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Nonprofit fundraising strategies for economic uncertainty

April 12, 2021
Work with your team to develop fundraising strategies ideal for economic uncertainty.

During times of economic uncertainty, nonprofit organizations have to find new ways to adapt and refine their fundraising efforts to continue fulfilling their purposes. Your donors may be navigating personal challenges that complicate their ability to give and support your cause, so it’s crucial to make adjustments that make giving easy and convenient for everyone.

To make the most of your nonprofit’s efforts during recessions and challenging current events, orient your plans toward acquiring new support and strengthening donor relations. Let’s discuss several other effective strategies for maximizing your fundraising results during economic uncertainty.

Facilitate giving

Even when the economy is not particularly accommodating to fundraising, your nonprofit must still raise the necessary funds to drive your impact. To do so, be sure you’re offering a variety of giving options for your supporters to choose from based on their giving capacities and preferences. For instance, take this time to:

  • Encourage supporters to enroll in your recurring gifts programFor donors committed to your organization’s cause for the long term, allow them to simplify their giving by opting into your recurring gifts program. This way, they can consistently make smaller, regular contributions to your nonprofit without expending additional time or energy every month.
  • Inform donors about matching gifts. Studies indicate that 78% of donors are unaware that their company offers matching gifts. When times are uncertain, it’s essential to urge donors to check their eligibility. If eligible, their employers will match their donations and increase the impact of their contributions. Matched gifts will not only help supporters feel more impactful, but they will also provide your nonprofit with additional, critical revenue.
  • Consider accepting more non-monetary support. Economic uncertainty calls for flexibility. For supporters who may be interested in supporting your organization’s purpose, but unable to assist financially, consider offering opportunities to provide in-kind gifts or volunteer.

By focusing on convenience and flexibility in your fundraising strategy, you’ll be able to keep the spirit of generosity alive and well among your supporters. While you’re optimizing the giving process, don’t forget to ensure that your donation page is mobile-friendly, so donors can make gifts whenever and wherever works best for them.

Offer virtual fundraising events

Virtual events are a powerful and popular fundraising option for nonprofits due to their cost-effectiveness and added convenience. If your organization’s budget is a little tight for hosting an intensive in-person event during uncertain times, expand your reach and boost results by going virtual. 

As you promote your virtual event, be sure to remind both staff members and supporters of the format’s benefits, including:

  • No need for travel, parking, or babysitting costs.
  • The ability to attend from the comfort of their own homes.
  • A chance to connect with attendees outside of the local area.

The key to success when it comes to virtual events is determining how to engage your supporters through a digital screen. For instance, consider arranging food delivery for each of your registered attendees before the event and setting up text-to-give. 

With the right technology, such as Bonterra Donor Engagement’s Guided Fundraising solution (formerly EveryAction), your nonprofit will have everything it needs to carry out essential processes such as creating registration pages, managing sponsors, and organizing virtual auctions. 

Use omnichannel communication

Thanks to modern technology, there are countless ways for people to connect and communicate with one another. Chances are, your nonprofit’s donors likely have their own preferences when it comes to how they’d like to hear from you. During uncertain times, when it’s essential to reach as many supporters as possible, use an omnichannel approach to dynamically engage with them depending on their preferences and interests. Be sure to:

  • Segment your supporters. Use the data in your donor management system to segment donors based on relevant characteristics, such as their communication preferences and interests. By sending more tailored and relevant messages to each supporter, you’ll increase their odds of engaging with your nonprofit.
  • Create shareable content. Communicate event and fundraising highlights in social media posts, videos, and even texts. Make it easy for your supporters to share these updates with their personal networks to broaden your organization’s reach and inspire new support for your cause.
  • Share diverse involvement opportunities. Appeal to your supporters’ varying interests and engagement preferences by offering numerous ways they can contribute toward your purpose. For instance, invite them to become peer fundraisers, volunteer at your next event, or simply sign up for your email newsletter.
  • Employ storytelling best practices. A compelling story can weave an emotional connection between supporters and your nonprofit’s cause. Consider sharing impact stories of your beneficiaries to motivate donors to take action.

Your organization’s fundraising success depends on how many supporters you reach. While younger generation donors may prefer social media and text messaging, older generations may prefer to hear from you via direct mail or email. Cast a wide net to secure a large audience for your fundraising communications.

Recognize your donors

During times of economic uncertainty, your nonprofit’s relationship with donors is critical to maintaining the support you need to fulfill your purpose. Plan for the long term by developing meaningful and creative ways to show appreciation to your donors. The more valued they feel, the more eager they’ll be to continue contributing to your cause.

Use videos, hand-written notes, and phone calls to thank your donors. Additionally, you should have automated thank-you emails set up to send out alongside donation receipts. All of these expressions of gratitude should aim to remind your supporters why their gifts are so important. Communicate with honesty about how the economy is affecting your nonprofit and encourage empathy by centering your messaging on how gifts will make a difference at this time.

Maintaining momentum during economic uncertainty

In uncertain times, one thing is certain with fundraising—the more you plan, the better off you will be. Take this opportunity to refine your fundraising and donor management strategies to generate improved results and cultivate stronger relationships. By putting more effort into how you engage and communicate with donors, you’ll ensure that they remain invested in your nonprofit in any state of economy.

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