A recent study by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) examined over 1,200 nonprofits from both the U.S. and Canada to get a deeper look at the state of fundraising and identifythe top drivers that influence it. The study found that 73 percent of nonprofit organizations met their fundraising goals last year, up 10 percent from 2013.
Of course, there are always organizations that fail to meet their yearly goals and others that struggle to get there. However, in recent years, nonprofits are getting smarter about fundraising, and it’s paying off. How are nonprofits meeting their fundraising goals and will they continue to do so in the future?
The economy has improved.
Obviously, the nation’s economy has a significant impact on nonprofit fundraising. Since the recession in 2009, the U.S. economy has steadily improved and it is reflected in the increase in charitable giving. The President and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Andrew Watt, highlights this in a press release for the NRC survey, saying:
“We’ve been seeing a slow and steady recovery since the end of the recession, but with marked improvements in the stock market, household incomes and consumer confidence in 2014, the slow recovery turned into dramatically increased giving.”
The economy will continue to have an impact on nonprofit fundraising goals, but it is not the only factor that influences whether or not organizations are thriving.
Nonprofits are taking action with smart data.
Advanced data analytics and tools have an influence on a nonprofit’s overall success. There is now an abundance of data, fundraising software and other digital tools that claim to help charities increase their donations, connect with constituents and produce a number of other benefits. However, all the data and software in the world is worthless if nonprofits cannot efficiently pull actionable insights from it and create strategies that will help them reach their goals.
Role of Fundraising Software and CRM
Two main data tools have changed how nonprofits approach fundraising efforts: digital fundraising software and constituent relationship management platforms. When it comes to fundraising software, online tools have helped to expand the reach and creativity of nonprofit campaigns. For example, organizations can include videos, photos and other visuals on their donation landing pages to interact with potential donors.
With the help of a donor or constituent database like DonorPro CRM, organizations can make their campaigns more creative and more personal. By tracking communications with donors and donor actions, nonprofits can cultivate relationships with their existing donors and optimize the success of campaigns by adjusting strategies in real-time.
They are using multiple channels.
More nonprofits are using online tools to help raise funds and interact with constituents. But, the most successful campaigns are ones that use integrated fundraising approaches. People consume information from a number of sources--both online and offline. In a recent report from Gartner, over half of marketers surveyed planned to increase their digital marketing budgets. Furthermore, Gartner’s research VP, Laura McLellan highlighted the fact that “the linebetween digital and traditional marketing continues to blur.”
One of the channels that is emerging as a primary driver for nonprofit fundraising is social media. In the NRC survey, 46 percent of respondents reported using social media in their fundraising in 2014--with 79 percent of those reporting an increase in the amount of donations that came from social platforms. When coupled with smart data and integrated fundraising, social media campaigns can be even more effective.
The future of nonprofit fundraising looks bright. Findings from reports like the NRC survey and The Nonprofit Times’ Top 100 of 2014, point to a positive year for giving in 2015. However, it is important to remember what Eva Aldrich, a NRC sponsor said:
“Charities now must work even harder to engage donors more fully, identifying specific challenges and opportunities for their giving. We've come through the worst of the recession and its impact—now it's time to invest resources into reaching out and creating stronger connections with our supporters."