Blog

Seven Tips on How to Use Your Digital Ecosystem to Enhance Your Fundraising

Elisabeth Bradley

Vice President, Strategy, Forum One

Though it has changed in shape during the pandemic, here are seven tips on how to use your digital ecosystem to enhance your fundraising. As people are spending more and more time online, digital fundraising is vital for mission-driven organizations to achieve and surpass goals.  

During the pandemic, people have found ways to stay connected online, and one of those ways has been through giving. Google reported earlier this year that, “global searches for ‘online gift’ increased by 80% in 2020 compared to 2019,“ and that people are increasingly using special occasions—like birthdays and holidays—as a reason to give. This presents an opportunity for your organization to use your digital ecosystem to enhance your fundraising. 

Your digital ecosystem comprises the tools, people, and processes within your organization. It is key to having visibility on a variety of platforms, while also maintaining flexibility and working cohesively at all levels. When it comes to fundraising, the more information you can gather about how, why and when your supporters choose (or choose not) to donate, the better you’ll be placed to improve how you implement your fundraising strategy. Here are seven tips on how you can improve your fundraising efforts by using everything your digital ecosystem has to offer.

1. Focus on quality—not quantity 

Start with what and where your organization does well. What topics can you speak to most effectively as a thought leader? Which digital channels get you the most traction? Create valuable content and share it on the platforms that give the best return, that is, if a particular social platform is not bringing you traffic or donations, invest your time elsewhere. Discover what you do best, and then do it better. 

2. Ask your donors what you can do better

A little audience research can go a long way. Use surveys or conduct interviews with your donors, or ideal prospects, on a continuous basis to gain insight on what your donors want and where your organization can improve. Don’t rely on your own assumptions or analytics data alone. Getting direct feedback from your target audiences can give you incredible insights you would not have considered otherwise with a relatively small investment of time.

3. Borrow tricks from your marketing colleagues 

There are a number of easy ways to use trusted marketing tactics to better reach your audience. Visual storytelling, influencer engagement, and marketing automations are just a few effective strategies to increase donor engagement. Find time to meet with your marketing and communications teams regularly to see how your approaches can help each other out.

4. Build stakeholder buy-in across your organization

Digital tools and systems often touch different teams and departments and can require investments that need to be discussed at a higher level. Make sure that you’re making the case for investment to your entire executive team or board. The tools that you are interested in using for fundraising may connect with those used by your financial or IT teams. Bring them into conversations early so that they are included in the strategies going forward.

5. Choose open and extensible systems and platforms 

Consider whether you are able to export data for analysis in other systems and move the data to other platforms as needed. Be sure to evaluate any existing integrations that may be available and keep this in consideration when evaluating licensing and overall costs. It’s also important to make sure there is a robust and modern API available so that you can accommodate new integrations should new applications be introduced into your digital ecosystem in the future. More on this: Mapping Your Digital Ecosystem.

6. Invest in training and staff

The tools within your digital ecosystem play an important role; however, it’s your people and the processes you put in place that make your ecosystem truly thrive. You can’t grow your organization unless you invest in getting your team the regular training they need, and refining your processes over time. You want your team to be excited about the prospect of working with new tools, developing new skills, and gaining confidence in the important fundraising work they are doing. 

7. Plan for governance and maintenance 

The most successful organizations fundraising today are those that take the time to maintain and update their data and tools. Establish a plan to regularly review the systems you are using, and empower a group of individuals across teams or departments to be responsible for making sure that your governance plan is being implemented and followed. Developing a change management plan ensures you’re never reliant on one person to do certain jobs. 

Successful fundraising requires engagement from your entire organization and digital systems and strategies that extend beyond just the fundraising department. As you work to optimize your fundraising strategy, a focus on how your digital ecosystem can help will not only help you to increase donations, but also to help your organization as a whole be more connected, more efficient and more successful overall.

Written By

Elisabeth Bradley

Vice President, Strategy, Forum One

Does your digital fundraising strategy need an update?

Forum One works with some of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations to create and optimize digital experiences that help them reach their fundraising goals. If your digital fundraising game needs revamping, we’d love to talk.