Category Archives: Fundraising Insights

Off the Shelf: The Best of Aspire…and Beyond

Just in case you are not experiencing soaring temperatures outside, let me remind you that it is officially summertime. And that means you need a summer reading list. Allow me to indulge you with Aspire’s!

Off the Shelf and On the E-Reader

At Aspire, we’ve made a habit of writing FREE publications. Like a tourist drawn to a Florida golf course gator (Is it real? Let’s get closer!), we simply must satiate our curiosity on a variety of topics. If you benefit from it, too, we consider that a bonus.

  1. In Good Company: A Guide to Corporate Fundraising banks the #1 spot as the most downloaded publication at Aspire. No surprise really, because it benefits from author, Elisa Shoenberger’s journalist approach to the topic. And, of course, it highlights how prospect research can help you land the big gifts.
  2. Prospect Research Philanthropy and Wealth Report 2021 is like one of those smartphone apps that pick your best eye color or transforms you into a Disney princess. Each year we distill the insights from long, dry, complicated studies and make them short and dressed for action. This year we spotlighted Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Cryptocurrencies, just in case you needed even more glam to your philanthropy glow.
  3. Prospect Research Spotlight on Broadway Producers and Investors was born out of the love of the arts. Ask Elisa Shoenberger a question like, “Can you find Broadway producers who might fund our captioning?” and she just can’t let go! Dive deep into the world of funding Broadway shows.

Curious what other publications we have available? “Check out” the complete Publications Library today!

Google Analytics Says… BLOG!

The top blog posts at Aspire might surprise you, but then again, maybe not.

  1. Fidelity Charitable 2020 Giving Report: Inside Donor Advised Funds outranked our coverage of the 2021 Giving Report. We don’t take offense. When it’s good, it’s good, and the 2020 report coverage laid out the demographics of DAF giving and challenged you to take four steps to maximize your fundraising efforts with DAFs.
  2. Capgemini 2021 World Wealth Report is always a winner! How can you go wrong with global trends and asset allocation among HNWIs (high net worth individuals)? London took a nosedive off the top 10 cities list for Ultra-HNWIs in 2021. Egads, supercity! What kryptonite might land in 2022?
  3. Nonprofit KPIs: 5 Key Metrics to Track in 2021 is the first guest post to debut on our top blogs list. It’s written by Gerard Tonti, Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs. I bet you a Florida key lime pie that you won’t guess what the #1 KPI is on his list!

If this list leaves you wanting more, join our mailing list and get delicious research candy like this delivered to your inbox monthly. (Even your mother would approve of that dessert frequency!)

Righteous Randomness

  • Nothing gets more web hits than our Free Research Links Directory, and maybe that’s because everyone on the Aspire team uses it? Remember when you were a kid, and you went into a chocolate store for the first time? That’s what this web page is like. Fun little boxes with curated goodies you just. Want. To. Click.
  • Donors: Understanding The Future Of Individual Giving, written by Tim Sarrantonio of Neon One, is fresh off the presses. This is one-stop shopping at its best because he has synthesized and made sense of a long list of published research, each of which happens to be beautifully listed at the end. Best bit? It’s formatted for PDF reading. Bless you, Tim Sarrantonio!

If this reading list doesn’t get you in the mood for summer frolic, I can’t imagine what will. Because fundraising research was meant to be poolside, or beachside, or watching the kids run through the sprinkler-side, or even in the air conditioning with a mocktail. Anywhere you go to let your neurons roam free so you can return to work with new ideas and new perspectives.

4 Ways to Boost Your Volunteer Program’s Brand Recognition

What is your volunteer program’s brand? Or, maybe a better question, does your volunteer program have a brand, to begin with?

Your volunteer program’s brand encompasses your logo, brand colors, fonts, and the tone and message you’re trying to convey to your audience. When these elements are streamlined and cohesive, your brand becomes a powerful marketing tool for appealing to and recruiting new volunteers to help your cause. 

If you’re looking for creative ways to engage volunteers and increase your program’s brand recognition, you’re in the right place! We’ll review these four tips for boosting your volunteer program’s brand awareness: 

  1. Create a brand style guide. 
  2. Develop your brand’s personality.
  3. Design branded merchandise.
  4. Use uniform branding across marketing platforms.

Ready to improve your volunteer engagement strategy with greater brand awareness? Let’s dive in. 

1. Create a brand style guide. 

It’s vital to document all of your brand elements in a written style guide. This guide should consist of all of the defined elements that your team will need while creating any communications on behalf of your organization. Your brand style guide is a crucial guiding resource for creating digital and print marketing materials. 

Your brand style guide should include specifications for your brand’s:

  • Logo – Include several logo variations, such as black and white versions or other color options.
  • Colors – Note your brand colors with their hex codes and label primary and secondary colors.
  • Fonts – List all of your approved fonts, when each font should be used, and specify the guidelines for using bold, italics, and different font sizes.
  • Tone/message – Provide information on the tone of your volunteer program’s brand by mentioning the types of words your team members should use and when or avoid communications and describe your brand’s personality.

Remember to make your volunteer program style guide easily accessible once completed. Send it out to your full team, and let them know who to contact if they have any questions or concerns. This ensures that everyone is aligned with your brand guidelines!

2. Develop your brand’s personality.

Beyond the visual elements, one of the most impactful elements of your brand strategy is your brand’s personality, tone, and message. These elements convey your program’s beliefs and values and form a strong impression in audience members’ minds.

Your brand’s story and personality are crucial factors that will help you get the attention of your target audience. A brand personality refers to the human characteristics that are associated with a brand. For example, a friendly brand will use more of an informal tone and warm, inviting colors.

Getting Attention’s nonprofit branding guide describes these main elements of developing your brand’s message:

  • Connect with your audience using a message that compels them to act.
  • Make interacting with your brand a rewarding experience for volunteers.
  • Include calls to action to encourage prospective volunteers to join your organization.
  • Create a memorable message using emotion and tangible rewards. 

When you develop your brand’s personality, it allows you to determine how you will choose other brand elements, such as colors and fonts. These help craft a well-rounded sensory experience for your target audience.

3. Design branded merchandise.

Creating branded merchandise turns your volunteers into walking advertisements for your program. When they wear or use your merchandise in public, they help spread awareness of your logo, colors, and other brand elements. These also make great gifts to show gratitude to your helpful volunteer team!

Consider creating branded merchandise such as:

  • T-shirts – This is a great way to promote your volunteer program to a larger audience. Use a t-shirt design platform to develop your custom t-shirts. Remember to brand your t-shirts with your organization’s logo and colors.
  • Mugs – Designing mugs with your organization’s logo along with your volunteers’ names reminds them of your organization each time they enjoy a drink! Plus, your logo won’t wear away over time.
  • Tote bags – Tote bags can be used over and over again, at the grocery store, department stores, or just for general storage. Consider offering a sustainable tote bag designed for every age and brand it with your company’s colors and logo.
  • Sweatshirts – Who doesn’t love comfy sweatshirts? This will not only make a great gift for your volunteers but will easily help get your organization’s name across when your volunteers wear it.

Make things fun by asking your volunteers to participate in a design competition. Ask volunteers to submit design ideas and allow them to vote on their favorites using a poll system. This is a great way to get all your volunteers engaged and feel a part of your nonprofit.

4. Use uniform branding across marketing platforms.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of your brand’s elements and personality, it’s time to get your strategy up and running. As InitLive’s volunteer management guide explains, effective volunteer recruitment requires a multi-channel marketing approach. To keep your brand consistent and raise awareness, we recommend keeping your branding elements uniform across platforms.

These platforms include your:

  • Volunteer management app – This will help you improve your communications with your team by sending alert notifications to everyone all at once. Your volunteer management app can be branded with your logo, colors, and fonts to help reinforce brand recognition and offer volunteers a professional, uniform experience. 
  • Social media profiles – Social media is one of the most effective ways to reach a large audience all at once! Create fun and engaging posts and stories to attract your viewers. This is the perfect way to tell a story about what your organization is all about.
  • Printed materials, such as flyers and direct mail advertisements – This is the time to use your graphic design skills and create exciting flyers and other marketing materials to get your name and brand across! Post these in high-traffic areas where your target market is most likely to see them.

Every marketing message that is created on behalf of your volunteer program is an opportunity to inspire and bring in new people to support your cause. This is why it’s crucial to ensure that all of your materials and communications promote a consistent and cohesive brand story.


Exceptional branding is critical to help you raise awareness of your volunteer program. Now that you’ve learned several ways to boost your program’s brand recognition, it’s time to start planning accordingly and put it into action! Whether you want to attract new volunteers or remind your organization’s existing volunteers why they dedicate their time to your organization, investing in a well-thought-out brand will set your program up for success!

About the Author

Shreya Tragad

Shreya is a creative content creator focusing on delivering information about the importance of volunteerism for nonprofit organizations. She is passionate about creating engaging content, writing, and graphic design to help viewers easily retain information. You can find her work at www.initlive.com or on Linkedin and Twitter.

How to Multiply Your Reach With Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Digital tools have enabled nonprofits to expand their reach further than they could through traditional means. Whenever your nonprofit posts on social media, texts and emails supporters, or hosts virtual events, you’re taking steps to build your network and attract more attention to your cause. One of your best assets for online outreach may be a little less obvious: your supporters. 

Each of your supporters has a personal network that extends beyond your nonprofit. Many of your supporters’ friends and family may also be interested in supporting your nonprofit, and you can get in touch with them through a peer-to-peer campaign. Plus, with a peer-to-peer campaign, new supporters will be more inclined to give to someone they know personally than to your nonprofit performing cold outreach. 

Peer-to-peer campaigns have several moving parts, and helping your volunteer fundraisers find success requires a combination of careful strategy and the right software tools. To help your nonprofit maximize its reach through your peer-to-peer campaigns, this article will explore how to:

  1. Provide your volunteers with resources. 
  2. Onboard your volunteer fundraisers. 
  3. Invest in peer-to-peer software. 
  4. Follow up with new donor contacts. 

These tips can be used for all types of peer-to-peer campaigns, whether you’re fundraising, launching a nonprofit advocacy campaign, or promoting an event. No matter which type you’re hosting, be sure to support and thank your volunteers throughout the entire campaign to solidify their connection to your cause and potentially earn a long-term volunteer. 

1. Provide your volunteers with resources. 

Donors are motivated to give for a variety of reasons, and many of them choose to support causes that they or their friends and family have a personal connection with. In fact, according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, Millennials are far more likely to support and engage with causes if their peers already are. 

Of course, many nonprofits already know that peer-to-peer fundraisers work, as 360MatchPro also reports that 39% of nonprofits use a peer-to-peer fundraising platform. However, knowing your nonprofit should host a peer-to-peer campaign and knowing what resources your volunteers will need during your campaign are two different things. 

To help support your volunteers, be sure to provide them with:

  • Fundraising pages. Peer-to-peer campaigns work because the donors this fundraiser attracts have personal relationships with your volunteers. You can make the most of these connections by allowing donors to give to specific volunteers through customizable fundraising pages. Encourage your volunteers to make these pages their own with photos, their stories, and other personal details. 
  • Information and statistics. Your volunteer fundraisers believe in your cause, but many of them might need a little help pitching your nonprofit to others. Provide your volunteers with stories and statistics about your cause that they can share while campaigning on your behalf. 
  • Outreach strategies. What is the most effective way to reach potential donors? Chances are that few of your volunteers are fundraising professionals, and your nonprofit can help them answer this question by providing advice on how to best reach donors. For instance, some nonprofits implement peer-to-peer texting strategies to take advantage of high text message open rates. 

By providing volunteers with resources, you will improve their ability to fundraise on your behalf and also create a better experience for them. Remember that peer-to-peer campaigns are also an opportunity to engage volunteers and build stronger relationships with them that can secure their future support.

2. Onboard your volunteer fundraisers. 

While your volunteers could theoretically jump straight into fundraising after they’re recruited, doing so will likely lead to a confused and uncoordinated campaign. Be sure to set up an onboarding process and have your volunteers complete it before giving them the go-ahead to start fundraising. 

For most nonprofits, the onboarding process will likely include sending volunteers several helpful documents they can refer to throughout your peer-to-peer campaign and arranging a meeting to touch base with all volunteers and answer questions. During your onboarding process, make sure you cover the following steps:

  • Teach them how to use software tools. As mentioned, providing your volunteers with personal fundraising pages can help them gather more support. To help them make the most of these pages, spend time teaching them how to customize their page and share templates they can use to get started. 
  • Go over branding guidelines. While you should encourage each of your volunteers to share their own stories and personal relationship with your nonprofit, you’ll also want to provide them with information about your nonprofit branding strategy. For example, you might share specific phrases they should use when discussing your nonprofit, promotional images they can share and other general advice for how to properly represent your organization.
  • Connect them with their manager and other volunteers. Throughout your peer-to-peer campaign, there might be times when your volunteers will need help. Make sure they know who your volunteer manager is and how they can get in touch with them. Additionally, encourage your volunteers to get to know one another so they can support each others’ campaigns. 

During the onboarding process, you should also discuss your peer-to-peer campaign’s general strategy to make sure your volunteers and your nonprofit are on the same page. This might include when they should launch their campaigns, what social media platforms they should use, and what your campaign’s overall goal is.

3. Invest in peer-to-peer software.

Online peer-to-peer campaigns rely on software to function, and the platform your nonprofit chooses will shape your campaign’s fundraising strategy. There are many different peer-to-peer fundraising solutions available, each focusing on a different aspect of peer-to-peer campaigns. When assessing solutions, look for the following features:

  • Fundraising pages. Customizable fundraising pages should be one of your top priorities to help your volunteers put a personal touch on their campaign. Be sure the solution you choose has user-friendly customization tools so your volunteers can easily edit their pages. 
  • Reporting and analytics tools. Your peer-to-peer campaign will generate a lot of data from both your volunteers and new donors. Ensure your peer-to-peer software solution has real-time reporting and allows you to create custom reports and segment your supporters based on key metrics. 
  • Event management features. If you’re planning to run an event alongside your peer-to-peer campaign, consider choosing a solution with event management tools. These can include event registration pages and communication tools, so you can quickly send out event invitations to donors your volunteers connect with during your campaign. 

If you invest in a new peer-to-peer solution, be sure to give your team time to familiarize themselves with your software. This way they will be able to better help your volunteers learn how to use key features and can provide assistance if they run into any technical issues. 

4. Follow up with new donor contacts. 

Many donors who give during peer-to-peer fundraisers tend to only give one-time gifts, as they donated to support their friend or family member and are less familiar with your nonprofit. However, with the right data management and communication strategies, your nonprofit can increase your ability to retain even these donors. 

During your campaign, you will collect basic information about these donors, such as their contact information, the size of their gift, and that they have a connection to one of your volunteers. This information might seem limited, but it can still be useful for your outreach efforts. Salsa’s guide to smart engagement technology provides insight into how your data can help your communication strategy, especially for automated messages:

  • When to communicate. When should you get in touch with your new supporters? While you should send a thank you message immediately after your donors’ first gift, when should you next get in touch with them? Run A/B tests to find both how frequently and the best times of day to send messages. For example, you might find that emails tend to see higher response rates in the middle of the day around lunchtime, whereas social media posts do better in the evening. 
  • How to communicate. What channels should you use to message your supporters? During a peer-to-peer campaign, if your volunteers primarily used Facebook to perform their outreach, your nonprofit might receive higher engagement rates if you send Facebook messages rather than emails to these donors. 
  • What to communicate. Tailor each message to its recipient. This means including personal details, such as addressing each supporter by their preferred name and referencing their participation in your peer-to-peer campaign. Additionally, when it is time to make another donation request, try basing the amount you ask for on the donors’ previous gift. 

Additionally, be sure to also follow up with your volunteers after your peer-to-peer campaign. Thank them for all of their hard work, and consider other appreciation activities, such as hosting events or sending small gifts like your nonprofit’s merchandise, to help build long-term relationships that can come in handy during your next peer-to-peer fundraiser. 


Peer-to-peer fundraisers can be complicated campaigns with several moving parts. But with the right management strategies, your nonprofit has the potential to expand your outreach far beyond your current supporter network. Be sure to provide your volunteers with the tools they need and take the steps to make sure you stay in touch with them. Good luck!

About the Author

Craig Grella

Craig Grella is a Content Marketer at Bonterra, the leader in social good technology. Bonterra enables and elevates the hardworking people at organizations that do social good by bringing together best-in-class tools and technology. In his role, Craig serves thousands of nonprofits and advocacy organizations across the U.S.

Craig focuses on digital strategy using email marketing, online advertising campaigns, SMS campaigns, CRM management, reporting/analytics for KPIs, and more. He’s also the founder of Think Big Campaigns, a full-service consulting firm that specializes in political consulting, digital organizing, and issue advocacy.

Review of Women Give 2022: Racial Justice, Gender and Generosity

What is this Report?

This annual Women Give report focuses on different aspects of women’s philanthropy. This year’s report looks at gender, philanthropy, and racial justice. It includes survey data given to a sample population of 2,073 in May 2021.

What are the Key Findings from the Article?

  • Women have played important roles in racial justice movements and social change movements for centuries. Black women, in particular, have played significant roles in many movements but have not gotten the credit they deserve, due to both racism and sexism.
  • Philanthropy is expansive; it’s not about giving money to organizations. It can include direct giving to individuals, families, communities, mutual aid as a whole, support for Minority-owned businesses, Minority institutions like Black churches, etc. The report defines three categories of giving: direct support to families and individuals impacted by racial justice; grassroots organizations like Black Lives Matter, Bail funds; and Large Established organizations like the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Urban League.
  • While corporations were lauded for giving to racial justice, The Washington Post showed that 90% of the $50 billion committed to racial justice were not grants. They tended to be loans or investments, which would benefit the corporations.
  • About 1 in 7 US households gave money to racial justice causes in 2020. 42% of households support racial justice broadly, but only 14% give money to racial justice causes. There is room to grow!
  • Twenty-three and half percent of households supported racial justice in the US. Support took many forms including giving money, reaching out to elected officials, donating to political candidates who support their views, volunteerism and more.
  • The average racial justice donor is more likely to be younger, a woman of color, have a college degree, identify as LGBTQ+, unmarried, and working. The survey findings support the social identification theory – people are more likely to give to groups that they identify with. However, the report notes that it does not quite hold up for LGBTQ+ and race, but they may give to marginalized communities since they have been marginalized themselves.

What Can I Do as a Result?

  • Remember that support does not have to be strictly donations to nonprofits. People give in many ways, which may not fit into the traditional view of philanthropy. When talking or learning about prospects, keep an ear open for volunteerism, political activism, mutual aid, religious giving, etc. Find easy and effective ways to collect and record this information in your donor database.
  • Don’t forget to appeal to women and people of color. Do you know how your organization’s communications look when viewed through the eyes of women and people of color? How are you listening and responding to these populations’ needs and desires?
  • Can your organization see women and people of color? Can you sort and filter for single women in your donor database? Can you create opt-in opportunities for people of color to be recorded as such in your donor database? This might look like gifts to a specific program fund or participation in certain events that demonstrate identification with or affinity for people of color.
  • As the report noted, there’s room to grow with support for social justice. Organizations or programs classified in this area might want to see how they can best approach these demographic groups to expand their work and meet their philanthropic goals.

Additional Resources

Why Should You Choose Online Waivers? 4 Main Reasons

As fundraising and event software continue to rapidly evolve and improve, your nonprofit has probably gathered a small arsenal of important digital tools and resources to boost your operations. After all, different event software solutions not only allow you to remotely engage with your supporters, but they can also help you process data more efficiently and give you a leg up as you try to reach new audiences from all over the world.

However, among the different event tools you’ve gathered over the past few years, there’s one powerful piece of software that you may have overlooked: online waivers. 

Legally and safety-wise, liability waivers are already a crucial event management tool. But by investing in a dedicated online waiver solution, you can make the most of this seemingly innocuous part of the event check-in process, maximize event success, and improve your supporter relationships.

In particular, we’ll cover the following major benefits of using online waiver software, as well as features to look out for:

  1. Convenient event registration processes
  2. Data-driven supporter insights
  3. Increased personalization efforts
  4. Future event planning assistance

No matter if you’re hosting a fitness-filled 5K or an elegant gala, online liability waivers can have a significant impact on the quality of your activities, management abilities, and future event communications.

Let’s dive in.

One of the most well-known benefits of the online waiver is its convenience, both for event participants and your nonprofit’s staff. By removing traditional concerns tied to liability waivers— such as storage, organization, retrieval, and security—you can streamline the signing process and create a safer, more efficient environment for all parties involved. 

In particular, online waivers can boost convenience and simplify the event check-in process by:

  • Providing secure cloud storage. Instead of having a huge closet with filing cabinets full of untouched paper forms, you can keep all your waiver information safe and secure in an online database. Waiver information can even be pulled in seconds if you need a particular form.
  • Allowing off-site signing. With an online waiver provider like Smartwaiver, participants can sign their liability waivers before even arriving for an event, thus skipping the lines on arrival and ensuring an easy, stress-free adventure. 
  • Integrating with marketing materials. Your online waiver can easily be embedded into your own website and/or online registration form for further accessibility and security. Some participants may not feel comfortable inputting their personal details and contact information in an unknown web form, but this way, they never have to leave your trusted domain to do so.

If your nonprofit has yet to make the switch to online event waiver software, now is the perfect time to do so. Take this as an opportunity to research further benefits and start building the foundation that will make event registration as seamless and as comfortable as possible for your donors, advocates, and loyal supporters.

If your nonprofit is already a proud user of online liability waivers, now is an opportune moment to use previously collected data to improve your engagement and donor stewardship strategies. 

Your staff can easily sort through, analyze, and make the most of the donor data from all the online waivers in your database. After all, one of the greatest benefits of online waivers is the ease of collection of useful data, so don’t let this resource go to waste. 

Using your data for marketing purposes is one of the smartest moves you can make, as attendee data can help you to build more effective outreach campaigns as you try to engage, retain, and acquire more support.

Here are some key data points that can be extracted from your online waivers (and some examples of what you can do with them!): 

  • Age: Find out what age group the majority of your supporters fall into. If your audience tends to skew younger, you may want to strengthen your online marketing practices, while an older audience may prefer traditional advertising efforts, such as direct mail. 
  • Gender: Do your events tend to cater to a predominantly male audience or are your activities composed of mostly female participants? Maybe your nonprofit appeals equally to all people, and that should be highlighted in your outreach efforts.
  • Location: Make note of whether the majority of participants come from around the same area as your nonprofit, or whether you have a good portion of tourists or other visitors partaking in the events. Then you’ll know how, when, and where to focus your marketing.
  • History: Take a look at whether your participants tend to return after their original experience with your nonprofit. If you have plenty of first-time visitors but few follow-ups, you may want to adjust your guest communication strategy to draw in repeat attendees.
  • Referral: In addition to basic contact information, consider asking participants where they heard about your nonprofit (online, word-of-mouth, advertisement, etc.). This is a great way to recognize the impact of various strategies and/or communication channels.

When you analyze and better understand the demographics and lifestyle trends of your current supporters, you’ll have a better idea of how to target those same supporters and others just like them. For more information, check out this AccuData guide to effective data marketing. Learn more about the type of data your team should be tracking so you can create a plan for successful growth.

In addition to any other marketing and communications strategies you may implement, one particular aspect to keep in mind is personalization for each supporter. 

Instead of sending out blanket, over-generalized event emails to your supporters, consider taking a more individualized approach. As you may have already encountered by personalizing your fundraising appeals and other donor outreach methods, personalization can have a powerful positive impact on your supporters, their view of your organization, and their likelihood of engaging with you in the future.

When you deal more personally with your supporters, you can create strengthened donor, volunteer, and attendee relationships that will last far longer than any single event. This is what makes it so important to extract online waiver data and infuse it into your event invitations, updates, and thank-you messages after the fact, strengthening your donor communications.

If you use your online waiver software correctly, you can easily find event attendees’ history with your nonprofit—such as what activities they’ve participated in, whether they’re a repeat customer, and how long it’s been since they’ve visited. Let them know you look forward to seeing them in the future, and consider offering perks like discounts, event merchandise, and other incentives to reconnect with your organization.

Finally, it’s important that your supporters have something to look forward to, especially as you try to steward newer supporters into lifetime donors and advocates of your nonprofit. Start planning events to boost excitement and build on the momentum you’ve gained from your previous events.

Thanks to the internet and other online tools, you can start to drum up interest well before the time of an event. With online waiver software, you can let eager participants sign weeks– or even months— ahead of time.

Additionally, you can effectively use donor data you’ve collected from previous event waivers to jumpstart your planning. Use information like past attendee numbers, audience demographics, and even mobility and accessibility limitations to create an event that’s as appealing as possible for your supporters.

Events are a critical part of how you engage with your nation of supporters, which makes it incredibly important to keep them going as smoothly as possible. Make sure you have the right resources to maintain an efficient process, from the planning stages to registration and the completion of your event.


Not only do online liability waivers protect your nonprofit from lawsuits and legal damage, but they can also offer protection and guidance as you navigate the best practices for creating events that are as efficient and effective as possible.

By streamlining event registration and enhancing future event planning endeavors, your online waivers provide assistance in getting your event management processes into high gear and setting up your organization for greater event success!

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This article was contributed by Daryl McCarl, Director of Business Development at Smartwaiver, the leading digital waiver service trusted by thousands of organizations around the world.

Review of Fidelity Charitable Giving Report 2022

What is this Report?

The report is an annual report of Fidelity Charitable donor advised giving for the prior year. It explores both giving to Fidelity Charitable donor advised accounts as well as giving from donor advised funds to charities.

What are key findings from the article?

  • Fidelity Charitable donors gave $10.3 billion in 2021, a 41 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels. It’s a 13 percent increase from 2020. Grants went to over 187,000 organizations.
  • People gave $331 million in cryptocurrency to their donor advised funds in 2021. That’s up from $28 million in 2020! Sixty-six percent of all donations to DAFs were not-cash, including non-publicly traded assets and publicly traded securities.
  • Fifty-one percent of DAFs have balances under $25K. Thirty-eight percent have balances between $25K and $250K. Eleven percent have more than $250K on their balance sheets.
  • Ninety-one percent of DAFs made at least one grant in 2021. Sixty-four percent gave the grant to charities to be used “where needed most.” Forty-eight percent were re-grants; 27 percent were scheduled grants to the same organization; and 25 percent were grants to new organizations, suggesting stability in giving.
  • Four percent of donors were anonymous. Fourteen percent only included the Giving Account name while 82 percent included donor name and address.
  • Religion remains number one for distribution of grant dollars, followed by human services and education. Human services decreased slightly from 2020 giving. However, the organization that has received the most DAF grants was Doctors without Borders, again number 1, followed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and then the American National Red Cross. Some grant levels are returning to pre-pandemic levels.
  • Three billion dollars was allocated to impact investments, up from $1.8 billion in 2020.
  • Donors also made $11.7M of recoverable grants to charities. It’s like a loan where charities had to achieve certain milestones “before returning the funds to Fidelity Charitable for future recommendations.”

What can I do as a result?

  • Make sure you advertise that your organization accepts gifts from DAFs. A campaign to target donor advised funds might be another option. There’s a lot of money flowing in and out of donor advised funds. Plus, we know that recurring donations are a real boon to nonprofits. With 75 percent of donations from DAFs going to charities that had already received prior gifts, there’s a real opportunity of turning a one-time gift into a recurring one!
  • Thank your donor advised fund donors. The report confirms that only 4 percent are completely anonymous. Send thank you’s and make phone calls to this segment, provided they have not asked you not to contact them. Just because they give through a gift vehicle, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate that special touch. It might make the difference between that one-time gift and a yearly one.
  • Advertise if your organization can convert non-cash assets. With 66 percent of all donations to DAFs as non-cash assets, people are looking for a way to donate these hard-to-convert items. If your organization can deal with these assets, you should let people know. That way, they could come to you instead of creating a DAF.
  • While DAFs have their controversies, they are here to stay. The time to get ready to accept donor advised funds is now.

Additional Resources

5 Ways to Build Community With Supporters on Social Media

You have likely seen nonprofit organizations using social media platforms like Facebook to fundraise, usually in the form of peer-to-peer campaigns. Fundraising on social media is a great strategy for nonprofits, but it’s not the only way your organization can use social media. 

When used correctly, social media is an essential tool in a nonprofit’s marketing strategy. In this guide, we’ll cover a few ways that you can use social media to build community with your supporters and strengthen donor relationships: 

  1. Use your platform to inform supporters
  2. Show the inner workings of your organization
  3. Engage with your followers 
  4. Go live! 
  5. Showcase your brand personality 

With these tips, your organization can properly capitalize on the benefits of social media for building a strong and loyal supporter community. Let’s get started!

Use your platform to inform supporters

While creating educational posts about your cause is important (and is likely something you already do), you can also create informative posts about things like how your nonprofit uses donations or how text-to-give works. Educating your followers about not only your cause but how they can get involved and how your organization actually works, will reduce barriers to involvement and increase their trust in your organization. 

For example, you could create a post with multiple graphics for Facebook and Instagram that walks supporters through how they can donate through text-to-give and how it works on the back end. You can also create video versions of these graphics to use on TikTok or Instagram Reels to reach more people! This not only helps non-tech-savvy supporters who would like to donate, but it can also help resolve any concerns about the security and validity of mobile and online donations. 

Bonus tip: After you share this kind of post once, you can reshare it or link to it when marketing new campaigns to continue providing that resource for new and existing supporters alike. You can also re-create updated versions if you need ideas for new content to post!

Show the inner workings of your organization

While you’re giving followers an insight into how donations work at your organization, you can take it a step further and get staff and volunteers involved. 

  • Staff or volunteer story “takeovers.” Various members of your staff, or even volunteers, can take turns being featured on your stories talking about what they do at your organization, why they’re involved, and more. 
  • “Day In The Life” posts. This type of content is usually best as a video or on stories. Have your social media manager record what volunteers or members of your staff do in a day to show followers how your organization works. 
  • Highlighting staff and volunteers. Another option is to introduce your staff or volunteers with static posts featuring an image and a “get to know me” blurb in the caption. Have them talk about themselves, what they do at your organization, and why they chose to get involved. 

Sharing more about the internal workings of your organization and the people that make your work possible is a great way to boost employee engagement. It’s also a creative volunteer engagement idea that can make volunteers feel more like insiders at your organization. Most of all, it helps supporters get to know your organization better, which will increase their connection to you and your cause. 

Engage with your followers 

Social media should not be looked at as a one-way medium. While you’re putting out content to your followers, you should also be engaging followers instead of just expecting them to interact with your content. 

Snowball’s guide to donor engagement highly recommends interacting with your supporters on social media to strengthen your relationship. Not only will this make your followers feel a stronger connection to you (and that you care about them!), but it’s also what the algorithms want to see. The more that accounts interact with each other, the more they show up in each other’s feeds. So, it’s in your best interest to engage with followers. 

To engage effectively, you should: 

  • Respond to comments and DMs in a timely manner.
  • Post to your stories (on platforms with this feature, like Instagram).
  • Use engagement stickers on stories like polls, quizzes, and question boxes.
  • Create a hashtag for supporters to use, then interact with and reshare relevant content in that hashtag.

No one likes a one-sided conversation, not even on social media. Taking the time to interact with your followers and show them they’re not just a faceless “like” to you will increase their connection to your organization and potentially boost your posts’ reach! 

Go live! 

Almost every social media platform now has some version of a “Live” feature that allows you to interact with supporters in real-time. You can go live to share an update while speaking directly to the camera, or do so during an event to share the excitement and success with supporters who couldn’t make it. Some organizations also use Lives to do educational discussions with experts or Q&A sessions for supporters. 

Here are some tips for going live:

  • Have a clear purpose for going live
  • Advertise your Live in the coming days and weeks
  • Make sure you have good lighting
  • Ask the viewers questions 
  • Address viewer comments on your Live
  • Download and save your Live to be repurposed or shared

The Live feature available on many social media platforms is an excellent digital tool for giving your followers a more personal view of and connection to your organization. Make sure you follow these tips to host high-quality Lives that your followers want to engage with!

Showcase your brand personality 

Social media can be overwhelming because of the sheer amount of content that gets shared every minute. It can feel difficult to stand out or even just show up in this environment. That’s exactly why it’s crucial to create a cohesive brand image that makes your content recognizable. You can do that by: 

  • Using consistent fonts and colors. Pick a set of fonts and colors (ideally ones that match your website and customized donation page branding) and use them on all of your stories and graphics so that followers can easily recognize your posts. 
  • Choosing content pillars. You can choose to post, for example, three main types of content, like educational posts, behind the scenes, and trending content, and then build a content calendar around those pillars. 
  • Turning trends into relevant content. On platforms like TikTok and on Instagram Reels, learning to take a sound that many people are using in their videos and apply it to your niche is crucial for getting eyes on your content. Duolingo’s TikTok account is a great example of an organization doing this.

Because social media is an important part of a nonprofit’s digital campaigns according to Getting Attention, you want to do everything you can to stand out from the crowd. Consider all of these tips when you’re putting together your social media content strategy to create a cohesive and unique brand image. 


Social media can be a difficult beast to tackle, but with the right strategy and intent, it can be an incredibly powerful tool for connecting with existing and potential supporters. While you’re focusing on creating a killer social media strategy, don’t forget to make sure your donation page follows best practices for when you successfully convert followers into donors! 

Author:

John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations. 

Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.

5 Online Donation Page Mistakes Nonprofits Should Avoid

What does an ideal online donation experience look like for a nonprofit donor? A few words might come to mind, such as easy, fast, or intuitive. And while donors want a seamless and simple online donation experience, the reality is that it takes a lot of effort on your nonprofit’s end to provide that experience. 

Of course, putting in the effort to improve the online donor journey is well worth it. Your nonprofit’s online donation page is a critical part of your digital toolkit. When a website visitor navigates through to your donation page and walks through the steps of contributing a donation to your cause, they’re providing you with the means to move your mission forward and giving your organization a vote of confidence that indicates they believe your work is making a difference. 

Though most nonprofits understand the importance of their online donation pages, important steps in the process of creating a donation page or maintaining it can sometimes fall through the cracks. Especially if your team lacks nonprofit website design experience, it can be easy to unknowingly make online donation page mistakes that actually hurt your donors’ experience. 

Luckily, there’s no need to be a coding expert or master web builder to avoid these mistakes. All you need is a content management system (CMS) built for nonprofits and a knowledge of missteps to avoid. In this post based on Morweb’s guide to donation page design, we’ll cover five common mistakes nonprofits often make with their donation pages: 

By knowing the mistakes to watch for, you can easily design (or redesign) an effective donation page that will meet your donors’ needs and help you pull in support. We recommend that you evaluate your own organization’s donation page as you read through this guide. This will help you identify whether any of these five mistakes are present on your own page and give you a headstart on fixing them.  

Let’s dive in so you can get started on improving your donors’ online donation experience! 

Mistake #1: Not branding your donation page to your organization.

The Mistake

Some nonprofits make the mistake of creating a generic-looking donation page. When a donor navigates to the donation page, it might look to them like it’s hosted by a third-party site, giving the impression that it isn’t a trustworthy tool to enter their contact and payment information into. Plus, without visual indicators of your brand, the act of donating might feel like a money grab instead of an act of generosity that will benefit your organization’s cause.

How To Fix It  

You can fix this common mistake by adding a few visual branding elements to your donation page. According to Getting Attention’s post on nonprofit branding strategies, here are some common elements you can consider adding:  

  • Logos: Your nonprofit’s logo is a visual representation of your work. Whether your logo is an abstract design or an emblem featuring a symbol that is important to your work, your logo gets people thinking about your mission. Place your logo at the top of your donation page to mark the page as a legitimate tool on your site. 
  • Colors: Colors are an important branding element because they set the mood and tone for a webpage. For example, a light pink color scheme communicates energy and positivity, while a neon pink color scheme might just be hard on the eyes. Choose your colors carefully and make your donation page coloring match the rest of your website.
  • Fonts: Even the look of the text on your donation page can have an impact on a donor. For your donation page, match the font on the rest of your website. Ideally, this will be a professional, easy-to-read sans serif font instead of swooping calligraphy or chunky, bolded block letters. 

Maintaining branding consistency on your donation page is critical for demonstrating your organization is trustworthy and professional. Much like leveraging a secure payment processor, branding your donation page can go a long way in building rapport and trust with your donors.

Mistake #2: Asking too many questions on your form. 

The Mistake 

Imagine one of your supporter’s friends learns about your nonprofit on Giving Tuesday. They get excited about the change you’re making in the world and want to donate. They arrive on your donation page and begin filling out your donation form. But after one page of questions turns into two and then three, this new supporter starts to become frustrated, feeling like the process is taking too much time. Not to mention, your organization seems to want too much of their personal information.

How To Fix It 

Asking too many questions on your donation form is a big online donation page faux pas, causing some donors to abandon their plan to donate altogether. There are three ways you can fix this problem: 

  • Ask only for necessary information, like contact information, donation amount, and payment information. 
  • If you are interested in getting extra donor data to use in donor communications down the road, include a few extra questions and mark them as optional
  • Ensure that your form sticks to one page in length to increase the likelihood of donors completing their gift. 

When donating only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require a donor to give over too much information about themselves, they’ll not only be more inclined to complete an initial gift — they’ll also be more likely to use your page to give again! 

Mistake #3: Failing to optimize your donation page for accessibility. 

The Mistake 

Even the best nonprofit websites out there sometimes miss the mark when it comes to making their donation pages accessible to everyone. An accessible web design ensures that all users — whether they’re hard of hearing, have visual impairments, or use screen readers — can access your content and use tools like your donation page. Without an accessible donation page, you could be missing out on donations from supporters whose only hurdle is being able to use your tool. 

How To Fix It 

Here are three simple ways you can make your donation page more user-friendly for all of your supporters: 

  • Add an accessibility widget. Your nonprofit-specific CMS should offer an accessibility widget that puts the power back in your supporters’ hands. This allows them to change the coloring of your donation page to greyscale, increase text size, highlight links, and change hard-to-read fonts to sans serif. 
  • Include alt text on all graphics and images. Alt text is a one-sentence description you add to the backend of images and graphics on a webpage. It helps to make sure that website visitors who can’t view your images (such as those using screen readers) won’t have any gaps in their experience with your page. 
  • Provide captions for all multimedia content. Some nonprofits like to include an inspiring video on their donation page that can motivate supporters to submit their contributions. If you include a video on your donation page (or any other type of multimedia content), provide transcripts or captioning for those elements. This will allow those with hearing impairments to get the information they need from these elements. 

Optimizing your donation page for accessibility takes only a few extra steps, but can pay off as you’re able to demonstrate to your supporters that you have their needs in mind, and, as a result, receive more donations. 

Mistake #4: Forgetting to include multiple giving options. 

The Mistake 

The experience of giving a donation to a cause you care about is very personal. After all, donations require sacrifice, as well as a deep investment in the cause you’re giving to. This is why donors like to personalize their giving experiences by taking advantage of different ways to give. Some nonprofits, however, neglect the opportunity to promote these different giving options on their donation pages, leaving their donors in the dark about how they can further their individual impact. 

How To Fix It 

Dedicate some space on your donation page to listing multiple ways to give. This will increase the likelihood that donors will take advantage of these opportunities that they might not have known about before. They may even inspire a donor to give more or give again, helping with your retention efforts. 

Here are a few options you might consider highlighting on your donation page: 

  • Your monthly giving program: Many donors would give on a consistent basis if it was easy. Try offering donors an option to check a box or sign up for your monthly giving program. This way, they don’t have to remember to return again and again to give. Instead, they’ll be billed each month. 
  • Matching gifts: If you partner with a matching gift software provider to help employees take advantage of their employers’ corporate philanthropy efforts, let your donors know on your donation page. An easy way to do so is to embed a matching gift database on your form that people can search to see if they are eligible for matching. 
  • Suggested giving amounts: Providing suggested giving amounts can help donors see what a “typical” donation amount is for your organization. Plus, they can encourage them to bump up the amount of their gift. For example, if a donor was planning to give $5 and sees a suggested donation amount of $10, they might double the size of their gift!

While you don’t want to overwhelm your donors with too many options, giving them a few choices when it comes to how they give to your organization can make their experience more meaningful. If your nonprofit is trying to decide which giving options to offer, try surveying your donors to see what most appeals to them. 

Mistake #5: Not thanking your donors after they’ve submitted a gift. 

The Mistake 

Every nonprofit professional knows the importance of donor recognition, especially when it comes to handwritten thank-you letters or big demonstrations of gratitude, like setting up a major donor thank-you luncheon. However, not every nonprofit adds an automated thank-you message or email to their online donation page experience. This can leave some donors feeling like blank checks instead of people who truly care about your cause. 

How To Fix It 

An initial thank you is an important part of receiving a donation, even if you’re eventually going to send a longer and more personalized thank-you message. Try setting up an email cadence that is triggered by the submission of a donation. Thank the donor for their gift and offer them additional opportunities to engage with your nonprofit, like following your organization on social media or signing up to volunteer at an upcoming event. Alternatively, you could add a pop-up thank-you message to your online donation process that displays after a donor completes their gift. 

The Gist 

Too many nonprofits fall prey to common online donation page mistakes that have easy fixes. Now that you know about these common problems, analyze your own nonprofit donation page with a critical eye. Try to take a step back and see your page from your donors’ point of view and make the needed fixes to improve the donor journey. A positive online donation experience will go a long way in helping you retain your donors’ support and increasing donor engagement. Good luck! 

Author: Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.

Book Review | The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions

In April 2021, Forbes reported that billionaires’ wealth increased by 35% (or $1.2 trillion) since January 1st, 2020. Now compare that with the significant hardship and income loss that non-billionaire Americans have faced since the start of COVID-19. For example, in June 2021, Jeff Bezos blasted off into space with his own rocket, despite criticism about underpaying his own workers.

Chuck Collins’ The Wealth Hoarders explores how people like Bezos and his fellow billionaires are using wealth management (or what Collins calls the Wealth Defense Industry) to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. His work is a stunning indictment of the wealth management system including the wealth managers, lawyers, real estate sellers, and more who help the Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW), which Collins defines as having over $30M in financial wealth, protect their wealth from taxes and debtors.

Even more striking, Collins makes the case that the US, not Cook Island or the Bahamas, is the biggest tax haven in the world right now.

Who Should Read This Book?

Prospect researchers are always trying to understand how people think about wealth and how they hold it. As researchers, we probably have come across some of the tactics that Collins talks about, such as finding property held by LLCs or discovering businesses incorporated in Delaware.

This book helps us better understand how the UHNW manage their assets and house their wealth.

The book provides a useful breakdown of the different ways of holding and hiding wealth. We’ve heard about the Panama Papers and the more recent Pandora Papers that told us what we already knew – that what we can see from publicly available sources is only the tip of the iceberg.

But what I found most impressive was his discussion about family offices in chapter 4. The “All in the Family Office” chapter does a deep dive into family offices, which are a way for families with over $100M or $150M manage their wealth. It’s not something we stumble upon frequently in our work but obviously, it’s a major wealth indicator. Experts estimate there are between 7K-10K family offices around the world with a good chunk originating in Boston, MA. I also found it fascinating to learn that families with $25M may participate in multi-family offices!

What was most stark and useful for the prospect researcher is an exploration of the attitudes that the UHNW have about their wealth. At the beginning of the book, Collins explains that he comes from a privileged background as an heir to a Midwest meat packaging company. He talked about attending an event for people like him to better understand how to manage their wealth. When he poses the question about the discomfort of having all this wealth, he is quickly advised that it would be class suicide to touch the principal of his fortune. Giving away to charity from your income is fine, but it would be selfish to touch the principle, he’s advised by his friend Dee, a very wealthy woman with her own family office.

This friendship with Dee in particular is quite striking. Collins may be young and idealistic, but he’s uncomfortable with the status quo. Dee, on the other hand, is quite philanthropic and has done her bit to “give back,” but assured with her place in the world and the right of wealthy people to keep their money. Their arguments about wealth and keeping it provide a starting point for Collins’ entire book.

Where Does It Take You?

He divides the book into 12 sections – three preludes, an introduction, seven chapters, and an epilogue. The first prelude explores his “origin story” where he is at a weekend conference put on by a local foundation and family office to discuss wealth. He also explores his relationship with a woman who has her own family office who tries to convince him that touching his principle is a big mistake.

The second prelude explores the Blue Hippo Swindle where CEO Joseph Resnin swindled low-income people out of a lot of money, was successfully prosecuted, but not a dime was paid out to his victims or the government because of his success in hiding his assets. The third prelude is an example of how Isabel del Santo, a wealthy Angolan, managed to extract millions of dollars from her country and squirreled it away, thanks to the Wealth Defense Industry.

The first chapter explores the cost of wealth hoarding, including the threat to democracy, shifting tax burden onto everyone else, and more. The second chapter then looks at the people who make up the wealth management including insights from Brooke Harrington, author of Capital without Borders, and a former attorney in the industry who is working to challenge their practices.

Chapter three looks at the “tools of the trade,” talking about shell companies and trusts with special consideration of Delaware and South Dakota.

Chapter 4 looks at family offices as discussed above. In Chapter 5, titled “The Wealth Hiding in your Neighborhood,” he explores other vehicles for housing wealth – specifically art and property. I watched this play out in the recent documentary about the recent Leonardo Da Vinci painting “Salvator Mundi,” where the painting was stored in one of these storage facilities. Storing art in a Free Trade Zone allows the wealthy to store their wealth in different assets and avoid having to pay duty taxes.

He also does a deep dive into the buying of real estate as a place to store wealth, rather than wealth generating (like renting them out or flipping them). He even explores how this practice erodes communities and city centers, drives prices up, reduces available affordable real estate, and hollows out neighborhoods.

Chapter 6 looks at the justifications that people make about these practices. Collins focuses on the excuse that many people make that these practices are legal, but points out that these same people are influencing the laws. The second justification is that the wealth industry is merely giving customers what they want. Collins argues that there is an interest in doing what is best for society as a whole, and not just a tiny portion of the populace.

Chapter 7 concludes with recommendations of the policy changes that end these practices and increase transparency. The epilogue is an appeal to people not to work in wealth management.

Is It Worth the Purchase Price?

At $21.99, this book is worth the price. Even if you may disagree with many of Collins’ points about the sources and causes of wealth inequality — the book has a blurb from Senator Bernie Sanders — the book provides some valuable insights into how the wealthy keep and hold their wealth as well as their thoughts about it. For me, the chapters on family offices and different ways of keeping wealth were well worth the price all by themselves.

The book also helps prospect researchers understand a little bit more about what we are seeing when looking at sometimes confusing property records or company incorporation documents. Sometimes the information is missing…on purpose.

It also made me realize that people who work in wealth management are worth a second look at themselves when we do profiles for our organizations. While they may not command the same amounts of money as their clients, they work in a lucrative industry and may be open to philanthropic giving.

Ultimately, the book is a welcome successor to Brooke Harrington’s Capital without Borders and well worth a read by anyone thinking about wealth in the United States.

Additional Resources

Apps for Nonprofits: A Crash Course About Handheld Tech

Scrolling through social media, paying for parking, checking email, and playing games— the tasks you can complete with a smartphone have drastically expanded since phones were first connected to the internet in the early 2000s. Whether virtual and hybrid events, smartphones, or working from home, individuals desire the ability to engage and participate in society from wherever they are, with the technology they already have on hand.

Of course, whenever new technologies are embraced on a wide-scale across society, your first question as a nonprofit professional is this: how can we leverage this tool in our array of nonprofit technology to increase efficiency, better connect with supporters and constituents, or even raise more funds?

In this case, the answer is to consider whether mobile apps for nonprofits will improve your operations and invest accordingly. In this crash course to apps for nonprofits, we’ll answer the following questions:

The forward motion of nonprofit technology innovation is swift, and new nonprofit technologies are emerging on a daily basis. The last thing you want is to be the organization that’s stuck behind the curve— something that can make the difference between a donation made and one that’s abandoned in the check-out process.

With that, let’s dive in.

What are apps for nonprofits?

There are a variety of mobile apps that may be useful for nonprofits in their daily operations. For example, Zoom is a helpful livestreaming tool for nonprofits to use when hosting virtual events or town halls, and it’s available in app form. Social media apps are helpful when it comes to broadcasting information to your online supporter base en masse, and the calendar app is helpful when it comes to keeping your team on track with daily operations.

Keep the role that these general apps play in your operations in mind when creating your overall technology strategy. For example, when you send out an email blast, it should be mobile-friendly to ensure supporters reading it on their iPhone or Android devices can do so without experiencing a drop in quality.

However, for the purposes of this guide, these general phone apps don’t fall within our definition of nonprofit apps.

DNL OmniMedia’s guide to apps for nonprofits defines them as:

“Apps explicitly created for the nonprofit sector, to meet specific nonprofit strategic needs.”

These are apps created by nonprofit technology providers to meet nonprofit-specific needs, such as volunteer management, event management, fundraising, or even internal scheduling. There are a variety of providers who have embraced this trend, so there are likely more options available on the market than you realize!

Why should you incorporate nonprofit apps into your tech stack?

Keeping costs low is the name of the game for nonprofit professionals, who seek to dedicate as many resources to their mission as possible. So, why should you invest in yet another technology solution, in addition to the solutions you already have?

The data around mobile phone use, pulled from the apps for nonprofits guide linked in the last section, makes a convincing argument:

  • 96% of Americans own a mobile phone, with 81% of those being smartphones.
  • 1 in 5 Americans accesses the internet through their smartphone alone.
  • 1 in 4 donors discovers new nonprofits to support through their smartphone.
  • 1/4 of donors donate through a mobile phone.

Not only is smartphone use widespread in the U.S., but for some donors, it’s their primary way of accessing any online materials. This is why many nonprofits seek mobile accessibility in all of their technology solutions, including donor management systems, websites, and more. Beyond accessibility arguments, there are a variety of benefits that occur when nonprofits incorporate mobile apps into their strategy, including:

  • The ability to make the most of exciting tech innovations. For example, mobile phones empower you to connect with “donors on the go,” showing that your nonprofit is ahead of the curve.
  • Access to more data than ever before. While the technology solutions you have currently certainly provide a plethora of supporter data, nonprofit apps give you access to data about a new audience— mobile supporters.
  • The ability to create custom-branded apps. Nonprofit apps are evolving, allowing organizations to invest in custom solutions that are branded to and built for their organization. This increases trust in the supporters who access the app.

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of investing in a nonprofit mobile app, let’s cover the types of apps that are available to your nonprofit.

What types of apps are available for nonprofits?

When you consider the major groups your organization coordinates and the main fundraising efforts you conduct, there are likely nonprofit apps corresponding to each. Here are a few main types of apps currently available for nonprofits:

  • Volunteer and Membership Apps: These apps are supporter-facing tools that empower volunteers or members (if your organization runs a membership program) to manage their engagement with your nonprofit. Volunteers can sign up for shifts, log hours, and view their past serving history. Or, members can make dues payments, view upcoming events and opportunities, and stay updated on the latest news with your organization. Popular examples include Boardable for board management and Wild Apricot for member management.
  • Event Apps: These are apps created for managing major fundraising events. This includes charity auction apps, such as Handbid. These apps empower auction attendees to bid on items, make one-off donations, and keep track of their various bids to stay competitive and make counter bids throughout the event.
  • Advocacy Apps: These apps are designed to make it as easy as possible for supporters to advocate for specific legislative action on behalf of your mission. For example, DNL OmniMedia offers an advocacy app, MobileAction!, that empowers advocates with pre-filled contact information of key political leaders, pre-filled fields containing your ideal messaging on a topic, the ability to make calls or send messages directly from the app, and the ability to log advocacy actions in the app to report back to your nonprofit.
  • Internal Apps: This includes any apps created to increase internal efficiency. For example, Humanity is an app created for nonprofit staff scheduling. It allows you to auto-schedule shifts, monitor any risk of understaffing, and stay abreast of any shift trading that occurs on short notice.

If you make it easy for people to interact with your nonprofit, they’ll be more likely to do so. When volunteers can sign up for shifts from their phone, they’ll do so more readily. More auction bids will be made, driving the overall “winning bids” higher and higher. More advocacy calls will be made and messages sent, increasing the chances that the action you’re hoping to result will occur.

What should you keep in mind when investing in a nonprofit app?

Just as with any other nonprofit technology, you don’t want to invest in a nonprofit app without carefully considering and preparing for the decision.

First and foremost, ensure you’re investing in the right app for your nonprofit’s needs. For example, can it be branded to your organization? This drastically increases the trust that supporters will have in the app, so it’s an important consideration to keep in mind. Further, will it integrate with your other nonprofit technologies? The top solutions to consider are your constituent relationship management and online donation software.

Once you’ve chosen a solution for your organization, you’ll also want to consider whether your team needs any training to use the app. When you incorporate new technology, technical difficulties are to be expected — you want to prep both your internal team and supporters to respond accordingly. This could mean hosting a training in which you walk through how to use the app effectively or offering a one-page resource that breaks it down step-by-step. Either way, we recommend recording or otherwise taking notes on how to use the app, so this training can be easily replicated going forward.

If you’re wading into the waters of nonprofit mobile apps for the first time, consider working with a nonprofit technology consultant in the process. This team member can help you choose the right solution, integrate it into your existing technology strategy, and even train your team to use it effectively.


Engaging on mobile phones is only going to get more popular going forward. How is your nonprofit going to make the most of this innovative technology?

With nonprofit-specific mobile apps, you can better connect with supporters and staff members, increasing engagement with your nonprofit. And, with the help of a nonprofit technology consultant, you can ensure the process of investing in a new app goes smoothly. Good luck!

Author: 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.