The GuideStar Blog retired September 9, 2019. We invite you to visit its replacement, the Candid Blog. You’re also welcome to browse or search the GuideStar Blog archives. Onward!

GuideStar Blog

Fundraising Basics: The Old and New

With new and emerging technologies surfacing in the fundraising realm, fundraisers today have a plethora of choices. Strategies and plans have become more complex and require the use of a variety of tactics.

How is a nonprofit to determine which tactics to use and decipher which ones will net the best response?

Good fundraisers know that the only way to get the answer to this question is to know your audience and experiment with different tactics. But as seasoned fundraisers also know, the luxury of experimentation isn't always possible.

To get the conversation going, start with the basics. Today's basics are not the same as the basic fundraising tactics of a decade ago. The rules have changed. But, nonetheless, the old tactics and new tactics should be evaluated and given fair consideration by nonprofits of all shapes and sizes.

It can be easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest technologies and lose sight of traditional, yet effective, ways of fundraising. Below are lists to help nonprofits combine the old ways of fundraising with the new to develop a truly multi-channel campaign that will help increase effectiveness.

Traditional Tactics

  1. Direct Mail: There is a reason why direct mail remains a favorite among nonprofits. It can be low cost while effective. Additionally, older donors are more likely to prefer direct mail than younger donors. So organizations that have an older donor pool will find direct mail highly effective.
  2. Events: Events such as walks or galas have served as effective fundraising tools for many years. They provide a venue by which donors and potential donors can personally interact and learn about the organization.
  3. Door-to-door: Although door-to-door fundraising has diminished over the years, it is still utilized successfully by many organizations. Political campaigns are a great example of door-to-door fundraising.

Modern Tactics

  1. Social networking: It has been talked about a lot, for good reason. Social networking can be a cost-effective method of increasing awareness of the organization and in the process gathering supporters previously not known. In a report by Fox Interactive Media, more than 40 percent of all social networkers use social networking to learn more about brands or products. Twenty-eight percent said that a friend has recommended a brand or product to them at some point.
  2. Blogging: Blogging has become an acceptable communication tool. According to a January 2005 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, blog readership increased 58 percent in 2004, to approximately 32 million blog readers.
  3. On-line videos: Research suggests that more and more people are watching on-line videos. In fact, according to Neilsen's VideoCensus, 2.9 billion video streams were viewed on YouTube in February 2008 alone. Additionally, because a video can be relatively easy to create, it can be an effective tool to educate constituents and possibly spark a viral campaign.
  4. Text messaging: The younger generation has popularized this quick form of communication. As this generation matures into the newest generation of donors, nonprofits should see an increase in the use of mobile marketing to gather new donors.
The two lists above provide an overview of traditional and modern fundraising tactics. It is important to remember that modern does not necessarily mean better, however. Traditional tactics can work well for certain audiences. For other audiences, text messaging or e-mail may be the most effective. Many organizations have discovered that using a variety of fundraising tactics is ideal. To create the mix of communications channels that works best, nonprofits need to know and understand the ingredients. The list above should give nonprofit organizations the basic ingredients to create effective fundraising campaigns.

Frank Barry, Kintera®, Inc.
© 2008, Kintera®, Inc.

Frank Barry is director of professional services for Kintera, Inc. Kintera provides an integrated, on-demand open platform to help organizations quickly and easily reach more people, raise more money, and run more efficiently. The technology platform features a constituent relationship management (CRM) system, enabling donor management, e-mail and communications, Web sites, events, advocacy programs, wealth screening, and accounting. In addition, the company also has an open applications integration platform that enables clients and partners to integrate with the Kintera technology platform.
Topics: Fundraising