8 things to consider for when selecting a fundraising platform for your nonprofit

best fundraising software for nonprofits

Could you be running your fundraising campaigns better? Like most nonprofits, your personnel are probably stretched thin, running multiple projects at once and having only limited resources to invest in tools or hire additional staff. With a small team and a lack of resources, it can be very difficult to reach your goals. Fortunately, a variety of digital solutions are available that can help one person achieve so much more in the time they have available. 

Fundraising is shifting from the traditional phone call and in-person meetings to an almost completely digital approach. Effective fundraising organizations today need to be able to use all their available digital channels in an integrated way to reach and expand audiences, spark engagement and grow giving opportunities. 

Whether you are running your regular annual campaigns or a specific fundraising project like a Giving Day, it will be much more efficient to use one platform for everything from raising awareness to building excitement, communicating with volunteers and donors, collecting funds, displaying totals and thanking your donors afterward. A great fundraising platform for nonprofits will even enable you to analyze the performance of each campaign so you can figure out how to exceed your performance next time.

How do you pick the right fundraising platform for your organization? Read on for  8 considerations when reviewing suitable tools.

1. Can it make our Giving Days more interactive?

Giving Days have long been a feature of most nonprofits’ annual fundraising calendars. There is something about a concentrated 24 hours of giving which helps whip up fervor and drive giving momentum. From the buildup to the day to reporting the totals as they rise on the day of, and then thanking donors and showing the impact of their donations afterward—everything depends upon getting the word out to the right people at the right time. A digital fundraising platform is key to streamlining the communication that is so crucial to a successful Giving Day. The fundraising platform you choose should make communication with all staff, volunteers, donors and the wider community easy, seamless and interactive. Video and social media are useful communication modalities that can help keep  everyone in  the loop while generating an  appropriate level of excitement. 

Gamification is another feature you should look for in a fundraising platform. Research shows that gamified giving programs can be much more successful than bland ones. Ideally, you want to be able to run live interactive events, display live leaderboards and fundraising totals and stream high-quality videos showing what’s happening on the day.

2. How will it help improve our crowdfunding campaigns?

Crowdfunding campaigns leverage the reach of your community members to boost giving and attract new donors. The success of crowdfunding relies on community-members sharing the causes they feel passionate about with their friends, relatives and other members of their network. Even with all the best intentions, crowdfunding campaigns often fall flat because of the significant time and effort required by each ambassador to reach and inspire their network and then collect the funds afterward.

A digital fundraising tool can make peer-to-peer fundraising easier for all involved. A good tool will allow your community members to create their own personalized fundraising page on the platform. They can then send a link to their personal crowdfunding page to anyone they want, sharing written messages, videos and other impactful fundraising materials. They should be able to collect funds directly through the platform using a wide choice of payment providers to make it easier and faster for their network to give.

3. Will it help us manage our volunteer base?

Most nonprofits rely heavily on volunteers to get things done. Managing the volunteers, including communicating back and forth and checking on project statuses is time-consuming for staff.  A digital platform that can be accessed by volunteers and staff alike will make mass communication and group work much easier, as everyone can be updated in real time. 

When it comes to running a Giving Day or special fundraising campaign, a digital tool can also help to create friendly competition between volunteers and boost engagement. Live leaderboards that show the sums each volunteer is pulling in as a campaign progresses spur volunteers to work harder. It’s all friendly fun, but it can do wonders for your campaign totals too.

4. Can we segment our messaging for different target audiences?

Like most nonprofits, you’re probably raising money for different projects simultaneously. The trick is to get the right message out to the right people or risk alienating a potential donor with a campaign that leaves them cold. A former recipient of a certain scholarship, for example, may be highly motivated to donate to that scholarship fund, but someone with no connection to the scholarship whatsoever could be irritated to receive a request for this campaign. Approaching the right people with the right messages can take up a lot of time. A fundraising platform that allows you to easily segment messages to defined audiences can help you  plan ahead and execute different missions more efficiently.

5. Can we schedule messages to go out automatically?

When you are running campaigns, you may have a series of different messages that you want to send out at regular intervals or according to a particular schedule. Timing is especially important and tricky if you have constituents in different countries and time zones. Imagine how much easier it would be if you could do all the high-level planning ahead of time and then automate the implementation, leaving members of staff free to concentrate on other areas of the campaign, such as interacting personally with donors.

6. How will this tool assist with content management?

Whether it is ads, written messages, custom videos or other media, you are disseminating a wide range of content to your varied constituent audience.  Even if you have a content calendar, actually doing the work of managing and distributing content to the right eyes at the right times can be a challenge. 

A digital fundraising platform can help you organize all your different communication channels and make distribution easy, reliable and error-free.  A platform that supports high-level video content will also be a major advantage. It is hard to get the same level of personal engagement from digital funding as you can from in-person events, but video goes a long way to fill in the gaps.

7. Can we use the platform to accept payments and what methods are supported?

The end goal of every fundraising campaign is to collect the funds—and you already know how time-consuming and complex this can be. Having someone man the phones to accept credit card payments or watch the mailbox for checks takes time and lots of payments can slip by unnoticed or be incorrectly recorded in the CRM.

A far more efficient way to accept payments is to drive all donors to one central platform where they can pay using a wide choice of payment options. Some of the best platforms offer a choice of as many as 150+  ways to pay, making it easier for donors and company staff to collect payments, view totals and even issue receipts.

8. Can we gather data and use analytics to help us improve our performance?

Fundraising is all about trying different things in the search for what will work best. The best fundraisers analyze the results of each campaign to try and learn what worked well and what didn’t so they can use the information to drive better campaigns in the future. Gathering all the data you need to make these calculations used to be very difficult in the old manual days, but it can be seamless and hassle-free when using a digital fundraising platform. Look for a tool that gathers data and allows you to create customizable dashboards and reports so that all relevant staff can easily track KPIs and share results with the team.

Supercharge your Giving Days with modern fundraising technology

Now is the time to capitalize on the tools available to enable your organization’s staff to perform their jobs faster, better and more efficiently. There are many digital fundraising tools on the market and not all will be right for you. Think about your primary goals and create a shortlist of your top priorities when reviewing possible solutions. You might even get lucky and find everything you need in one tool! 

Learn how Advance from Gravyty gamifies the digital fundraising experience to power your Giving Days (and annual giving) campaigns. Get started.