7 Stellar Digital Fundraising Campaigns for 2023 and Beyond
Digital fundraising campaigns can be a great way to bolster your fundraising efforts and raise more donations.
However, it can be difficult to know where to start if your nonprofit is new to digital fundraising.
In this article, we’ll cover all the basics, including:
What is digital fundraising and why is it important
Creative digital fundraising ideas
Key digital fundraising strategies to be successful
Digital fundraising trends to keep an eye on
If you’re ready to master the ins and outs of digital fundraising to kickstart your next campaign, let’s jump in!
What Are Digital Fundraising Campaigns And Why Are They Important?
The Internet opened up new possibilities for so many industries, and philanthropy is no different. Digital fundraising has transformed how nonprofits raise funds for their missions.
As its name suggests, digital fundraising is when you use virtual means to raise funds for your organization.
Many of the physical tried-and-true methods of fundraising have digital counterparts that you can utilize to help raise funds for your organization—often at little to no additional cost.
For example, if you’re mailing a solicitation, you have to pay for the printing, mailing supplies, and postage. With digital fundraising, you can email the same letter instead, and all you pay for is the manpower it takes to draft the letter.
Affordability is just one of the many benefits of digital fundraising. You can also grow your reach as your visibility increases, impacting and inspiring people from all corners of the world to support your cause.
With digital fundraising, you can also leverage visual storytelling through pictures and videos, experimenting with what works for your organization. We’ll cover specific digital fundraising ideas and strategies later in the article to help spark inspiration.
There are so many tools and resources available for nonprofits to make the most of digital fundraising, all targeted to help you land that next donation or grant that can change the course of your nonprofit.
The Impact of Digital Transformation on Philanthropy and Fundraising
Once upon a time, nonprofits were limited by geographic location, relying on word of mouth to raise funds so they could grow their programming and increase their impact. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. With the advent of the internet, nonprofits can now spread their good work far and wide, allowing supporters from all over to get involved in various ways.
Whether you’re getting increased donations or more volunteers, the digital landscape has completely changed the world of philanthropy and fundraising. It has made it easier to connect with donors, find new sources of funding, increase your impact, grow your programming, and so much more.
During the global pandemic, digital fundraising even helped keep many nonprofits afloat, giving them access to funding while restrictions were in place.
With the internet, you have infinite possibilities to keep growing your nonprofit’s reach, and in the next section, we’ll discuss seven creative digital fundraising ideas to help you get started.
Creative Digital Fundraising Ideas
Because there are so many ways you can create a digital fundraising campaign, it can be difficult to decide just where to start.
Here are seven of the best digital fundraising campaign ideas you can draw inspiration from, including examples of how other nonprofits made them work for them.
If you have a specific project you’re looking to fund, then a crowdfunding campaign may be the way to go!
Crowdfunding is when you leverage huge groups of people to raise money, and sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter provide platforms for you to do so.
To create a crowdfunding campaign, you need to create a campaign page. On it, you’ll outline your project, your funding goals, and what you hope to accomplish. You should include pictures and videos to help inspire others to participate.
This landing page provides a centralized place to donate and get updates on the campaign’s progress, as well as post-campaign recaps of the impact. Others can see who donated and what amounts, inspiring them to join in, and it’s easy to share with others via social media, email, or text to garner more support.
Crowdfunding campaigns rely on the collective desire to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
Example: Help Scarlett be healthy and happy again (Hope 4 Huskies)
This GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support a rescue dog’s medical care, and while an individual put it up, it’s really on behalf of Hope 4 Huskies, which is a nonprofit that helps rescue and re-home snow dogs.
Even if you don’t read the campaign page’s full information, you can tell what the fundraiser is for based on the headline and the picture, both of which inspire people to give. It’s easy to give and share with others to spread the word and get more support.
Virtual events are a great way to pull people together without needing to be in the same room. These kinds of fundraisers were growing in popularity even before the global pandemic and took on a life of their own during it.
The premise is similar to an in-person event, but instead of gathering to experience it together, you can participate from the comfort of your own home either live or on your own time.
For example, online galas could pull together speakers and other programming in a video. This could be broadcast “live” at a date and time, but it could also be made available after the fact.
Other virtual events could be trivia nights, meet and greets, online auctions, and more.
Example: Celestial Ball (Adler Planetarium)
During COVID-19, Chicago’s Adler Planetarium moved their popular Celestial Ball online. They sold tickets to the event, as well as sponsorship packages. These were quickly adapted to apply virtually. For example, logo recognition was now on virtual assets instead of printed collateral.
Guests gathered to watch the programming as they would in person, complete with award presentations and keynote speeches. Virtual events don’t have to be of this scale. They simply need to speak to your audience and accomplish your organization’s goals.
Social Media Fundraisers
Social media can be used for good, and one way is by hosting social media fundraisers.
These are opportunities for you to harness the power of your follower’s networks and inspire them to give.
For example, on Instagram, you can simply add a donate sticker to a story, and it will bring people to a donation page where they can give to your nonprofit.
If you prefer using Facebook, you or your followers can also create fundraising pages that people can donate to. These are great ways to reach new supporters and if you can get them to stop and donate—even a few dollars—it can really add up!
If you prefer to direct people to your website to donate, you can always create posts with links that direct them to the correct landing page. As long as they are shareable, these social media fundraisers can catch on fast and organically, sparking an influx of donations.
Example: The Human Impact North Texas Giving Day
Instagram allows people to use social media for good, and that’s just what The Human Impact did! They linked to an existing fundraising page to kickstart their efforts and garner more support.
This is a great way to improve visibility, as others can repost these fundraisers to their stories, encouraging their followers to support the cause. Make sure that you’re showing up in an authentic way for the best results.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is similar to crowdfunding but with one notable exception: It uses individualized giving pages to facilitate donations to an organization. These pages are often part of a larger event or campaign, and they are a great way to engage your donor base and facilitate participation—especially virtually.
These are very common when it comes to fitness fundraisers, particularly running events, but they can be used for all sorts of things. All someone needs to do is create a unique giving page, set a goal, and share it with their network.
Peers contribute to help the person reach their goal, all while benefiting your nonprofit. Not only do you get the monetary donations, but you also get the increased visibility of your organization. It’s a win-win digital fundraising campaign.
Example: Carry Forward 5K (Wounded Warrior)
The Wounded Warrior Project hosted a virtual 5K, which is similar to a traditional race. However, instead of joining together, participants are able to run at their own pace, whether they are completing the run all at once or in segments.
Participants can create their own individual fundraising pages and start to raise money from their networks. Following registration, participants receive an official kit in the mail, which includes a bag, bib, flag, medal, and more. This is all the swag you’d get from completing the race, all from the comfort of your own home.
Online Auctions and Sales
Another great digital fundraising campaign idea is an online auction. Much like an in-person silent auction, you receive items from donors to auction off. All of the proceeds go to the nonprofit, and the person who donated the item is eligible for a tax write-off.
In order to be successful, online auctions must provide a variety of items at all different price points. While you want to start the bids low, your donors should start to raise the prices rapidly as they start to compete with others, all in the name of charity.
The best part of an online auction is that you can leave it open for a longer period of time, giving donors more time to bid and participate. Often, the convenience will help drive prices up and allow you to raise more money. You simply have to keep it top of mind as it’s not an immediate, in-person event.
Example: The Cute Syndrome
The Cute Syndrome hosted a virtual silent auction where they encouraged their donors to bid on various items.
From hotel stays to family experiences and everything in between, participants were able to bid against each other virtually to win. Proceeds from the event helped drive awareness and support researchers working with the SCN8A gene mutation.
Your virtual giving experience needs to be optimized for mobile devices. If people can’t read your website or easily navigate it no matter what device they’re on, they will likely abandon it.
This could cause you to lose out on donations, so it’s essential that your website is responsive and easy to use. Make sure you test it on different devices to ensure it looks as you intended.
If you are not set up to process donations on your website, that’s okay!
You can always partner with a mobile giving app like Givelify to make it easy and more convenient to take digital donations. At the end of the day, you want to do what you can to make it easy to donate—because if you don’t, another nonprofit will.
Example: Donors Choose
Donors Choose offers a great responsive giving experience, collapsing down so you can see the name of the project, progress to goal, and donation button. They also make it easy for you to share to help get the word out.
Even when a project is fully funded, you can still donate for future work. This open-ended donation option allows you to expand the impact you can make on others.
Text to Give
Text to Give is another fantastic digital fundraising option that you can use to tap into incremental gifts.
It’s effective because it relies on the fact that most people have their phones easily accessible at all times. Because of that, it allows for in-the-moment action, capitalizing on impulsivity and inspiration to make a difference.
People simply need to text a number, and it will prompt them to give. This could be a set amount or an amount of their choosing. If they don’t complete the gift, then they will be reminded to finish the transaction at a later date.
Since they’ve already consented to be contacted via text message, you can also use this option to contact them about future gifts. It’s a great way to stay engaged with your supporters in a way that makes sense for them. And if they no longer wish to be contacted via text, all they need to do is text STOP to the number.
Example: Red Cross
The Red Cross makes it easy to give to support their life-changing programming, and they ask their supporters to text different words so they know where to target their support.
Additionally, this allows them to track the overall text to give campaign performance, as well as how the segmentation is doing if they need to adjust their efforts.
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Key Strategies to Make Digital Fundraising Campaigns Successful
Now that you’re inspired to create and expand your own digital fundraising campaigns, here are five key strategies to optimize their performance and keep you on track.
Telling a Compelling Story
How you tell your story during a digital fundraising campaign will make or break it, so you need to ensure you’ve got it right. Attention spans are at an all-time low, so it’s best to have content that is short and compelling with a call to action.
Make sure it reflects your organization’s mission, vision, and values, as well as inspires them to get involved. Share impact stories of people who have benefitted from your work. Illustrate the difference you’ve made in the community.
In some cases, visuals can speak louder than words, so however you are telling your story, make sure it’s attention-grabbing.
Leveraging Social Media
You can turn to social media for more than just fundraising campaigns—though that’s certainly an important part! Have an online presence where you share more information about what you’re doing. Highlight the programs or share a volunteer spotlight.
You can use social media to show your supporters how their donations are making a difference, almost in real-time through images.
Encourage your followers to re-share your posts. Social media networks are incredibly powerful, so make sure you tap into them effectively as part of your digital fundraising strategies.
Utilizing Email Marketing
Email marketing can be used in the place of traditional solicitation or as a supplement. If you have emails, stay connected with your supporters. You can email them solicitations, updates, or videos showing them the work in action. Invite them to events or simply share information that may be of interest to them.
As you communicate with them via email, make sure to track the metrics. See which emails perform better and track if there are patterns. Emails, just like letters, are easy to get rid of without opening, but try to learn why some email marketing campaigns are more successful.
Providing Updates and Transparency
Throughout it all, make sure that you provide updates to your supporters.
If you’re in the middle of a campaign, share more information about its progress. Oftentimes, digital fundraising campaigns can provide real-time updates, sharing how much was raised, how much is still left to the goal, and how many supporters have contributed. One fun way people do this is through a digital fundraising thermometer!
This will help inspire others to help you reach your goal. They will appreciate that you are transparent about your performance. Sometimes, you won’t meet your goals—and that’s okay! Not every digital fundraising campaign is going to hit it out of the park. You can still make a difference with what you raised, so be honest.
Thank Your Donors
After a gift is made, thank your donors. During the middle of the campaign, thank your donors. At the end of your campaign, thank your donors. Long story short, thank your donors!
The more your donors feel valued and appreciated, the more engaged they will be with your organization. Digital thank yous can be as simple as an automatically generated email or a personalized note. It doesn’t have to be a big production. Just make sure to show your appreciation. A simple thank you can go a long way!
What Are the Future Trends in Digital Fundraising
The world of technology is changing every day, and there is always something new to try. Nonprofits are experimenting with the roles of emerging technology, including artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
Role of Emerging Technologies Such as AI and VR
It’s always fun to try new things, and emerging technologies are no different. Many nonprofits are exploring the role of AI in digital fundraising, particularly in helping to write form letters and other communications.
While there is still a debate on the ethics of using these technologies, it’s important to note that they will only take you so far. You know your organization like the back of your hand, so you’ll likely need to infuse the output with heart.
Still, it may save some time, so feel free to explore with your prompts—just make sure you don’t add any proprietary information. These technologies input all the prompts into a database, learning from each interaction. What you add could be used to influence your competitors’ work.
Another fun digital technology is VR. These virtual experiences are becoming more popular to help you feel like you’re there from the comfort of your own home. Who needs to fly to the moon when you can simply watch a video or put on a headset?
Keep in mind that these experiences may be expensive, so you want to make sure they add value to your organization if you’re taking the time and money to produce them. Still, it’s an engaging way to make your donors feel like they’re there with you.
Wrapping Up: The Next Steps
Digital fundraising is something that should be part of your overall fundraising strategy, and in this article, we’ve gone over seven of the best digital fundraising campaign ideas to help inspire you.
We also provided five strategies to help you make the most of your digital fundraising efforts. The good news about digital fundraising is that you can try out a lot of different approaches quickly to see what works for you without too much investment.
Instrumentl can provide additional resources to help inform your digital fundraising strategies and increase your odds of landing the next big gift. Ready to try? Sign up for a free 14-day trial today!
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