You must be aware of the latest charitable campaign going on on Facebook, where many of my friends pouring buckets of ice water on top of their head. It’s the ALS ice bucket challenge, a campaign to raise fund and awareness towards ALS syndrome. For many the campaign is stupid but, it’s not. While the cause is great, it established on the latest social media campaign strategy. like businesses, charitable organizations are also going the social media route.
On the surface, fundraising seems simple: “All you need is a worthy cause such fundraising for youth sports and people will happily donate. As anyone who has ever been involved in fundraising can attest, though, it’s rarely that simple.
Even the most worthy of causes have competition, and while the overall economy has improved and people are beginning to give more money to charity again, charitable giving has not yet reached pre-recession levels.
For that reason, fundraising professionals need to be strategic and creative in their approach to soliciting donations — and that involves staying on top of trends.
Some of the most recent trends in fundraising are quite unexpected, even contrary to what you might expect.
If you’re about to embark on a new campaign or looking for ways to breathe new life into an existing campaign, it’s important to understand these key trends.
Charitable Giving Is On the Rise
When the recession hit in 2008, charitable giving took a major hit almost immediately; 2009 saw the lowest level of overall giving in more than a decade. However, giving has been on the rise since 2010 and overall giving increased by almost 5 percent in 2013 over 2012. In short, people are giving again, but they are being more selective in which organizations receive their support.
Donors are also getting more creative in how they support their favorite organizations. While cash donations are by far the most common type of donation, there has also been a marked increase in the donation of goods and services.
Individuals who cannot afford to make a substantial cash donation are giving in other ways. They may offer pro bono services, for example, or donate their old boat to an organization that will sell it and uses the proceeds for their mission.
Online Giving Isn’t Everything
Online giving is an important part of any fundraising strategy, and overall, online giving grew by 13.5 percent in 2013.
However, as a percentage of overall giving, online donations only comprised about 6.5 percent — which is down a bit from 2012.
The amount of money donated online will always fluctuate because certain events, like natural disasters, tend to create spikes in online donations that skew the percentages.
Because the overwhelming majority of donations come from offline sources, it’s important to develop a diversified fundraising strategy that includes a variety of tactics.
In other words, do not put all of your fundraising eggs in an online basket.
Social Media Is Vital
The recent success of several viral fundraising campaigns only underscores the importance of charities using social media as a part of their marketing strategy.
Social media offers nonprofits the chance to leverage the networks of their supporters to raise money and support for their causes; considering that the average adult has about 338 Facebook friends, the potential reach of a single piece of content is astounding.
Nonprofits are beginning to see the power of social media and investing more time and effort into the sites, and that commitment is only going to grow as campaigns like the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” garner huge results.
Engagement Is Important
While donations are on the rise, the overall amount of giving is still limping along in some sectors, and even wealthy donors are giving less than their pre-Recession levels.
Organizations looking to increase the number of donors on the rolls, and the amount that donors give, have to be creative and find ways to keep donors engaged with the organization.
In short, before someone pulls out the checkbook, they want to know “what’s in it for me.”
For example, some museums are increasing their offerings for families and children, while other organizations are offering more opportunities for donors to interact with each other.
The most successful fundraisers are those who find ways to meet their goals while also giving donors what they need and want.
Individuals Give More than Businesses
While you might expect that businesses, with their deeper pockets, would contribute more to nonprofit fundraising efforts, individual donations account for more money.
Almost three-quarters of all charitable donations come from individuals, while a mere 5 percent of donations come from corporate sponsorships (the remaining money comes from grants, foundations, and government sources.)
While many nonprofits tend to spend a great deal of time seeking corporate sponsorships and support, they are far better off to shift some of that attention to soliciting and supporting individual donations.
Of course, by definition, trends are fleeting, and what defines fundraising today may be out-of-date in a year or two. Staying ahead of the curve and learning to recognize the trends as they occur will keep the coffers full —and your donors happy.