As a nonprofit professional, much of your time is likely spent defining financial goals and brainstorming fundraising ideas to meet those needs. But accepting donations requires more than just setting up a donation portal.

Just as you’d create plans for your personal budget, it’s important to evaluate your nonprofit’s income and decide how you’ll use it to reach your goals. Specific donation requests and targeted budgeting plans can help your nonprofit meet its financial goals and form strong relationships with your donors through reliable support.

Before you request donations from your supporters, consider these four donation types and how they should be budgeted.

Cash and card donations

You might not see a need to categorize donations since so many supporters give cash and card gifts. This donation type is straightforward and likely the most common way people donate to your organization.

Especially with the ever-increasing popularity of online donations, card payments likely account for most of the payments your nonprofit receives. In fact, according to fundraising statistics, donating online with a credit or debit card is the preferred method of 63% of donors. Common ways that donors might give cash or card donations include:

  • Event registration fees
  • Auction payments
  • Product fundraiser purchases
  • Cash donations
  • Payments made digitally, such as through your website’s donation portal
  • Money spent on behalf of the organization that isn’t reimbursed

Since cash and card donations are such a common donation type, your nonprofit might use them for year-round expenses such as your overhead costs.

Stock donations

Although cash and card donations are common gifts, some donors may find it hard to give out of their limited resources. According to Freewill, “donors are often more willing to give out of their wealth than out of pocket.” Instead of giving what’s in their checking accounts, supporters might choose to donate other assets to your organization.

Stock is a common asset that supporters give instead of cash donations. Supporters can donate three types of stock gifts to your nonprofit:

  • Publicly traded: This is a corporation’s stock traded on the stock exchange. It’s the most frequently donated non-cash asset.
  • Privately held: This is a stock that is held privately among a few individuals. It’s often offered exclusively to a private company’s employees or investors and is significantly higher in value.
  • Mutual fund: This is an accumulation of funds from many investors that is put into securities, such as stocks and bonds. This is a less risky stock that might be donated by everyday traders.

To accept and manage these gifts, your nonprofit needs a brokerage account, or an investment account that can be used to buy, sell, and trade investments. You’ll also need a stock-giving tool, which streamlines the donation process for your supporters.

Just like your nonprofit might be new to accepting stocks as donations, your supporters might not know they can donate these assets. When marketing your nonprofit’s giving opportunities, segment your supporters based on known wealth and deliver specific messages that explain how to contribute stock donations.

Planned gifts

Planned gifts are donations that come out of a supporter’s financial or estate plan. Because these gifts come from some of your donors’ largest assets, they can be among the largest gifts your nonprofit receives. Here are a few examples of planned gifts:

  • Bequests: A supporter leaves part of their estate in their will to your nonprofit.
  • Retirement plans: A donor gives your nonprofit their unused retirement assets.
  • Charitable gift annuities: A donor gives a large gift to your nonprofit in exchange for a fixed income payment.

Although planned gifts are larger donations, your nonprofit won’t necessarily get to budget this gift any way it wants. Some donors designate specific purposes for their gifts and your nonprofit must use those gifts to honor the donors’ wishes.

According to Foundation Group, restricted funds are set aside for specific purposes and donors can take legal action against an organization if the funds are used for any other purposes. Evaluate all your nonprofit’s income to ensure it isn’t misappropriating any funds.

In-kind gifts

Even if you have a brokerage account and an efficient website donation page, monetary donations aren’t the only way your nonprofit receives support. In-kind gifts are non-monetary donations that can significantly further your cause.

For example, if your nonprofit aims to provide your community’s homeless population with food, you might ask for canned food items instead of money. There are three general types of in-kind gifts:

  • Goods: Donations of clothes, shoes, toys, books, or any other tangible items that help your nonprofit accomplish its mission.
  • Volunteers: People who help further your work donate their time and labor when they manage events, ask for donations, enact your nonprofit’s plans to promote positive change, or do anything else you need.
  • Professional services: Professional establishments might share their resources with your nonprofit, such as letting you borrow a venue or providing discounted services. This might be a donation of their labor, assets, or expertise.

No matter what type of contribution contributes to your budget, be sure to thank every volunteer and donor whether they give money, goods, or services.

Budgeting tips

When it comes to handling your nonprofit’s resources, it’s important that you closely monitor income and expenditures.

First, note any relevant restrictions on donations. Use the money only for its designated purposes. For any unrestricted funds, categorize them and plan how they will be used or distributed throughout a certain period of time.

For example, consider these distribution plans for the gift categories we’ve discussed:

  • Cash and card donations: How much money did your nonprofit receive during the month? Determine the priorities of all your expenses and distribute the money accordingly.
  • Stock donations: Record the donation as an asset, using the amount at the date of receipt as the gift’s monetary value. Decide if your nonprofit should sell the stock or hold it.
  • Planned gifts: Categorize your planned gifts according to the type of asset. Then, determine which assets you will sell and which ones you will keep and utilize.
  • In-kind gifts: Record your inventory of tangible goods and identify any immediate needs. Create a timeline for the distribution of goods and use of services.

The consequences of poor money management are bad enough, but the penalties for misappropriation can be even more serious. If you don’t have an experienced volunteer or staff member to keep your nonprofit’s books for you, consider outsourcing this task to make sure it’s done correctly. A nonprofit bookkeeper handles an organization’s day-to-day finances, including donations, expenses, and bills.

Monetary and non-monetary donations can power your nonprofit’s mission, so it’s important to understand the different types before requesting gifts from donors. Create a detailed plan for how you will use each donation and seek professional advice for further budget management.

Author: Greg McRay

Greg is the founder and CEO of Foundation Group, one of the nation’s top providers of tax and compliance services to nonprofits. Greg and his team have worked with tens of thousands of nonprofits for over 25 years, assisting them with formation of new charities, plus tax, bookkeeping, and compliance services. He is credentialed as an Enrolled Agent, the highest designation of tax specialist recognized by the Internal Revenue Service. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Greg and company work with charities and nonprofits all across the country and worldwide.

In the nonprofit world, expressing gratitude for your donors’ gifts is not only polite, but essential to your long-term success. Donor recognition is a critical piece of the donor retention puzzle that helps secure lasting support for your organization’s mission.

After marketing your campaigns and events like a pro and driving results in your fundraisers, there’s still important follow-up work to do to keep your nonprofit’s momentum going. Donor recognition solidifies your donors’ support and leaves them much more eager to get involved in your future work.

In this guide, we’ll share some best practices and ideas for donor recognition by answering some basic questions you might have:

  • What is Donor Recognition?
  • What are Best Practices for Donor Recognition?
  • What are Popular Donor Recognition Ideas?

Having a concrete strategy in place for how you thank your donors, along with an arsenal of effective recognition ideas, will go a long way to strengthen support for your mission over time. Let’s get started.

What is Donor Recognition?

Donor recognition refers to the practice of thanking your nonprofit’s donors for contributing in support of your mission. Depending on your goals, donor contact preferences, and resources, this can take many forms, from thank-you notes to appreciation events. Regardless of how you approach it, though, an effective donor recognition strategy will ensure that you cultivate strong and reliable donor relationships in the long run.

Your nonprofit’s supporters engage with your organization because they want to contribute to the change you’re powering in the community. The more you emphasize the role they play in this change, the more invested they’ll be in contributing financially and spreading awareness of your work.

What are Best Practices for Donor Recognition?

Make the most of your organization’s time and resources by employing a thoughtful donor recognition strategy tailored to your donors’ interests. Your donor management system (or CRM) should have valuable information on your supporters, such as communication preferences, giving history, demographics, and other involvement details to inform your approach.

1. Make it prompt.

Prompt recognition of your donors’ contributions is vital to making sure they feel noticed and appreciated for their support. After a donation, supporters should immediately receive a confirmation or receipt via email with details such as the:

  • Donation amount. Include the donation amount and payment method to assure the donor that their gift has been accurately processed.
  • Donation context. Be sure to include the specific context of the donation, such as the name of the fundraiser or event the donor attended. For instance, if they attended a virtual auction and won an item, specifically mention the event and the item that they bid on to let them know you’re paying attention to each and every donation you receive.

55% of U.S. donors prefer to be thanked for their gifts via email, so be sure to have automated thank-you emails set up to keep donor recognition from falling through the cracks. However, don’t forget about direct mail—a physical follow-up letter can add a thoughtful touch and show donors that you value their support. For more tips on using direct mail to communicate with your donors, Pursuant’s direct mail fundraising for nonprofits guide is a great resource.

2. Make it personal.

Take your donor recognition efforts to the next level by tailoring your communications to each individual supporter. Adjust each thank-you message by:

  • Addressing the donor by name. The more your donor feels like your communications are to them specifically from you specifically, the stronger a bond you’ll forge between them and your organization.
  • Including an individual signature. Instead of a generic signature from your nonprofit, sign the letter from a real person at your organization whose job is relevant to the donation, whether it’s your development chair, major gifts officer, board president, or other trusted staff member.
  • Adding a video with your thank-you. This is another effective way to humanize your message to donors. This could be a recorded thank-you from a member of your team, a constituent of your mission, or both.

Additionally, consider segmenting your donor base by age, gender, or location to further customize your letters and make your letters even more effective.

3. Make it powerful.

No matter what form your donor recognition takes, it’s essential to communicate the impact of your donors’ gifts. Always try to be as specific as possible about the positive change that their donation has powered. This will give the donor something concrete to feel good about and reinforces their connection to your cause.

For example, perhaps a donor’s $50 donation provided school supplies for three students for a semester of school. One way to make this statement more powerful could be naming the students (with their permission), having them sign the recognition message, or sending pictures of them along with your letter of gratitude.

As well-intentioned as another request for support may be, asking for another donation in the middle of your thank-you letter may come across as ungrateful and disingenuous. Instead, offer the donor additional ways to engage with your nonprofit, such as signing up for your email newsletter or volunteering.

What are Popular Donor Recognition Ideas?

Once you have the essentials down, it’s time to get creative. There are all sorts of ways to recognize your donors beyond traditional thank-you letters. First, evaluate your nonprofit’s resources and capabilities.

Large organizations conducting major undertakings like capital campaigns might have the ability to construct permanent donor recognition installations on a grand scale, while smaller-scale nonprofits might opt for creating a virtual donor wall or sending thoughtful gifts.

The scale of the gift should also be considered when acknowledging donors. Establishing giving levels will ensure that smaller tiers of donations made to a crowdfunding campaign and large endowments for a building expansion are proportionately recognized. We’ll cover both ends of the spectrum with the following popular donor recognition ideas.

Popular donor recognition ideas include donor recognition walls, plaques, branded freebies, and appreciation events.

1. Donor recognition walls

A donor recognition wall is a meaningful way for you to permanently convey your appreciation for your donors. Because they can accommodate many names, donor walls are usually associated with large capital campaigns. There is plenty of room for customization, so get inspired with Eleven Fifty Seven’s donor wall ideas.

For example, the Berry Family Foundation features prominent donors’ names on a wall titled “Thank You For Building Independence” beside the facility’s welcome desk.

The Berry Family Foundation’s donor recognition wall is a stellar example of thanking donors and retaining their support over time.

At the same time, nonprofits with limited budgets can benefit from the ease and added flexibility of virtual donor walls. With this appealing option, you can acknowledge donors as traditional recognition walls allow, while also having the ability to make updates at any time and drive online traffic to your nonprofit’s site.

2. Donor recognition plaques

If a large-scale donor wall isn’t quite feasible but you still want to recognize your major donors in a meaningful way, custom plaques are another excellent choice. Donor plaques are often featured outside the doors of a new building expansion or on landscape features like benches, but get creative to find the perfect fit for your unique donors and community.

3. Branded merchandise

For smaller-tier donations your nonprofit receives, gifts of branded merchandise are a more reasonable option than plaques. Consider sending out pens, T-shirts, mugs, and other customized items featuring your organization’s name and logo as a token of your appreciation. This method has the added benefit of doing a little marketing work for you!

4. Events

Shine the spotlight on your donors by inviting them to an exclusive supporters-only occasion or finding ways to recognize them at public events. Making them a part of your community and your cause helps to ensure they’ll keep supporting your mission well into the future. Casual virtual gatherings and happy hours are particularly cost-effective yet impactful ways to show your appreciation.

Out of these options, select which best fits your organization and the giving scale. Remember to always be prompt, personal, and powerful in all of your communications with your generous supporters.

Nurturing your relationships with current donors through effective and genuine recognition is a smart long-term strategy for securing enduring support for your nonprofit. And, you can show your gratitude for them every day, with your own donor recognition methods. Even when you aren’t throwing an appreciation event, actively steward your supporters and send out regular surveys seeking their feedback.

By keeping tabs on which aspects of your work and mission resonate best with donors, you’ll be able to optimize their experience with your organization. Best of luck!

Additional Resources

As a performing arts program administrator, you’re likely familiar with the opportunities and challenges that come with fundraising for your department. Fundraising supplements the revenue you generate from selling tickets to student shows and major gifts to your college. Besides helping make your program the best it can be, fundraising builds mutually beneficial relationships between the performing arts department and the rest of your university community.

Between planning performances, scheduling and holding auditions, and other administrative duties, fundraising can be tough to fit into your department’s schedule. However, by choosing the right fundraising ideas and encouraging widespread involvement, you can bring in revenue that makes a positive impact on your program.

To help you get started, this guide will walk through five of the best fundraising ideas for performing arts programs, which include:

  1. Open Mic Nights
  2. Direct Mail Fundraising
  3. Crowdfunding
  4. Virtual Auctions
  5. Matching Gifts

Before you try any of these ideas, check with your college to make sure you’re following their fundraising guidelines. Also, to maximize participation, consider surveying program staff, faculty, and students to see which fundraisers appeal most to them and use their feedback to narrow down your list of ideas. Let’s dive in!

1. Open Mic Nights

Hosting an open mic night can spread the word about your program at your college and help the community see why performing arts are important. You’ll mainly bring in funds by selling tickets, but you can also host a raffle during the event or set up a donation jar for additional contributions.

To make your open mic night as successful as possible, try these tips:

  • Have some performers sign up in advance. Although it’s a good idea to have a few slots available for day-of signups—it is an open mic night, after all—your event will run more smoothly if you fill most of your list earlier. This way, you can transition smoothly between performances and have the right equipment on hand (aux cords, extra microphones, etc.) for each act.
  • Find a casual, low-cost venue. Coffee shops and restaurants located near college campuses will often rent out space to groups from the college for a reduced cost, and you can increase your fundraising revenue by arranging to split the profits from that night’s food and beverage sales with the business. Or, if your campus has an outdoor amphitheater, see if you can reserve it for free one evening (weather permitting).
  • Market your fundraiser. Hang up flyers around campus, send out emails to your department, post about the event on your program’s social media accounts, and encourage performers to invite their friends personally.

In addition to bringing in revenue for your program, open mic nights are also popular with performing arts students as they provide a safe space to perform their favorite pieces or try out new material. According to Acceptd, having a low-pressure performance like an open mic to look forward to helps performers reconnect with their love of the arts while improving their skills.

2. Direct Mail Fundraising

Although online fundraising methods have become more popular in recent years, direct mail still plays a role in driving donations for a variety of organizations, including university programs. It’s particularly useful for reaching out to parents of current and former students, as well as major benefactors of your university, about specific initiatives that need their support.

To make your campaign succeed, Pursuant’s guide to direct mail fundraising recommends these strategies:

  • Leverage storytelling. Include real stories about your program’s activities to help recipients understand why you’re asking them to donate.
  • Incorporate visuals. Put your department’s logo at the top of each direct mail message so donors view it as credible, and add relevant photos to supplement the stories you tell.
  • Connect your online and offline outreach. Use direct mail to introduce the reason you’re asking for donations, then add a QR code or easy-to-type link to your program’s website so they can learn more.

Also, make sure to personalize each direct mail message. Potential donors will be much more receptive to a letter that begins with their name and thanks them for their past contributions.

3. Crowdfunding

Your program’s social media accounts can serve multiple purposes: informing the community about upcoming events, showcasing student successes, helping your department recruit for free, and fundraising through crowdfunding campaigns. Crowdfunding allows your organization to collect many small donations that quickly add up to make a significant difference.

To make your crowdfunding campaign effective, set a clear deadline and fundraising goal, which creates a sense of urgency for supporters to give before time runs out. Create your campaign through an easy-to-use crowdfunding platform and encourage donors to share the fundraiser with their followers to help you bring in even more donations.

4. Virtual Auctions

As far as fundraising events go, auctions tend to have high attendance because people enjoy receiving items in return for supporting a cause and participating in a friendly competition. To attract more alumni and students’ family members who may live far away from campus, your program might consider hosting your auction virtually.

Much of your auction’s success depends on securing items that attendees will want to bid on. Taking your program’s audience into consideration, here are some ideas for items to sell at your auction:

  • Tickets to your department’s upcoming shows.
  • Memorabilia from past performances, like props you don’t intend to reuse or posters signed by cast members.
  • Donated merchandise or gift certificates from local businesses.

To increase attendance rates, promote your auction through email and social media, including links to your registration form. Also, consider releasing a sneak peek of your auction catalog in advance to get attendees excited about bidding.

5. Matching Gifts

Corporate matching gifts allow you to essentially double many of the donations your program receives. When a community member who works for a company that matches gifts to colleges donates and submits a match request, their employer will also give, usually matching the original donation at a 1:1 ratio.

Although this fundraising idea is lucrative, you’ll especially need to check with your college to ensure they have the right tools available to process matching gifts designated for performing arts. It’s also important to promote matching gifts in your community so donors know to check their eligibility when they give.

The ideas in this guide are just five of the many possible fundraisers your performing arts program could consider. After you try an idea, note what went well and where you could adjust your strategy to improve your results next time. Happy fundraising!

Author: Jerry Tsai

Jerry Tsai is the President of Acceptd, a Togetherwork company that is the premier recruitment, application, and audition platform for the arts. He is passionate about serving the arts community and loves that art is a way to wind down and enjoy all that life has to offer.

As an animal shelter owner, advocate, or volunteer, it’s no secret that you’re passionate about ensuring the animals in your care are safe, healthy, and suitable for adoption. But to make a significant impact on the lives of your furry friends, you need access to ample resources. Organizing a fundraiser and making donation requests can help you raise awareness for your cause, drive meaningful support, and protect more pets.

In this guide, we’ll explore four fundraising ideas so that animal shelters like yours can continue making a difference well into the future.

1. Leverage crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding relies on a wide variety of donors making small to midsize gifts online. Unlike traditional fundraising, which requires you to physically sift through potential donors before starting the outreach process, crowdfunding connects you to thousands of potential donors with no physical meetings required. All you have to do is present your cause in a compelling way that inspires people to give and share the fundraiser with their peers.

For the most effective crowdfunding strategy, follow these steps:

  1. Choose the right crowdfunding platform. There are countless crowdfunding platforms that you can use to host your fundraiser, the most popular being GoFundMe. Conduct research into platform fees and restrictions so that you know you’re making the right decision for your organization.
  2. Create a crowdfunding page. Create a donation page through your chosen platform with information about your cause and the purpose of your fundraiser. Include photos of the animals and testimonials to tug at people’s heartstrings and get them invested in your cause.
  3. Get specific about your need. Narrow the focus of your fundraiser, explaining how much money you need and what it will go towards. People are more likely to contribute when they know their gift will go toward something meaningful and specific. For example, rather than crowdfunding for your shelter as a whole, you might raise money for an animal’s vet bills or for renovating your kennels.
  4. Spread the word. Include a link to your crowdfunding page in your marketing assets and encourage supporters to share the page with their personal networks, using a strong call-to-action like “Your one-time gift of $20 can help dogs like Daisy live a happy and healthy life.”

This process is an effective, low-pressure way for people to contribute to your shelter on their own terms. When done correctly, the combination of gifts will add up quickly and help you reach your fundraising goals.

2. Launch a social media campaign.

Social media is an easy and effective way to connect with donors, adoptees, and volunteers. It allows potential supporters to learn more about your organization, engage with success stories, and donate — all within a few seconds.

To create a strong social media presence, it’s important to cater your content to each platform, including:

  • Twitter: Because of its strict character limit, Twitter is ideal for sharing quick updates about your shelter, fundraising campaigns, and the adoption process. You can also start a hashtag campaign using a catchy tagline like #AdoptDon’tShop. This will help extend your reach and drive traffic to your account.
  • Instagram: With features like reels and stories, Instagram is all about visual media. Allow the animals in your care to take center stage through photos and videos. A simple before-and-after picture of a freshly groomed dog can garner meaningful support.
  • Facebook: With almost three billion users of all ages, Facebook represents an opportunity to gain widespread attention. Share long-form success stories alongside photos of adoptable pets and a link to your fundraising page.
  • TikTok: If you want to target the younger generation, look no further than TikTok. In addition to posting potentially viral video content, you can use a feature called “Donation Stickers” to encourage users to make donations directly in the app.

Consider using Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to live stream a day in the life of a shelter volunteer or staff member. This gives supporters a behind-the-scenes look at how your organization operates and how adoptable pets behave. Set up a donation form for the live stream or use mobile fundraising to ask supporters to give while they watch.

3. Host a fundraising event.

Fundraising events allow you to cultivate support for your shelter in an engaging and memorable format. Once you’ve determined that hosting an event is the best approach to raising money for your organization, narrow down the focus and type of your intended event.

Here are some popular animal shelter fundraising events to get you started:

  • Sponsor-a-pet fundraiser: For a small, monthly donation, people can sponsor an animal that has been in the shelter longer than others or has medical issues that require additional funding. Send your pet sponsors regular updates on how the animal is doing, and what their personality is like, and encourage in-person visits. That way, they can connect emotionally with the animal and feel more inclined to adopt or increase their level of giving.
  • Virtual gala: Virtual galas are inexpensive and allow you to reach larger audiences who may not be in your immediate area. Share the link to a live stream and include a meet and greet of adoptable pets, live entertainment, or a virtual silent auction for those tuning in.
  • Pet-friendly social gathering: Host an event at a local park and encourage pet owners to socialize with their animals. Charge for drinks and food to raise funds for your cause or set up an information booth where supporters can learn about your cause and meet a few animals up for adoption.

Gingr’s guide to payment processing suggests that, at each event, you include a virtual payment option, whether that be donation kiosks, text-to-give, or mobile donation forms. This encourages attendees to give beyond their ticket or registration price.

Even if an attendee chooses not to contribute, you should follow up with a thank-you letter, email, or phone call expressing your appreciation for their participation and commitment to your cause. Such outreach can help cultivate a meaningful relationship that lasts long after the event ends.

4. Participate in donation matching.

With donation matching, you can potentially double the donations that your shelter receives. Here’s how it works: An employee who works for a company with a matching gift program donates to your shelter. The employer then matches that gift, generally at a 1-to-1 ratio.

According to matching gift statistics from 360MatchPro, an estimated $3 billion is donated through matching gift programs annually. This number could be even higher if your animal shelter decides to actively pursue this fundraising channel. Tap into the power of matching gifts by sending prospective supporters a matching gift letter that includes information about how to research if their employer has a matching gift program.

Keep in mind that these fundraising ideas are a jumping-off point for your animal shelter. Adapt them as needed to fit your needs at a given time. From launching a crowdfunding campaign to maintaining a strong social media presence, an effective fundraising strategy will help your organization gain the funding necessary to provide exceptional care to animals in need.

Churches require money to keep offering services to their communities. Tithes and offerings help support the cost of operation, but intentional church fundraising initiatives are key to staying afloat and providing influential service in the long run.  Regardless of denomination, fundraising is a necessity.

Along with hosting traditional fundraising events, many churches and community organizations send out fundraising letters to their potential supporters to ask for donations directly. Mail appeals can reach a broad audience of congregants and are typically successful in gaining support from communities. When done well, fundraising letters are a cost-efficient way to share your story and frame your donation request.

We’ve developed countless templates and strategies for writing the best fundraising letters, and we’re here to help churches like yours write effective letters to garner the support you need. 

Church donation appeals vary significantly from nonprofits’ and other organizations’ letters. We’ve created this guide to provide you with the best tips for writing church fundraising letters so you can communicate with and strengthen your church community. We’ll cover the following letter-writing tips:

  1. Use Personal Salutations.
  2. Include Fundraising Campaign Information.
  3. Make Church Fundraising Asks in Specific Amounts.
  4. Vary Your Fundraising Letter Format.
  5. Show Appreciation For Their Support.

Writing any church communication letter requires strategic language and personalized touches. Use these five tips to take your fundraising letter and turn it into donations that help to push your mission forward!

1. Use 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, personalize each letter for every recipient by adding personal details wherever you can. This will make your congregants feel valued and appreciated, making them more likely to donate.

A few ways to add this important personal touch are:

  • Addressing the donor by name. The days of “Dear Donor” are long past. Each letter needs to address the recipient by their preferred name to make an impact. 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 in the letter based on the donor’s previous giving history. This shows the donor that you know them, value their past contributions, and are reaching out specifically to them.
  • Pulling information from your CRM software. Use any other engagement information you have on hand to personalize letters further. This can include mentioning the last service or church event they attended, or alluding to a broader history of how long they’ve been involved with your congregation.
  • Segmenting your donor base. Put your hard-earned data to work by using your church’s database to create groups of donors. Then, tailor letters for each segment. For example, create a group of donors who regularly get involved with your church and one for those who haven’t been as active lately.

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.

2. Include Fundraising Campaign Information.

As you’re drafting your church’s fundraising letter, make it clear what you are asking of your donors and why. Be sure church members and supporters understand what the fundraising campaign supports, how it will affect the church’s mission, and what part their individual donations will play.

Answer these questions when drafting your letter to effectively market your fundraiser:

  • Why do you need their donation?
  • Why should they donate 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, 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 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 Double the Donation’s guide on how to ask for donations.

Once your mission is clear, some people may want to help out but be unable to contribute financially. Provide other church fundraising opportunities for them to get involved with your campaign, such as donating volunteer time or supplies.

3. Make Church Fundraising Asks in Specific Amounts.

Don’t leave it up to the supporter to decide how much to give. Instead, provide suggested donation amounts to add personalization and reflect your church’s attention to detail.

How do you choose specific amounts for your church fundraising asks? Follow these simple steps:

  1. Using data collected in your CRM, group recipients based on wealth indicators and giving history.
  2. Get an idea of each donor’s capacity to give based on demographic information like their employer, date of birth, and mailing address.
  3. 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, check if the software tools you already use have real-time data appending functionality.
  4. Based on this information, decide on suggested donation amounts for each group of donors.

Including these specific amount options in your fundraising letters will give your donors an idea of how they can help and drive them to give more. With these benefits in mind, it’s worth spending extra time to target your potential donors.

4. Vary Your Fundraising Letter Format.

For the same reasons personalization benefits your fundraising letters, varying your letter format can make a major impact on the number of donations you receive. Direct mail isn’t the only option!

Use multiple different communication channels and letter formats to make your church fundraising asks appeal to more of your members’ preferences and therefore increase donations. Consider using a mix of the following formats:

  • Traditional letters: Send direct mail appeals to give recipients a tangible reminder of your church’s need for funds. Provide multiple ways to give, such as a QR code leading to your online donation page or a pre-addressed return envelope for cash or checks.
  • Email appeals: Email is a convenient way to reach supporters and inspire them to donate right away. Use first names in the subject lines, and include plenty of links to relevant pages on your website, like your online giving form.
  • eCards: Combine the benefits of both email and direct mail with creative eCards. These messages offer a unique, memorable way to ask for donations for your church. Plus, they’re easy to create using fundraising eCard software.

If you already have information in your donor database about your members’ communication preferences, use that data to determine who to send which type of letter to. If not, don’t be afraid to send out a quick survey to find out their preferences now.

5. Show Appreciation for Their Support.

A little appreciation goes a long way. Show appreciation for your donors’ support throughout your campaign. Each time a congregant gives to your campaign, whether in money, time, or supplies, make it a priority to thank them for their generosity.

Sending thank-you messages also strengthens your relationship with your church community as a whole. Retaining donors is more cost-effective than acquiring new ones, so take advantage of every opportunity to deepen these connections. To do this effectively, be sure to show appreciation for past engagement, drawing on personal information when applicable.

Thank-you note best practices for any point of the donor journey are crucial to optimize your appreciation efforts. In these thank-you letters, you can also take the opportunity to reiterate your goals and recap the progress you’ve made toward them with a well-crafted impact statement. This will keep donors informed and looking ahead to future fundraisers!

These tips will allow you to empower your church community to give to your cause in effective ways. 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 compelling fundraising letters.

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! Whether your gala hosted hundreds of guests or was a small affair, no event is over until you’ve followed 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.

Is your nonprofit making the most of its fundraising opportunities? With employer appends, you can use donor data to improve fundraising efforts.

Employer appends use donor data to give nonprofits information about their donors’ employers. This includes information about matching gift programs, a corporate social responsibility program that allows your donors to double gifts at no extra cost. The employer append process can be a challenge if you’re taking it on alone, but there are plenty of great services to consider.

Whether you are a beginner or an expert in data-driven fundraising, this guide is a great resource for your nonprofit. In this piece we’ll discuss:

Employer appends could be the thing your nonprofit needs to elevate its fundraising efforts and boost revenue. Let’s get started with an overview of employer appends.

Find out what to do if you are interested in employer appends for nonprofits.

What are employer appends?

Employer appends add data about donors to your organization’s existing database. More specifically, these appends include information about donors’ employers.

The insights found through employer appends are beneficial to nonprofits in many ways. The main advantage for nonprofits is identifying possible corporate social responsibility (CSR) opportunities.

Employer appends are easy to understand, but it may not be clear why they are important. The next sections focus on why employer appends are valuable and what you need to get started.

Why are employer appends valuable?

Capitalizing on CSR opportunities is one of the biggest reasons to use employers appends. But, employer appends offer other valuable insights. Pieces of information like a donor’s job title or their general industry can provide valuable information as well.

Here’s how the main pieces of information provided by an employer append can boost fundraising for your nonprofit:

  • Employer name: Learning a donor’s employer’s name unlocks a wealth of information about their CSR programs. Once you have access to this information, your organization can research how the employer makes good on its CSR promise. For example, if you discover that many of your donors work at the same employer and consider asking that employer to host a sponsored event with your nonprofit.
  • Job title: A donor’s job title gives away a lot of information about them. First, their position indicates how much leverage they have at work— would they be the appropriate avenue for a possible partnership? Second, their role can roughly demonstrate the donor’s financial giving capacity.
  • Matching gift information: This information tells you whether a donor’s employer offers a matching gift program. These programs fall under the umbrella of CSR and mean that employers will match their employees’ gifts to nonprofits. If you and your donors are aware of these programs, your organization can double revenue at no extra cost to you or the donor.

Learn these key insights by simply running an employer append. Then, your nonprofit can begin to capitalize on CSR opportunities and learn more about its supporters.

What is needed for an employer append?

Employer appends supplement the donor data you already have. But, there are a few pieces of data you need before getting started. The most important donor information is donor email and mailing addresses. If you don’t have this information, check out NPOInfo’s email and address append services.

These are the 8 pieces of data that make employer appends highly accurate.

While these basic pieces of data are the most important, many data appending services ask for more data points. Typically, the more data you can provide, the more accurate the employer append will be. This includes information such as:

  • Unique donor ID number
  • Donor name
  • Region of residence
  • Phone number
  • College or university attended
  • Graduation year
  • Most recent gift amount
  • Most recent gift date

Don’t worry if your nonprofit doesn’t have every data point on this list as they aren’t all necessary. However, you can keep these data points in mind as you gather more donor data going forward, to boost the accuracy of any future employer appends.

Keeping data clean and organized can also expedite the employer append process. Data hygiene refers to taking steps to regularly clean data, making it more efficient to analyze. Good data hygiene includes practices like removing outdated or irrelevant data, maintaining a standard means of data entry, and keeping data organized.

Employer Appends for Nonprofits: Using Donor Data in Fundraising

Donor data shouldn’t go untouched on your organization’s computers, especially when it can be so useful. There are plenty of practical ways to use donor data in your fundraising strategy. Investing in donor data analysis will be reflected in increased fundraising opportunities and revenue.

Fundraising Data Analytics

This explains what fundraising data analytics are.
Fundraising data analytics uses donor data to recognize patterns and trends. These patterns inform nonprofits about how to shape or adjust their fundraising strategies. Good donor data is the foundation that fundraising data analytics is built on, so data upkeep should be a priority.

Within fundraising data analytics, there are three distinct types. Here is a quick breakdown of the three types of fundraising data analytics:

  • Descriptive fundraising analytics: Donor data is used to classify donors. These classifications are usually made based on demographic information like age. Other factors like average gift size can also be used to group donors by their willingness to give.
  • Predictive fundraising analytics: Predictive analytics are used to predict donors’ giving behaviors. These predictions are made based on past behaviors. Often, they use metrics like growth in donation size.
  • Prescriptive fundraising analytics: Here, patterns, trends, and donor classifications are combined to create a strategy. In other words, this stage involves setting up a new and improved fundraising strategy based on insights from prior stages.

While employer appends are a small piece of fundraising data analytics, donor data is crucial to both. Build a strong foundation for analytics and revenue growth by gathering strong, organized data.

Capitalize on Fundraising Opportunities

Donor data can prevent losses on potential revenue opportunities. With employer appends, your nonprofit can identify these opportunities in time to use them.

Employer appends are great at catching matching gift opportunities. There is a lack of awareness about these programs amongst donors, making it difficult to bring in matching gift donations. The problem is even harder to address if nonprofits are unsure which of their donors have access to these programs.

Fortunately, employer appends simplify this process. After identifying which donors’ workplaces offer matching gift programs, nonprofits can spread awareness of the programs. One way to do this is to send donors matching gift letters that urge them to take advantage of the programs.

In addition to matching gift programs, corporate social responsibility programs support nonprofits in other ways. Many companies actively seek out nonprofits to support with grants. Taking advantage of additional CSR programs is a great way to garner support from sources beyond individual donors.

Tailor Fundraising Campaigns

Certain pieces of donor data help nonprofits tailor their campaigns to their audience. Not only does this indicate a better understanding of your organization’s supporters, but narrowly targeting your audience can also be more effective. Knowing exactly who makes up your base of donors and what they respond to means that your fundraising efforts will be more likely to reach and impact them.

These are the 3 pieces of information nonprofits use to tailor fundraising campaigns.

Here are a few pieces of information and their implications for tailoring your nonprofit’s fundraising campaigns:

  • Job title: A donor’s job title demonstrates how financially capable they are of giving and how much decision-making power they hold at work. It is effective to target donors in high positions of authority. Not only are these donors likely more capable of giving, but they may also be able to implement more CSR initiatives at work.
  • Employer name: Learning donors’ employers names provides insights into their connections to CSR opportunities. Tailor fundraising efforts towards people with access to CSR opportunities like matching gift programs.
  • Demographic information: Information like age delineates important insights for targeting your nonprofit’s fundraising campaigns. For example, if your donors’ primary demographic is older people, online campaigns may not be successful. In this instance, it may be better to use mailers instead.

Donor data can be an extremely versatile tool as you work to improve your fundraising strategy. Don’t be afraid to get as much use as you can out of each data point— there is no harm in deriving multiple insights from one piece of data.

Grow Revenue Over Time

After incorporating donor data analysis into your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, your organization should see growth in revenue.

Making the most of untapped fundraising opportunities like matching gift programs is one source of growth after a data append. These programs increase revenue by supplying your nonprofit with free money via your donors’ employers. After increasing awareness of matching gift programs, the number of donors taking advantage of these programs should increase as well.

Further, identifying your core audience and catering to their preferences will increase the amount of donations you receive. Reach these audiences in ways that will inspire them to engage with your organization.

Data Append Services: Our Top Picks

Taking on data appends by yourself can be overwhelming. Put your trust in a data append service — these teams of professionals can take the weight off your shoulders. Here are a few of our top picks for data append services.


If you are a nonprofit in need of a quality data append service, look no further. NPOInfo has a team of highly-skilled experts ready to take on a wide range of data append services. NPOInfo serves nonprofits, higher education institutions, healthcare organizations, and associations, giving it a leg up on services that lack nonprofit specialization.

These are 4 of NPOInfo's top services.

In addition to employer appends, NPOInfo’s offers a variety of services. Take a look at a few of the options:

  • Email appends: This service appends donor emails based on data provided by the nonprofit. Email information is a crucial piece of donor information because it provides a means of contact between donors and your organization. Email addresses also come in handy for online donations which make up a large percentage of total revenue for nonprofits.
  • Phone number appends: Phone number appends supply nonprofits with donor phone numbers. Phone numbers provide a line of direct communication between the donor and nonprofit.
  • Date of birth appends: This information refers to donors’ birthdays. Data of birth appends can clue nonprofits in on their donors’ ages, making it easier to classify them into groups. Any demographic information like age makes tailoring fundraising messages easier.
  • Address appends: This service appends the most up-to-date mailing addresses for donors. Many nonprofits unknowingly use old addresses for their donors, wasting resources on mailers that never reach the donor. With an updated address database, mailers reach more people more effectively.

If these services sound like something your nonprofit needs, NPOInfo might be for you. Reach out for a quote to get started.

Find out what to do if you are interested in employer appends for nonprofits.

Accurate Append

Accurate Append is another option for a data append service. Specialized in businesses, Accurate Append works to append customer data. This service focuses on providing timely and accurate results in a cost-effective manner.

Accurate Append offers a wide range of data append services. In addition to employer appends, they offer email, phone and demographic appends as well. If you have existing email data or get an email append from them, the service offers email verification.


Webbula is a data append service that primarily serves email marketers, CRM directors, and advertisers. This company places an emphasis on appending email data and helping marketers maintain email hygiene. Webbula’s best fit for a client would be a business looking to elevate their email marketing.

Webbula’s services include email hygiene and verification, lead validation, and data enhancement. Data enhancement includes various data append services, including email and address appends. These services aim to help email marketers better target and reach customers.

Data Axle

Data Axle serves businesses in the sales and marketing space. They focus on appending data to help businesses improve their marketing efforts.

This data append service employs many different data append options to help businesses with their marketing strategy. Data Axle can provide different types of information about customers such as telephone appends, mailing address appends, business email appends, and more. With these services, businesses can tweak their marketing strategies based on insights about customers.

Wrapping Up

Employer appends are the key to discovering who your supporters really are. After learning valuable insights like donors’ employer’s name, job title, and matching gift information, it is easy to take advantage of fundraising opportunities. However, employer appends are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using donor data in fundraising. Donor data can quickly become an invaluable tool in your nonprofits fundraising strategy.

Interested in learning more about data and matching gifts? Check out these resources:

  • Matching Gift Letters: If you aren’t sure about how to notify donors about matching gift opportunities, this is a great place to start. This resource offers letter templates to get you started with capitalizing on matching gift opportunities.
  • Matching Gifts and COVID-19: How Companies Are Responding: COVID-19 has changed a lot of things in the nonprofit space, and matching gifts are no exception. Check out this resource to learn about how the pandemic changed matching gift programs for companies like Apple and Facebook.
  • Matching Gifts for Higher Education: 7 Actionable Tips: Matching gift programs may seem tricky to navigate as a higher education institution. This guide delivers seven great tips to ensure success.

Find out how to get started using donor data for your nonprofit.