Nonprofit Fundraising Strategies: How to Raise More Without Stressing

By Lisa Hirst Carnes | April 2021


Fundraising is the foundational activity that allows a nonprofit to carry on, grow, and pursue its mission. In 2018, Americans donated over $292 billion. It also seems that the pandemic of 2020 didn't reduce donations. Nonprofit Times reports that, in the first half of 2020, charitable giving increased by almost 7.5% compared to the same period in 2019. However, to tap into this widespread generosity, you need effective nonprofit fundraising strategies.

Fundraising Challenges

Despite the large sums of money that people donate to nonprofits, there are quite a few challenges to overcome for fundraising.


No matter what sector you're in, you have lots of competition. Smaller organizations often must compete with much larger and well-established nonprofits with huge advertising budgets. According to the National Center For Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 nonprofits registered in the United States. Even the most generous donors can only give to a certain number of organizations. You need a way to cut through the noise and get your message heard.

Lack of Trust

Trust in all types of institutions, including politics, corporations, and media is at an all-time low. Unfortunately, this widespread distrust also extends to nonprofits. The Edelman Trust Barometer, which tracks public trust across various issues and organizations, found that trust of nonprofits has dropped to 50%, even lower than for-profit companies, which scored 54%. Some of this is probably due to scandals that expose dishonest fundraising schemes. While this only accounts for a small portion of charitable organizations, it nonetheless has an impact on trust.

Planning and StrategY

You need to plan your time and allocation of resources efficiently. This includes:

  • Set fundraising goals.
  • Review past campaigns and set benchmarks.
  • Planning events, both on and offline.
  • Advertising
  • Creating content for your blog and social media.
  • Managing staff.

Making Your Website a Better Tool for Fundraising

Your website is the central headquarters for your nonprofit. It's the first impression most people will get of your organization. Therefore, it's extremely important to make your website an effective tool for building your brand, increasing membership, and encouraging people to donate. The following are some essential elements to emphasize on your website.

Prominent Calls-to-Action

People who visit your website, like everyone else, are busy and impatient. They aren't going to spend a lot of time searching for information, especially when it comes to making a donation. Make sure that the call-to-action (CTA) easy to see. One simple tip to make sure people notice your CTA is to place it above the fold (the top half of the page). You can't always count on visitors scrolling down a page, so it's best to keep important elements above the fold.

Make It Easy to Donate

In addition to a clear CTA, you want to make the whole process as quick and simple as possible. This includes:

  • Keep fields to a minimum. The longer it takes to fill out a form and the more information you ask for, the more potential donors you'll lose. You can seek to learn more about your audience at other times. When they're ready to donate, make it fast and painless.
  • Offer multiple payment options. The more payment options (e.g. payment apps such as PayPal, Stripe, etc.) you offer, the easier it is for people to donate.
  • Suggest donation amounts. If you have boxes for donors to check, you make it easier for them. It's also good to have an option for recurring donations. Telling people what each donation level can accomplish is also helpful.
  • Make sure the donation process is mobile-friendly.

Show Your Impact

Share your events, goals, and stories, so visitors get a clear idea of what you're about and see what you've accomplished. Both stories and metrics are useful, in different ways, for getting your message across. Stories personalize your mission while metrics convey the hard numbers pertaining to your goals and accomplishments.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of the best ways to stay engaged with your members. Keep these tips in mind.

Segment Your List

You don't want to send the same emails to everyone. For example, long-time donors shouldn't get the same messages as newbies. You may want to segment your list by geography, interests, donation history, or other factors.

Use Personalization

Personalized messages are opened at a significantly higher rate. HubSpot identifies message personalization as the top tactic marketers can use to increase engagement. Email marketing software and services make it simple to address subscribers by name.

Test Important Factors

You should always run A/B or split tests on important email metrics, such as:

  • Subject lines.
  • Layouts.
  • Time of day and day of the week.
  • CTA links in the email. For example, text links vs buttons.
  • The body of the message. Test different language and subheadings.


Tell Stories

Email, like your website, is great for storytelling. At the same time, it's best to keep it short and sweet as most people aren't going to want to read a long page. One thing you can do is tease readers with a summary of a story that's on your website, enticing them to click on the link.

Social Media

Almost everyone uses social media today, making it an essential way to connect with your members and donors.

Be Consistent

Be consistent with your social media presence. Social media is very competitive and if you want to get noticed you need to post on a regular schedule. Choose your platforms wisely. Rather than trying to post everywhere, focus on the channels where your audience is most active.

Engage With Your Followers

If you only use social media to solicit donations. it will be a turnoff for your followers. Rather, keep people updated on your activities. By discussing problems and what you're doing to solve them, you'll indirectly motivate them to help. Monitor your pages and answer questions and comments. You can also facilitate engagement by asking questions and asking for your followers' opinions and experiences.

Leverage Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a way to leverage the influence of your members to raise funds on your behalf. You can set up campaigns on Facebook as well as on sites made especially for nonprofits such as Fundly or CharityEngine.

Create Videos

Videos are a powerful way to convey the urgency of your work. Display videos on your website as well as on YouTube, Facebook, or other video sharing sites. You can show videos of past events (both live and virtual) to draw attention to upcoming events. You can also post videos from events on your website as a fundraising tool.

Paid Advertising

Paid ads are one of the fastest ways to get website traffic and raise donations. At the same time, you have to be careful about ad spending and targeting.

  • Set up retargeting so your ads are seen by people who have already interacted with your website.
  • Make use of Google Ad Grants if you haven't already done so.
  • Facebook advertising can be helpful if you're active on this platform.

Virtual Events

Events have traditionally been a strategy for fundraising. With last year's pandemic, of course, live events have been off the table. However, there are still options. Virtual events are, in many ways, just as effective as live events for getting attention to your organization. In fact, there are some advantages such as lower costs and the potential to reach a wider audience.
Enlist Help With Your Fundraising Strategy

You need a custom nonprofit fundraising strategy that works for you. It starts with a website and includes other elements we discussed above, such as events, social media, and email marketing. Identifying and implementing the most effective solutions for your organization can be a daunting task. If you want expert assistance, ArcStone will help you implement a fundraising strategy that will help you raise more money without stress. To schedule a call, contact us.

Topics: Nonprofit Help