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Fundraising Trends: 8 Modern Strategies to Consider for 2023

Author: Sayana Izmailova
December 14, 2022
🕑 13 min read

Fundraising Trends: 8 Modern Strategies to Consider for 2023

The nonprofit sector is still finding its footing after the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic and now faces the possibility of an upcoming recession. So, what can your organization do to prepare? 

We recommend strengthening your current fundraising strategy by adding in new approaches that will help inspire your supports and continue to pull in donations to power your cause. 

After all, even when challenges arise, your supporters will continue to give! They’ve proved that over time, even in the midst of economic turbulence (like when the COVID-19 pandemic began). Plus, your beneficiaries still need you to continue your important work!

With 2023 just around the corner, it’s time to look ahead at the newest fundraising trends coming down the pike. Then you can blend those trends into your own campaigns, projects and events to keep your mission moving forward. 

Ready to jump in? Let’s get started! 

1. Stay tuned in on-the-go with mobile optimization

COVID-19 ushered in a new era of remote work, and now 25% of all jobs in North America are projected to be remote by the end of 2022. Whether your team is working from home or in a hybrid environment, there are lots of perks to this new mobility!

No longer do your staff members need to log into their desktop computers in order to make quick updates—mobile devices make things more flexible.  Making important data about your nonprofit available to your staff from their smartphones and tablets means they can better prioritize, track progress and work from anywhere.  

Is your organization’s CRM dashboard mobile-friendly? If you can always see key metrics at a glance—such as campaign progress and donor retention rate—you can keep these front of mind when on the go!

Beyond a high-level data dashboard, your nonprofit should also make sure you can dive deeper into various aspects of your strategy. For instance: 

  • Productivity. Assigning tasks for yourself or your colleagues on your phone helps you stay on top of the most important projects from anywhere and collaborate on large projects more easily. 
  • Donor research. If you’re preparing for a meeting with a donor, some last-minute research on your phone about the donor’s interests, family members or history with your nonprofit can make the meeting much more successful. Plus, you can record new data to the donor’s profile right after the meeting while it’s still fresh in your mind. 
  • Donor stewardship. Check the activity feed for your organization from your phone. This means you can immediately reach out and acknowledge gifts no matter where you are (or you can set a task for a colleague to complete). 
  • On-site donation. Take online donations via card with a swiper, by typing in the card details or by offering an online donation form. You can also attribute cash donations to donors right away so that you don’t lose track of names and faces while accepting these gifts. 

Let’s look at an example of how the right mobile tools can help with these important processes. Say you have a table at a local farmer’s market. You should make sure it’s easy for donors to give at the table while they’re doing their shopping. On top of that, you should be able to use your mobile device to quickly attribute these donations to individuals in your donor database.

As another example, let’s say you’re at a local coffee shop reading or watching the news and see a story about a donor being offered an award by the community. You can quickly make a note of their name or create a task for someone at the organization to send that donor a note of congratulations.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

2. Leverage Donor-Advised Funds 

Donor-advised funds are growing more and more every year. While they don’t make up a large percentage of overall giving just yet, they’re becoming increasingly more popular due to the tax incentives associated with them. 

What exactly is donor-advised giving? 

According to National Philanthropic Trust, a donor-advised fund:

“allows donors to make a charitable contribution, receive an immediate tax deduction and then recommend grants from the fund over time.  Donors can contribute to the fund as frequently as they like, and then recommend grants to their favorite charitable organizations whenever it makes sense for them.”

The major benefit of donor-advised funds is that supporters can receive a tax benefit as soon as they contribute to the account. The account is handled by a financial service so that the amount can grow before it’s donated. 

Some of the other notable characteristics of donor-advised funds include:

  • They’re incredibly resilient. This means that even during an economic downturn like the one we anticipate, or during personal financial hardships, donors can still contribute to their community nonprofits. This makes donor-advised funds particularly important during times of economic instability.
  • Large financial firms like to manage donor-advised funds. Major financial firms are getting more and more involved with these accounts, giving donors the security of a name they recognize. Donors can create their accounts with big names like Fidelity, Vanguard, and Schwab. 
  • Some of the most generous donors are likely to have these funds. Donor-advised funds are not something that nonprofits should ignore because they’re increasingly popular with some of the most generous donors. 

After a donor puts money into the fund, they can advise the financial firm about where they’d like to make a contribution. Then, this money is given to the nonprofit in the form of a grant. 

If you note which donors make use of these funds in your database, you can actively engage with them and focus on building your relationships.

3. Mix It Up with Virtual, Hybrid and In-Person Events 

Due to social distancing requirements, more nonprofits held virtual events in 2020 than ever before. For many, it went even better than they’d expected! And now, event-goers have gotten used to virtual events! So it’s clear that virtual (and hybrid) events will continue to be a part of nonprofits event calendars—in addition to in-person events. 

You’re used to hosting in-person events, but you might still be fine-tuning your virtual and hybrid event strategy. So, how do you pull off a successful event with a virtual component? 

You do not need to be especially tech-savvy to be successful. Fortunately, most video conferencing technology is fairly simple to use, and after the pandemic, more people than ever have a working knowledge of these solutions. 

You’ll also need the right idea. Luckily, many event ideas can be translated to a virtual or hybrid setting. 

For example, consider a concert or comedy show. You can livestream the performance and interact with your supporters using your video conferencing platform’s chat feature. Or maybe you want to host a hybrid 5K. You can host an in-person race and then offer a virtual option, where supporters complete the race on their own time at home, with every participant receiving a race t-shirt and medal from your nonprofit when they’re done! 

Sure, virtual events may take a little more creativity and planning to pull off. But they’re well worth it. Virtual events offer nonprofits many benefits, including: 

  • Access to a larger audience: Nonprofits are no longer limited by their geographic location. People can attend a virtual event from anywhere. 
  • Lower cost production, meaning greater fundraising ROI: Compared to traditional events fundraising, virtual events have a much lower overhead cost. Food and venue rentals are often major expenses in traditional events, while virtual events allow you to keep a lot more of what you raise.

As the year goes on, you may well find virtual events becoming another digital communication tool. Webinars, talks, panel discussions, live Q&As, and behind-the-scenes tours are all great ways to connect with your donors and fundraise online outside the traditional silent auction/gala dinner box.

4. Provide Donors with Flexible Giving Options 

With tumultuous times on the horizon, your donors need flexible giving options more than ever before. Giving donors the opportunity to customize how they donate empowers them to continue to contribute to your cause when times are tough.

Here are some options to consider offering: 

  • A recurring giving program: Sometimes a donation is easier on the wallet if it’s a smaller amount spread out over time. You can offer this option by setting up a recurring giving program (if you don’t already have one). Give your donors the option to make their one-time donation a recurring gift that is automatically withdrawn each month. Level up this experience by making your program exclusive—send participants special tokens of appreciation and give them access to VIP events. 
  • Suggested donation amounts: Suggested donation amounts can give your donors an idea of what a “typical” donation amount is when they’re using your donation form. Sometimes, if the donor is able, suggested donation amounts can also encourage them to give a little more than they were originally planning. For example, if a donor lands on your donation form planning to give $20 and sees a suggested amount of $25, they might decide to round up! 
  • In-kind donation opportunities: In-kind donations might be bags of cat food for your animal shelter, graphic design consulting services, donations of stock, or contributions from a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). These kinds of donations are invaluable to your nonprofit because they help directly secure the support it needs. For example, instead of buying those bags of cat food with cash donations, you already have them!
  • Merchandise purchases: Sometimes it’s fun to get a little something in return for your generosity. Offer donors the option to purchase branded merchandise from your nonprofit. This might be a mug, sweatshirt, t-shirt, or bracelet. These are fun keepsakes for your donors to collect that will remind them of your cause. Plus, when they use their items, they’ll be spreading the word about your nonprofit to the world. 

Even during economic stability, donors like to have choices when it comes to donating to their favorite nonprofits. Try to look at our current economic climate as an opportunity to establish some of these strategies as long-term sources of revenue that you can use for years to come!

5. Continue Stewarding Major Donors 

You’ve probably read before about how important continuous stewardship is as you secure support from major donors. In the coming year, do everything you can to keep in touch with your donors and remind them that your nonprofit values their support—whether that support looks like a donation, volunteered time or services provided pro bono. So, think beyond a one-time donation thank-you letter and focus on relationship-building!

The key to continuous relationship building with a major donor is to stay in touch with them on a regular basis. Here are some ideas for regular touchpoints: 

  • Set up monthly or quarterly in-person meetings to catch up and share your nonprofit’s progress. 
  • Invite them to your fundraising events. 
  • Call or email regularly. 
  • Reach out with updates or results on projects or programs they’ve contributed to. 

You should also focus on personalizing your major donor outreach efforts, especially written communication. This will be especially important for your nonprofit’s email strategy. Check out these two examples of an email written to a major donor: 

Dear Karen,

Thank you for attending our annual Night Under the Stars Gala. Your generous contribution of $5,000 will help support our campaign to build a new animal shelter. We hope to see you at next year’s Gala! 

That’s not very personal. The response feels rushed, like the donor’s name and donation amount were just quickly plugged into a template. Compare that message to the following: 

Dear Karen, 

I enjoyed seeing you and Brian at the Night Under the Stars Gala last week. It was lovely to catch up with you about your family, and how wonderful to hear about your new pup, Chip. Congrats on the new addition to your family!

Your generous contribution of $5,000 means so much to us and to the dogs and cats we shelter. The new space will be such a comforting and safe place for dogs like Chip while they wait to find their forever home. 

Thank you so much, and we hope to see you soon!

See how much more personal that was? Ensuring your details are correct and specific will help your major donors feel more connected to your organization, supporting the relationship you’re working to build with them in other ways, like in-person meetings and invitations to volunteer. 

6. Tap Into Corporate Giving Opportunities

Another trend in the nonprofit world that your organization should keep an eye on as you enter the new year is the growth of corporate giving. Corporations are starting to feel a stronger pull to support their communities through social responsibility programs

These programs include various ways that corporations can help nonprofits like yours. For instance: 

  • Matching gift programs. Matching gifts are donations made by companies that match some ratio of gifts made by employees to eligible nonprofits. You can embed a matching gift tool on your donation page that empowers your supporters to check their eligibility for a match.
  • Corporate sponsorships. Corporate sponsorships are support provided to nonprofit organizations hosting events in return for brand advertisement or other benefits. 
  • Community days. Community days are the days when a company encourages all of its employees to attend a volunteer activity with a local nonprofit. 
  • Volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are contributions given to organizations where employees of the contributing company volunteer. The company agrees to donate a certain amount to the nonprofit in response to its employee volunteering a certain number of hours. 

Nonprofits have a tendency to focus on the individual contributions made by donors. While these are great, ignoring corporate giving opportunities is like leaving free money on the table. 

Ask your donors to do some research (or provide a matching gift database) to learn if their companies have these types of programs. According to Donorly, you can even investigate their employers’ programs during the prospect research process. 

Lately, society has been pushing corporations to give back to the community more. Therefore, in 2023, make sure your nonprofit is taking full advantage of these opportunities from corporations.

7. Use Artificial Intelligence to Enhance Your Communication Strategy

Artificial intelligence isn’t quite what’s portrayed in traditional sci-fi movies. Don’t worry, robots aren’t taking over the world just yet!

Instead, artificial intelligence is a tool that nonprofits can use to better communicate with supporters. According to DonorSearch’s AI resources, artificial intelligence can be helpful in a variety of ways, such as: 

  • Automating data cleansing. Instead of manually sorting through hundreds of individual constituent records or screening your donor database, invest in a software solution that will automate the mundane, routine task of cleansing mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. This allows your staff to maintain high response rates when conducting outreach, while also spending more time on fundraising instead of data management. 
  • Responsive, suggested gift amounts. Instead of static online giving pages that present visitors with the same giving ladder, responsive giving ladders suggest unique gift amounts for each individual user. These amounts are based on their previous visits and giving history, geography and other demographic information. 
  • Generating summaries about supporters. Instead of filing through all of your donor information in a convoluted donor database, your tech can use set algorithms to pull important information for you. For instance, you may look for an engagement or generosity score to quickly learn about your supporters. 

With the proper tools, your nonprofit can streamline tasks at your organization, saving your team members a lot of time. This time can then be redirected to what really matters: your mission.

8. Offer More Ways To Support Your Cause

As the cost of living rises and your supporters deal with the realities of a potential recession, you may be wondering how you’ll pull in support, as people may cut their spending budgets, making it more challenging for your community to give monetary donations. 

The good news is that there are plenty of other ways your supporters can help your nonprofit power its work, even if they’re not in a position to donate. Here are some ideas that you can promote among your community: 

  • Volunteering: Supporters who donate their time and talent to your organization are invaluable. Let your supporters know what their options are for volunteering by posting “job descriptions” for different volunteering roles. This will help them find a role that is a good fit and matches their interests and passions. 
  • In-kind donations: As mentioned above, in-kind donations are great because they remove a step in getting items your nonprofit needs. Communicate to your supporters the items that your nonprofit needs, as well as any services you might need to be donated. 
  • Leveraging social networks. Your supporters can also help you by getting the word out about your mission. Encourage them to post about your nonprofit and invite their families and friends to learn about your work! This way, you’ll grow your community of supporters. 
  • Writing to elected officials. If your organization is seeking legal change, you’ll need to power your efforts with supporters who can write to their elected officials. Make this simple by providing a letter or email template and clear instructions on your website that your supporters can use to contact people in power. 
  • Using a shopping app that shares revenue with nonprofits. Some online shopping apps allow consumers to do their regular shopping and then have a portion of the money they spend donated to a nonprofit of their choice. This doesn’t require your supporters to spend any additional money, so encourage them to shop for groceries, clothing and more on behalf of your cause!

However your supporters are able to give over the next year, make sure to sincerely thank them for their generosity. Doing so will help you retain their support for and interest in your cause for years to come.

As 2022 wraps up, we can take an inventory of all the lessons we’ve learned and start making plans for the new year. By implementing some of these tips to leverage these top trends, your fundraising strategy will be fine-tuned for 2023!

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