Corporate sponsorships are beneficial for nonprofits for various reasons, the largest of which is increased financial support for their mission. Plus, with funding from donors and sponsors, nonprofits will be able to diversify their revenue streams, resulting in a more sustainable financial future.

If you’re looking for tips to secure more sponsorships for your organization, you’re in the right place. With this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to acquire future partnerships, regardless of whether you need them for funding an event, community program, or your next capital campaign.

1. Understand the benefits of sponsorship for businesses.

A sponsorship is a partnership, not a donation, which means that your nonprofit needs to make it worthwhile for potential sponsors. This means offering benefits businesses would find valuable in exchange for their funds. To do that, you need to understand the motivations of organizations that sponsor nonprofits.

Generally, sponsors are looking for the following benefits:

  • Greater brand visibility. According to MassageBook, it’s common for two or more businesses to partner to gain access to the others’ audiences. This means that businesses are specifically looking to sponsor other organizations, like nonprofits, that can increase the visibility of their brand, products, and services, resulting in more customers.
  • Improved reputation. In today’s competitive business environment, companies are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to set themselves apart from their competitors. Supporting a charitable cause will help them improve their reputation as a socially responsible enterprise. Plus, studies have shown that consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase from purpose-driven companies, making a nonprofit partnership even more valuable for businesses.

As you develop your corporate sponsorship strategy, keep these benefits in mind. Focus your communications and proposals on what you can do to form a mutually beneficial partnership that helps you both secure a sustainable financial future.

2. Offer a variety of sponsorship packages.

Sponsorships shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all. Businesses will have different partnership needs and different financial capacities to give. To accommodate these needs, Double the Donation recommends offering various sponsorship levels and packages. Then, potential sponsors can choose how deeply they’d like to get involved with your nonprofit based on these levels.

For best results, clearly outline the benefits your sponsor will receive in exchange for their sponsorship amount. Here’s an example of what you might offer an event sponsor in exchange for their funds:

  • Basic package ($1,000): Acknowledgement of sponsorship in end-of-event thank-you communications.
  • Bronze package ($5,000): Sponsor’s logo added to the event webpage and perk from the previous sponsorship level.
  • Silver package ($10,000): Sponsor’s logo incorporated in event marketing materials, messages, and communications, and all perks from previous sponsorship levels.
  • Gold package ($25,000): Sponsor’s logo prominently displayed on all event materials (including signage and banners), dedicated public thank-you messages on social media posts and email newsletters, complimentary event tickets for company representatives, and all perks from previous sponsorship levels.
  • Platinum package ($50,000): Recognition as a top sponsor of the event, verbal thank-yous during event announcements and in the event’s ending speech, access to VIP events for company representatives, and all perks from previous sponsorship levels.

For instance, a local massage business may be interested in sponsoring your event. However, if they’re newly established, they probably don’t have a lot of extra funds to spare. That’s where your basic sponsorship package comes in—with it, you’ll be able to capture a partnership with this business at a level they’re comfortable with and you benefit from.

3. Thoroughly research potential sponsors.

Unfortunately, not all businesses will be interested in sponsoring your nonprofit. To save your staff members time on proposing sponsorships to organizations that probably won’t be interested, thoroughly research any potential sponsors. In particular, pay attention to if they:

  • Operate in your community. If the business operates in the same community as your nonprofit, this commonality increases the likelihood that they’ll partner with you.
  • Work in a similar vertical. If your nonprofit and the business share a vertical, then it’s likely there’s some overlap between your audiences. A partnership with your organization will give the business another touchpoint with its audience, increasing visibility.
  • Are charitably-inclined. Look for businesses that participate in corporate philanthropy in some way. This could mean they’ve previously sponsored a nonprofit, have a dedicated corporate giving program, or have social good initiatives for their operations.
  • Have the capacity to give. If a business is struggling, its funds will be reserved for its operations. When identifying potential sponsors, look for markers that show the business is doing well and will have extra funds for opportunities such as a nonprofit sponsorship.

Keep an eye out for these generosity indicators to help you determine which businesses are worth pursuing for sponsorships. After you’ve pinpointed a list of qualified candidates, send out sponsorship letters that clearly outline what you and the potential sponsor will receive from your partnership.

4. Don’t overlook in-kind sponsorship.

When most nonprofits discuss sponsorships, they’re usually thinking of receiving funds from businesses. However, in-kind sponsorships can be just as useful and save your nonprofit from spending your hard-earned revenue.

Much like in-kind donations, in-kind sponsorships refer to partnerships where the sponsor provides non-financial benefits like goods or services. This is another way to capture a partnership with an organization that may not have the financial means to sponsor your nonprofit but has other offerings you can benefit from.

For example, let’s say you’re planning a black-tie fundraising gala and you need a suitable event venue. Instead of renting a venue for potentially thousands of dollars, you can contact hotels, country clubs, and other event centers and ask them if they’d be willing to sponsor your event. In exchange for marketing benefits, your nonprofit will be able to use the sponsor’s facilities for free or at a discounted rate.

Or, if your nonprofit is looking to upgrade your tech stack, you may seek out a sponsorship from a company that works in developing business software. Employees from this business can consult with you about your software needs and configure your existing software to better fit your preferences. This is especially helpful if your nonprofit doesn’t employ any particularly tech-savvy staff members.

As you connect with potential sponsors, be sure to steward them just as you would your supporters. Even if a sponsor turns down your request, it’s still worthwhile to stay in communication, as they may be open to a future partnership. For sponsors that accept your request, keep them apprised of the program or event they’re sponsoring. And be sure to update them on how their generosity has impacted your nonprofit!

Whether you’re fundraising for a new program or securing funds for your capital campaign, events are essential for nonprofit fundraising. However, with over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S. alone, your organization must set itself apart from others through its events.

We’ve put together this guide to help you plan a nonprofit fundraising event sure to thrill attendees and encourage their generous support. Whether you’re planning an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event, you’ll benefit from these best practices.

1. Create a memorable experience.

Most nonprofits aim to create a memorable event experience, but that’s much easier said than done. Here are our suggestions for doing so:

  • Send personalized invitations. Set your event apart by sending visually appealing invitations through direct mail and email. To cut down on costs, you can design a special eCard invitation that potential attendees can open to simulate the feeling of receiving a physical invitation. Be sure to include the RSVP link or QR code directly in the invitation.
  • Prioritize inclusivity and accessibility: Ensure all attendees can make the most out of their experience by approaching the event with universal design in mind. This means making your event accessible to all, such as through adding subtitles to visual and video elements, ensuring that your venue is accessible for mobility-challenged attendees, providing allergen-free food and non-alcoholic drink options, and more.

Ultimately, the key to making your event memorable is offering a high-quality and unique experience. Start by ensuring that your event is high-quality, meaning well-organized and entertaining. Then, consider what sets your nonprofit apart from all the others, and use that to jump into the rest of your event planning. Ensure that your event’s activities reflect your mission and cause to create an immersive experience for your donors.

2. Flesh out your budget with sponsorships.

If you’re interested in planning an event that’s outside of your nonprofit’s budget or just want to save your hard-earned funds, reach out to potential sponsors ahead of time to see if they’d be willing to financially support your event. Since you’re likely planning your event well in advance of the actual date, this will give you time to downsize your activities should you not acquire the requested funds.

When it comes to contacting potential sponsors, start with the following organizations:

  • Local businesses
  • Charitable-minded corporations
  • Other nonprofits

Many smaller nonprofits struggle with sponsorship outreach due to a lack of know-how. If your nonprofit shares this struggle, Elevate recommends fundraising books as a top learning resource. With the right books, you’ll learn how to harness the power of sponsorships and other forms of major giving for your mission.

3. Leverage event technology.

While it’s possible to run an event without using much technology, many tools exist to simplify your event planning and event activities. Maximize your fundraising and take work off your team members’ plates with these tools:

  • Event management solutions. Offer convenient online registration and ticketing to simplify sign-up. Plus, you can use these solutions to communicate with attendees before and after the event with reminders of tasks to complete and “thank you for attending” messages.
  • Mobile event apps. For larger fundraising events, attendees can benefit from downloading a mobile event app. Include information about specific activities, your event schedule, and an event map to ensure attendees can participate in the activities they want to.
  • Marketing tools. Promote your event through various communication channels, such as email, text messages, social media, and more. The right solution will also empower you to manage all your marketing efforts simultaneously so you can develop a cohesive marketing plan to attract potential attendees.
  • Virtual event platforms. If your event is virtual or hybrid, a virtual event platform will streamline the attendee experience. These tools allow you to livestream your event, create breakout rooms for mini discussion groups, add virtual exhibits, and more so attendees don’t feel that they’re missing out on an in-person experience.

If you’re unsure which tech tools to purchase for your event, consider booking an appointment with a fundraising event consultant. These experienced professionals will help you decide which solutions will work best for your nonprofit and your event’s unique needs.

4. Learn from past fundraising events.

According to MemberClicks, you need to gather and assess attendee feedback to create even better fundraising events in the future. The best way to do this is with a post-event survey sent through email to all event attendees. Through these, you’ll glean critical insights from your attendees and can steward your supporters toward increased involvement.

Your survey might include the following questions:

  • On a scale of 1-5, please rate your experience at our event.
  • What did you most enjoy about our event?
  • What did you least enjoy about our event?
  • How did you hear about our event?
  • What improvements can we make to improve our future events?
  • On a scale of 1-5, please rate how likely you’d be to attend our future events.

You may also include event-specific questions. For example, if your event is hybrid or virtual, you can ask attendees how easy your virtual event was to attend and if they feel that they would have enjoyed an in-person event better. Allow your event attendees to type their responses to key questions, instead of merely using a multiple-choice format.

Once the survey results are in, carefully assess them for common complaints or popular suggestions. Address these in your next event to provide a more positive event experience and spark continued engagement. Plus, this will show supporters that you value their opinions and are genuinely interested in hosting great events for them.

Organizing and hosting a stellar fundraising event is no easy feat, especially when you consider that it needs to be unique and memorable. However, it’s not beyond your nonprofit’s reach to achieve this goal. With our tips, you’ll be well on your way to planning a fundraising event that inspires generosity in all your attendees.

Your membership-based organization likely leverages tools like email and social media to market your initiatives and promote your mission. While effective, these marketing strategies are standard and your supporters probably expect them.

Diversifying your marketing strategies can help you reach new audiences, track helpful metrics, and engage your current membership community. Consider elevating your marketing approach past traditional strategies like membership mailers with these savvy strategies:

Before we dive into these tactics, let’s review what sets membership marketing apart from other types of campaigns. Consider your membership-based organization’s current marketing strategies and if any of these would particularly resonate with your target audience.

Membership Marketing Nuances

As a membership-based organization, you have many unique assets that can enhance your marketing efforts compared to other types of nonprofits, including your:

  • Existing membership networks. Your loyal members are committed to the organization and provide access to a valuable network of potential marketers on your behalf. With the right training and materials, you can equip them to become examples of social proof for your membership program.
  • Value proposition. From the enormous networking potential your organization offers to the specialized educational enrichment resources, you have plenty of appealing membership benefits to share in your marketing messages.
  • Core message of belonging. Your membership program is more than a ticket to conferences and industry events — it’s a tight-knit community that can lead to friendships outside of the workplace as well. Offering a built-in community aspect to your potential members offers them a place where they can make friends for life.

Ultimately, the most valuable asset your organization should leverage is your distinct achievements and values. For instance, if your union wanted to attract new members, you could demonstrate your impressive community track record using a member-facing tech-stack to highlight how your member dues fuel your mission.

3 Marketing Moves for Membership-Based Organizations


1. Google Ad Grants

As the host of billions of searches each day, Google’s results page is a valuable marketing channel for your membership program. However, it can be challenging to occupy the most visible spots at the top of the results page without paying for expensive ad promotion.

However, for nonprofits with a recognized charitable status, you can apply for the Google Ad Grant, which gives you $10,000 worth of free advertising space at the top of the search engine results page.

Plus, it’s easy for qualified nonprofits to apply. First, check Google’s eligibility requirements to ensure that your organization qualifies.

Getting Attention’s guide to Google Ad Grants
’ flowchart explains the next steps to take:

A flowchart that explains the Google Ad Grant application process (as explained below).

  • Do you have a Google for Nonprofits account? If not, sign up for the program.
  • Next, ensure that Google Analytics is installed on your website.

After this process, you can start planning and executing your Google Ad Grants campaigns. If you need help making the most of your grant, consider working with a Google Ad Grants agency to research, launch, and monitor winning campaigns.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Even without the Google Ad Grant, you can boost traffic to your membership organization’s website for free by aligning your website with Google’s algorithmic preferences. These practices, also known as SEO, are easy to implement if you use a configurable content management system (CMS) to manage your website content. Here are some easy SEO fixes to start with:

  • Identify relevant keywords. Keywords are terms that users type into the search bar to answer their query. Integrate relevant keywords into your website content so interested audiences can find your organization easily. For instance, a nurse’s union might use keywords like “nurses union,” “union for nurses,” or location-based phrases to attract local audiences.
  • Conduct a user experience and accessibility audit. User experience gauges how easy your website is for visitors to access and navigate. Audit your website to ensure your navigation, content layout, and links all function correctly. Also, make sure your site’s elements are accessible to everyone by adding alt text to images, adjusting color contrast, and screen reader compatibility.
  • Create quality content. If your organization has a blog, you can leverage it as an SEO tool. Search engines prioritize human-first content, and you can satisfy this requirement by writing high-quality, keyword-optimized, educational blog content. Plus, blog posts give you something to link out to in your social media posts.

As you scale your SEO efforts over time, track important performance metrics like bounce rate and site traffic to gauge your performance. Also, monitor your main keywords to see if your membership landing pages move up the results page ranks.

3. Member Referral Programs

As previously mentioned, one of your organization’s greatest assets is your existing member community. You can leverage your community’s connections to market your membership offerings by running member referral programs. Here’s how to launch a program: work:

  • Define the program’s guidelines. In this stage, decide what your organization’s referral program will look like. You should determine elements like how members will track referrals, which incentives you’ll offer, and how you’ll gauge success.
  • Market the program. Spread the word to your membership community by sending emails, hosting information sessions, and mentioning it in membership meetings. Wait a few weeks for word to spread and questions to be answered before officially starting the program.
  • Train your members. Once you’ve collected contact information from interested participants, host training sessions with advice and resources so your members can become experts in your organization’s offerings. For instance, a union member referral program’s training sessions might include training on how to use union membership management tools.
  • Track referrals. Provide a digital space where members can track their successful referrals so no information slips through the cracks. Also, add a question to your membership onboarding survey that asks if they got a referral from a current member, and if so, what their name is.
  • Disperse rewards. Regularly check your tracking mechanism to disperse rewards promptly once your members qualify. For instance, one of your rewards might be a free month of membership dues for five new members signed up.

Evaluate the program’s performance by calculating how many new members were recruited through the program over time. Also, show your appreciation to participating members and collect their feedback so they’re encouraged to continue recruiting.

As you get comfortable managing your new marketing programs, consider how you can implement multichannel strategies to make your marketing messages visible, appealing, and member-centric.

Ultimately, as long as you put your membership organization’s value proposition at the center of your marketing efforts, you’ll attract a crowd that cares about your mission and can benefit from your offerings.

Even if your board isn’t a “fundraising board,” board members’ buy-in for and commitment to your capital campaign will be key to your campaign’s success.

When every board member is fully committed and excited about the campaign, their commitment and energy have a way of fueling the entire enterprise. But if a few board members are anxious and hesitant and unsure a campaign is a good idea, their reluctance will likely undermine your campaign’s success.

So, even if you are convinced that a campaign is essential, don’t move willy-nilly into planning a campaign without ensuring that your board is fully on board.

Here are three ways to do that.

1. Involve the board in pre-campaign planning and training.

According to a recent benchmark study, most capital campaigns (62%) grow naturally out of strategic or long-range planning that is conducted by the board. When that happens, the seed for a capital campaign is planted. But when the motivation for a campaign comes from one individual or some immediate circumstance, you’ve got to circle back to make sure that the board is fully engaged in the decision to move forward.

Most board members have little experience with capital campaigns. Some may have played a small role in a larger campaign for their college, for example. But very few have a solid understanding of what a campaign is and what will be expected of them.

Of course, it’s hard to commit to something you don’t fully understand. One important way of engaging your board is to provide them with information about what a capital campaign is, how it works, and what their roles will be. While you can find a great deal of information to share with your board members online, the best way to educate your board about campaigns is through training designed specifically for them.

You can train your board either in person or virtually. If you are planning a board retreat, you might use a portion of the retreat to bring in an expert to conduct capital campaign training. Even one hour of training about capital campaigns can provide enough information and clarity to help your board members understand what they are committing to.

But if you aren’t planning a retreat, a virtual campaign training will work quite nicely. These days, most board members appreciate virtual meetings. A skilled virtual trainer can make savvy use of virtual meeting rooms to make sure that even online training actively involves the board members in the learning process.

2. Have board members play active roles in the campaign.

When people play an active role in a project and get involved, they become more committed. So, getting board members engaged in the campaign is a very effective way of getting them fully committed to the campaign’s success.

Your board members might play many roles in your campaign. The role most board members fear most is asking for campaign gifts. But that is just one of many important roles. Once your board members understand that they can choose ways to get involved that suit their abilities, they will be happy to participate.

Here is a short list of roles board members often play in capital campaigns.

  • Serving on a campaign committee
  • Helping draft or review the case for support
  • Identifying and cultivating potential donors
  • Hosting a cultivation gathering or house party for donors
  • Being part of the solicitation team asking for major gifts
  • Thanking and stewarding donors after they make gifts
  • Supporting the staff in campaign work

Of course, your board members should all be asked to make a personal contribution to the campaign at a level that indicates a serious commitment. The level of giving will be different for every board member, but a board that is fully committed will encourage every board member to give as generously as they are able. Personal giving further increases the level of commitment and buy-in to the campaign.

3. Continually engage board members throughout the campaign.

Once your board members are involved, you will have to keep them involved through the campaign. An important way of doing that is to make campaign reporting a regular part of board meetings. Regular reports should let board members know where the campaign stands in terms of dollars raised, what phase the campaign is in, and what plans are in the campaign pipeline.

As the campaign draws close to and finally reaches its goal, board members who have been involved throughout the campaign will feel a special excitement and pride. While many people will have played important roles in the campaign, the board will bear ultimate responsibility for its success.

Email is a powerful tool for nonprofits of all types and sizes. Whether you’re promoting a fundraising event, trying to boost traffic to your online donation page, or sharing information about your cause, email marketing is a great way to spread your message. There’s a tangible ROI for fundraising via email—
according to Double the Donation
, for every 1,000 fundraising emails sent, nonprofits raised an average of $90.

If you’re not effectively harnessing the power of email marketing or are looking for ways to improve your email campaigns, this post will help you hone your email marketing plan with five fundamentals: audience targeting, subject line optimization, personalization, and storytelling.

Audience Targeting

Segmenting your audience is key to reaching the right people with messaging that resonates and compels them to take action. Segmentation is the process of grouping your audience based on shared characteristics. There are several ways to approach segmentation, but some common segments include basic demographics (age, location, gender), plus individual donors’ giving history, participation in events, volunteer engagement, or favorite outreach campaigns.

While it might sound tricky, segmenting your audience for targeted email marketing is a crucial part of database management. Here are some ways to improve your audience segmentation:

  • Collect donor information. Don’t stress if you don’t have this information readily available. Now’s the time to start and you’ll be better prepared for future campaigns. Survey your audience to collect basic demographics and dive into your database to pull data points that relate to their history with your nonprofit.
  • Leverage digital marketing tools. There are a ton of choices available for nonprofit marketing tools. For instance, you might use an event management tool specific to a fundraising event. Use this to collect pertinent information for integration into your CRM. Nonprofits can often utilize these tools and no or reduced cost.
  • Review previous segments. If you’ve done segmentation in the past, it’s a good idea to periodically review your processes and individual segments to ensure you’re getting the information you need and that it’s accurate. You might also dive into past campaigns for each segment to see what’s worked and where you can improve.
  • Monitor engagement metrics. After you send an email campaign to specific segments, keep an eye on metrics such as open and click-through rates to see how folks are responding. Your email marketing tool might also be able to help you identify promising new segments within your broader audience.
  • Use A/B testing. Try different messaging within your audience segments. For example, split your past gala participants into two groups and use different calls-to-action in each email to see what resonates.

Once you’ve identified your core audience segments, document them in your nonprofit’s overall marketing plan so they can be effectively leveraged down the road in future campaigns.

Subject Line Optimization

How often have marketing emails landed in your inbox, only for you to ignore them because the subject line wasn’t compelling or interesting enough? Engaging subject lines have a major impact on open rates, and subsequently, engagement with your nonprofit. Subject lines are the first opportunity you have to make an impression on the reader, so it’s important to get them right.

Try these strategies to make your subject lines irresistible:

  • Use relevant and appropriate emojis. Sending an email about a dog adoption event? Drop the dog emoji in the subject line. Inviting people to your annual golf fundraiser? Use the golfer emoji. Emojis are fun and engaging and often prompt people to click.
  • Use active language and verbs. You want the reader to act, so your subject line should compel them to do so. Words like help, act, and give are great to include, as well as verbs that relate to your cause, like feed, clothe, protect, and rescue.
  • Create a sense of urgency. Like with active language, your subject line should encourage folks to do something
    right now. Words or phrases that imply a time limitation or that people are missing out on something are good examples, such as donate now, feed 10 kids today, don’t wait, and time is running out.
  • Make it personal. Use merge tags to pull personal information into subject lines to draw readers in, like “[First Name], we need your help” or “A special offer for you, [First Name].
  • Mention impact data. Numbers are attention-grabbing. Drop some data in your subject lines and watch your open rates climb. For example, you could mention the number of constituents you’ve served, data from a survey, or how much you need to reach your fundraising goal.

Above all, subject lines should accurately reflect the purpose of the email and entice them to participate. For example, let’s say you’re adding a new fundraising idea, like a hole-in-one contest, to your annual charity golf tournament. Use the real estate in your subject line to mention the contest’s prize to grab your audience’s attention.


We’ve talked about how segmentation is the driver for you to be able to personalize messaging, but how you use that personalization in the email’s content is also important. Once you have your segments in place, it’s time to incorporate details about those segments into the email copy. Some information you can integrate could include:

  • Previous amount giving to a past or similar campaign
  • The outcomes of their donation
  • How they can grow their impact in a new campaign that’s targeted to their interests

For example, let’s say you’re hosting a charity golf tournament to raise money for your organization’s mission to build homes for underprivileged families. Your audience’s occupation segments might include homebuilders or realtors, so your personalized content could focus on the need for affordable housing in your community.


Everyone loves stories. It’s how nonprofits can authentically connect with donors and supporters. And while it might seem challenging to tell a nonprofit story through a medium such as email, there are many strategies you can employ to make it impactful, such as:

  • Using photos and videos that feature beneficiaries
  • Focusing on a single beneficiary and telling their story in detail
  • Highlighting your nonprofit’s impact and transformation with tangible facts and data
  • Give your email a narrative structure that has a beginning, middle, and end
  • Includes clickable call to action buttons and banners

The most important thing to keep in mind is to let the human aspect of your cause shine in your email. Don’t focus on hitting your fundraising goals in a vacuum—instead, contextualize your fundraising asks with the emotions of your beneficiaries to show that your cause and their donations impact real people.

Suppose you’re collaborating with a business as a sponsor for a specific fundraising event, campaign, or matching donation. GolfStatus suggests including them in promotional materials to maximize exposure to their target audience. You might consider sending a specific email that tells the story of the impact the sponsor has had on your mission or specific beneficiaries.

Wrapping Up

Email is one of the most heavily used digital marketing tools for a reason—it’s effective. These marketing strategies will help give dimension to your cause and solicit emotional responses from your audience—all through a screen.

A regular flow of revenue can help your organization deepen its impact and advance its mission. However, between donor acquisition and retention, your nonprofit has multiple options to bring in more donations for your mission. So, how do you know what to focus on? 

While acquiring new donors is an important part of any fundraising strategy, investing the bulk of your time, energy, and resources into retention can make a huge difference. A strong donor stewardship strategy can help you turn casual supporters into loyal donors, eager to give larger and more frequent gifts over time.

If you’re like most nonprofits, your organization’s retention rate likely sits at around 40%. To grow your retention rate and boost your donors’ connection to your nonprofit, use these tried and true best practices:

With a high donor retention rate, your nonprofit won’t have to stress about constantly finding new donors whenever you launch a new campaign. Let’s dive into how you can experience financial stability and secure a bright future for your mission.

Leverage sustainer tools

To grow your donor retention rate, you need to successfully prompt donors to give again. However, simply communicating a vague “Please donate again!” message is ineffective and likely to be skipped as donors scan their dozens of daily emails or texts. Instead, you need to craft highly personalized solicitations and reach donors at the right time with the right messaging.

Jackson River recommends leveraging a fundraising platform with automated sustainer tools to deliver personalized messages that resonate with donors and inspire action. Let’s take a closer look at the sustainer features you should add to your fundraising toolkit:

  • Sustainer upsells: Convert one-time donors to monthly donors as part of the donation process, increasing their involvement in your mission and earning your organization more revenue over time.
  • Sustainer upgrades: Suggest a predefined upgrade amount for existing sustainers that they can accept with one click.
  • Native integration with a top CRM like Salesforce: Reduce your administrative burden and use donor data insights to automatically power highly relevant donation appeals that prompt increases in giving amount and frequency. A fundraising solution with Salesforce donation processing empowers your nonprofit to spend less time chasing after donors to give and more time to focus on what matters: setting the building blocks for strong relationships.

Individually reaching out to all of your supporters to give can be taxing, inefficient, and, depending on your nonprofit’s size, nearly impossible. The right technology will empower your nonprofit to send tailored solicitations when your donors are most likely to act on them, making it simple to grow your recurring giving program over time.

Create donor stewardship activities

Aly Sterling Philanthropy defines donor stewardship as strategic efforts designed to deepen relationships with supporters over time through systematic outreach. To successfully steward donors to the next giving level, you need a variety of donor engagement tactics that connect supporters emotionally to your mission.

Some donor stewardship activities include offering:

  • A tour of your facilities
  • A one-on-one meeting with leadership
  • An exclusive donor club, with accompanying events
  • An invite to an educational luncheon or dinner
  • A day-in-the-life experience shadowing a staff or volunteer
  • Surveys to voice suggestions for improvements

As you get to know your donors, you can create donor stewardship activities that align with their interests and are likely to excite them. For example, let’s say you’re a marine conservation organization and a first-time donor has expressed interest in your sea turtle rehabilitation program. Invite that donor to watch your next release of rehabilitated turtles back into the wild. This way, they can see how their donation is truly making an impact!

Plan peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns

Peer-to-peer fundraising motivates supporters to take on a more involved role in your mission, empowering them to raise funds for your cause. As a result, they’ll feel more connected to your organization. Once you’ve recruited peer-to-peer fundraisers, equip them with all the tools and best practices they’ll need to hit the ground running.

To smoothly manage your peer-to-peer fundraising and make it simple for supporters to get involved, look for a fundraising platform that offers these key capabilities:

  • Website builder: Easily create a visually appealing and user-friendly campaign page that inspires donations.
  • Personalized peer-to-peer fundraising pages: Allow supporters to generate their individual fundraising pages and add personal touches like pictures and the story behind why they’re supporting your mission.
  • Embedded donation forms: Rather than directing donors to another giving page and potentially losing them in the process, embed a donation form right into your campaign page and your supporters’ fundraising pages.
  • Automated emails: Send off highly engaging emails that motivate your peer-to-peer volunteers and prompt giving among your supporters. Acknowledge important milestones, like hitting the halfway point on their personal goals, to support your recognition efforts.
  • Text engagement: Reach your team of volunteers more directly and create segments so you can send donation requests to all types of donors.
  • Social media integrations: Share your fundraising pages widely on social media to amplify your reach.
  • Digital advocacy tools: Spread petitions, raise awareness of the problem your nonprofit seeks to address, and effectively boost revenue with built-in advocacy features.

A fundraising application with a seamless CRM integration like Salesforce will also enable you to track supporters’ peer-to-peer activity. For instance, if supporters haven’t had any activity on their peer-to-peer campaigns in a month, your nonprofit should be able to send an automated email series to reengage peer-to-peer fundraisers in the action.

Backed by a Salesforce donation application, you’ll be in great shape to inspire deeper relationships, grow your donor networks, and set up a predictable donation pipeline.

Express donor appreciation

Donor appreciation helps supporters feel valued and recognized by your organization. As soon as supporters give, send them an automated thank-you note that explains the impact of their gift. Be sure to include a personalized greeting and offer opportunities for your donors to engage more deeply with your mission, such as volunteering at your next event.

Along with sending a thank-you note, you should practice donor appreciation in a variety of ways to strengthen your supporter relationships. For example, you might:


This chart depicts six ways that you can show appreciation to your donors, repeated below.

  • Create a donor recognition wall
  • Spotlight supporters in your email newsletter
  • Offer branded gifts
  • Shout-out supporters on social media
  • Send customized eCards on birthdays
  • Host a donor appreciation event, such as a luncheon

Donors might like to be thanked in different ways, so consider surveying your supporters to learn their preferences. For instance, some supporters might prefer a public shoutout, while others would rather be thanked in private. A strong donor retention strategy is rooted in consistent and meaningful donor appreciation, so be sure to constantly highlight your gratitude for donors’ support.

Wrapping Up

With a high donor retention rate, your nonprofit will have a reliable pipeline of donors who are eager to champion your cause and push forward your goals year-round. To achieve this, leverage a fundraising solution with powerful tools to automate donation requests, streamline the peer-to-peer fundraising process, and support your overarching strategic plan.

If you’re a leader at a museum, you’ve likely spent a good deal of time thinking about how to create a sustainable funding model for your organization. When you consider your museum’s revenue streams, ticketing likely comes to mind first. However, museum revenue generation as a whole is much more complicated.

Research shows that all forms of earned income—admissions, merchandise sales, program participation costs, etc.—only comprise 40-70% of a museum’s funding. The remaining 30-60% comes from various contributions—grants, endowments, and individual donations—meaning it’s important not to neglect your fundraising efforts to maximize your revenue generation potential.

To boost the amount of individual donations your museum brings in, this guide will walk through four top fundraising strategies for organizations like yours, including how to:

  1. Segment Your Donors
  2. Host Fundraising Events
  3. Focus on Your Membership Program
  4. Invest in Specialized Fundraising Software

Implementing these strategies will help your museum keep ticket, merchandise, and educational program costs reasonable for visitors while still bringing in enough revenue to fund all of your initiatives. Let’s get started!

1. Segment Your Donors

The first step in asking your museum’s supporters for donations in a way they’ll be receptive to is to understand them as individuals. Segmentation—the process of grouping your donors based on shared characteristics—is one of the most effective ways to do just that.

Review your museum’s donor data management system to locate relevant information that you can use in the segmentation process, such as supporters’:

  • Demographics: age, location, education, family status, and wealth
  • Giving history: average donation amount, giving frequency and recency, and preferred donation method
  • Engagement history: event attendance, educational program participation, membership status, and communication preferences

Then, use this data to create your donor segments. For example, you might have one group of older, wealthy donors who give at the end of every year by mailing in a check and another group of Millennial supporters who donate more sporadically through your mobile giving page.

Based on what you know about these segments, send targeted communications to encourage them to give an amount that aligns with their past donations through their preferred channel.

2. Host Fundraising Events

Events are a popular fundraising method among many nonprofits, including museums. Not only do they typically have a high return on investment, but they also bring your community together around their shared passion for supporting your organization.

Some types of fundraising events that work particularly well for museums include:

  • Galas. Since galas are among the most formal event fundraisers, they’re especially useful for attracting mid-level to major donors. They typically include dinner, entertainment, speeches by organizational leaders or guests, and time for socializing.
  • Auctions. Auctions are highly flexible—you can choose either a live or silent auction and host it in person, virtually, or in a hybrid format. To maximize your fundraising event revenue, procure high-value auction items that appeal to your supporter base.
  • Sip-and-paint parties. These events are especially popular among art museums. Set up paints and canvases in a large space (outdoors if possible), and offer a selection of wines, nonalcoholic drinks, and light snacks for attendees to enjoy as they create their own art. To fundraise, charge an entrance fee and set up a donation jar.

For any of these events to succeed, careful planning is essential. In addition to solidifying logistics and ensuring you have all of the materials you need, take time to create a positive experience for participants that will encourage them to continue supporting your organization.

3. Focus on Your Membership Program

Although membership fees fall into the earned income category of museum funding, they’re one of the most reliable revenue streams within that 40-70% mentioned earlier. Plus, since your members are loyal supporters of your organization, they may be more willing to participate in fundraising events or make additional donations.

Convert more of your organization’s visitors into members by:

  • Offering a variety of membership benefits. According to Double the Donation, these may include anything from free or discounted admission to members-only events and early access to special exhibitions.
  • Creating membership tiers. With a tiered structure, members can choose a plan that aligns with their budget and commitment to your organization, and those at higher levels can receive more perks in exchange for their higher contributions.
  • Broadly advertising your membership program. Leverage your museum’s website, social media, email marketing, and direct mail to recruit new members from among your repeat visitors and program participants.

In addition to recruiting new members, make sure to have a plan for retaining existing members. Send out membership renewal reminders each year to boost re-enrollment in the program, and collect and apply member feedback to continuously improve your offerings for members.

4. Invest in Specialized Fundraising Software

Between creating targeted donation asks, hosting fundraising events, and managing memberships, museum fundraising involves a lot of moving parts. Fortunately, there are tools designed specifically for organizations like yours to help boost revenue and engage supporters through every step of the donor journey.

Doubleknot’s museum software guide recommends looking for a solution with the following features:

This checklist shows four features to look for in museum fundraising software.

  • Cloud-based tools for membership management, donation processing, event planning, and supporter communications.
  • A robust constituent relationship management system or integrations with third-party solutions that securely store information about your visitors, members, and donors.
  • A user-friendly interface to make it easy for anyone on your team to add or view information.
  • Complete analytics and reporting systems so you can see what is working in your fundraising strategy and where you can improve.

Additionally, make sure your software is customizable so it can more effectively help you meet your museum’s needs and achieve your goals.

As you put these fundraising strategies into practice, continue to collect and analyze data on giving, event attendance, memberships, and supporter engagement so you can hone your efforts over time. With the right tools and a bit of creativity, you’ll be able to optimize your fundraising, boost the contributions side of your budget, and develop a more sustainable revenue generation plan.

Picture this: you’re a frequent nonprofit supporter who found a new organization that aligns with your values and you want to donate. You visit its website, only to be met by a barrage of poorly organized information and landing page links crammed onto one page. You get frustrated trying to find what you’re looking for, so you click off the website and find another nonprofit to support instead.

Fortunately, your nonprofit can easily avoid this outcome and secure support by prioritizing web design best practices when creating landing pages. Use these tips to optimize your landing pages for online fundraising and user experience:

As we explore these essentials, consider your nonprofit’s current web design approach and digital strategy, as well as your bandwidth for implementing these improvements. Let’s dive in! 

1. Tell a dynamic story

Telling your organization’s story compellingly and emotionally can seem difficult through a screen. However, by leveraging online tools, you can actually tell your story more vividly than you can from just a face-to-face interaction. 

Evaluate how you’re currently telling your story on your “About Us” page, then try these strategies to add dimension:

  • Incorporate photos and videos. A picture really is worth a thousand words if you use branded multimedia elements to tell your nonprofit’s story. For example, let’s say you represent a food kitchen. Instead of writing a long paragraph explaining your mission of providing meals to hungry families, include a video of one of your beneficiaries describing what life is like in a food desert. 
  • Use interactive graphics. Clarify and highlight key events in your history with interactive graphics, such as timelines and maps. Continuing with the food kitchen example, you could highlight the different communities you’ve been able to serve and how your influence has grown over time.
  • Embed a real-time impact tracker and calendar. Remember that your story is still unfolding, and you can convince potential donors to be a part of it by keeping them updated on your mission’s progress. For instance, you could showcase the number of meals your food kitchen is currently serving and have the tracker automatically update every day or week. Or, you could embed your event calendar into the page so audience members can see that you’re ramping up volunteer opportunities, for example, which is a sign of growth. 

Whichever strategies you choose to tell your story on your website, ensure that your nonprofit’s branding stays consistent so your audience can form a unique connection with you. This includes visual elements, like your logo, and abstract elements, like your tone of voice. Use this sample brand guide for a fictional nonprofit from Fifty & Fifty’s guide to nonprofit branding to inspire your own branding journey:

A sample brand guide that includes these sections: color palette, logos, mission statement, typography, and tone of voice

2. Use a CMS made for nonprofits

As a nonprofit professional, you’re likely more focused on your mission than on learning the ins and outs of web design. That’s why it’s so important to find a content management system (CMS) or web builder that’s custom-built for nonprofits like yours. 

There are several options available, but Nonprofits Source’s guide to web design suggests looking for a solution with these top features:

  • Intuitive interface. Your landing page builder should be accessible to everyone on your team, even those with limited technical expertise. Some user-friendly features to look for include drag-and-drop editors and customizable templates that simplify the page design and layout experience.
  • Integration with other digital tools. Whether it’s a payment processor, a digital marketing plugin, or an event registration system, your CMS should be able to integrate with your other software solutions to provide a streamlined experience for both admins and site visitors. 
  • Brand customization. As previously mentioned, your brand is everything when cultivating a community of supporters. Ensure that your CMS can implement your nonprofit’s logo, color scheme, and other visual assets so you can claim your landing pages as your own. 
  • Accessibility tools. Make your landing pages accessible to anyone who comes across your nonprofit’s website for maximum exposure. Your CMS should be able to add alt text to images, offer keyboard navigation, and support screen readers. This ensures that people of all backgrounds and abilities can navigate and make use of your website pages.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) features. Publishing your landing pages is just the first step to securing supporters online. SEO can help you reach people who are more likely to convert (your target audience) by incorporating keywords that are relevant to your cause. Then, search engines will serve your landing pages to users looking for similar information. Web builders that come with SEO tools built-in are ideal for accessing your target audience.  

Choosing a CMS is an important decision, so ensure that you lay out your needs ahead of time, research your options carefully, and leverage free trials and consultations with providers so you find the best fit. 

3. Establish trust with the audience 

Just as with other forms of nonprofit marketing, it’s crucial to leverage your landing pages to build trust with potential supporters. To bolster your brand’s credibility with your landing pages, you might:

  • Include impact metrics. Ultimately, your donors need to know that your nonprofit will use their gifts to make a real difference. Convince them of your skills by highlighting impressive impact metrics. For example, you could embed calls-to-action that prompt site visitors to read your annual report with eye-catching statistics. Emphasizing your impact metrics across all landing pages establishes a trusting and transparent relationship with site visitors.
  • Use social proof. Your site’s visitors will be more likely to trust your organization if people they care about or even relate to endorse you. You can leverage this phenomenon (known as social proof) by integrating positive testimonials from donors, beneficiaries, and other stakeholders. You could also shout out inspiring supporters on social media and integrate the post into your landing pages with plugins.

As you design your landing pages, leverage any opportunity to establish your positive reputation. After all, landing pages are highly visible, making them a great addition to your nonprofit marketing plan

Your nonprofit’s landing pages (especially your donation page) are critical parts of your fundraising and donor cultivation strategies. By carefully designing and leveraging their unique qualities, you can transform casual site visitors into passionate supporters. 

Picture this: you’ve just hosted a successful cookie dough fundraiser. Throughout the campaign, you sold delicious treats and watched families come together to bake cookies in support of your cause.

When the campaign ends, you wonder how you can keep the momentum and magic of your product fundraiser alive once the campaign is over. With proper follow-up and donor stewardship, however, you can sustain the relationships you’ve created and encourage long-lasting support.

Whether you’ve hosted tons of fundraisers or just wrapped up your first-ever campaign, these five tips will help you conclude your product fundraiser on a high note and leverage the campaign end as an opportunity to grow your donor relationships.

This image shows five tips for following up with donors after a product fundraiser, as outlined in the text below.

1. Thank donors for their generosity.

The best place to start with fundraiser follow-up is by sending a simple thank-you. Show donors that you recognize their contributions and appreciate their participation in the campaign.

To ensure your thank-you note is complete, eCardWidget recommends including the following elements:

  • A personalized greeting
  • A statement of your appreciation
  • Your nonprofit’s plans for using the donation
  • A short testimonial or story
  • Additional engagement opportunities
  • A closing and final thank-you
  • Signature and contact information

Get creative with your thank-you notes by adding images or sending eCards. That way, your appreciation efforts will be more interactive and exciting for recipients. Just make sure to send your thank-you notes as soon as possible after the campaign ends—preferably within 48 hours—while your nonprofit is still fresh in donors’ minds.

2. Personalize your outreach.

Add a personal touch to your fundraiser follow-up by acknowledging donors’ individuality. Address donors by name and reach out using their preferred communication method.

You can also personalize your outreach to your organization’s mission and goals to make your communications stand out. For instance, let’s say your cheerleading team hosted a product fundraiser to raise money for new uniforms and competition fees.

Instead of sending a generic follow-up email, you can include pictures of team members dressed in their new uniforms at your latest competition to show donors what their funds went toward. Additionally, you might interview one of your team members about what donors’ support means to them and include that testimonial in your follow-up to show donors how much their contributions make a difference to individual team members.

3. Invite donors to get more involved.

Donors have more to offer beyond their monetary contributions. Welcome them to your nonprofit’s community by encouraging them to get involved in other ways.

For example, you may invite donors to your nonprofit’s annual gala. Give them the option of attending the event, helping to secure sponsors, or volunteering to set up beforehand and clean up afterward. That way, they can expand their involvement in your organization in the way that most appeals to them.

4. Update your donor database.

Throughout your fundraiser, you likely collected lots of important information about your donors, especially those who are brand new to your nonprofit. To stay in touch with these supporters, you’ll need to store their contact information in your constituent relationship management platform (CRM).

As you create new donor profiles, consider adding the following data points to steward these new donor relationships:

  • Names
  • Mailing addresses
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Preferred communication channels

For existing records, add information about donors’ product fundraiser involvement and anything else you learn about them. Perhaps one donor engaged with your social media post about the fundraiser and participated shortly after. This piece of information would be useful to note because you can target this supporter using social media during future campaigns for the best results.

5. Collect feedback.

Hearing your donors’ thoughts about your product fundraiser can improve your approach in the future. For example, you may ask for feedback on the products you sell. ABC Fundraising recommends hosting a popcorn fundraiser since it has high earning potential and caters to a wide audience. You may check to see if donors would be interested in this type of fundraiser or inquire about which popcorn flavors they like best.

In addition to asking about the products themselves, you can also collect feedback on the logistics of your fundraiser by asking questions such as:

  • How did you hear about our product fundraiser?
  • What did you enjoy about the fundraiser?
  • Is there anything we could improve for next time?
  • How does this fundraiser compare to others we’ve hosted in the past?
  • Would you be interested in participating in this type of fundraiser again?

These types of open-ended questions allow donors to elaborate on their answers and provide you with rich, detailed feedback. Make sure to set aside time for your team to comb through the responses and note any helpful insights.

While the main purpose of your product fundraiser is to raise funds for your cause, it’s also a great opportunity to build upon your connections with donors. When you continue communicating with donors after the final transaction has been made, you show that you care about your donors beyond their monetary contributions and want to create mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Nonprofits are constantly looking for ways to sustain themselves and power their mission year after year. While most nonprofits eagerly search for strategies to help them garner more donations, there’s another, often-overlooked method of support—in-kind donations.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at in-kind donations and how they can help your organization. This article will answer three key questions about in-kind gifts so you can feel properly informed about these donations and how they lead to even greater support for your nonprofit. Let’s get started!

1. What are in-kind donations?

An in-kind donation is any gift or contribution made to your nonprofit that is non-monetary. Common types of in-kind donations include:

  • Goods. When most nonprofit professionals think of in-kind donations, they think of goods. For example, giving canned food to a nonprofit food pantry is making an in-kind donation. However, your nonprofit can also accept goods that don’t directly help your beneficiaries. For example, you could accept office supplies, furniture, and other items that will empower your staff members to further your mission. Plus, this type of donation is good for the environment, as it encourages supporters to recycle their gently used goods.
  • Volunteer time. Although your nonprofit probably already recruits volunteers to help your cause, it’s important to recognize that volunteer time as a donation. In fact, the estimated value of an hour of volunteer work is about $32. Be sure not to overlook this type of in-kind gift.
  • Services and consulting. Services and consulting are other types of in-kind donations that a supporter could make to your nonprofit. For example, you might enlist a human resources consulting firm to do a free HR audit of your organization. Services such as these can improve your nonprofit’s operations and set you on an easier path to success.
  • Facilities and equipment. Your nonprofit will undoubtedly need to rent out facilities or equipment at some point. For example, your next event may require a space that fits over 1,000 attendees and video equipment for your live stream. If you were allowed to use an event space for free and if the video equipment was donated, these would be in-kind donations that would fit your needs.
  • Software and technology. Due to budget constraints, nonprofits are sometimes unable to invest in software and technology that will streamline their operations and make it easier for them to help their beneficiaries. That makes in-kind donations of these types particularly helpful for your organization.

Each of these different types of in-kind donations comes with its unique benefits for your nonprofit. Consider your organization’s needs and add the in-kind donations you’d like to receive to your nonprofit’s online donations page. Although you probably already have a dedicated volunteer appreciation process, be sure not to recognize other in-kind donations as well. That way, your supporters will feel that their contributions are equally important as a financial gift.

2. Who should I request in-kind donations from?

It can be intimidating to ask for a new type of donation from your supporters. However, there are many groups of individuals that you can successfully request in-kind donations from. A few popular groups to ask include:

  • Followers. These individuals have expressed interest in your nonprofit but haven’t engaged much further. While they have their reasons for not making a financial gift to your nonprofit, they may be open to making an in-kind donation like goods or equipment.
  • Volunteers. Your volunteers are already making an in-kind donation to your nonprofit—their time. Properly steward these individuals to ensure that they continue lending their assistance to your nonprofit. Plus, they may be inclined to donate services if asked. For example, a graphic designer may be willing to design your social media materials.
  • Donors. Donors are the backbone of your nonprofit, as their gifts are essential to your success. Since they’ve already demonstrated a vested interest in your organization, they may be open to making a different type of gift as well.
  • Major donors. When it comes to larger appeals, major donors are the ones to ask. These donors are financially capable of giving larger gifts and may be well-connected. They may allow you to use facilities that they own for free or introduce you to other individuals who may be able to help. Don’t be afraid to contact them for non-financial support.
  • Businesses. According to 360MatchPro, corporate philanthropy is becoming increasingly popular for businesses. Look for companies with existing philanthropic initiatives to make appeals to. These companies will be more willing to donate their services or unused equipment for your cause.

To support your appeals for in-kind donations, consider investing in nonprofit constituent relationship management software. With the right tool, you can track supporter information to identify individuals who would be most receptive to an appeal. For example, if a supporter has a history of volunteering with your organization, they’ll probably be interested in donating more of their time through volunteer opportunities.

3. What should I do with in-kind donations?

A perceived detriment of in-kind donations is that they are less flexible than monetary gifts. In actuality, they can be used to support your nonprofit’s needs in a variety of ways. You can use in-kind donations to:

  • Support your beneficiaries. For select nonprofits, in-kind donations can be used to directly support your beneficiaries. For example, an organization that supports people experiencing economic hardship could collect donated clothing to give to their beneficiaries to help them stay warm during the winter months.
  • Support your nonprofit. Aside from directly helping your beneficiaries, in-kind donations can fulfill your organization’s needs, streamline operations, and otherwise aid your programs and activities. In-kind gifts of services, consulting, software, and technology can all support your nonprofit.
  • Host events. In-kind donations are especially helpful for hosting a nonprofit event. For instance, if you’re planning to host a gala, you could reach out to restaurants and catering businesses to see if they’d be interested in donating their services for the event. You reach out to major donors to obtain a desirable venue. And, if you’re looking for decorations on a budget, supporters may be willing to donate some to help you out.

In addition to these options, you can also use in-kind donations to fundraise for your nonprofit. A common way to do this is to accept goods from supporters and use them to create raffle baskets that you auction off at your next event. You can also host a recycling fundraiser such as a secondhand clothes sale. Supporters will donate their clothing, you’ll sort through them, and then you’ll display the items and allow attendees to purchase them on the day of the sale.

If you’re an environmentally-focused nonprofit, you can also fundraise by asking supporters to collect recyclable items, such as glass bottles, tin cans, and paper. Bring these items to a recycling center, where you’ll get paid per pound of recyclable material you collect. Or, if that’s too much hassle, some organizations like Phill the Box (which will pay per pound for clothing you’ve collected) will give you collection boxes to set up and will pick up donations for you.

As you consider strategies for fundraising and garnering support from constituents, don’t overlook the power of in-kind donations. Be sure to outline your rules for accepting in-kind gifts on your nonprofit website’s donation page. And, properly steward in-kind donors by giving them the recognition they deserve.