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3 rising trends in fundraising innovations

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New year, new fundraising strategy. Are you making the most of the latest trends in fundraising to elevate your nonprofit in 2022?

While there are risks to embracing new fundraising innovations, the rewards are often well worth taking the chance. This year, we’re seeing those innovations most clearly in the digital realm—from embracing a digital-first approach with exciting new virtual fundraising ideas to scaling up communications sustainably with automation.

Here we will dig into three trends to keep an eye on in 2022.

The third shift in fundraising

First, there was fundraising by direct mail. Then, there was fundraising by website. Now, we’re embracing the third shift in fundraising—social 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 both inspire participants to reach their fundraising goals and create a digital community that the nonprofit can tap into long after the campaign is complete.

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!

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 Challenges. But, organizations can also host Repeat Challenges on Facebook—that is, hosting additional fundraisers with the same groups from previous campaigns. For a full breakdown of how to host a Challenge on Facebook, check out this GoodUnited guide to social fundraising.

Digital-first fundraising

If the past two years have shown us anything, it’s that while in-person fundraising events can be moved to the digital sphere (and, with incredibly short notice), the process can also be clunky. In 2022, consider adjusting your mindset around virtual fundraising to instead plan campaigns with a digital mindset from the start.

Digital-first fundraising refers to campaigns that are conceptualized to take place online from the start. A digital-first fundraising mindset has numerous benefits, including the ability to reach new, expanded audiences and insulation from changes in public health guidelines.

A few highly successful examples, pulled from the latest Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty, include:

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s “Play Live.” This virtual gaming peer-to-peer fundraiser saw a 46.9% increase in revenue in 2020, during a year when many campaigns saw a marked decrease.
  • Children’s Miracle Network’s “Extra Life.” Another video gaming fundraiser, Extra Life, saw a 17.3% increase in revenue in 2020.

To begin brainstorming ideas to include digital-first fundraisers into your strategy for 2022, check out this GoodUnited guide full of virtual fundraising event ideas. Whether a social fundraiser, a virtual book club, or even a series of virtual classes, there are numerous ideas that might appeal to your audience.

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. Building off of our social fundraising conversation, let’s focus on the third rising trend.

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:

  • 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.

That said, 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. 

Partner with a provider that specializes in creating automated messaging sequences that are realistic and responsive to your supporters’ needs. You should also seek a partner that conducts regular optimization efforts to make sure your automation campaigns are performing to their highest potential.

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. 

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  • Stacy Drake says:

    February 24, 2022 11:46 am

    I wish that many webinars and seminars would sometimes consider the non-profits in small towns that are working so hard in the community to make a difference. It seems that we are always given information and percentages that are from large or nationally known companies. We have been very successful in our local fundraising efforts and have been very creative at times. But we do not have a large board of directors or funds to be spent on staff and possible advertising. Many of us have just volunteers who work so hard to help make a difference.

    I can say that some information, even from large companies can be helpful to us small frys but it would be nice if you would devote time to let small non-profits share their stories and how they operate. Great way to network on a large platform for the small non-profits.

    I also find that many times when attending webinars or seminars it's the same old information just presented by a different person. It is very refreshing when someone comes along with new information and a new insight.

  • Nighat Marriam Sultana says:

    February 18, 2022 12:27 am

    Thank you.

  • Susan Read says:

    February 17, 2022 6:22 pm

    Hello, Annetta,

    You may wish to reach out to Facebook and request the "Donate Button" for your Facebook page. Facebook requires additional information to obtain that button for your Facebook page. If Facebook approves you as an active 501(c)(3) organization, the funds submitted via the Donate Button will land in your bank account within 2 weeks. And no fees. We think of it as cash donations via social media connections. And, as this article discusses, it is a way to increase your individual donations. Many donors will engage with your organization by signing up on your Website after donating via Facebook. All the Best!!

  • Annetta Forrer says:

    February 17, 2022 12:42 pm

    We get donations from Facebook that are paid to us through Network for Good. Sometimes there are a number donations on the same day and I assume it's a challenge or in honor of someone, but we don't get the contact information. That means I can't send an acknowledgement and can't add the names to our donor data base.

    We've talked several times with Network for Good and Facebook, but my understanding is that Facebook protects the identity of donors, so won't share them with Network for Good or us. Unless I have a way of thanking the donors, Facebook fundraising is not on my preferred way of raising money.