Are You Using These Rising Fundraising Innovations? Top 3 Trends

Are you making the most of the top trends in fundraising? Explore social giving, repeat fundraisers, and automated messaging in this comprehensive guide.

March 18, 2023
Contact our team today to elevate your social fundraising strategy.

While there are risks when embracing new fundraising innovations, the rewards are often well worth taking the chance. Whether to increase your nonprofit’s fundraising capacity, future-proof your operations, or better connect with your audience in methods they prefer, shaking up your fundraising strategy can reap major benefits.

This year, we’re seeing fundraising innovations take place in the digital realm. Nonprofits are embracing a digital-first approach with exciting new virtual fundraising campaign types and scaling up their communications with messaging automation. 

In this guide, we’ll explore three rising digital fundraising innovations to consider incorporating into your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. These include:

At GoodUnited, we’ve spent years researching digital-first and social fundraising, so we have a first-hand view of how these trends cam impact your nonprofit’s efforts. Let’s dive in.

The Third Shift in Fundraising

We’re watching a shift in how supporters prefer to give to nonprofits occur in real-time. First, there was direct mail-based giving. Then, there was web-based giving through online fundraising pages on nonprofit websites. Now, the third shift in fundraising is coming to light with digital-first social fundraising.

This graphic illustrates the third shift in fundraising.

Social fundraising refers to fundraising campaigns on social media networks. Currently, three social networks have built-in fundraising capabilities: TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, the latter two owned by parent company Meta.

Social fundraising tools first emerged with Facebook’s “Donate” button in the mid-2010s, eventually growing to include birthday fundraisers and personal nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Now in 2022, the stand-out trend in social fundraising is Challenges on Facebook.

Challenges on Facebook are time-bound peer-to-peer campaigns that take place on the social network. Here’s how it works:

  1. Participants learn about the Challenge fundraiser and sign up to join. 
  2. When they join, participants are added to a corresponding group on Facebook and create fundraising campaigns using Facebook’s social fundraising tools.
  3. During the Challenge, participants complete a specific task—such as walking a certain number of steps, running a number of miles, or completing a calisthenics workout— each day of the campaign. At the same time, participants use their personal Challenge fundraising campaigns to raise peer-to-peer funds from their networks.
  4. Participants “check in” to the Challenge group each day, chatting with one another about their progress and sharing encouragement. Your nonprofit can also chime in here with helpful tips and tricks!

There are a few reasons why Challenges on Facebook are so powerful. First, they move fundraising in-channel, so you can engage with supporters where they’re already spending time— on Facebook. This convenience alone can increase the participation in these campaigns.

Further, Challenges on Facebook are so powerful because they expose nonprofits to an entirely new audience of support. Check out the data from American Cancer Society’s Challenges on Facebook to see what we mean:

  • 443,078 new leads generated, with over 95% of Challenge participants being new to the organization
  • 61,000 fundraisers created at a $22.41 cost to acquire (compared to the industry standard $600 cost to acquire a peer-to-peer registrant)
  • 23,000 donations raised in a single day, breaking Facebook’s record for the most money raised by a single organization in one day

These are the results of hosting one series of three Challenges.

How GoodUnited Can Help

GoodUnited can help plan your nonprofit’s Challenges on Facebook from start to finish. This includes services such as:

  • Developing a strategic plan to promote your Challenge using Facebook Ads.
  • Monitoring and managing your Challenge group to ensure the messaging is motivational and on-brand for your campaign.
  • Creating a fundraising dashboard that takes Facebook’s raw data (notoriously hard to decipher) and turns it into actionable insights for your team.
  • Access to the latest innovations in social fundraising, including tools like an Activity Tracker and fundraising teams which bring P2P functionality to the social sphere.
  • Ongoing optimizations to ensure your Challenge strategy is performing at its highest ability.

Our partners have raised $1 billion with social fundraising, and it’s just getting started. 

Repeat Fundraisers

In the previous section, we discussed how Challenges on Facebook are powerful because they rely on in-channel engagement and expose nonprofits to an entirely new audience of support. However, did you know that Challenges can also be used to create a repeatable, predictable stream of fundraising revenue?

During a Challenge on Facebook, you create an online community via Facebook group and you use that community to engage with participants and help them reach their goals. With a repeat Challenge, you host additional fundraisers within the same community you created for the previous event.

For example, let’s say your nonprofit’s mission is to advance brain cancer research. For the month of January, you host a “New Year’s Resolution” fitness-based Challenge on Facebook. Then, you reopen that same Facebook group in May and host a new Challenge alongside Brain Tumor Awareness Month. The same participants from the January Challenge participate, and they invite additional friends to join in the newest Challenge.

This graphic illustrates repeat Challenges on Facebook.

There are a number of benefits that come with hosting repeat Challenges on Facebook, including:

  • Improved relationships. As you continue engaging with the same Challenge participants for subsequent campaigns, they’ll develop a stronger connection to your nonprofit and cause. This can elevate the lifetime value of the supporter as they’ll give more to your organization over time and potentially inspire others to do the same.
  • Increased revenue. As participants complete successive Challenges, they become more successful in their fundraising efforts. We’ve found that there is a $101, or 54%, revenue increase for supporters when they complete their second Challenge.
  • Decreased acquisition costs. With repeat Challenges, you combine both existing and new supporters to continue growing your social audience over time.

To successfully host repeat Challenges throughout the year, you need to learn about why your previous participants were drawn to the event and what would inspire them to return for additional events. Luckily, the team at GoodUnited can assist with that. 

How GoodUnited Can Help

Our team will not only conduct ongoing optimizations for your Challenge campaigns, but also conduct testing efforts to understand how to best position repeat Challenges down the line. This testing takes place in a few different ways, including polling and questions shared in Challenge groups and one-on-one questions asked in Messenger.

The goal of these questions is to understand what inspired participants to join an initial Challenge and what will inspire them to continue returning. This includes questions such as:

  • Why did you join the Challenge?
  • What is your connection to our cause?
  • How did you enjoy the Challenge on Facebook as compared to in-person events?
  • What was your favorite part of the experience?
  • What do you think we should change for future campaigns?

With these answers, you can tailor your repeat Challenges to not only engage current participants but also entice new participants to join.

Automated Messaging

The clunky automated messaging experiences of the early 2010s are a thing of the past. Now, nonprofits can use messaging automation in email, text messaging, and even social media chat.

Conversational messaging on social media refers to one-on-one conversations between a representative of your nonprofit and one of your supporters. In 2022, you can automate these conversations with customized messaging sequences to scale up your relationship-building efforts with social supporters without physically pressing “send” on every chat.

For example, let’s say a Challenge participant started chatting with your nonprofit’s account via Facebook Messenger. You can then share:

This graphic illustrates automated messaging.

  • Tips for reaching their fundraising goals, such as seeking corporate giving opportunities, sharing personal stories, and posting regular updates.
  • Educational information about your nonprofit, including future ways to get involved and blog posts about your cause.
  • Encouragement and gratitude along their journey.
  • Questions and surveys to learn more about why they’re supporting your campaign and how they’d like to engage in the future.

It’s important to recognize that there can be pitfalls of automated messaging when not implemented effectively—after all, many of us have received awkward automated emails addressed to “Dear **CUSTOMER**” or typed to a chatbot that failed to answer our questions. So, how can GoodUnited help your team avoid the pitfalls of automated messaging?

How GoodUnited Can Help

We can help you create a successful automated messaging strategy from start to finish, ensuring supporters have a positive experience with your nonprofit through the entire process. 

First, we’ll work directly with your team to create a custom automated messaging sequence that not only aligns with the spirit of your nonprofit, but is responsive to your supporters. It will feel as though they’re talking with a person, and not an automated tool.

From there, we’ll post thank-you messages on 100% of the fundraising campaigns (whether independent campaigns or those associated with a Challenge) started on behalf of your nonprofit. These messages will invite supporters to connect with your team on Messenger and are how supporters opt-in to the sequence.

Lastly, we’ll conduct ongoing optimization efforts to ensure your messaging sequence is meeting your nonprofit’s goals. Our messaging sequences have a 94% open rate (as opposed to emails, which have a sub-15% open rate), which speaks to the power of these optimization efforts.

Whether you’re conceptualizing digital-first campaigns, incorporating social elements into your strategy, or tackling a full messaging automation overhaul, each of these innovations can level up your strategy. 

To learn more about how GoodUnited can help take your strategy to the next level, connect with our team today. In the meantime, explore the following additional resources:

Contact our team to elevate your social fundraising strategy.