by Sam McClenney, Research & Special Projects

As we head into the New Year, nonprofit leaders likely have a number of things on their mind, but one topic is a common refrain: how do we not just match but increase fund development in 2015?

Before the technology age, nonprofit leaders would have likely prioritized success rates among high impact donors. Now, a bevy of tools are at the disposal of nonprofits. Websites, blogs, social media, apps and video content have opened up seemingly unlimited paths to fund development for the nonprofit sector.

Does that mean fundraising is easier now than it was twenty years ago? Hardly. In fact, all these options have created a new problem – more strategies than can be managed efficiently. So which are the best to use and how should they be used? Is there a combination of tools that will open up the flood gates to unseen levels of donations and grants? These questions need to be answered if nonprofits want to stay ahead.

There are currently over 1.4 million non-profits in the United Stated, and searching through the noise of them all is nearly impossible. However, Adam Bluemner of Find Accounting Software recently published the findings from its 2014 Fundraising Technology Trends Study, and the content is fascinating. Through interviews with 142 fundraisers, Bluemner highlights a number of best practices in web communication.

  • Create a Blog and Video Content – Almost every nonprofit has a website as well as both Twitter and Facebook accounts. To say that they are necessary is a given. However, according to the study, blogs were only used by 15% of nonprofits, while video content was used by just 16% of nonprofits. One might assume that these tools are less useful in generating funds, but in fact the opposite is true. Bloggers were 34% more likely to report a growth in their organizations revenue in 2013 than non-bloggers. Nonprofits using video content were 47% more likely to report a growth in their organization’s contributed revenue in 2013 than those that didn’t use it.
  • Become a Multi-Channel Fundraiser – The cliché “strength in numbers” is typically lost on anybody, but it is particularly applicable to fundraising. The following chart provided by Bluemner’s study does the simple job of showing the correlation between the number of web channels that a nonprofit uses and the level of success it has in fundraising:

71% of nonprofits grew their revenue when they used five or more web channels for fundraising. Compare this to the 59% that grew using only one channel. The more channels utilized, the more likely someone is going to hear your message.

  • Don’t Stop at Just the Web – Technology has made web-based communication a great way to connect with potential donors. But what about in-person meetings, email, postal mail or even the too-often neglected telephone? Those are still very effective as well. In fact, the more of them you use, the more effective you are.

Consider these final two statistics: those that used one channel had only an 18% chance of growing their revenue. When the number of channels jumps to seven, that percentage increases to a staggering 82%. The message is clear: it is time for nonprofits to start diversifying how they raise funds.

Generating ever-increasing fund development outcomes is difficult; success in 2014 only makes it seem more difficult to top yourself in 2015. The competition for donor dollars has never been more fierce – indeed, the study noted that 47% of nonprofit surveyed saw no growth at all from 2012 to 2013.  By diversifying communication channels, nonprofits stand a better chance of increasing hard-won support in 2015 and beyond.

Image credits: Featured Image (123RF – Igor Stevanovic)