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Conquering Common Nonprofit Fundraising Challenges

So, you've got some room for improvement when it comes to fundraising?  Don’t worry – you’re not alone. By now, you have established a strong online presence and you’ve gotten pretty good at mobilizing your supporters through social networks. But when it comes to (gulp!) asking supporters to give you money, you know there’s more you could be doing to bring in more dollars.

OK, let’s start with the basics. Fundraising encompasses three basic principles:

  • Reach
  • Engagement
  • Motivation


Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways to reach your supporters with a call-to-donate. One of the most important is through your website. If you are just getting started, check out our new blog series on How to Build a Website for your Charitable Foundation. In this 3-part series, (one, two, and three) you’ll get all the help and hints you need to get a successful website up and running.

And pay close attention to the layout of your landing pages – these include any main pages where a supporter might “land” and eventually be lead to a specific action, in this case, donating. When supporters get to these pages, what do they see? How do your landing pages look? Do they entice supporters to act?  For some tips, take a look at this infographic that shows the 7 steps to creating an effective landing page.

And here are a few awesome landing pages created by Salsa clients to get your creative juices flowing:

,Donation landing page #1

Donation landing page #2

Another important way to make – and maintain – contact with new donors is email. This infographic lays out 5 key steps on how to create a successful email. And, don’t worry about sending too many fundraising appeals, because most likely you’re not sending enough. More emails = more funds, but that is only if you are sending the right messages. Have you read, How Many Fundraising Emails Should You Send a Year? You might want to. The article talks about why you should be sending more emails than you probably are now.

And, of course, there’s social media.  As Allyson Kapin puts it “raising money for your nonprofit campaign on social media is like pulling teeth.” That’s why it’s even more important that your calls to donate via social media are clear and simple.

For example, if you’re connected with your supporters on Facebook, make it easier for them to donate without ever leaving Facebook.

facebook donation page

A major challenge nonprofits face when trying to fundraise is engaging supporters and donors on a personal and impactful level.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee does an excellent job of connecting their mission to supporter dollars. It’s important that you not only make a strong argument for why people should donate, but how those contributions will be used.

Studies show that you have just 10 seconds to engage your supporters online. So vivid imagery can help capture the attention of more donors and create an emotional tie to your mission. Show why people should care. Imagery is a powerful tool that can resonate with all people if used effectively.

Finally, it can go a long way with supporters if they can add a personal touch to their donation. Allow donors to give in honor of a loved one and help cement donor relationships over time.

Bonus points: Step up your fundraising efforts and take the time to customize your “ask” for various audiences. Millennials are a key target audience for many nonprofits because of their untapped potential as powerful activists and donors. Building strong relationships with this group now, could ensure lifelong supporters of your mission.


Finding donors who will give and give again is the biggest challenge many nonprofits face today.

End-of-year fundraising will likely be a crucial aspect of your fundraising, but don’t focus all of your efforts on this one moment in time. What about the rest of the year? Build and maintain relationships with your donors throughout the entire year. Keep supporters updated and most importantly, keep them interested.

And did you know that asking for less can really get you more? Ask for smaller recurring gifts. This is a proven strategy for increasing overall annual gift size significantly. Read this blog post by Cornershop Creative that talks about this different approach to fundraising. Monthly giving program data has continually shown that donors who sign up for recurring donations actually end up giving more lifetime donations than those who give once.

Overall, your goal is to motivate your supporters to go beyond individual one-time donations. Recurring donations are the most common way to do this, but peer-to-peer fundraising often leads to higher returns.

Fun fact: the average donor gives $50 while the average fundraiser raises about $500! You read that right. Peer-to-peer fundraising also increases engagement and relationships between peers. It creates a fundraising community that works for the collective good, which can be very powerful and create social recognition. How can you create a successful peer-to-peer campaign? Don’t worry we have the answer here.

Let’s recap: Develop a fundraising plan that broadens your reach – remember to connect and optimize your landing pages, email and social media to make it easier to donate; engage your donors on a deeper level using images and personalization; and peer-to-peer fundraising is a great motivator for getting your supporters to give beyond the one-time gift.

Now it’s your turn. If we have reached, engaged, and motivated you, go out and use these tips and best practices to conquer your fundraising challenges with confidence.

The Essential Guide to Growing Your Online Support for Nonprofits Book

Learn more about reaching, engaging and motivating your donor base. Read The Essential Guide to Growing Your Online Support for Nonprofits

Topics: Fundraising