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3 Ways to Optimize Your Technology for Year-Round Giving

Before you know it, you’ll begin planning for year-end fundraising in 2022, since these campaigns often take multiple months to come to fruition.

But, what about your fundraising strategies for all of the months in between year-end fundraising seasons? Considering over 60% of total fundraising revenue is raised during those “in-between” months, they’re not to be neglected.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss tips for optimizing your nonprofit’s technology solutions to be useful for year-round giving; as in, the months between year-end fundraising seasons. We’ll cover the following three tips:

Considering over 30% of total giving occurs during the final three months of the year, with 10% of that in the final three days of December, it’s understandable why your nonprofit might prioritize optimizations as they relate to year-end giving. However, there are still nine other months throughout the year that you shouldn’t neglect when optimizing your software solutions!

With that in mind, let’s begin with the first tip.

1. Conduct a nonprofit technology assessment.

A nonprofit technology assessment is an evaluation of the digital maturity of your nonprofit; essentially, it assesses which technology solutions you use and how well you employ them to reach your organization’s fundraising and stewardship goals. These assessments will determine whether your nonprofit technology is lagging (behind the curve), adapting (middle-of-the-road), or maturing (ahead of the competition) with regards to empowering your goals.

These comprehensive assessments are ideal at the start of any technology optimization effort as they’ll highlight the primary pain points in your technology stack and give you a roadmap for alleviating them. You’ll also gain access to a full inventory of the solutions that you’re currently using.

Regarding actually conducting an assessment, there are aspects completed by your nonprofit itself and aspects completed by a nonprofit technology expert, such as a consulting partner. It’s best to partner with a consultant as they not only bring expertise but also an unbiased perspective that is key to discovering opportunities for improvement.

As far as your nonprofit’s tasks, you’ll do the following:

  • Before the Assessment: This includes outlining your main goals or the challenge you want to address and setting a budget for the process. You’ll also choose a consulting partner to conduct the assessment and prepare a list of initial questions to ask them.
  • After the Assessment: This is when you act on the results of the assessment. This includes purchasing or divesting from technology solutions, outlining new technology procedures for staff members to follow, investing in additional staff training resources, and optimizing your current technology solutions.

DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit technology assessments breaks down the process from the consultant’s perspective, which generally follows these steps:

  1. Discovery: The consultant meets with representatives of your nonprofit to develop an understanding of your current technology use. This includes asking questions about why you chose to conduct an assessment, what your goals are, and what your current understanding of nonprofit technology is.
  2. Analysis and Strategy: The consultant analyzes your current software lineup, noting which solutions you’re currently using, what you’re using them for, and how well the solutions are working together toward your goals. Then, they create a recommended strategy for improvement, including which solutions to invest in/divest from, optimizations to current solutions (i.e. software customizations or integrations), new policies to implement for more effective technology use (i.e. new data hygiene procedures), and recommendations for additional staff training.
  3. Documentation: The consultant creates a document detailing all of their findings and recommendations. This includes an inventory of all existing solutions, a list of recommended optimizations, and a roadmap for implementing the optimizations, should you choose to work with the same consultant to do so.
  4. Review: The consultant meets with representatives from your nonprofit to review the results of the assessment and recommended path forward. At this point, you can continue working with the consultant to act on the roadmap, implement the optimizations internally, or seek quotes from other consultants.

From start to finish, the nonprofit technology assessment will likely take anywhere from six to 12 weeks. For organizations looking to overhaul and optimize their technology for year-round giving, an assessment is the first step to discovering exactly which changes are needed.

2. Prioritize the accessibility of your online giving form.

Your nonprofit’s website is the main conduit for year-round giving, especially your online giving page. Donors likely give every day through the form on this page, appreciating the ability to give at any time, from any place, and using the electronic payment method of their choice.

While many modern nonprofits understand the importance of overall website accessibility, best practices can fall to the wayside when it comes to ensuring accessible giving forms. However, an improperly configured web form can pose a significant accessibility challenge and directly prevent supporters from giving via your website throughout the year.

Diagram of a form box with the arrows directed at the label, form field, and placeholder text.

Prioritize the accessibility of your online giving form by implementing the following best practices:

  • Label all form boxes. Screen reader technology often only reads the visible text in the form, so any placeholder text within fields won’t be conveyed. Label all fields outside of the input box itself, so it’s clear what information is required in each box.
  • Don’t rely on disappearing placeholder text. While disappearing placeholder text (“Must have at least 6 characters” in the example above) can be helpful to show users what a form field requires, it shouldn’t be the only place where instructions can be found. Consider if a user begins to fill in a form field, causing the placeholder text to disappear, but then they don’t finish doing so. It’ll be impossible for them to tell what the field was asking for. Include any key instructional elements outside of the disappearing text as well.
  • Clearly mark all required fields. Avoid simply changing the color of the label of required fields, as screen readers won’t pick up on the color change. Include a signifier (such as an asterisk) to note which fields are required and which are not. This ensures all users can discover which information they need to share in order to proceed with the process.
  • Ensure forms are tab-friendly. This allows users to navigate through your forms using the keyboard or other assistive technologies, rather than relying on a mouse or keypad alone.

Your nonprofit is competing against a number of external forces to secure each and every gift, from the economy, to other nonprofits, to accessible online shopping options. Don’t add your own fundraising form to this list. With an accessible online giving form, you’ll not only make it so all supporters can give regardless of ability, but you’ll also make it a more pleasant experience overall.

3. Seek opportunities to maximize gifts with corporate philanthropy.

When creating your year-round fundraising strategy, don’t neglect the importance of corporate giving.

Corporate giving refers to the programs that allow for-profit companies to invest in social good, most often through making a donation of some sort. The most common iterations include:

  • Matching Gift Programs: Double the Donation defines matching gift programs as “a type of philanthropy in which companies financially match donations that their employees make to nonprofit organizations.” These matched gifts are often on a 1:1 ratio, although some companies will match on a 2:1 or even 3:1 ratio. This gives your nonprofit two gifts for the “price” of soliciting the one original gift from the supporter.
  • Volunteer Grants: Volunteer grants are similar to matching gift programs, however, the corporate gift is made corresponding to the number of volunteer hours worked by one of their employees at a specific nonprofit. Usually, the company will require that an employee volunteers a predetermined number of hours, at which point the company will make a donation of a set amount— such as volunteering 25 hours resulting in a $200 gift.

The biggest obstacle to capitalizing on corporate philanthropy in your year-round giving efforts is a general lack of awareness of these programs, both from the donor and nonprofit perspectives. Many donors (or volunteers) are unaware that their employers offer such programs, and therefore don’t know to begin the match process after giving their own donation or volunteer hours. And, your nonprofit doesn’t know which supporters work for match-eligible companies, so reach out to those supporters and tell them about the opportunity to increase their impact.

To increase your corporate fundraising capabilities throughout the year, consider investing in dedicated corporate philanthropy software. There are solutions that integrate with your CRM and giving software and allow you to ask supporters where they work directly in your giving form. Then, the software will identify whether the supporter works for a company with a matching gift program and share information with the supporter about how they can begin the process.

While the year-end giving season is a crucial time for nonprofit fundraising, so are the many months in between. Optimize your nonprofit’s technology stack for year-end giving using these tips and you’ll be able to successfully fundraise all 12 months of the calendar year.

About the Author—Carl Diesing

Carl Diesing, Managing Director – Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.