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5 Tips for Leveraging Fundraising Software for Efficiency

Posted Jul 26, 2021 01:43 PM
From choosing the right fundraising platforms to discerning which marketing channels will best reach your audience, nonprofits that leverage the tools they have can make the most of limited funds and accomplish more. Steven Shattuck, Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang, lends his experience to share several opportunities to optimize your strategy to boost productivity.

Technology is one of the aspects of nonprofit strategy that can be optimized to become as efficient as possible.

Are you making the most of your software? In this article, we’re going to discuss five actionable strategies that your organization can take to heart to optimize your own tech systems for fundraising efficiency. We’ll cover the following tips:

  1. Centralize Your Donor Database
  2. Carefully Choose Your Campaign Solutions
  3. Market Campaigns on Multiple Platforms
  4. Promote Matching Gifts with Dedicated Software
  5. Gather Insights for Future Campaigns

Your first goal when approaching fundraising software is likely to simply fill some gaps in your strategy and to avoid the common pitfalls that nonprofits frequently face. However, the next goal should be ensuring that you’re making the most of your tech investments to optimize your strategies and fundraising efforts.

1. Centralize Your Donor Database

Picture your fundraising software as a web of systems. They’re all connected in some way. Your peer-to-peer fundraising solution is supported by your marketing solutions, your event registration solution syncs with your donation solution for fundraising insights, and so on.

At the center of this web of software should be your donor database.

Your donor database is the central information hub for your fundraising metrics and supporter data. According to Bloomerang’s donor database guide, this is the solution that “provide(s) insights into your supporters’ engagement, track(s) key fundraising metrics, and measure(s) nonprofit success.”

We recommend looking for a database that is built to support your fundraising goals, like supporter relationships and retention. That way, you’ll have all of the tools you need to analyze important metrics and fully leverage the solution. But how can you ensure it’s at the center of your strategy?

Essentially, centralizing your database requires implementing processes that will ensure all information in this system is regularly updated and ready for you to pull reports. Here are some strategies for doing that:

  • Create report templates in the database prioritizing the information you want from each fundraising campaign. This allows you to not only pull reports quickly, but also compare campaigns year-over-year or to one another.
  • Look for integrations between software solutions to automatically save important information during the whirlwind of the campaign. Whether it’s a native integration or one created by a tool like Zapier, automating the transfer of information between systems decreases the chance that anything is lost due to human error.
  • Create regular systems to automate data upload for any manually updated solutions. While ideally all of your data and information will automatically be updated in your donor database through integrations, that’s not always the case. Create systems with a single person in charge of regularly updating your information.

When it comes to fundraising, you’ll use the segments in your donor database to craft the best message for effective outreach to your supporters, determine which supporters you want to reach per campaign, solicit volunteers, and even decide the type of campaign you’ll host. It’s central to your fundraising strategy, so it should also be central to your tech strategy.

2. Carefully Choose Your Campaign Solutions

Your fundraising software solutions should directly correspond to the campaigns you choose to create as an organization. For instance, if you’re planning to host primarily events, you’ll likely want to invest in a comprehensive event registration solution on which you can host many different fundraising campaigns.

As mentioned before, looking for software that integrates with other systems is the best way to ensure efficiency, but this is only the case if that software also has all of the features that you need to host impactful events that resonate with your supporters.

When you invest in software, follow these steps to make sure you’re getting the most out of it:

  1. Choose what campaigns you’ll be hosting and list the resources you’ll need for those campaigns. Listing these out ahead of time will allow you to find overlap between solutions and determine the functionality you need from each. That way, you can accomplish more with each solution for multiple campaigns.
  2. Determine the budget you’d like to stick to in your solution investment. This will guide your financial decisions. When you start researching solutions, be sure to ask about implementation and training fees so that you’re not surprised by the final cost.
  3. Always consider the resources you have on hand before investing in a new one. As we said, there will likely be an overlap between the software solutions that you need for various events. When you find this overlap with solutions on hand, it means you might not have to invest in another solution or can work with a lighter weight, less expensive one.

The first step is to plan out your campaigns ahead of time and start to predict the type of software you’ll need. You might decide that you need platforms like a:

  • Donor database
  • Event registration platform
  • Online donation page
  • Auction mobile bidding solution
  • Digital marketing platform
  • Matching gifts software
  • Peer-to-peer solution
  • Merchandise platform

Luckily, there are resources that you can use to help determine the types of software out there so that you can get a head start on this research process. For instance, this guide conveniently divides up the various solutions into categories so that you can choose software based on the type of campaign according to your exact needs.

3. Market Campaigns on Multiple Platforms

When you first think of fundraising software, your mind likely immediately skips to online donation pages, peer-to-peer platforms, auction software, crowdfunding websites, and event registration solutions. However, marketing solutions are just as important. Without effective marketing solutions, supporters will never hear about your incredible fundraising campaigns!

Think about it: You put in a ton of research to find the perfect peer-to-peer and registration software for your next event. You hope that volunteers will both attend the event and fundraise on behalf of your nonprofit to raise awareness and funds for your next big initiative. However, you’ve forgotten to invest in marketing software.

You scramble to ask everyone to post to social platforms, send emails, and try to invite as many people as possible. However, you miss out on the analytics you could gather from these platforms, the opportunity to design better outreach, the ability to leverage segmentation to reach specific audiences, and you’ve used team member time that could otherwise be dedicated to other activities.

Therefore, we recommend not only investing in quality marketing software but also finding a solution that allows you to leverage multiple platforms to meet supporters wherever they are. For instance, you might look for comprehensive marketing software or several different solutions, allowing you to spread the word about your campaign across:

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Direct mail
  • Physical flyers

You should also consider looking for a comprehensive marketing solution that integrates with your donor database so that you can share analytics back and forth between the solutions. For instance, the Bloomerang integration with Mailchimp allows organizations to pull donor segments from their database to segment emails. It also allows you to save analytics from your marketing campaign directly to your donor database, recording interactions with supporters directly in their profiles.

4. Promote Matching Gifts with Dedicated Software

One of the incredible benefits that software offers is the ability to fill some of the gaps in your fundraising strategy, such as your matching gifts program.

According to Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics, between $4 and $7 billion is left on the table from matching gifts every year, and that’s not because people don’t want to maximize their gifts! It’s simply because they don’t know that a matching gift program is available.

Matching gifts are donations made by companies and businesses to match the contributions made by their employees.

Generally, these gifts have some stipulations, such as a minimum and maximum amount or qualifications for an employee to meet before their company grants the match. But people often don’t know that these programs are offered due to a lack of promotion.

That’s why it’s your job to tell your supporters about corporate philanthropy programs and provide the software they need to see if they’re eligible for such opportunities. Dedicated matching gift software allows supporters to type in the name of their employer and see if that employer offers a matching gift program, as well as any stipulations.

You might choose to embed this software directly onto your donation page or gift confirmation page to encourage supporters to research their eligibility. Even if you don’t invest in the software, create a dedicated matching gifts information page on your website so that supporters can learn about the opportunity, then scour their company handbook to check their eligibility.

5. Gather Insights for Future Campaigns

After your campaign is over, one of the best things you can do to maximize your use of technology is to pull reports and gather insights to inform future campaigns. These insights will show you what strategies are working and where you might still have some gaps.

There are three primary types of fundraising analytics that you might consider analyzing:

  • Descriptive analytics – summarizes what you already know
  • Diagnostic analytics – identifies opportunities for improvement
  • Predictive analytics – helps you make predictions about future donor behavior

Many analytics can be used in all three contexts, but be sure to identify how you want to use the analytics that you gather. You might choose to pull reports that summarize fundraising data such as:

  • Donor retention rate
  • Average donation size
  • Donor lifetime value
  • Successful marketing platforms
  • Results from marketing A/B tests
  • Conversion rates for fundraising software
  • Donor acquisition rate and cost
  • Return on investment

Of course, this is just a sample of the types of analytics available for you to choose from. Consider your goals for your campaign before choosing the metrics you’d like to focus on. These goals will inform which metrics are most important to you.