Ask Kevin: Technology to Increase Fundraising

advice fundraising just ask kevin technology Feb 21, 2022

 Ask Kevin: “Technology to Increase Fundraising”

In this series, I answer questions from my audience. To submit a question, email me at: [email protected]. You will get a prompt response, and in some cases, I will also eventually outline a more in-depth response on my blog. 



Hello Kevin,
I need your creative hat for a second. We received a grant of $25,000 for “technology upgrades.” The intent of the grant was not to help us increase our fundraising, but I want to make the most of this gift by using it on something that will give us a return on our investment. I am looking for ideas of what types of technology upgrades we can invest in that would improve our fundraising. Any creative ideas you can provide would be much appreciated.
CEO of a nonprofit serving military families


My Response: 

Dear Rebecca,

You got me in my sweet spot! Let’s spend this money wisely. *And anyone reading this as a blog post, you now have some ideas that you can use to apply for grants.*

The top three technologies that I see nonprofits implement which have a relatively quick positive impact on fundraising are: donor databases, websites, and improved communications (video production).

1. Donor Databases

A well-functioning donor database (aka Donor Management System or DMS) is by far the most effective piece of technology a nonprofit can use to raise more money. Having one place where all your donor data is located and then mining that data to retain donors, catch and recapture lapsed donors, grow giving, and identify major donor potential is the most effective use of funds I can think of.  In the last 5-7 years these systems have really grown in capabilities, often automating your workflows and making the mining of the data much easier than before.

Please note, that I am not talking (necessarily) about accepting online gifts or sending tax receipts. Those are important functions but not always performed by the same as a Donor Management System (DMS). Many companies such as Virtuous, Kindful, Little Green Light, Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud, and Raiser’s Edge are examples of donor management platforms. You do not necessarily need to accept your gifts through these systems, though usually there are options to do so. You can still accept gifts from online giving resources such as Stewardship, DonorBox, and PayPal without having a DMS. Some DMS systems do not track auctions or event registrations so organizations may run those activities through something like GreaterGiving or Eventbrite.  The important thing is that ALL data glows into one DMS. Some DMSs will have integrations, but some require some manual work, but don’t get caught up on the whole system. What I am suggesting here is that you are setting up a DMS with a “move management” system to keep track of and progress donors through a system. If you need a suggestion, reach out and we can identify one that meets your needs.

2. Websites
Rebecca, your website is above average but could be much better in terms of garnering donations. Websites have the potential to increase donations in many ways – whether it’s making your mission and vision very clear so donors can decide whether you are a good match to their philanthropic priorities or to keep your audience engaged so they continue to give, websites can be great investments. Here are five website upgrades I see directly relate to fundraising:

  • Donation Upsells: When someone is on your website and they click “donate,” if they are not being asked at least one up-sell you are probably leaving money on the table. An up-sell could be asked to make the gift monthly, asked to search for a company match, asked to share on social media, an abandoned gift reaction, etc.
  • Event Registration: If you are driving traffic to your website for donations there are several upgrades you can make, whether you are embedding registration forms right on your site, redirecting the confirmation page back to your site, or setting up automations that follow event registration, there are many ways to make the most of the experience.
  • Navigation: If you made your website yourself and you are employed by the nonprofit – especially in leadership – your site probably has some navigation blind spots. I say it all the time but when we are really close to our causes, we form blind spots and jumps in logic. Having a third party review your navigation from an outside perspective can improve the donor experience and ultimately lead to increased giving. Your website for example, Rebecca, does not have a way to donate that can be found within 10 seconds. You have to go to “Get Involved,” then “Ways to Give,” then “Give Online.”
  • Photos and Videos: I will touch on this below, but videos are the new standard. If your website does not have video content, you are missing an opportunity to engage donors in a way that other organizations are. These could include testimonials, tours, client benefit stories, donor highlights, etc. Along with videos are great photos. Change them out regularly and they will help your site looking fresh.

3. Improved Communications

If you want to invest in technology, improving your communications is a very important step. Technology these days can be automated to segment your DMS by donor interest, track donors around the internet to see what other attributes and interests they have, and customize their experience based on their own behaviors. If you are not ready to get into marketing automation, you can at least improve your communications in these three ways:

  • Add video to your communications. At least 1/3 of your communications should contain video – whether that’s a social media post, a formal video, or a video added to your email updates or newsletters. Times are changed and video is a standard form of communication. Nonprofits are slow to adapt, and videos can be expensive to produce, but if you want to invest in things that grow giving, video should be on the docket. Technology solutions like Bonjoro make it easy to deliver and track custom video communications to donors.
  • Allow donors to customize their communications. It can be expensive and nearly a fill time job to have someone update, customize, and manage donor communications, but even if you are a one man show, your email service provider or DMS should allow donors to update their information themselves. It used to be that we wanted donors to have to call to update their giving, change their info, or be removed from our lists. But in 2022 and beyond; it’s the expectation that donors can manage their own data. Donor portals and communication preferences are worth the investment. In my experience, nonprofits that give donors quick and easy access to their data not only have better data but end up raising more money. Donors are also more likely to sign up to be a monthly donor at an organization where they feel they can easily adjust that gift if they every decide to without haggling with someone on the phone.
  • Now that you have better photos from redoing your website, you should now improve the look and feel of your marketing pieces using something like Canva Pro. Canva is a drag and drop design software that allows you use a template and simply swap out the photo and colors and have a piece designed in no time. Having an easy way to design good looking pieces should help make producing new content and increasing the number of communications easier than ever. You can also edit and add animations to videos.

Wealth Screening and Prospect Research Software: You have the items above in place already, you can use your investment to pay for a reputable wealth screening and/or prospect research software which will help you increase your major gift prospecting leading to more meetings and better fundraising outcomes.