Making Passive Fundraising Work for Your Nonprofit: 4 Tips

As a nonprofit professional, you’re always looking for innovative ways to fundraise. While your organization likely runs several major fundraising events and campaigns throughout the year, it’s also important to find ongoing revenue streams that engage supporters and bring in funding between campaigns. 

Fortunately, there is a way to earn additional revenue while keeping up with the rest of your nonprofit’s activities: passive fundraising. According to the fundraising experts at ShopRaise, passive fundraisers allow supporters to generate revenue for the causes they care about by taking actions they were likely going to anyway, such as shopping online or eating at their favorite restaurant. Plus, most of these fundraisers are easy for your nonprofit to set up and run over time.

However, the term “passive fundraising” is a bit misleading, because your organization shouldn’t treat these fundraisers passively. To make passive fundraising work for your nonprofit, follow these four tips:

  1. Choose the Right Passive Fundraiser for Your Organization
  2. Spread the Word About Your Fundraiser
  3. Incorporate Your Nonprofit’s Branding
  4. Track and Analyze Your Fundraising Data

If your nonprofit approaches passive fundraising strategically, all parties involved can benefit. Your organization receives a steady stream of unrestricted revenue, and supporters get to contribute to a good cause as they go about their daily lives. Plus, passive fundraising often involves collaborating with for-profit organizations, boosting their reputations as socially responsible businesses that partner with nonprofits like yours. Let’s get started!

1. Choose the Right Passive Fundraiser for Your Organization

Before your nonprofit launches a passive fundraising campaign, you’ll need to do your research. There are a variety of passive fundraising options and programs, so weigh the benefits of each to choose the best fit for your organization.

Some passive fundraising methods your organization could try include:

  • Online shopping fundraisers. Online shopping fundraisers allow supporters to contribute to your nonprofit as they make everyday purchases through their favorite online retailers at no additional cost to them or your organization. To get started, all you need to do is partner with a shopping fundraiser program, which provides the app your supporters will use to shop for your cause.
  • Gift card sales. In addition to buying products online, your supporters can purchase digital gift cards on behalf of your cause through a gift card fundraiser platform. They can then use these gift cards for online or in-person purchases and share them with friends and family.
  • Restaurant partnerships. There are several types of restaurant fundraisers, but the most common is profit sharing, where the restaurant splits the profits they earn on particular days with your organization. Locally owned restaurants are often willing to partner with nonprofits that improve their communities, and some larger chain restaurants have profit-sharing programs you can sign up for as well.
  • Charitable brand lines. Some nonprofits collaborate directly with businesses to create products that benefit their cause. For example, a jewelry brand might design a line of beaded bracelets made from recycled plastic and donate a portion of the profits to an environmental nonprofit. While these products may not be on supporters’ everyday shopping lists, they make great gifts and provide a way to shop ethically.

One major factor to take into account when deciding between passive fundraising methods is the time and effort required to form partnerships with the businesses that will support your fundraising efforts. The best online shopping fundraiser programs and gift card platforms will handle all retailer negotiations for your organization. However, to establish restaurant partnerships and create charitable brand lines, you’ll typically need to communicate with businesses yourself, so keep that in mind if your nonprofit chooses either of those options.

2. Spread the Word About Your Fundraiser

No matter which passive fundraiser you choose, marketing is essential for its success. Consider promoting your fundraiser using the following marketing channels:

  • Your nonprofit’s website. Create a page dedicated to your passive fundraiser, and include a link to your fundraiser’s external landing page if it’s taking place online.
  • Email marketingWhen you launch your fundraiser, send dedicated email blasts announcing it and providing instructions for how to get involved. If your nonprofit has a monthly newsletter, add reminders to it so supporters remember to continue participating.
  • Social mediaOn each of your organization’s social media accounts, pin your first post explaining your passive fundraiser to the top of your page and reshare it regularly to maximize its reach.
  • Flyers. Whether print or digital, flyers can supplement your other fundraising efforts by catching supporters’ attention through an appealing design. To reduce the amount of text on your flyer, include a link or QR code to additional information on your website.

Your passive fundraising partners may be able to help you spread the word as well. Businesses can promote the fundraiser to their customers, and some gift card and shopping fundraiser platforms will design marketing materials for your nonprofit to use. Take this added benefit into account when deciding on a passive fundraising method.

3. Incorporate Your Nonprofit’s Branding

Branding not only communicates your nonprofit’s mission and values, but it also makes your organization recognizable. By incorporating your nonprofit’s branding into your passive fundraiser’s landing page and marketing materials, you can encourage both new and existing supporters to get involved.

Kwala’s guide to nonprofit branding recommends focusing on the following elements:

  • Color scheme. In your fundraising materials, incorporate the colors that represent your organization’s brand and ensure there is adequate contrast between text and background colors to improve readability.
  • Typography. To make your communications more visually interesting, incorporate two brand fonts: one for headings and one for body text. However, it’s best not to use more than three typefaces to avoid a cluttered look.
  • Logo. Your nonprofit’s logo symbolizes who your organization is and what it stands for. Consider creating a few variations of your logo, such as one containing your nonprofit’s full name and one with an abbreviation, so that you have a design ready to align with each fundraising material’s layout.
  • Tagline. A tagline captures your mission in a concise, memorable way to grab supporters’ attention and get them interested in participating in your fundraiser.

In addition to spreading awareness of your passive fundraiser, your nonprofit’s brand builds trust with supporters. When they encounter a landing page or piece of marketing content with your colors, fonts, logo, and tagline, they’ll be reassured that all of their contributions will go toward your mission.

4. Track and Analyze Your Fundraising Data

The most successful fundraising strategies are data-driven, and passive fundraisers are no exception. There are several ways you can apply the data you collect from passive fundraising, including:

  • Adjusting your marketing efforts to focus on the channels with the highest conversion rates.
  • Building out the profiles in your donor database with new demographic and engagement information from passive fundraiser participants.
  • Writing more effective donor thank-you messagespersonalized with each recipient’s name and fundraising total.

When you sign up with a passive fundraising platform or partner with a business, make sure to discuss how you’ll track donor participation data and marketing conversion rates. Having a strong system in place from the beginning will make data analysis easier over time.

Although revenue generation methods such as online shopping fundraisers, gift card fundraising, restaurant partnerships, and charitable brand lines are deemed “passive,” they still require some effort on your nonprofit’s part to succeed. By creating branded marketing materials and analyzing data throughout your fundraiser, you can expand its reach and keep donors engaged all year long.

Author: Korri Piper, Sales and Marketing Consultant & Director of Vendor Relationships at ShopRaise
Relationship director, project manager, writer and general life enthusiast. Let me tell you how online shopping can solve the world’s problems.

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