Fundraising always presents both opportunities and challenges to nonprofits, and this is especially true for small-shop nonprofit fundraising. In fact, small nonprofits face a unique set of challenges, as they have smaller staffs, smaller budgets, and, often, less resources in general than mid-sized or large-sized nonprofits, so they must address challenges in different ways than their larger counterparts.
In September, Shaun Kulesza, Founder and CEO of ShopRaise, was joined by Kelly Russell at Artisan Auctions and Mackenzie Burckbuchler at Double the Donation for NXUnite’s “Fundraising Best Practices for Small Shop Nonprofits." The panelists delved into the specific challenges that nonprofits faced in the past few years, turning to the future to discuss how to overcome these challenges through the use of automation and by anticipating the upcoming generational shift in fundraising.
Challenges and changes
While they might seem obvious, it's essential, Shaun stated, that we discuss the challenges that the pandemic presented for nonprofit fundraising because it continues to have lingering effects. The pandemic created a large shift in the fundraising world, requiring nonprofits to shift their strategy when physical events were unsafe. So nonprofits turned to technology, such as CRMs and fundraising software, to attempt to create relationships with existing donors and potential donors.
Nonprofits did all they could to maintain and create these relationships, finding that it was a difficult time for event fundraisers in particular, but, Shaun emphasized, these virtual times required nonprofits to update their technology and engage donors and supporters in new ways. That’s why, he said, there’s “no excuse anymore to not keep people engaged” because nonprofits now have all the tools to diversify fundraising bases.
Technology is the new normal
When asked what nonprofits with smaller teams can do to improve fundraising without getting overwhelmed, Mackenzie answered that, as technology became the answer to putting on fundraising events during the height of the pandemic, technology is also the answer to maximizing efficiency more generally for small nonprofit teams. She specifically mentioned the value of automation, which doesn’t have to be as fancy or complicated as it sounds, but can be as simple as using existing data to free up time and focus on more personal outreach and high-value touchpoints.
Mackenzie proposed that data tracking might be a space that small nonprofits can capitalize upon automation. NXUnite suggests that tracking fundraising ROI, donor retention, and donor lifetime value are the 3 most important fundraising metrics to start tracking.
Mackenzie assured the audience, nonprofits know more about donor data than they might realize. By merely having relationships with donors, you might already know, for example, that a donor works at a catering company. Use this “data” when planning your next event and ask them if they’d like to support your nonprofit through their catering company!
Looking toward the future
Now that technology and data appear to be the new normal for nonprofit fundraising, what will nonprofits turn to tomorrow to continue maximizing and optimizing their fundraising efforts? When looking toward the future, Shaun highlighted the necessity of thinking about the generational shift that’s coming soon within the fundraising realm. While older donors might be your nonprofit’s most influential donors, they won’t be around forever, and it’s vital to begin engaging younger generations in your nonprofit’s activities. Shaun recommended that small nonprofits look at Tiktok, Instagram, Twitch, and Discord, saying “This is where the next generation of donors are.”
While many smaller nonprofits might be hesitant to funnel funds into engaging younger donors because they anticipate less donations from millennials and Gen Z, younger donors will not feel an affinity for organizations that they have no relationship with. So cultivate these relationships now! And while a lot of younger people might not have the money to be donors at this time, they have skills and education and can participate in supporting your nonprofit in other ways.
There are plenty of ways to diversify your donors and engage a wide range of supporters. Start now, and secure your nonprofit’s future.
All nonprofits have faced a variety of challenges over the past few years, and small nonprofits were certainly not immune to these challenges. But, as the panelists on NXUnite’s “Fundraising Best Practices for Small Shop Nonprofits" displayed, small nonprofits met these challenges head-on with resilience, adopting new forms of technology and new methods for event-planning.
As small nonprofits look toward the future, it’s important to continue to be flexible and open to change, embracing all the challenges that will come. And, if your mission is at the center of your nonprofit’s work, your organization will continue to overcome and, ultimately, be better for it.