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Fundraising tips

How to Get Donations: 10 Effective Tips for Fundraisers

February 23, 2024

That feeling is incredible. When a community of donors responds to your fundraising efforts, there’s endless potential for impact.

Real change requires funding, and people are ready to give when the right opportunity arises. Charitable organizations who have confidence in how to get donations from these passionate donors have the best chance to sustain their missions.

Fundraising for nonprofits can be intimidating. It's normal to experience some hesitation about making donation requests, especially in a turbulent economy. This is your one-stop shop for effective tips to master your approach and raise more donations.

How to get donations for your nonprofit

As you think about how to get donations for your organization, you might wonder who to ask for donations, how much to ask for, and what to say. It’s helpful to start with the top sources of donations for nonprofits.

Let’s break down how your nonprofit can foster relationships with individuals, foundations, and companies to fund your mission.

How to get donations from individuals

Many fundraisers will start the process of making donation requests with individuals. People with a strong desire to give and a connection to your cause will often respond with generosity when you ask for donations in a thoughtful way.

Each individual that decides to give will become a member of your broader donor community.

Creating that loyal group of supporters is the foundation of any strong fundraising strategy. 

The key to individual fundraising is knowing your donors. Learning what draws people to your cause will help you tailor your message and your future supporter acquisition strategy.

How individuals can donate to nonprofits

Setting up an online store is easy and 100% free with Zeffy's eCommerce tools. Collect payments online or in person through our Tap to Pay solution on your iPhone.

How to get donations from companies

Companies offer partnerships, advocacy, and collaborations that help nonprofits raise more.

Many companies are looking for nonprofits to work alongside as part of corporate giving programs. With 71% of employees saying a work culture of charitable giving is essential, there’s more incentive to partner up.

It’s a good idea to find companies that align to your nonprofit’s values. Check out all of the ways to work with companies below.

How companies can contribute to nonprofits

How to get donations from foundations

Public and private foundations are another avenue to get donations on a larger scale. They offer several types of nonprofit grants that support important missions.

Most grants will require your nonprofit to meet specific criteria, and complete an application to be considered. That's why it's smart to check in often for grant opportunities that fit your current and future fundraising needs.

Here’s a quick list of where to find nonprofit grants.

How foundations can contribute to nonprofits

10 best tips to get donations for a fundraiser

Now that you know the various ways you can fund your mission, let’s talk about how to ask for donations from the right people at the right time. These 10 tips will help you stand out to raise money amidst a downward trend in average nonprofit fundraising revenue in recent years.

1. Try out various channels

The first step to getting donations is understanding where to reach people. Each channel has a unique vibe and audience to understand.

It's a good idea to find the balance between using a multi-channel donor acquisition approach, and not trying to take them all on at once.

Examples of channels to ask for donations

2. Personalize your donation appeals

With clarity around the channels you want to use, you can get more strategic about how to get donations on each of them. Personalization is the key to breaking through the noise and making a memorable first impression with donation requests. 

You might start with key messaging for your donation appeals, but it goes a long way when you can make each recipient feel like they matter. While you're asking people to give their time or money to your cause, it's crucial to maintain a human touch. 

The relationships you establish from the start will determine the potential for long-term support from your donor community.

A few reminders as you start to reach out to ask for donations

3. Make your donation requests strong

The last step to master your initial outreach for donations is to make sure your call to action is clear. You don't want to leave your recipients without any doubt about what you want them to do, how to do it, or why it matters.

Clarity is key as you determine how to get donations from each touchpoint you have with potential donors. On every email, caption, post, web page, and flyer, you want to include the following information:

When it comes to your call to action, keep it short and sweet. Your message shouldn't come across as a sales pitch, but should leave people informed and ready.

4. Diversify fundraising streams

Fundraising campaigns help you offer new and existing donors more ways to give outside of a direct website donation. While your donation page is available year-round, campaigns help you call on prospective donors with a creative and timely invitation to support a specific goal.

Some people love to passively give through your nonprofit’s website as they feel called to. Others look for the incentive of a campaign around a big giving day like New Year’s Eve. 

Hosting a few different fundraising events throughout the year can build excitement across all members of your community. It also gives you a natural point of outreach to re-engage donors to come give again.

An example of diversified annual fundraising plan

Campaigns look different for every nonprofit, so feel free to put a unique spin on yours. As you measure the results of each fundraiser, you can take what existing donors enjoy most and use that to further customize your annual plans.

Check out over 101 fundraising ideas for nonprofit organizations.

5. Keep the donation process simple

Regardless of how someone comes across your donation form, it should always be a smooth process when they arrive. Any friction points can stop someone from completing their gift and impact their perception of your nonprofit.

It’s helpful to think about the modern experiences we interact with daily through popular apps and services. You can bring those same elements of a fast, intuitive, and straightforward process to your donation experience.

The best way to find areas of opportunity within your donation process is to walk through it yourself. As you make your way through the various steps to take action, note how a donor might navigate and what could make it even better.

A short checklist to help supporters donate easily

Grab more quick tips to create an effective donation page to convert more people to donors.

6. Encourage repeat donations

It’s a great feeling when you ask for donations and see a successful outcome. While the excitement of one-time gifts is real, it’s never too soon to think about converting those gifts into recurring donations.

Monthly donations increased by 11% across the sector, accounting for 28% of all online nonprofit revenue. Recurring donations offer a consistent income stream that sustains you through any fundraising dips throughout the year.

A recurring donation may be smaller, but the consistency over time adds up to bigger impact. The option to spread out a charitable contribution can also appeal to supporters who are more financially conscious. 

Recurring donor acquisition is all about building relationships, and the following ideas can help you get started.

A few ways to grow a recurring donor base

7. Focus on major donor acquisition

As you build your fundraising efforts around sustainable income, major donations are a another area to focus. Major donors are individuals or organizations who give far more than the average donation.

A major donation is typically given less frequently, but create more potential for your mission. It’s important to nurture your connections with those who have the financial means to provide more support.

To start the process of major donor acquisition, start by understanding your supporters' average donation amount. From there, you can see when and from whom any donations are typically given that would give you insight into your major donors.

Like your initial ask for donations, you want to personalize any communication to these generous individuals and help them feel like a true extension of your programs and goals.

How nonprofits can acquire more major donors

Zeffy’s free donor management solution securely stores and organizes your donor and member data so you can easily understand and engage with key supporters.

8. Create strong relationships at events

Fundraising events are an excellent opportunity to build your community of new donors and advocates in a more intentional way. Events help introduce people to your cause, team, and other passionate supporters.

Your event can be as big or small as you'd like based on what your goals are. It’s all about the experience you provide and how it makes people feel.

Event formats to consider

In addition to charging a registration fee for tickets, you can sell merchandise and share a QR code for attendees to scan to make additional charitable donations throughout the day. You could also run a peer-to-peer fundraiser leading up to the event to boost your fundraising totals.

Read everything you need to know to plan your fundraising event.

9. Follow up with meaning 

Nonprofit organizations must send an automatic tax receipt to donors in addition to an annual IRS form of all charitable contributions. Ending the donation experience there is missing a big opportunity to show your appreciation.

A genuine thank you message that follows your tax receipt goes a long way with donors who are likely used to the communication ending there.

A follow up strategy for donor retention

ChatGPT can make this process easier to manage. Check out a few prompts we put together to write your donor thank you emails.

10. Always leave more ways to give

Getting charitable donations is all about leaving the door open for people to take action in a way that resonates. When you give people more ways to create impact, they’re more likely to give again and share the opportunities with others.

Any fundraising message, campaign, or interaction can include another way to get involved.

Ideas to get donors to give again

Case study: How Peak Women's Care raised more than $721,000 with a simple 3-step strategy

Peak Women's Care is a nonprofit organization passionate about reaching women in their community. They provide resources and information to help women feel supported through an unplanned pregnancy.

Peak Women's Care turned to Zeffy's 100% free fundraising platform in October 2023 to get the donations that make their mission possible. By February 2024, the organization has saved over $36,000 in hidden fees that other platforms would charge and raised over $721,000 for the cause. 

Learn how to get donations and see strong results below with their simple 3-step strategy.

1. Offer straightforward ways to contribute

The Peak Women's Care website is built with donor acquisition in mind. Visitors don’t need to look far to find a ‘Donate’ option on the main navigation and a bolded ‘Donate’ button in the page's header.

In a short scroll, the home page clarifies how a visitor can donate and where the money will go. From there, they arrive to the organization’s main online donation page, and find a clear "Give Now" button that takes them to a mobile-optimized pop up donation form.

The donation form pop up helps donors:

2. Create emotional fundraising appeals

Visitors seeking more information about Peak Women's Care can instantly feel the impact they are about to make. The language that proceeds each donation button or call to action is designed to appeal to the emotions of a potential supporter. 

The website offers more information on how donations translate to medical care and supplies for women in need. Each page features sentimental imagery that reflects the organization's mission and further emphasizes the importance of giving back to the cause.

3. Continue the relationship

Peak Women's Care knows the value of relationship building, and it shows. They invite anyone who lands on their online donation page to opt into a relationship with the cause through a simple newsletter sign-up form.

Capturing contact information from new donors and passive visitors helps build community, even if someone is not yet ready to give. A newsletter helps people learn about upcoming opportunities to support.

What are the best platforms to get donations for a fundraiser?

Zeffy

Zeffy is the only zero-fee fundraising platform built specifically for nonprofit organizations. With Zeffy, your nonprofit can host a variety of campaigns and encourage donors with the simplest way to donate.

Donor management tools and email templates help you deliver more personalized fundraising efforts and make informed decisions about how to get donations based on your unique donor community. Zeffy empowers you to feel confident that 100% of your donations will go to your nonprofit and not costly fees.

Key features of Zeffy

“Prior to 2021, SAT was soliciting very few donations annually. With Zeffy's unique payout method that allows us to keep 100% of our donations, we started our very first annual fundraising campaign. Zeffy has been an essential partner in the success of our campaigns. In one year, we raised over $100,000 in donations!” - Jean-Philippe Alepins, Director of Public and Private Finance at the Society for Arts and Technology

PayPal

PayPal is a payment processing solution that can help nonprofit organizations collect online donations. Customized PayPal donation buttons can integrate right into a nonprofit's website.

All online transactions are managed in PayPal and are subject to donation fees.

Key features of PayPal:

Stripe

Stripe for nonprofits is an option to process online donations for any organization with a 501(c)(3) status. Stripe is a payment processor built for businesses of all sizes and offers a smooth transaction experience on mobile and desktop.

Donations made through Stripe are subject to transaction fees.

Key features of Stripe

Venmo

Venmo for nonprofits is a way to accept online donations quickly and safely. The mobile-first payment processor is available to organizations with a 501(c)(3) status through a Venmo charity profile.

Key features of Venmo

Platform to Get Donations Pricing and Fees

Zeffy

Zeffy is free for nonprofits. They give $100, you get $100.

Stripe

Discounted fee structure of 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction for nonprofits that process 80% or more donations through the platform

Paypal

PayPal nonprofit donation fees are 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction

Venmo

1.9% + $0.10 per transaction

The bottom line: How to get donations for your nonprofit

You're never alone as you determine how to get donations for your organization. You can feel confident about your fundraising strategy the right donation sources, practical tips, and a scalable platform on your side. 

Whether you're a first-time fundraiser or looking to refresh your approach, the functionality you need to build your loyal community with more donors is always free with Zeffy.