Online fundraising

Nearing the end of what feels like the strangest and most uncertain year we’ve ever had, you may be asking yourself, “Will things ever be the same?”

And while our day-to-day lives may eventually return to normal, fundraising as we know it is changing. We’re excited to share with you a few of the most effective fundraising strategies we’ve seen this year, along with the latest research and trends from across the nonprofit industry.

Agility is essential

Whether learning how to handle the tragic bushfires that spread across Australia earlier this year or navigating the unprecedented challenges introduced by COVID-19, 2020 presented an unexpected change to our organisations and our lives. 

But our nonprofit sector is the definition of resilience. In June, we held our first annual #SpiritOfFundraising competition, where nonprofits submitted their most inspirational stories of social good. 

A standout submission arrived from Cottage by the Sea, which works to give disadvantaged young people inspiration, fun, and opportunity through short-term care within a holiday environment.

Faced with the challenges of COVID-19, the organisation expanded its mission to help many more than its usual beneficiaries by delivering food to the community’s most vulnerable people. Here’s what they learned and what you can try out too:

1. Remain open to new ways of working

“We adapted and acted quickly to make a difference in our own community. When it was apparent our camp program would be on hold indefinitely, we embraced a new way of helping.”

2. Provide frequent updates

“We used social media and the local papers to let people know about our food relief service. This enabled us to reach vulnerable residents who were being financially impacted by COVID-19.” 

3. Leverage your team’s unique skill set 

“We have learned that our staff are amazingly talented and resilient. They have established new operational procedures and delivered an entirely new service to a new cohort of people in need.”

Cottage by the Sea’s story of resilience reminds us that, above all else, adapting in the face of hardship and striving to make a difference will carry our missions far into the future. 

Connection is crucial

It’s vital your communication is attentive, caring and personal to those who care the most and make up your strongest support system: your donors. 

Empathy and attentiveness 

The unique social environment of 2020 enables impactful relationship-building, both with those who can give and those simply invested in your mission.

While many face-to-face fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed this year, you can still reach your supporters quickly via phone, gain feedback through an online survey or email and enable them to share their commitment to your mission on social media.

While you may not necessarily see an immediate financial benefit, you’ll plant seeds that will grow well into the future.

Hyper-personalise your supporter journey

Contributing to a cause can be a deeply personal experience, but it doesn’t always feel that way on a website or email accommodating thousands of donors.

Andrew Sabatino of Donor Republic explains how providing fundraisers personalised URLs (PURLs) can transform a regular online experience into an unforgettable one:

“When a donor receives a PURL-based EDM from your organisation, the information inside is personalised to that specific donor with links that lead to a customised landing page built for them.

From the donor’s perspective, it feels like you know them, you get them, and you’ve written each piece of communication for them. Do you think that would make them feel valued, appreciated and excited about giving again and again? You bet it would!”

Effortless giving is a must

The data in Nonprofit Tech for Good’s 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report shows how online media has profoundly affected the way people give. 

A massive 89% of surveyed Australian and New Zealand donors prefer to give online with a credit or debit card, PayPal or bank transfer, while a combined 78% of donors say email, social media, and websites are the mediums that most inspire them to give. 

Both rates are the highest in the world, but the most head-turning statistics come from a look into the years ahead. Donors specifically reported three methods with which they most want to give in the future:

1. A gamified mobile app that allows two-tap giving 

2. Facial recognition giving via smartphone 

3. Point-and-tap giving through internet-connected television 

The takeaway is clear

Donors want to give. But the methods need to be convenient, personal, fresh, fast and fun. This may require you to expand on your mission. Get creative. Bend the rules of traditional fundraising.

But it doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow the strategies here and you’ll set your organisation up for success in this new era of fundraising. We can’t wait to see the change you’ll make! 

Brian Isaac is the Senior Content Coordinator at Blackbaud Pacific and is an expert in peer-to-peer fundraising. He’s passionate about writing, design and helping charities learn from supporters about how they can better achieve their goals.

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive look into the future of fundraising in the expanded version of this piece. If you’d like a full copy of the report once it’s released, please email