Fundraising & Development

Increase your digital fluency with these key digital fundraising tools

February 15, 2021 Nonprofits Decoded Team
nonprofit digital fluency

With COVID-19 changing fundraising and live events like galas, nonprofits are scrambling to adopt digital technologies for their donor outreach.

However, if you don’t have any experience dealing with digital technology, you might find it somewhat overwhelming. Understanding what apps and software can do for your organization’s fundraising strategy requires some tech-savvy and plenty of research.

In 2018, less than 3% of charities stated their board and executive leadership were “tech-savvy.” With nonprofits forced to shutter many physical operations and events in 2020, the incentive to adapt to a digital environment is stronger than ever.

This post looks at how you can bring a nonprofit onboard the digital age. We’ll unpack terminology and strategies that help your organization thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Digital fluency explained

What is digital fluency? Is it a buzzword that managers are using around the water cooler, or is there something to this term? Digital fluency is the measure of your ability to use and troubleshoot digital systems. Ok, but what does that mean? 

Learning to be digitally fluent isn’t easy, and it can take you years to understand all the digital tools and software. 

However, it’s like learning a new language. Eventually, you reach a place where it all makes sense to you, and you find it easy to navigate and unpack new technologies without the need to run to the IT department.

When your organization has digital fluency, it understands the tools it needs to market and interact with donors, track their behavior and donation patterns, and analyze data for your fundraising campaigns. Digital solutions offer your organization a new way of understanding and handling your nonprofit operations, leading to greater organizational health.

What is a digital fundraising tool?

Traditionally, nonprofits relied on live events, such as banquets, golf tournaments, and fashion shows, to raise funds. When people are in a venue together, and people are mingling, it’s a great way to relax donors and get them to spend more.

Unfortunately, live events went out the window in 2020, and there’s no more live fundraising permitting in most states across the US and Europe, at least for the first part of 2021. However, that shouldn’t stop nonprofits and charities from reaching their fundraising targets.

Digital mediums allow nonprofits and charities to host virtual events. The power of this software helps you optimize your marketing events during the auction or live transmission, allowing you to increase donations.

Every nonprofit needs three primary tools to navigate the changes required by the digital era of operations and marketing.

Your website

Your nonprofit website forms the backbone of your nonprofit digital strategy. Your site is the central hub of data collection and information in your business. It’s where donors go to find contacts or information. It’s also what you use to track the progress of your fundraising campaigns and attract new donors.

Your website needs a clean, efficient website design to attract people. Minimalist templates with clear calls-to-action (CTAs) and compelling on-page content and descriptions are paramount to establishing your brand identity and mission online. Your site also needs to be free of errors and security threats.

Your website acts as an inbound marketing tool. With the right plugins and tools, you can use it to drive traffic to your events, whether live or virtual. Your website should integrate with tools like donation forms and donor CRMs to help you manage your data and use it to your advantage.

Donation forms

Your website donation page acts as a qualifying tool to bring you new contributions and new donors. Your donation form serves a purpose, to capture a donation and your donor’s information.

Automatic donation forms allow the donor to enter any amount they want and transfer the money to you through their payment method choice. Ensuring your site has all the functionality it needs to accept and process donations guarantee future success with fundraising models.

Nonprofit website donation form
Example of a custom donation form on a WordPress website powered by Gravity Forms.

If you automate the donation process, it improves the transaction’s ease and the value of the donor journey.

Your website needs to take your new donor prospect and walk them through all the information they need to put them in an informed position. After filling the knowledge gap, your donation form needs to close the deal, optimizing your donor’s donation amount.

The more comfortable you make it to donate without the need to speak to a human being, the better your chances of improving your revenue.

Automated donor forms also integrate with CRMs and sales funnels, allowing you to keep donors that didn’t take action on your books.

Donor CRMs

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool is one of your website’s most important software features. The CRM forms the engine, storing all your donor contact details, payment methods, how they donate when they donate, and the past amounts donated to your charity.

This data lets you capture a birds-eye view of your donorship and what you can expect from your donors and prospects’ lifetime value. A donor database is a cloud-based tool, giving you instant access to your donor profile information anywhere you have an internet connection.

Donor database dashboard on Bloomerang
Example of a donor database dashboard in Bloomerang.

When your prospective donor donates or fills out an inquiry form for further information, you capture their name and details on your donation form. This data goes to your sales funnel, where it enters them into a specific campaign designed to get them to convert or donate more.

You use the sales funnel and CRM in tandem to launch and monitor email campaigns designed to keep your organization in the mind of your prospects and donors. There’s no more need for bulky client files and handwritten notes. With a CRM, your entire team – from development to leadership – gets access to your donor base.

A CRM allows the seamless exchange of information between employees.

Onwards to a better 2021

There are plenty of ways digital marketing and fundraising tools can help your nonprofit, foundation or charity navigate the challenges of the pandemic. While all nonprofits are taking a hit in 2020 and 2021, some are implementing the necessary changes to adapt to the fundraising environment’s new demands.

This list of digital solutions to implement in your business is by no means exhaustive. However, it does give you the basics of what you need to start to bring your nonprofit up to speed in the digital revolution of business, fundraising, and marketing.

Looking for more tips? Make sure to check out our fundraising section for more tips and tricks.