Streamline Your Campaigns: 4 Top Online Fundraising Hacks

Learn how you can streamline your next campaign with these four online fundraising hacks.

As a school administrator, football coach, or member of the PTA, you might not look back at your last fundraiser with fondness. Perhaps there were countless hours spent printing and posting flyers around town, chasing down cash and checks, and poring over metrics that never seemed to add up. Not to mention the fact that despite all of your hard work, you didn’t reach your revenue goal.

Scenarios like these are understandably frustrating, but there is a better, more effective way to fundraise. All you need to do is invest in specialized fundraising software that will allow you to move your campaign online. 

To get the most out of your online fundraising, we’ll break down these four fundraising hacks:

  1. Use peer-to-peer fundraising.
  2. Gamify fundraising efforts.
  3. Tell a compelling story.
  4. Leverage metrics.

Keep in mind that because one of the key benefits of online fundraisers is their flexibility, you don’t have to sacrifice the fun of in-person events. With a little creativity, you can make them your own and add in-person elements that fuel connection among supporters. For example, you might host a hybrid gala to cap off the fundraising campaign, allowing local supporters to meet in person and those in other locations to tune in online.

To get started, we’ll cover a strategy that is perfect for both new and experienced online fundraisers: peer-to-peer fundraising.

1. Use peer-to-peer fundraising.

Peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) is a fundraising strategy that involves individuals holding personal campaigns on behalf of a nonprofit or other organization. These individuals raise money from their friends and family to support the organization.

There are a variety of tactics under the P2P umbrella that your organization can use to effectively fundraise, such as using the pledge fundraising model. 99Pledges’ guide to kid-friendly fundraising breaks down this tactic into five steps:

  1. Create a pledge fundraising campaign for your group. Set up a group-wide fundraising page and ask participants to create their own personal fundraising pages as well.
  2. Encourage participants to share their pages online to spread the word about your campaign.
  3. Participants collect pledges from their family and friends. These pledges often correspond to some kind of unit in your fundraiser (e.g., during a read-a-thon, donors might pledge $5 for every 30 minutes spent reading). Donors can also make flat donations of any amount they wish.
  4. Track the campaign’s progress carefully to ensure you are on track to meet your goals.
  5. Once the event concludes, submit your payment information and 99Pledges will send out funds within 24 hours.

While traditional pledge-based fundraisers can be a pain due to the difficulty of tracking down post-campaign donations, specialized software makes it so much easier. Your software will accept payments for you and send them straight to your bank account—and, it can even send reminders to your donors for a more hands-off experience.

2. Gamify fundraising efforts.

Gamification is the process of adding gaming mechanics or elements to a non-game scenario.

For example, let’s say you are holding a school-wide read-a-thon fundraiser to raise money to purchase new books for the library. To incentivize students to read, teachers create leaderboards to track in their classrooms and online. Students compete to top the leaderboards with the most minutes read (hint: offering prizes for first, second, and third place can motivate students!).

If you’re considering this tactic, here are a few other ways to gamify your online fundraiser:

  • Offer virtual badges and achievements for the students who achieve certain goals, like securing ten donations or earning a pledged donation above a certain amount.
  • Celebrate fundraising milestones with fun rewards like pizza parties. Consider creating tiers with different rewards—for example, reaching the lowest goal might earn students an extra 30 minutes of recess while reaching the highest goal allows them to have an in-class movie party.
  • Plan fundraising challenges that pit different teams, classrooms, or groups against each other. This will spark some healthy competition among the kids and motivate them to try their best to out-fundraise the other teams.

You can also extend this strategy to your supporters by adding game elements to the events you hold. If your campaign culminates in a charity run or walk-a-thon, you could add a “bonus round” with extra challenges like an obstacle course. If participants complete those challenges, they could win an additional donation from one of your business sponsors.

3. Tell a compelling story.

Smoothly guiding donors from social media posts or promotional emails to your donation page is key to securing the donations you need to reach your goals. You’ll need to capture their interest, whether with a funny TikTok video or urgent email appeal, and hold their attention until the moment they click “submit” on your donation form—but what’s the best way to do that?

Digital platforms provide an excellent backdrop for storytelling. Getting Attention’s guide to digital marketing explains that social media is one of the best ways to tell your organization’s story because it’s so easy to add in engaging, multimedia elements like text, photos, videos, and audio.

To get started with this strategy, follow these steps:

  1. Define your narrative. Identify a central theme that represents your campaign. Consider the impact the funds will have, who benefits from the fundraiser, and the challenges you are hoping to overcome.
  2. Highlight personal stories. Next, start crafting stories based on the stories of past and present beneficiaries. For example, you might interview players from last year’s soccer team who got new equipment as a result of your fundraiser to show the impact the campaigns have.
  3. Use multimedia elements. A good story should be emotional and make your supporters feel inspired to support you. Using things like inspiring music, audio, and videos to tell these stories will pack a much bigger emotional punch than text alone.
  4. Engage on multiple platforms. Each platform has its own rules, trends, and formats, allowing you to deliver your story in different ways. Additionally, you’ll be able to reach more supporters more often this way.

An emotional, engaging story makes the campaign more memorable to supporters, helping you stand out from the cluttered landscape of social media marketing to attract donors and inspire their support.

4. Leverage metrics.

Let’s say your school planned a silent auction to raise money to support your athletic teams. While supporters couldn’t stop talking about how much they loved the event and your school sold all of the auction items, you still aren’t totally sure if the event was a financial success—it seems that some of your metrics got lost in the fundraising shuffle.

With online fundraising, you can easily track key fundraising metrics to measure the profitability of your campaign, how effective your marketing efforts were, and the depth of your supporters’ involvement. For example, fundraising software can help you track data like:

  • Total funds raised
  • Average donation amount
  • Campaign reach and engagement
  • Cost per donation
  • Conversion rate for different marketing channels
  • Donor sources
  • Volunteer rates and hours
  • ROI

You can also use these metrics as a part of your donor stewardship strategy. These metrics should reveal who donated the most frequently, gave the largest amount, or volunteered the most hours. Make sure to thank these donors for their specific donations or other involvement by sending them an eCard or making a phone call.

Online fundraising has a unique way of reaching and connecting with more potential supporters by leaning heavily on the internet and virtual communities. Remember that you can open up your campaigns to more people by optimizing campaign materials for assistive technology like screen readers, making participation accessible to more people. This, combined with the extended reach of the internet, allows you to connect more compassionate supporters with your campaign so they can support your students.