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Fall 2021 Fundraising Strategies to Help Your Nonprofit Succeed

Now that we're well into the final quarter of 2021, many nonprofit fundraisers are working to find a fundraising strategy that is flexible enough to respond to COVID and the delta variant while also drawing in donors who are feeling some major Zoom fatigue.

To successfully navigate this landscape, it's important for any fundraiser to stay on the cutting edge of digital fundraising. With online revenue up 32 percent in 2020, and over 65 percent of all fundraising web traffic on mobile, your fundraising plans should be ready to take advantage of the upward trend in digital fundraising.

drawing of two women standing on a cloud in front of a computer showing a gold coin

We should know, because thousands of nonprofits and social good projects have used CauseVox's digital fundraising platform to raise millions online. Through this, we've seen firsthand what online fundraising ideas nonprofits use to successfully raise money for their causes. To help you finish 2021 strong, we've compiled our favorite year-end strategies:

  • Optimize your donation page
  • Host a hybrid event
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising for #GivingTuesday
  • Host a virtual walkathon

Read on to learn how to get started with each of the proven fundraising tactics above.

1. Optimize Your Donation Page

The biggest giving days are ahead of us: #GivingTuesday and the last three days of December are statistically the highest giving days of the year. So you can be sure that there's going to be an uptick in traffic to your organization's donation page.

But, if your donation page is outdated or clunky, you may be missing out on donations. Donors today expect a quick and easy donation process. If it's difficult or time-consuming to make a gift, they're more likely to get frustrated and click away.

Small improvements to your donation page can increase your conversion rate — the number of people who actually complete a donation on your donation page. Not sure if your donation page is optimized to help you get more donors? Take a quick look at it.

  • Are donors redirected to a third-party page? When donors complete their donation on your website, it builds trust with them. Supporters are 70 percent more likely to give again if they give on a branded donation form.
  • Are there a lot of form fields your donors need to fill out? Remove any unnecessary form fields to make the process quicker. HubSpot found that there was a 50 percent increase in conversion rate when form fields were reduced from four to three.
  • Is it easy to give on a phone or tablet? It needs to be easy for your donors to give on their phones. At CauseVox, we've seen that about 65 percent of all traffic to donation forms is on mobile devices. 
  • Have you set up donation tiers (suggested giving levels) that tie dollars to impact? We've seen that when a donor knows how their donation makes an impact, they're likely to give more. For example, the Irish International Immigrant Center saw a $100 increase in average gift size when it added a form to its site with impact-driven donation tiers.
  • Is it easy for your donor to make a monthly donation? You want to capture as many recurring donations as possible: You'll raise more! Recurring revenue is on the rise: It grew 25 percent in 2020. 
  • Are there one-click mobile wallet payment options, like Apple Pay and Google Pay? You'll want to be sure you have this, over and above text-to-give. According to PaySafe, 54 percent of American consumers have used a mobile wallet to make a payment.

All of these are important elements of making your donation page the best it can be.

If your donation form isn't optimized, your marketing efforts will be less effective, and you'll waste your donor's time. As more and more of our fundraising moves to virtual, it's essential to have a donation page optimized to convert today's donors.

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Dream Builders embedded a CauseVox form directly onto its donation page so that donors could easily complete their donation without leaving the website.

2. Host a Hybrid Event

As we move into the fall season, many places are loosening restrictions on social distancing, which means that some of your events can now include in-person options! This fall, we'll see the rise of the hybrid fundraising event — an event that is hosted both in person and virtually. With the digital world we're living in, hybrid events help you make the most of your fundraising events and are especially effective during this transitional stage.

fundraising page for Move-A-Thon showing an embedded video, amount raised, goal, number of kilometres, days remaining, and number of donors

Hybrid events are great because they allow you to combine the benefits of virtual fundraising with those of in-person events.

Virtual fundraising:

  • Lower admin costs and tasks
  • Wider range of participants
  • Easily accessible participation

In-person events:

  • Strong relationship building
  • Increased engagement
  • Built-in audience for storytelling

Here are a few tips for how to run an optimal hybrid event.

  • Fundraise ahead of tIme: One of the big advantages of virtual events is that the majority of fundraising happens before the event date. Do this for your hybrid event too! Set up an online fundraising campaign site and fundraise ahead of the in-person event.
  • Sell different ticket levels: Create separate ticket options for virtual and in-person attendees. This will help you get a count of who's attending in each format and make up for different costs and benefits that each attendee receives. For example, if your in-person event has dinner included, charge more than for virtual attendees!
  • Create different experiences: Some things work better in person, and some things work better virtually. You can prepare different programming for in-person attendees and virtual attendees: Just keep the essential feel of the event consistent. For example, don't try to have virtual attendees tune in to watch in-person attendees enjoy their happy hour. Instead, have a separate virtual cocktail class going on for virtual attendees.
  • Drive all donations to the same place: Keep things simple for yourself and your donors. Whether your attendees are virtual or in-person, use QR codes to drive people to donate to your virtual fundraising campaign site on their phones.

Whatever your fundraising idea, you can take a hybrid approach to tailor the event to the audience's comfort level, create backup plans for unexpected changes to restrictions, and stand out from the crowd so you raise more online.

3. Use Peer-to-Peer Fundraising to Stand Out for #GivingTuesday or Year-End Fundraising

As we move towards the end of the year, many nonprofits will be taking part in #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising.

But it can be hard to stand out in crowded inboxes.

Peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the best ways to broaden your campaign's reach and engage your active, loyal supporters at the same time.

Here's why using peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the top strategies for #GivingTuesday and year-end fundraising.

  • It exponentially increases your network — your fundraisers spread the word to their friends, family, and colleagues, whom you would never have reached otherwise.
  • Social media prioritizes individuals' posts in the newsfeed — above organizations' posts — so your fundraisers will organically get more impressions and engagement when they share their personal fundraising page on social media.
  • Individuals' emails will stand out in a crowded inbox — above the many emails sent directly from organizations. People are more likely to open an email from a friend.
  • You'll drive more donations: Peer-to-peer fundraising tends to drive about two times as much as crowdfunding.
  • Peer-to-peer is a primary driver of new donor acquisition. SOS Children's Villages shared that 75 percent of their new donors all year came through their year-end peer-to-peer fundraiser.

Ready to get started? Ask your current donors, board, staff, and volunteers to fundraise for you. Reach out early to recruit your fundraisers and make sure you provide them with plenty of resources that will help them spread the word and fundraise online (a fundraising toolkit is a great option).

Once you bring them onboard, you'll see your reach expand as each fundraiser connects to their own networks.

personal fundraising page for Giving Tuesday showing a personal message, amount raised, goal, number of donors, and days remaining

Fiver Children's Foundation has been using peer-to-peer fundraising for years to stand out on #GivingTuesday.

4. Run a Virtual Walkathon or Physical Challenge

Virtual walkathons, runs, and other physical challenges are some of the most popular fundraising events we've been seeing on CauseVox this fall.

We see that these types of virtual activity challenges get people engaged more than the typical event — your supporters aren't just giving to you, they're participating in something for the cause.

One of the best ways to stand out is to have a unique challenge that's related to your organization or cause. Take Walk the State from Parkinson's Nebraska, for example.

Instead of simply asking their supporters to walk a 5K, they tied their event to the state of Nebraska itself, asking teams of four to walk a total of 455 miles: That's the distance across Nebraska. Walks and runs are some of the easiest events to move to a virtual format while we're still in a time of uncertainty: All you have to do is add some creativity!

fundraising page for Walk the State Challenge showing amount raised, goal, days remaining, and number of donors

This fall, you can easily host your walkathon or similar physical challenge virtually. Consider tying your goal or distance to a number that is important to your organization or work to help it stick out.

Raise More Online in Fall 2021

As we round out 2021, your goal is to create sustainable, predictable fundraising. Ironically, this means that the best choices are those that are flexible so that you can run them whether you're in person or back in lockdown.

No matter how you set up your fundraising, you'll want to focus on personal connections. With the isolation of the past year and a half, everyone wants to feel more connected. Give them that opportunity in your fundraising and you'll see huge success.

About the Author

Candace Cody is the Manager of Content + Education at CauseVox and is passionate about seeing nonprofits flourish. Over the past six years, she's worked with thousands of nonprofit professionals to help them adopt and grow digital fundraising at their organizations through online courses, webinars, e-books, blog posts, the Digital Fundraising Summit virtual conference, and more.

Additional Resources

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