The idea of democratizing fundraising and philanthropy is not a new one. Everyone has the desire to help others, and millions of people support causes they believe will effect change. It’s the goal of nonprofits and fundraisers to bring these causes to the forefront, and to make them accessible for the everyday donor. But for nonprofits with lean budgets or minimal marketing capabilities (and even those with extensive resources), finding and acquiring ideal donors can be difficult.
On the path to democratizing fundraising and making it easy to support causes, it seems a step has been missed: nonprofits don’t always have tools that help them bring their causes to the public at large. And as online fundraising becomes much more popular, nonprofits are now juggling more marketing platforms, fundraising channels, and methods of donation than ever before. But if the end goal is to make it easy for people to support causes they care about, nonprofits and fundraisers need access to the tools—and data—that attract donors.
Democratizing fundraising for nonprofits
Democratized fundraising is the basic principle behind nonprofits and charities. These organizations want to make it easy for new donors to open their hearts and wallets to support a cause, but they can’t do that without the right resources. And while fundraisers may want anyone and everyone to feel passionately enough to donate to their cause, the reality is that each organization has its own “ideal donor,” one who contributes generously and frequently.
Finding these ideal donors is, of course, the hardest part of fundraising. The push toward digital or online fundraising, as well as changing generation demographics, have also impacted how nonprofits approach their donor campaigns and marketing. Shifting donor habits and new platforms mean overwhelming amounts of input and metrics.
All of this makes it hard for a nonprofit to determine: Which campaign or platform helped us reach the highest number of ideal donors? Where can we reach more ideal donors without paying to shout into the void?
When it comes to democratizing fundraising, nonprofits are lacking what they need most: insights into who their donors are and the tools to implement what they’ve learned. In a highly data-driven market, nonprofits and charities need access to information regarding:
- Who their donors are
- Where their donors live (in person and online)
- Which campaigns have worked well
- Which campaigns lack ROI
- Where there are untapped pools of potential donors
More than that, they also need access to external data, including social media metrics, sector standards or baselines, and a constant stream of new opportunities to reach potential donors. Unfortunately, finding tools to combine all of that—and guide next actions—is difficult (and sometimes expensive).
To help nonprofits do their work, regardless of budgets, data expertise or size, here is a list of democratization tools that are free or affordable.
Nonprofit campaign tools
DonorBox: Re-engaging existing donors and encouraging them to continue to donate can be resource-intensive. DonorBox is a platform that offers donation processing as well as a recurring donation option. Their online system allows you to make beautiful, branded donation pages and also integrate donor data into Salesforce or MailChimp. This way, your donors have an easy “recurring” option that limits your need to create re-engagement campaigns—and you get data that tells you exactly which donors are choosing to donate monthly so you can target them on other platforms.
DonorBox is free, but if your organization exceeds $1,000/month in donations, they do charge a small fee. This tool is a great way to make recurring donations accessible, while limiting your organization’s resource expenditure.
ProcessDonation: ProcessDonation lets nonprofits create custom donation pages, manage fundraising events, connect to social media, and more. With this tool, peer-to-peer fundraising is easy as well, and the free version lets you run one campaign at a time (for more campaigns, you’ll need to upgrade). Their platform also integrates with MailChimp or Constant Contact and connects to major social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.
Using their platform, you can see how individual or multiple custom pages perform, and collect donor data such as age, gender, location, etc., to help you understand your best donors a little better. ProcessDonation offers a free, premium, or ultimate subscription based on your needs.
Classy.org: If you’re looking for a peer-to-peer marketing platform, Classy offers the ability to create personal and team fundraising pages, design leaderboards, and can even support corporate matching. Classy works closely with Salesforce to launch campaigns, monitor them, automate communications, and more. Because of the integration between the two platforms, you can visualize what’s working and what’s not for your donors.
You can get started with Classy for free, but you’ll need to speak to their sales team to fully integrate their peer-to-peer platform into your nonprofit marketing.
Causemo: Causemo offers nonprofits a unique way to visualize their donor data and campaigns. Using Causemo’s Insights platform, you’ll get access to the largest philanthropic data set, which offers benchmark data by sector so your nonprofit can stay up to date and plan for the future. You can also visualize donor segments by age, donation amount, income level, and more to view potential, untapped donor opportunities.
Causemo offers a robust free version that gives you access to sector benchmarking, reports, and visualizations for your giving and donor data as well as custom filters to sort and organize your data (instead of staring at a spreadsheet). Their upgraded option offers access to Opportunity Segments—a built-in recommendation engine that helps you focus time and effort on donor segments with the most impact.
Hootsuite: Hootsuite is a great tool that helps you streamline the social “process,” which is a vital medium for nonprofit fundraisers. It also gives you insights into what posts supporters are engaging with and searches newsfeeds for references to your organization, cause, or specific keywords. You can link to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Foursquare, and Google+ and benefit from in-depth weekly reports and team management capabilities.
Hootsuite is currently free for up to 3 social media accounts and 30 scheduled social media posts a month. Depending on the size of your organization, they have affordable plans for multiple social media accounts, unlimited posts, and more in-depth metrics and reporting.
Each of these tools, while varying in its capabilities, helps a nonprofit reach donors in a more targeted and efficient way. They also provide data and metrics you can use to guide future campaigns, internal processes, etc. Trying new things and continuing to adapt to the changing landscape of fundraising are vital, but these tools can help you work smarter, not harder.
Democratizing fundraising benefits donors
In 2016, total charitable donations topped $390 billion, 72 percent of which was donated by individuals. This was a 3.9 percent increase from 2015, and the numbers are expected to continue to rise as new technology makes donation easier than ever. With retail campaigns, giving apps, and increased engagement via social media and email, everyday donors have countless touchpoints with their favorite causes on a near-daily basis.
However, none of this would be possible if nonprofits aren’t able to access new tools and techniques that allow them to put a spotlight on their causes. More important, without data, nonprofits would continue to play with ineffective or low ROI campaigns. To truly democratize fundraising, nonprofits and charities need access to the tools and data that allow them to continually (and effectively) reach new and current donors, which in turn triggers large-scale giving.
Only then can “everyday donors” be empowered to give when and how they are able.
Latasha Doyle (@latashamdoyle) is a content writer who focuses on helping charities, as well as nonprofit software and services, find the right words. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or playing with her six pets. She lives in Denver, Co., and can be found on the internet at www.latashadoylewrites.com.