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Online Fundraising: Setting Your Software Foundation

July 16, 2020

online fundraising

If you work in the nonprofit world, you’ve likely seen the benefits of online fundraising.

Recent technological advancements have allowed nonprofits to maximize donations through features like embeddable donation buttons for their website, donation pages, virtual events, and even artificial intelligence. The future will likely bring even more exciting tools for nonprofits to utilize.

But tech advancements bring both new opportunities and challenges. In this blog post, we’ll explain the concept of software ecosystems, the benefits of organized data, and how you can set a foundation for fundraising success.

Understanding your nonprofit’s online fundraising ecosystem

If you’ve ever studied biology or watched a few episodes of Planet Earth, you know how delicate the balance is between living things and the environment. Interconnectedness is the key to properly-ordered ecosystems. Your fundraising ecosystem is no different.

When it comes to effective online fundraising, the best strategy is a holistic one that considers all of the tools at your disposal and guides your work in a way that takes advantage of them. Your online fundraising toolkit consists of all the tech solutions you use to organize information about your contacts and donors.

As you expand your online fundraising tools, more information will be needed to balance and connect. These tools will work best when they’re integrated or can automatically or easily connect to your solutions. 

Nonprofits that continuously add more online fundraising tools without a way to organize all the data run the risk of diminishing returns with their software. Therefore, it’s vital to have a “source of truth” when building your fundraising foundation. This source of truth is where all your data is stored and easily accessible.

Exploring the benefits of organized data

Imagine you’re getting ready to meet one of your major donors for coffee. You’ve had a busy day and didn’t have time to prepare for your conversation before getting to the coffee shop. 

Now, in the five minutes you have in the parking lot, how do you find all the information your organization has about this donor? When did they last give, and how much was their gift? Do they subscribe to your emails?

Have you or has someone else from your organization sent a direct appeal recently? Have they ever participated in one of your peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns?

If your data is organized in one system, it will be easy to find this information quickly on your phone via a mobile app before a donor meeting. You won’t have to individually pull up your donor database, email service provider, direct mail records, peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, or other resources. 

A donor management system allows you to access all necessary donor information in one place. The platform lets you see each donor’s involvement and foster more personalized, meaningful conversations. 

Identifying your organization’s fundraising tools

The first step you need to take to organize your software systems is to identify each tool in your current software stack. This will set the framework for your online fundraising strategy. 

If you don’t have an integrated donor management system yet, you might manage the data you gather from these tools within each platform. Here are the five categories of tools to consider: 

The first step you need to take to organize your software systems is to identify each tool in your current software stack. This will set the framework for your online fundraising strategy. 

If you don’t have an integrated donor management system yet, you might manage the data you gather from these tools within each platform. Here are five categories of tools to consider: 

  • Transactional and payment processing tools to collect donations and payments, including the software that powers your online giving pages, peer-to-peer and crowdfunding platforms, e-commerce platforms, and payment processing systems.
  • Marketing and communication platforms, including email marketing platforms, website content management systems, and social media pages, get your nonprofit’s message out.
  • Event and auction tools to power your fundraising events, galas, silent auctions, and volunteer days. You use them to manage ticketing, host virtual events like online auctions, and enable volunteers to register for volunteer events. 
  • Accounting tools for your accountants or accounting team to store all your financial information. For example, QuickBooks, Aplos, or spreadsheets. 
  • Offline sources to collect information that isn’t online. This might include paper files or offline software like spreadsheets. 

Review your online fundraising ecosystem often because technology always changes. The software options that worked last year may not work this year. 

Also, assess your software suite at least every year. That way, you can see what’s working, what isn’t, and new tools to set you up for the most fundraising success.

Using an integrated software solution

An integrated donor management system will grow with you, allowing you to continue expanding your online fundraising suite and maximize your fundraising efforts.

One of the greatest benefits of a donor management platform, acting as a nonprofit CRM, is that it can connect data from your online fundraising sources. The software holds all of the data collected in your other software or tools in one place. That way, you can continue to expand your online fundraising suite without continuing to spread out your data.

Even if you’re already using a donor management system, it may not integrate with the other online fundraising software you’re using. In this case, you may want to consider another option that does. You’ll also want to ensure your next solution can help you migrate your donor data into the new system.

In addition to integrations, here are some features that robust donor management systems offer:

  • A comprehensive donor database: Your donor database stores your constituent profiles, which you can update with the information you learn about your donors. You’ll also be able to view a timeline of your interactions with each donor and screen your donors to find potential giving opportunities. 
  • Online giving tools: Many donor management platforms have built-in online fundraising tools, such as online giving pages and forms, peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding tools, and fundraising event management features. You can immediately update donor profiles with new donor information when you manage your fundraising and donor management processes from the same platform.
  • Reporting and analytics features: Donor management systems make running reports on your marketing and fundraising efforts easy. You can also create supporter segments based on the information in your database and personalize marketing campaigns. 

Investing in a donor management system that offers these additional features and integrates with your existing tools is the foundation that will springboard your fundraising efforts.

Managing online fundraising via your donor management provider

Adding additional tools overwhelms many nonprofits, especially with smaller teams or tight budgets. Depending on your chosen donor management provider, the setup process might be easier and offer you a greater return on investment than you think. 

Check if your donor management provider offers onboarding or training. A professional can guide you through organizing your data, and you won’t have to worry about adding extra responsibilities for your team.

If you don’t have a donor management system, look for onboarding and training services when researching options to maximize your investment and keep your data organized.

Start with your integrated system

Online fundraising is an effective way for modern nonprofits to raise more funds and strengthen their relationships with their donors – just ensure you have the proper foundations for success.

Work with your team to determine the best next steps and whether adding a donor management system to your online fundraising toolkit is worthwhile.

Getting the right support for your nonprofit is key to its success. Learn how to grow a nonprofit organization and acquire new supporters.

fundraising software
Attract and retain donors with ease

Amplify your online fundraising strategy with the best fundraising software for your company's unique needs. 

fundraising software
Attract and retain donors with ease

Amplify your online fundraising strategy with the best fundraising software for your company's unique needs. 

Online Fundraising: Setting Your Software Foundation Learn more about online fundraising and how it's much simpler with an integrated, all-in-one donor management system. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/online%20fundraising.jpg
Joshua Meyer Joshua Meyer is a passionate advocate for nonprofits. He has over 20 years of experience in fundraising, volunteer management, software, and marketing. As VP of Demand Generation at Bloomerang, Josh helps nonprofits acquire and retain donors through innovative marketing and fundraising strategies. He is committed to helping nonprofits make a difference in the world. https://learn.g2.com/hubfs/josh-meyer-headshot.jpg https://www.linkedin.com/in/joshuammeyer/

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