How is the Internet changing the way nonprofits fundraise? (Survey Results)

FirstGiving and BiddingForGood recently surveyed nonprofit organizations to better understand the impact internet fundraising is having on their promotional and soliciting activities. After receiving 500 responses, we’re able to conclude that organizations are using the Internet for a variety of activities and are planning on expanding its use in the future. In fact, three of the top four tactics nonprofits will use for the first time next year are completely internet based including online auctions, crowd-funding, and peer-to-peer fundraising.


Although the use of the internet is growing, the three most common tactics nonprofits are using to fund their annual budgets are the more traditional methods of direct appeal, galas and events, and silent or live auctions. The online approaches of peer-to-peer, crowd funding and online auctions fell to fifth, eighth, and ninth place. When asked which of those tactics were the top three contributors to reaching annual goals, direct appeals, galas and events,peer-to-peer and golf tournaments were cited most often as being one of the top three contributors.


Before looking externally to begin the fundraising process, organizations must first look internally to their development teams. While the majority (63%) of nonprofits have only one to two individuals working in development, the most successful organizations have larger teams. 41% of organizations have between six and fifteen people on the team and 12% of the larger organizations have over fifty people aiding the process. A clear patterns emerges – those who invest in development, earn more for their mission.


With the explosion of social media and its varying platforms, fundraisers have tapped into these available resources to connect better with current supporters as well as attract new donors. Despite their efforts, surprisingly, only Facebook has proved to be effective with 84% effectiveness stemming from a use rate of 97%. According to responders, all other channels were considered to be highly ineffective scoring less than 6% effectivity.

There are four key points that we can grasp from this survey:

  1. Through the internet, fundraising is more accessible, efficient and more effective than ever, allowing nonprofits to reach new networks. Peer-to-peer fundraising, crowd funding and online auctions will become more frequent to create the basis by which an organization reaches out electronically.
  2. Social media has been embraced by nonprofits across the board, yet, surprisingly, there are doubts in their marketing ability.
  3. Having a diversity of fundraising activities is essential. The most successful organizations use a widespread approach of both hands on, face-to-face events to less formal internet channels to diversify donations for their cause.
  4. Above all others, fundraisers claim that finding new supporters is their biggest challenge.

Fundraisers are busy individuals using every means at their disposal to raise funds for their cause. All the traditional means of fundraising are still widely used. Direct appeals top the list and organizations of every size, from every cause group, often run events and galas. Nonetheless, the use of the Internet is increasingly aiding charities in their efforts to make a difference in the world around them.
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