation email, you might also send a hand-written letter or host an appreciation event after the campaign ends. Donor appreciation letters help supporters feel valued and leave donors with a positive impression of your organization and a willingness to stay engaged in your mission.

Your capital campaign can be an easy jumping-off point for your donor retention strategy. You’ve already gotten the attention of an abundance of capital campaign donors. Now, you can focus ongoing outreach and communication efforts on converting these capital campaign donors to repeat donors who maintain an active and fruitful engagement with your organization.

With these outreach strategies in mind, your next capital campaign can thrive and be successful even in the midst of an uncertain year. By putting donor relationships at the forefront of your outreach efforts, you can gain the support of a wide range of people in your community who stay engaged in your mission even after your campaign concludes.

Jay Love

Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang.

Jay Love is the Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang.

He has served this sector for 33 years and is considered the most well-known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly.

Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth.

He is a graduate of Butler University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Over the years, he has given more than 2,500 speeches around the world for the charity sector and is often the voice of new technology for fundraisers.

Churches require money to keep offering services to their communities. Tithes and offerings help support the cost of operation, however, church fundraising is key to keeping afloat—especially during the COVID era.

The necessity for fundraising is apparent, regardless of denomination. For churches, fundraising can be a challenging undertaking. A route that many organizations take is sending out fundraising letters to their potential supporters. Mail appeals can reach a broad audience of congregants and are typically successful in gaining support from communities. Letters can be a cost-efficient way to share your story and frame your financial ask.

At, we help churches like yours write and send effective fundraising letters to garner the support you need. Church fundraising is a bit unique in terms of sending nonprofit donation appeals. Sure, they inspire individuals to give, and they can raise significant funds, but there are additional items to consider for the most effective letter possible. We’ve created this guide to provide you with tips on what elements to include in your letters to best communicate with and strengthen your church community. These items include:

  • Personal Salutations
  • Campaign Information
  • Specific Ask Amounts
  • Appreciation For Their Support

Writing any church communication letter requires strategic language and personalized touches. We’ll explain the four elements that can take your fundraising letter and turn it into donations that help to push your mission forward!

1. Personal Salutations

To start your letter-writing plan, choose a church fundraising letter template that can apply to a large group of donors. After you plan your general body text, be sure to personalize each letter for every recipient. Add personal details wherever you can. Your congregants will feel valued and appreciated from being addressed personally. A few ways to add this touch are:

  • Addressing the donor. Be sure to call them by their preferred name. For example, instead of writing “Dear donor,” be sure to write “Dear [name of recipient].” This may seem simple, but it goes a long way, especially in a community as close as a church.
  • Asking based on history. Include suggested donation amounts based on the donor’s previous giving history. This shows the donor that you know them and have created an appeal that is specific for them.
  • Drawing information from your CRM software. In your letter, draw on other engagement information to personalize the letter further. This can include the last service or church event they attended, along with a broader history of how long they’ve been involved with your congregation. 
  • Segmenting your donor base. Put your hard-earned data to work and use your nonprofit’s database to personalize these letters. For example, you can reach church members with the highest probability of getting involved with that particular campaign and leverage their interests to craft the message that will most resonate with them. 

With these best practices in mind, your donors will feel like the valued members of your congregation that they are. Plus, you can mutually strengthen your relationship through this messaging tactic. It’s a win-win! 

2. Campaign Information

As you’re drafting your church’s fundraising letter, be sure it is clear what you are asking of your donors and why. Be sure church members and supporters understand what the fundraising campaign is for, how it will affect the church’s mission, and what part their donation will play. No one likes to donate to a cause blindly. Answer these questions when drafting your letter to effectively market your fundraiser:

  • Why do you need their donation? 
  • Why are they donating right now?
  • How can you communicate your campaign to the best of your ability?
  • Can you include a story to explain your need? 

While answering these questions in your letter, you should position your donor as the person doing the action. For example, you could provide a scenario such as, “your gift of X dollars will help send five children to Bible Camp this year.” This detail might seem menial, but it helps the reader understand your campaign’s purpose and gives them a sense of connection to your cause. If you’re stuck on how to word your ask, check out this guide for tips on how to ask for donations.

Once your mission is clear, some people may want to help out but cannot contribute financially. In which case, be sure to provide other opportunities for getting involved with your campaign, like giving time or supplies depending on the mission. After the campaign, you’ll want to reiterate your goals and progress towards them with a well-crafted impact statement to your donors. 

3. Specific Ask Amounts

Don’t leave it up to the supporter to decide how much to give. Using data collected in your CRM, you can group recipients based on giving capability. This type of personalization can help you determine specific amounts to suggest in your appeal depending on their wealth indicators and giving history. You can get an idea of your donor’s capacity to give based on demographic information like their employer, date of birth, and mailing address. If you don’t have this information in your donor database, a one-time data append service can help you fill in the gaps, or software tools you already use may also have real-time data appending functionality.

When you provide suggested donation amounts, the donor will recognize that you’re paying attention to their prior contributions. This gesture will reflect your church’s attention to detail. Specific amount options can benefit your fundraising efforts by:

  • Giving the donor an idea of how they can help
  • Drive them to give more
  • Tailoring asks to their giving abilities

With these benefits in mind, it’s worth spending extra time targeting your potential donors based on their giving history or financial information.

4. Appreciation for Their Support

A little appreciation goes a long way. Show appreciation for your donor’s support throughout your campaign. Each time a congregant gives your campaign somehow, whether in money, time, or supplies, you must thank them for their generosity. Without them, your church would not be able to fund its efforts and achieve its goals.

It’s important to note that sending thank-you messages strengthens your relationship with your church community as a whole. Retaining donors is more cost-effective than acquiring donors, so take advantage of every opportunity to deepen these connections. Focus primarily on those who have given once. Securing their second donations help to make it a habit. To do this effectively, be sure to show appreciation for the past engagement, drawing on personal information when applicable.

Thank-you note best practices for any point of the donor journey are crucial to optimizing your appreciation efforts. Be sure to check out these templates for inspiration.

Church fundraising letters are a persuasive and effective way to empower your community to give to your cause. How you frame and ask for fundraising contributions determines if your fundraising goals will be met. The bottom line is that a little personalization and attention to detail go a long way when communicating with your potential donors. In no time, your church will be acquiring and retaining support from a compelling fundraising letter.  Good luck!