4 Nonprofit Marketing & Fundraising Lessons From 2021

You might think that donations to nonprofit organizations would have decreased substantially over the past year and a half, but that’s not the case. 

Research shows that charitable giving increased by 4.1% over the past year, marking the sixth consecutive year of growth. Online donations grew by more than 12%. Perhaps not surprisingly, nonprofits with missions related to international affairs saw an increase in donations of more than 19%, followed by donations for environmental issues and medical research.

Although large-scale events will likely be held again in the future, a whole new realm of possibilities exists today to generate financial support. We have all become more comfortable with virtual conferencing, telecommunication, Zoom meetings, and social media interaction. They all provide new fundraising avenues and have gained widespread public support. During pandemic shutdowns, even virtual 5K runs were effective — breaking some previous records for donations.

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What Can Nonprofits & Community Organizers Learn from 2021? 

1. The Internet Is Still One of the Most Effective Fundraising Tools

Do you remember how, early in the pandemic, the message was “We are all in this together?” That mantra reassured the masses and led to international support for early restrictions and shutdowns. It was shared with yard signs, on the nightly news, and all over the internet. 

This messaging reminds us that the internet will continue to be the way to communicate and rally support for the foreseeable future. Use social media to tell your story and share progress. Leverage an online platform like UncommonGood to develop new campaigns, meet your annual fundraising goals, and drive real social change. You can also use these tools to energize and communicate with your staff, volunteers, and donors.

2. Fundraising Is About Stories — Not Just Numbers

Speaking of stories, 2021 underscored the value of storytelling as an effective fundraising method. To shepherd change, nonprofits need to be able to share personal stories, capture real action — sometimes in real-time — and bring people together.

Showcase the work being accomplished by your nonprofit, and spread the message of hope and involvement. Ask for support. Harness the power of the digital landscape to boost donations, solicit volunteers, disseminate information, answer questions, and support the day-to-day needs and programming of your nonprofit.

3. It’s Time to Get Real

Nonprofit marketing is easier, more effective, and more vital today than it has ever been. However, there are a lot of voices clamoring for attention in the marketplace. 

Use facts and figures to enhance your story. The more pertinence you can establish in the public consciousness, the easier it is to prompt the desired response. Brochures and other printed materials still have a place, because they have longevity. But technology has relevance and immediacy that capture public attention. So, use both. 

Things like daily or weekly updates will spur action, but don’t neglect the advance promotions or the final wrap-up report. Share the results, and don’t forget to say thank you!

4. More Community Organizers Are Leveraging Peer-to-Peer

Marketing and fundraising are two sides of the same coin. The ability to raise money falls flat without an effective marketing plan. 

This plan may change over time, but the basics remain the same. You must spread the word before you can expect the return. In other words, you have to tell your story to get people to respond. 

That’s why peer-to-peer efforts are so effective for nonprofit fundraising. When a supporter tells a story to friends, family, and associates in their own words, the message is more effective and elicits a stronger response. Foster the desire and ability to influence others to act, donate, and volunteer. That’s the basis of peer-to-peer marketing, and it’s the new wave in nonprofit fundraising — even though it’s not a new strategy.

Even though the pandemic required many events to be canceled over the past year and a half, many nonprofits pivoted to embrace alternative methods of fundraising with successful results. A return to the previous “normal” may not yet be imminent, but a shift in fundraising has occurred that has great promise for the future. 

Nonprofit marketing and fundraising have entered an exciting age. As donation revenue and philanthropic efforts continue to expand, nonprofits should be increasingly aware that new strategies are needed — and that’s a lesson worth remembering.

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