3 Expert Tips on Fundraising in Today’s Economy
One of the most pressing issues for today’s nonprofit professionals is the uncertainty of today’s economy. Inflation is skyrocketing, and consumer prices are through the roof. With ongoing supply chain challenges brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic, necessities, like baby formula and dog food, are costing more and hitting wallets hard.
So, what does this mean for fundraisers? Logic would tell us that with higher expenses, potential donors have less money to give to their favorite causes.
“Consumers are spending more at the gas pump and the grocery store, and so they’re not increasing their philanthropic spending,” The Nonprofit Alliance said recently.
In an April 2022 survey, 1,400 adults who gave at least $20 to charity in the past year were polled about their giving behaviors. About 24% indicated an intent to give less than usual this year while 9% of those surveyed said they might curtail charitable giving altogether — at least until the economy bounces back.
But while many donors are pulling back on giving, that doesn’t mean it’s time for nonprofit professionals to wave the white flag. By using data to glean critical insights into donor behavior, nonprofits can use that information to create innovative new strategies to interact and communicate with donors when raising money. Here are three ways fundraisers can maximize giving in a bad economy.
Create a Consistent Omnichannel Donor Experience
For those on the fence about giving, an omnichannel strategy is a powerful tool for combatting that economy-driven reluctance to donate. The more channels you use to engage your audience, the more likely they will become donors.
But first, you must understand precisely what an omnichannel strategy entails. Let’s look at an example from the consumer world — ordering coffee from Starbucks.
Customers have several ways to reach their end goal — in this case, getting their caffeine. They can do this by walking up to the counter to order, using a drive-thru, pre-ordering and paying through the mobile app, or ordering from their laptop before leaving their desk. And, in each case, the experience will be smooth, easy and on brand.
So how does this same principle translate to fundraising?
The answer is to provide donors with a similar seamless experience that integrates online, phone and even direct mail customer experiences.
On average, the companies that have implemented a complete omnichannel strategy have a net promoter score of 8.5 out of 10. This compares to a score of only 5.8 for those who have yet to implement an omnichannel approach.
So simply put, it’s about meeting your donors where they are and giving them the best possible experience, no matter where you reach them.
Take Advantage of In-Person Events
It’s no secret that the pandemic forced fundraisers to experiment with virtual events. Then, many events went hybrid by offering both in-person and online options. But as the world gained access to vaccines, the appetite for in-person interaction has come back strong.
In an early-2021 survey, only two in 10 people were comfortable going to in-person events. Fast forward to this year, and the same poll found that 85% of respondents were comfortable attending live events.
Age demographics play a significant role in who is getting back out into the social world. Millennials (ages 27 to 41) are leading giving at in-person events, with average yearly gifts of $284. Gen Xers (ages 42 to 57) are giving in-person at a lower rate, averaging $170 per person, while baby boomers (age 58 and older) are predictably giving the least in-person at an average of $112.
For organizations that have been trying to increase engagement from their youngest donors, planning fun and well-organized events is a great way to tap into the giving power of this generation. Younger people crave social interaction after a long period of isolation. Nonprofits should be making it very easy to give.
Make Giving Frictionless
Because of this return to in-person events, offering digital payment options has become more critical than ever.
Organizations using popular payment methods, like PayPal or Venmo, to receive donations have found that one-time contributions were 30% higher than those that only provide more traditional forms of paying by credit or debit card.
Enabling digital payment options makes the donor journey more relevant, engaging and intuitive. This is great for reaching new donors but also gives loyal donors a new option making it easier to give — which is vital in this post-pandemic economic slump.
Although it may seem complicated, setting up payments through these platforms is straightforward.
Because millennials and Gen Zers are more likely to use digital wallets in their daily lives (and don’t carry cash or checks), they are more likely to give because they won’t run into any friction or pain points. There’s no need to dig into a wallet or purse for a card because a phone is likely close at hand.
Digital payment apps make recordkeeping a breeze when it’s time to claim charitable donations at tax time. There’s also a social aspect in the form of Venmo feed. When potential donors can see social proof of others’ giving, they are more likely to feel compelled to join in on the giving fun.
As the pandemic and other world events continue, no one can be sure of our economic future. Hopefully, these insightful tips will help you make the most of your fundraising efforts during this unpredictable time. With careful, strategic planning, your organization can minimize losing out on gifts — and maybe even be more successful than usual.
Jennifer Bielat serves as executive vice president of client strategy at Pursuant. With more than two decades of experience in the nonprofit sector, Jennifer brings intimate knowledge and understanding of nonprofit management. In her role, she develops strategic solutions to help organizations navigate the opportunities and challenges facing today’s nonprofit organizations. Jennifer’s expertise lies in integrated marketing and communications strategy, comprehensive direct response strategy and execution, digital marketing and fundraising, and nonprofit leadership.
Before joining Pursuant, Jennifer was senior vice president of integrated marketing for Easterseals, where she led the organization in a brand renaissance with the goal of bringing greater clarity and relevance to the nearly 100-year-old brand. Under her leadership, the direct response channels — digital and mail — raised more than $32 million annually for the organization and served as a critical pipeline for other development areas, including planned giving and major gift development.