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Guest Post: 4 Hidden Fundraising Techniques

by: Allison Sanka on

Please join me in welcoming our guest author, Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation. Adam covers 4 ways to fundraise that you may or may not already be utilizing, and some insight and tips on how these vehicles might be used by your nonprofit.

Four Hidden Fundraising Techniques

As a fundraising professional, you’re likely well-versed in how to raise money and increase awareness for your cause. But even the most seasoned fundraiser doesn’t know everything about asking supporters for donations.

Just like pirates use maps to find hidden gold, fundraisers need a guide for the fundraising techniques they may not know that much about.

X marks the spot! Use this treasure map to discover some fundraising treasure this year!

  1. Matching Gifts

  2. Prospect Research

  3. Fundraising with Social Media

  4. Mobile Giving

1. Matching Gifts

If we go along with our treasure map and pirate metaphor, matching gifts are the second chest of gold found underneath the first.

You didn’t know it was there, but you now have twice as much treasure!

In actuality, matching gifts are simply corporate giving programs that some employers offer their employees. After an employee makes a donation to an eligible nonprofit (note: eligibility differs from company to company) and fills out a matching gift request, the company will give the same amount to the organization.

How can you take advantage of matching gifts?

Pirates have to dig for a chest of gold, but your nonprofit simply needs to effectively market matching gifts to your donors. Let’s look at three of the ways you can promote matching gifts to your donors.

Within the Donation Process

It’s no hidden secret that donor engagement is at its peak when an individual is making a contribution. That’s why the donation process is the ideal time to pitch matching gifts to your donors! They won’t ever be more excited by the idea of doubling their donation to your organization.

Check out the example from the Association of Former Students at Texas A&M:

See how the information about matching gifts is bolded and in a different color? This makes donors’ eyes shift to the section to learn more.

Then, donors can simply check to see whether their company offers a matching gift program. If they do, the donor can then place the ratio at which their donation will be matched in a separate field.

What’s the takeaway? Promoting matching gifts during the donation process is the easiest way to find that second chest of buried treasure.

In Donation Acknowledgements

One of the best things about matching gifts is that the deadlines can sometimes extend to well beyond a year. What does this mean? It means that even if a donor forgets to look into matching gifts during the donation process, they still have time to submit a request to their employer (deadlines can be as short as 3 months, but some are over a year!). That’s why it’s so crucial to market matching gifts to your donors in your donation acknowledgements.

Take a look at this example from the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation (HNF):

Notice that the email does two things at once:

  • It acknowledges the donor’s contribution and genuinely thanks him.
  • It contains a graphic that grabs the recipient’s attention and informs him about matching gifts.

It’s important to remember that an acknowledgement, whether it’s an email or a direct mail letter/card, should first thank the donor for their gift. That’s their purpose, after all!

But, once you’ve expressed your gratitude, feel free to market matching gifts creatively by:

  • Including a graphic that links to more information (like the HNF does).
  • Including a line of text with a link to more info.
  • Adding a button at the end of the email that discusses matching gifts.

What’s the takeaway? Even if a donor forgot to look into matching gifts during the donation process, hope is not lost! Promote matching gifts in your acknowledgements.

In Your Other Communications

You aren’t just talking to donors when they give to your organization (at least, I hope you aren’t!). Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to only talk about matching gifts during the donation process and in your acknowledgements. You should also be promoting them in your other communications to donors.

Let’s take a look at example from the ALS Association:

The ALS Association lets their Facebook fans know about matching gifts with a quick post paired with a graphic. When it comes to promoting matching gifts in other communications (whether it’s social media, emails, or anything else), it’s important to get to the point. This post is only three sentences long, but it got 235 likes and was shared over 70 times!

What’s the takeaway? Keep your matching gift promotions short and to the point when placing them in your communications to donors!

Matching gifts are a great way to potentially double your fundraising revenue, but you have to let your donors know about them!

2. Prospect Research

Prospect research is the metaphorical treasure map that leads the fundraising pirate to the island of major gift and planned giving donors. Of course, your donors probably aren’t all living on an island together, but you can still use prospect research to get a better idea of who your major gift and planned giving donors are.

Prospect research can tell you a couple of things:

  • A donor’s willingness to give.
  • A donor’s ability to give.

These two points go hand-in-hand when your organization is looking to pinpoint planned giving and major giving candidates.

Willingness to Give

A donor could have all the money in the world, but unless they are willing to give, your organization won’t be able to receive any of it.

Some ways you can determine a donor’s willingness to give include:

  • Past giving/involvement to your organization.
  • Previous giving/involvement with nonprofits like yours.
  • A donor (or someone close to them) being a recipient of your nonprofit’s services.
  • Political giving.

These four facets are just the starting point, though!

What’s the takeaway? Willingness to give is just one of the factors that impacts major giving and planned giving decisions. Use prospect research to help you discover how likely your prospects are to donate to your nonprofit!

Ability to Give

The second component of fundraising that prospect research can help with is determining a prospect’s ability to give.

Calculating a donor’s ability to give means you analyze:

  • Real estate ownership
  • Stock ownership
  • Financial situation
  • Business affiliations
  • And more!

What’s the takeaway? A donor’s ability to give uses traditional wealth markers that can help you determine if they’re a good major giving or planned giving candidate.

Prospect research can help you identify both a donor’s willingness and ability to donate. But the most important thing is to listen to your donors when you talk to them.

You may have crafted the perfect donor profile thanks to prospect research, but it isn’t going to do you much good if you dominate the conversation during the fundraising pitch.

Here’s the main point: When you tie a donor’s ability to give and their willingness to give together, you can uncover a treasure trove of information that can help you make better major giving and planned giving asks.

3. Fundraising with Social Media

Jeffrey Stein recently published an article entitled, “Learning a Thing or Two From Generation Z.” In that piece, he stated that,

“Grandma and grandpa may not be Snapping between bites at dinner, but they are consuming and digesting marketing and media at a much faster rate than ever before.”

This is a crucial point to remember if your organization wants to start using social media to raise more money. Fundraising with social media isn’t just for your millennial and Gen Z supporters.

Baby boomers are on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Using social media to ask for donations and get the word out about your mission is easy. You just have to be consistent with your content! You can’t create a Facebook page, post a status, and hope that the donations will come rolling in.

In addition to donation appeals, you should post:

  • Updates about projects.
  • Info about upcoming events and fundraisers.
  • Shout-outs to thank your star donors and volunteers.
  • Information about corporate giving programs.
  • Success stories.
  • And more!

Social media can be a great way to get in touch with a lot of donors and inform them about giving and volunteering opportunities. Just make sure that you mix other types of posts in with your donation appeals.

You don’t just have to post statuses, though! Send out:

  • Images on Instagram.
  • Videos on Snapchat.
  • Pictures with links to your donation page on Pinterest.
  • Questions on Facebook.
  • Livestream videos of fundraising events on YouTube.
  • And more!

Additionally, developing a strong presence on any of these social media sites makes it easier for your nonprofit to engage in peer-to-peer fundraising (more on that here).  

Here’s the main point: Social media is slowly becoming another quick and easy avenue for fundraising. Make sure that your nonprofit isn’t left at the port when the social media fundraising ship sets off to sea!

4. Mobile Giving

Many nonprofits are looking for ways to connect with donors in an increasingly technological and on-the-move age.

Mobile fundraising to the rescue!

Mobile fundraising allows you to raise more money and connect with more donors.

Most importantly, it’s a fundraising method that meets your donors where they are.

Did you know that:

  • 64% of American adults own a smartphone.
  • 90% of American adults have a cellphone.
  • 42% of American adults have a tablet.

Source: Pew Research Center

With numbers like that, it just makes sense to start fundraising with mobile technology! What do I mean when I say “mobile technology” though?

Well, it usually is a combination of:

  • Text-to-give or text-to-pledge platforms.
  • Mobile-responsive donation forms.
  • Email appeals that are viewable on smartphones and tablets.
  • Mobile-responsive peer-to-peer fundraising pages.
  • And more!

Your nonprofit can use one, all, or a combination of these fundraising strategies to reach the donors who can’t walk out the door without their iPhone or iPad.

Here’s the main point: Mobile fundraising is taking off. Make sure that your fundraising strategy includes mobile methods!


As stated at the beginning of this article, you likely already knew about some of these fundraising strategies. But a ship can’t sail without a captain, crew, sails, and rigging; your nonprofit needs all of the resources available. Happy treasure hunting--I mean, fundraising!

Adam Weinger is President of Double the Donation.

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