Nonprofit Basics: What is Annual Giving?

While it’s widely understood that nonprofits raise funds to support their important causes, nonprofits themselves incur their own costs. These costs—such as renting an office space, compensating employees, and paying the bills—aren’t covered in restricted fundraising campaigns, such as capital campaigns. That’s why annual giving, which supports the daily costs incurred by nonprofits, is an essential fundraising effort for nonprofits each year. 

What is Annual Giving? 

According to BWF, annual giving encompasses a nonprofit’s efforts to receive donations and funds received for daily operations, ongoing projects and initiatives, and other activities for which an organization might not have a specific fund set aside. Essentially, annual giving describes the initiatives that a nonprofit or university carries out to raise reliable funding throughout the year. 

While annual giving is essential throughout the year, the year-end giving season is the most important time of year for annual fundraising. With Giving Tuesday occurring near the end of November and inspiring giving across the nonprofit sector, it serves as a great opportunity to capitalize on year-end generosity.


30% of annual giving occurs in December, and 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the calendar year.


In addition to Giving Tuesday donations, year-end giving is popular through the December holiday season not only because of the spirit of generosity during this time but also because it’s the last chance donors have to make a tax-deductible donation for the year. In fact, according to Nonprofits Source’s 2022 Charitable Giving Statistics, 30% of annual giving occurs in December, and 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the calendar year.

Why is Annual Giving Important?

Annual giving can be a reliable source to help fund your organization’s ongoing programs and projects. As an ongoing initiative, annual giving allows your nonprofit to fulfill its mission, as well as communicate its mission on a regular basis. Additionally, annual giving comprises unrestricted funds. This means that, unlike an endowment, these funds are not confined to being used for a specific purpose but can be used for continual improvements to your organization.

When they’re well-thought-out, annual giving campaigns can also help form stronger donor relationships and build a donor pipeline that continually transforms prospective donors into actual supporters. Donors can support your organization at any point throughout the year, allowing them to feel connected to your nonprofit and its purpose. Annual giving allows your donors to express their loyalty, which helps them feel that they’re making an impact, while also allowing your organization to identify your most loyal supporters.

How to Plan a Successful Annual Giving Campaign

If you’re ready to get started with building an annual giving campaign for your organization in the upcoming calendar year, there are a few key considerations. As you’re planning your annual giving strategy, keep in mind the following recommendations:


Keep in mind these considerations to ensure that your annual giving campaign will be successful. 


  • Set your goals for the year. How much is your nonprofit hoping to raise for its annual fund? Calculate your current expenses plus ongoing projects as a starting point. Then, set a goal that is achievable while still striving to exceed your past fundraising totals.
  • Identify prospective donors. Annual giving is a great way to identify your most loyal donors, but when you’re first starting your annual giving campaign, you’ll have to segment who these potential loyal donors will be. Send your annual giving requests not only to previous donors but to other types of supporters—such as volunteers and event registrants—as well.
  • Create a compelling message. Why should your supporters donate to your annual giving campaign? You should be able to answer this question before you launch your campaign. Remind supporters of your message and what specific projects and operations will be impacted by their donations.
  • Personalize outreach. Supporters provide data about their likes and interests every time they interact with your nonprofit. What types of events are they attending? What causes and campaigns are particularly important to them? Make sure to segment your outreach with the data and demographic information your nonprofit gathers.
  • Make it easy to donate. Make sure to optimize your online donation tools and donation forms to make giving simple for both mobile and desktop users. If you’re launching your campaign via email, include a link to your donation form. If you’re sending direct mail, include a QR code to your donation page.
  • Express appreciation for donors. As with any other type of gift, let your donors know how much of an impact their donation made on your organization. Keep your donors updated with information about what the annual giving campaign specifically funds, and always make sure to send a thank you message, whether in the form of an email, a postcard, or a text message.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more about nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

8 Steps to Create a Powerful Annual Giving Campaign – Read on to learn more about maximizing your annual giving efforts with more tips for your next campaign.

Digital Fundraising | 7 Powerful Campaign Ideas to Try – Launching your annual campaign digitally? Check out BWF’s ideas for hosting a successful digital fundraising campaign.

Discover how adoptive families can use adoption fundraising to bring a child into their home.

Nonprofit Basics: Adoption Fundraising for Families

Thousands of children are adopted into loving families each year. Adoption provides numerous benefits for the child and the parent adopting. It gives children a sense of family, provides opportunities they may not have had otherwise, and offers parents the chance to experience raising a child.

Unfortunately, adoption isn’t always accessible to every family due to the high costs associated with the adoption process. Private adoption, for example, can cost between $30,000 and $60,000. So, how can adopting parents offset these expenses? One way families can afford this costly process is by organizing adoption fundraisers.

Let’s get started by discussing what adoption fundraising is.

What is adoption fundraising?

Adoption fundraisers are special fundraisers that help families that adopt a child cover the costs and fees associated with the adoption process.

Concerns about adoption fees are one of the main reasons prospective adoptive parents shy away from adopting. Raising some or all of the funds they need to pay for home inspections, court and legal fees, counseling for the child and their birth parents, social work services, and medical needs help families feel like adopting is attainable.

How can parents organize an adoption fundraising event?

There are a few different ways that adoptive parents can raise the money they need to adopt a child into their family. Parents can either start an adoption fundraiser or work with a nonprofit organization. Here’s how the process will look depending on which route they take:

  • Individual. By working individually, parents have more agency during the fundraiser. They are guaranteed all the profits of the fundraiser and can complete it according to their timeline. One downside, however, is that parents will need to cover all the upfront costs of the fundraiser themselves. Fundraising individually can be stressful and requires parents to determine how to make progress on their own.
  • Partnering with a nonprofit. Another popular option for adoption fundraising is working with a nonprofit dedicated to helping prospective adoptive parents fundraise. Nonprofits can help parents cover more costs, have a built-in network of supporters interested in supporting prospective adoptive parents, and have much more fundraising experience and expertise. On the flip side, they may also need to keep a percentage of the proceeds and could have a predetermined set of fundraising ideas they use, limiting which fundraising approach parents use.

Both fundraising approaches have their advantages, so choose the option that makes the most sense for your situation. Remember that while fundraising can be difficult, it can also have a significant impact by allowing you to complete the adoption process.

What are some adoption fundraising ideas?

The high upfront costs associated with adoption can be a barrier to entry for many families interested in adopting. But, a strong fundraising event can help families offset these expenses, making adoption more accessible. Fundraising ideas like these can provide parents with a path to adoption:

Here are three simple adoption fundraising ideas.

  • Item donation drive. For this unique and easy fundraising idea, parents can ask community members to donate used clothing, shoes, and other items. Then, they can partner with a company that will send them a check in return for these donated items. It’s a convenient and direct method of fundraising that can be an ongoing project.
  • Yard sale. This is a classic and for good reason! Consider asking friends and family to bring their unused items to your home so you can bolster sales and have some helping hands. Be sure to choose a sunny weekend, and advertise your yard sale to the neighborhood.
  • Auction or raffle. These fundraisers can draw a lot of attention because people enjoy participating. To avoid high costs at the fundraiser’s start, look for ways to get your auction or raffle items at a low cost. If you can obtain the items for free, that’s even better. Because this limits how much parents spend, their overall return on investment will increase.

Parents should choose fundraising ideas they have the budget and capacity to complete. Since the goal is to raise money, it’s essential to carefully select practical and profitable ideas to avoid wasting precious time and energy. This idea holds true, especially when parents are fundraising individually.

While adopting can come with hefty upfront costs, adoption fundraisers can help offset those costs and provide prospective parents with a path forward. Parents can choose to fundraise on their own or with a nonprofit organization, depending on their preferences. Nonprofits often have more tried-and-true frameworks in place but may also require a percentage of the proceeds.

Fundraising individually allows prospective adoptive parents freedom but can require a lot of energy. Thankfully, there are plenty of effective fundraisers parents can undertake from item donation drives to auctions. At the end of the day, remember to express thanks to volunteers, donors, and anyone else who supported your journey.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Read more essentials about nonprofit management by exploring these resources.

Nonprofit Marketing: A Guide for Amplifying Your Mission – Explore ways to leverage nonprofit marketing to build awareness for an organization’s mission.

Nonprofit Newsletter Template for Nonprofit Marketers – Learn more about the basics of nonprofit newsletters and how to make them shine.

Image of one person looking at a screen that says update and one person holding a block with a dollar sign on it

Nonprofit Basics: Moves Management

Moving supporters towards donating requires intentionality. To persuade donors to give, especially major donors, your nonprofit will need to regularly interact with them to build a relationship and lead them to giving.

This process, known as moves management, is a precisely defined approach for how a nonprofit interacts with donors and guides them through the donor journey. To begin cultivating and documenting these essential donor relationships, nonprofits should develop an understanding of moves management as a method for organized and deliberate fundraising.

What is moves management?

Moves are efforts a nonprofit makes to earn support by pushing a supporter along in their donation journey. Moves management is the act of tracking and recording those moves to understand where each supporter is in their journey. This intentionality allows nonprofits to take specific and more successful actions based on the status of each supporter.

What is moves management strategy used for?

The moves management strategy you choose to employ in each individual case will depend on the history and status of the supporter. For instance, you should use moves management to advance relationships with these three types of high-value supporters:

  • Major donors. Major donors provide the majority of your nonprofit’s funding and are the primary group you will apply moves management strategies to in order to build long-term relationships. Doing so can result in multiple, reliable major gifts over time.
  • Capital campaign donors. The bulk of your funding for a capital campaign will come from a select number of major donors who have a strong investment in your nonprofit. Moves management for these donors should include moves where your nonprofit discusses upcoming capital campaign projects, their importance to your mission, and how donors can play a major role in them.
  • Planned donors. Planned giving is an option for more than just major donors. As such, nonprofits should also craft a moves management strategy specifically for their moderate donors who may consider planned giving in the future. These moves may not be quite as personalized as you would for major donors, but they should still be deliberate and attuned to each donor’s unique journey.

Moves management is useful for all of these scenarios, as well as for courting gifts for specific events and campaigns. Consider annual events in your moves management strategy, such as ramping up activities near the end of the year when many donors are likely looking to give.

Graphic listing the steps in moves management detailed in the article

What are the steps in moves management?

Moves management strategies will vary depending on the nonprofit, but for many nonprofits, the general steps are as follows:

  • Define the target audience. Ask yourself who your organization needs to reach and why. A good time to do this would be while you’re building your nonprofit’s digital strategy. For instance, for prospective planned donors, you might tailor your digital interactions to include educational materials about planned gifts and donor spotlights for current planned donors.
  • Identify and analyze prospects. Comb through your database and find individuals who have sufficient capacity and affinity to make a major gift. Research their past philanthropic history, business connections, and any other data that will be useful for crafting appeals that match their interests.
  • Set donation goals for prospects. Create a matching gift chart to organize your efforts. This chart will consist of a set number of donations and how many individuals you can expect will give each amount. Organize prospective donors into the chart by using reasonable approximations based on the person’s history with your organization and wealth indicators.
  • Create a donor cultivation plan. During this stage, a nonprofit should outline specific steps and benchmarks for moving each donor to their eventual gift. Have team members track which moves have been made to keep a reliable record, which can be continued for potentially multiple years-long donor relationships.
  • Make your donation request. Personalize your asks based on each donor’s cultivation plan. This process as a whole should help you hone in on making the right ask at the right time.
  • Consider next steps. Have a plan in place for whether donors respond positively or negatively to your ask. These steps should be to either move them to their next gift or further solidify the relationship and course-correcting before asking again.

Your CRM will likely be your central tool for recording which moves are being made and when. Create donor profiles for each of your prospective donors and implement an internal process to ensure these profiles are updated after each interaction with a donor.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

Nonprofit Marketing: A Guide for Amplifying Your Mission – Gain a better understanding of nonprofit marketing best practices.

Prospect Research: The Ultimate Guide for Nonprofits – Read more about tools for prospect research and where to begin.

Discover how grassroots advocacy can build a community of engaged supporters pushing for local change.

Nonprofit Basics: Grassroots Advocacy

When you think of advocacy, you probably think of national-level movements demanding large-scale societal change. However, much important advocacy work starts at the grassroots level, in individual communities. Major change can be enacted by small groups working locally to reach out to decision makers and rally together around a cause.

What Is Grassroots Advocacy?

On a large scale, the term “advocacy” refers to speaking up on behalf of another group who is directly affected by an issue. Grassroots advocacy is advocacy work that takes place in local communities. Your community might mobilize to advocate for a local initiative, or your work might involve contacting elected officials to share your perspective on a more wide-reaching issue.

In community advocacy campaigns, individuals communicate with local policymakers to influence change. These campaigns are a powerful way to build connections, enact meaningful local change, and have a voice in creating the community you want to be a part of.

Leaders of grassroots advocacy initiatives bring information about an issue to their communities, educating and growing a network of engaged individuals who are interested in advocating for a cause. With an organized campaign effort, this network can reach policymakers and push for change.

Benefits of Grassroots Advocacy

Grassroots advocacy provides a way for organizations to make tangible improvements in the community. Benefits of advocacy include:

  • Creating a positive impact at a local level. It can be overwhelming to consider all of the societal changes you wish to see. Grassroots advocacy offers an accessible way to make a noticeable impact in your local community. These efforts can also expand into a broader advocacy campaign that pushes for wider-reaching change.
  • Forging connections in your community. Grassroots advocacy campaigns unite people who share similar visions for the future of their community. Working together for a common goal offers a meaningful way to connect with other community members.

Helping your community advocate for itself in the future. Once you have a network of engaged local advocates, your community will be better equipped to push future advocacy efforts forward.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, but advocacy work can lay the groundwork to make a lasting difference, first in your local community and potentially on a larger scale in the future.

5 Grassroots Advocacy Strategies

Advocacy needs to be strategically planned and organized to be effective. To plan an effective grassroots campaign, implement these five strategies:

Use these five strategies to support your grassroots advocacy campaign.

  • Craft a compelling message. What is your campaign working to accomplish? Being able to clearly articulate your goals and methods is essential to building support for your work.
  • Gather support online. Share informational materials about your campaign, and offer ways for people to get involved by leveraging your organization’s website and social media.
  • Canvass your community. Since your grassroots campaign is focusing on your local community, directly reaching out to members of your neighborhood or town is an effective way to build your network. Talk to community members about your campaign and explain how they can support your work.
  • Launch peer-to-peer campaigns. Involve your advocacy network in fundraising to gather widespread support for your campaign.
  • Host events. Events are a great way for all the people involved in your campaign to meet one another and continue to build connections. Your event might include a group outreach effort, with attendees contacting local decision makers. Events can also double as fundraising opportunities.

When your organization is equipped with the right strategies and resources, you’ll be able to empower your community through grassroots advocacy.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

Community Advocacy: The Complete Guide to Mobilize Change – Dive deeper into the essentials and benefits of community or grassroots advocacy.

Advocacy Software: 14 Top Platforms to Mobilize Supporters – Discover how specialized software can advance your organization’s grassroots advocacy efforts.

Nonprofit Basics: Read-a-thon Fundraisers

Schools require a variety of educational resources and tools to perform their daily operations. Because of this, many schools host fundraisers to ensure that all costs are covered and that students have the best materials possible for their education. Schools need to be creative to find the best fundraisers that are both effective and fun for their students.

What is a read-a-thon?

In the search for a fundraiser that’s both helpful to students and engaging, many schools decide that read-a-thons are the perfect answer. A read-a-thon is an educational fundraiser where schools raise money by encouraging students to read. 

With minimal effort and setup needed from the school itself, read-a-thons simply require that sponsors donate money to your school for every increment (every 30 minutes, for example) that a student reads. 

These fundraisers not only encourage literacy but also are a great way for donors to encourage learning. Their donations will inspire students to read while also allowing schools to purchase supplies or start projects to better students’ overall education.

While read-a-thon fundraisers are especially popular for elementary schools, they can be adapted for other ages as well. For example, read-a-thons work well for middle schools, where students can receive donations for doing their homework or in-class activities—which often require some form of independent reading, anyway. Plus, read-a-thons can inspire older students to foster a sense of independence, as they might take on the responsibility of logging hours on their own.

How does a read-a-thon fundraiser work?

Once you’ve decided that a read-a-thon is a perfect option for your school’s next fundraiser, you’ll want to get set up as efficiently as possible. Use an online fundraising platform to easily accept donations and keep track of students’ progress. Then, once students begin reading, follow these steps:


A read-a-thon happens in 3 simple steps: students log their reading hours, friends and family donate, and students earn prizes for their reading.

1. Students log their reading hours

Students can read any time—during class, at home, throughout the year—and count these hours toward the read-a-thon. Whenever and wherever students read, they’ll track their hours in your online platform.

2. Friends and family donate to sponsor their reading

Each student will create their own fundraising page they can share with friends and family, who can agree to sponsor student participation. Then, these donors give money based on how much time that student spent reading, and the funds go to your school. 

3. Students earn prizes

Your school is not the only one who can receive benefits from a read-a-thon fundraiser— students earn a percentage of dollars raised, which can be redeemed for prizes. Prizes serve as another incentive for students to read and participate, and the more engaging the prizes are, the more participation your school will see. Read-A-Thon’s school fundraiser prizes range from cost-effective prizes, such as fidget toys and books, to high-value prizes, such as a classroom pizza party or gift cards.

If you’re looking for a more unique prize, here are some ideas you can try:

  • Pie-a-teacher prize: Students will get a laugh out of this prize and will feel a sense of community by getting their teacher involved in the fundraiser.
  • Dance/music party: After the students have finished reading, they can get moving—a dance party is a great way to reward students for their hard work while also allowing them to get energy out and have fun.
  • Themed costume week: There’s nothing students love more than a dress-up day. Pick a theme that aligns with your students’ current interests, and don’t forget to let teachers participate, too.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

10 Best Library Fundraisers to Raise More – Looking for fundraisers that specifically benefit your school’s library? Read on to learn about other fundraisers to improve literacy and engagement at your school.

110+ Incredible School Fundraising Ideas – Check out this guide for other fun and effective fundraising ideas to take advantage of at your school.

Nonprofit Basics: Candy Bar Fundraiser

Product fundraisers are a common way for schools and smaller organizations to raise the money they need to run smoothly. This type of fundraiser allows schools and organizations to raise money and provide their supporters with a tangible item, such as a candy bar or popcorn, in exchange for the donation they make. 

Selling candy bars, in particular, is an effective school fundraising idea, because students love chocolate. Students can sell candy bars at any time—at sports games, after-school programs, in between classes, or even during lunch! 

What is a candy bar fundraiser?

A candy bar fundraiser is a fundraising campaign where a school or organization sells candy bars to the community to raise money. It is a popular choice for sports teams, schools, and even churches due to its convenience. 

Candy bars can be bought in bulk at a low price from a product fundraising partner, then sold by students or volunteers. These fundraisers are a great way to keep your investment costs low and your profit high. 

How do you start a candy bar fundraiser?

Product fundraisers are perfect fundraisers for schools because they are fairly easy to organize and promote student involvement. Whether you start it online, in person, or using a hybrid format, the main objective is to sell a product in return for a donation. 

Follow these steps to launch your next candy bar fundraiser: 

  • Research and choose a product fundraising partner. The product fundraiser partner you choose will provide the chocolate bars to your organization in bulk at a wholesale price, and they’ll allow you to create a custom web store for online sales. Choose a partner that fits your organization’s budget and preferences.
  • Decide who will sell the candy bars. Will it be students, sports team members, or even volunteers? 
  • Start selling to your community! Be sure to provide your students or volunteers with advice and support throughout the fundraiser. 

Students or volunteers can sell door-to-door, at events, or online by sharing your fundraising page. Run the campaign for a few weeks, then collect the money you’ve raised and thank your volunteers. 

Candy bar fundraiser tips

When it comes to having a successful fundraiser, planning is not the only element involved. You also want to think about additional factors that can help strengthen the potential of your current efforts.  

Consider the following options to maximize the effectiveness of your next candy bar fundraiser: 

  • Run a candy fundraiser alongside another easy fundraiser, or sell candy bars at other fundraising events.
  • Promote your fundraiser both online and using promotional flyers sent home with students or posted throughout the community.
  • Choose a product fundraising partner that offers a variety of flavors.

Tailor your product fundraiser to your organization’s unique needs and goals using these tips, and you’ll be set up for success!

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

110+ Incredible School Fundraising Ideas – Choose your next school fundraiser from a variety of ideas. 

Unique (And Easy!) Fundraising Ideas – Look over hundreds of fundraising ideas to choose what your next fundraiser will be.

Text donations can amp up your fundraising strategy.

Nonprofit Basics: Text donations

Text donations offer supporters a convenient, simple way to donate, fueling your nonprofit’s fundraising growth and taking your mission to the next level. Explore how you can supplement your existing fundraising efforts by tapping into the power of text-to-give.

What are text donations?

Text donations are monetary contributions that donors give to your organization through text-to-give. In a text-to-give fundraising campaign, nonprofits send supporters donation appeals with a link to their mobile-friendly donation page, allowing donors to easily give from their phones.

There are many benefits to text-to-donate:

  • It’s convenient for your donors. Supporters are already spending time on their phones, making text-to-give immediately accessible. Texting has the highest open and read rate of any platform, with a 99% open rate and 90% read rate within just three minutes of sending.
  • It establishes a reliable donation pipeline. Your organization can repeatedly reach out to supporters via text, using emotionally compelling messages to connect with donors and encourage recurring donations.
  • It’s effective for time-sensitive appeals. Text messages have a 99% open rate and 90% read rate within just three minutes of sending, allowing your organization to push forward donation requests with high urgency and meet deadlines ahead of Giving Tuesday, end-of-year campaigns, and any other campaign or event.
  • It’s easy for your nonprofit to do. By choosing an effective software solution for text-to-give, your organization can access a full suite of useful tools. For example, you should be able to leverage automation, segmentation, schedule-send, and other intuitive features to propel your text-to-donate campaign forward.

Text donations offer another revenue stream for your nonprofit, allowing you to more effectively use your fundraising budget and focus on long-term goals. However, your text fundraising campaign won’t be successful if you don’t put time and energy into creating a text messaging strategy tailored to your nonprofit. Read on to see how you can kickstart your campaign.

How does a text donation campaign work?

Let’s break down how a text-to-give campaign works:

  1. Your nonprofit will partner with a text messaging platform, receive a designated long code or shortcode, and set up a simple keyword related to the purpose of your campaign. Launching your campaign is simple with the right software.
  2. Supporters will text the keyword to your code to opt into your campaign.
  3. Your organization sends donation appeals. Drawing on nonprofit marketing best practices, your texts should tell a story and include a strong call to action that creates urgency, motivating donors to immediately give.
  4. Donors give to your nonprofit by clicking on your mobile-friendly donation link and filling out their name and billing information.

Do your research to find a text messaging provider that will support you throughout the entire process. In addition to giving your organization a comprehensive toolkit, your provider should help you stay compliant with the Telephone Communication Protection Act (TCPA) so you can avoid paying any unnecessary fees.

How can my nonprofit increase text donations?

To help your organization exceed your fundraising goals, use these best practices.

Create compelling text message appeals.

Your donation appeals should explain why you’re raising money and how donors can be the hero in your cause. Use a strong call to action in each text message that outlines the specific next action donors should take.

Supporters can complete text donations with ease.

Emotional imagery can also strengthen supporters’ connection to your cause, so consider sharing visuals of your nonprofit’s beneficiaries or volunteers hard at work completing a project made possible because of donor support.

Personalize your text messages.

Leverage segmentation tools to send supporters highly relevant messages. For example, segment your contact list based on donation frequency, recency, and amount so your donation appeals are pertinent to recipients’ past involvement in your organization.

Additionally, use automation to text supporters with their first names, as this can create a more authentic messaging experience. Messages that are specific and relevant to the recipients increase the likelihood that they’ll complete your request.

Diversify your texts beyond donation appeals.

Refrain from only sending your supporters donation appeals, as this can lead to burnout and frustration. Connect with donors throughout the year by updating supporters on your fundraising progress, recent projects, and other news related to your mission. You’ll also want to thank donors after they give and explain the impact of their contribution.

Determine the frequency of your text messages

Pay attention to unsubscribe rate, open rate, click-through rate, and donor conversion rate to understand donor behavior. These data points can inform the frequency with which you text donors, helping you optimize your text donation campaign strategy.

Avoid sending messages too often, as this can quickly overwhelm donors and cause them to abandon your text messaging campaign altogether. On the other hand, sending messages too infrequently can cause supporters to become disengaged. Experiment with different schedules and use your text messaging platform to generate real-time data reports for each message so you can modify your campaign as needed to promote more engagement.

Text donations are an easy way for your nonprofit to skyrocket its fundraising potential. To optimize your campaign, make sure you work with a leading text-to-donate provider so you can send off text messages with ease and encourage donors to give.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

Higher Education Texting: 8 Tips to Boost Alumni Fundraising – Explore these examples of alumni text donation appeals.

A Complete Guide to Nonprofit Text Messaging Campaigns – Compare nonprofit text messaging platforms and learn more about the benefits of text donations.

Learn how to write a nonprofit marketing plan.

Nonprofit Basics: Nonprofit Marketing Plan

While marketing is typically associated with for-profit companies, nonprofits have just as much to gain from having a strong marketing strategy. After all, spreading the word about your cause is essentially marketing your nonprofit as a thought leader and service provider in your community. Marketing also attracts prospective donors and opens the door to developing a relationship with them. 

That being said, optimizing your marketing campaign is essential to expand your organization’s reach, and you need a solid plan to do so. Using a nonprofit marketing plan provides a source of truth for your staff and eliminates the guesswork when it comes to executing campaigns. If you’re new to marketing and aren’t sure where to begin, we’ll walk you through the basics of crafting a winning nonprofit marketing plan. 

What is a nonprofit marketing plan?

According to Fifty & Fifty, a nonprofit marketing plan is a document that denotes your nonprofit’s marketing and outreach strategies. Your nonprofit marketing plan can encompass a specific campaign or general initiatives to promote your organization and its programs. Whenever you have an idea for a marketing campaign in mind, you should thoroughly plan it out with a nonprofit marketing plan. 

What makes nonprofit marketing different from for-profit marketing?

Essentially, marketing for all organizations has a common purpose: attracting attention to your products or services. The main difference for nonprofit marketing is that your marketing should be purely mission-oriented and focus on your charitable activities. A good way to integrate your purpose is by featuring your beneficiaries in your marketing materials and highlighting how the campaign will improve their quality of life. 

What are the components of a nonprofit marketing plan?

There are numerous sections that you should include in your nonprofit marketing plan, such as:


Answer the following questions that help guide your thinking for setting goals:

  • What worked in past campaigns? What didn’t?
  • What’s our budget?
  • What programs/campaigns are we trying to market?
  • Which channels do our target audiences prefer?
  • How will we brand the campaign?
  • Will we work with a nonprofit marketing firm?

Based on your answers to these questions, you can decide which key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll use to gauge your performance. For instance, your KPIs might be to boost donations or signups for your fundraising event. Ensure you have the infrastructure to track this data so you can determine how successful you were.

Audience research debrief

Effective marketers must have a clear understanding of their target audience’s psyche. In order to analyze your audience’s motivation, priorities, and attitudes, consider conducting audience research. This involves gathering a focus group of people that has similar demographics or interests as your target audience and gauging their responses to your marketing materials. You might use a focus group to decide which branding is more appealing or which communication channel they prefer to use. 

If you conduct audience research, include your findings in your nonprofit marketing plan and how the data will impact your strategy. 

SWOT analysis

A SWOT, or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis, is a method of identifying growth opportunities and potential challenges for your nonprofit. Tailor your strategy to complement your strengths and improve upon your weaknesses. Furthermore, identify any marketing opportunities to pursue and threats to prepare for. Outline your findings in your nonprofit marketing plan and how they shape your strategy.

Marketing channels

One of the most important parts of your nonprofit marketing plan is where you delineate which channels you will use to spread your message. You can market your campaign via:

  • Direct mail
  • Email
  • Social media
  • Texts
  • Online ads
  • Search engine-optimized content
  • Google Ad Grants
  • Your website 
  • Partnerships with related brands or nonprofits

Use your focus group to determine which marketing channels have the most potential for your audience. Then, leverage these channels to engage your supporters and gain more visibility. 

Projected timeline

Next, ensure that your nonprofit marketing plan has a calendar for your campaign rollout. Include which channels you’ll use at what time and the frequency of messaging. For example, you might choose to send email appeals out before posting your marketing content on social media. Include your intended dates and be as specific as possible (exact dates are preferable).  

Campaign reflection

Once the campaign has finished, your work isn’t done yet! Take time to reflect on your nonprofit marketing efforts and examine if you’ve achieved your goals. Make note of any successful tactics that you’d like to use in the future and which strategies missed the mark. Also, examine if you satisfied your goals by analyzing your KPI data. This will help you set new objectives for the future. 

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more about nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

A Guide to Nonprofit Marketing – Learn more about the ins and outs of nonprofit marketing in this ultimate guide.

Nonprofit Marketing Agency: Share Your “Why” – Looking for help launching your marketing efforts? Check out this guide to nonprofit marketing agencies.

A strong fundraising strategy can help your nonprofit create a sustainable fundraising program and lead successful fundraising campaigns.

Nonprofit Basics: Fundraising Strategy

Your nonprofit needs a strong fundraising strategy to drive revenue and deepen your impact. By clearly outlining your goals and creating a coherent map for the future, you can tailor your fundraising approach to your nonprofit’s unique needs, goals, and audience.

What is a Fundraising Strategy?

According to Aly Sterling Philanthropy, a fundraising strategy is a blueprint made specifically to guide your fundraising approach. To effectively raise money and cultivate donor relationships, it’s essential that you create a comprehensive fundraising strategy.

A fundraising strategy outlines goals and future fundraising approaches.

A concrete fundraising strategy can help your nonprofit in the following key ways:

  • Establishes clear direction for the future. A fundraising strategy allows you to set goals, define key performance indicators, and evaluate metrics that measure the success of your initiatives.
  • Improves your team’s time management. When everyone on your fundraising team understands your organization’s plan and how their work relates to overarching goals, productivity will increase.
  • Drives fundraising success. Creating a well-defined plan helps your organization take concrete steps towards achieving its fundraising goals. Over time, you’ll be able to establish a reliable donation pipeline to power your organization’s work.
  • Builds relationships with supporters. A strong fundraising strategy should have your unique audience in mind. Ask your donors about their motivations for supporting your organization, open ongoing channels of communication, and highlight initiatives that will resonate with supporters.

A fundraising strategy involves multiple moving parts, so it’s important that you tap several nonprofit volunteers and staff to work together and develop a plan tailored to the unique state of your nonprofit.

How to Build a Fundraising Strategy

Let’s take a closer look at how your organization can revamp its existing fundraising strategy or develop a brand new roadmap for fundraising success.

Use these essential steps to create your fundraising strategy.

1. Reflect on your existing fundraising strategy.

Look at previous fundraising efforts and their outcomes, focusing on metrics like donor retention rate and total amount raised. What did your organization do well? Where do you have room for improvement?

If your nonprofit has grown since you last revisited your fundraising strategy, evaluate how your strategy should change to work for a larger organization. Working with a fundraising consultant is a great way to determine your organization’s needs and establish a plan.

2. Create concrete fundraising goals and a gift range chart.

A fundraising goal defines the amount of money your nonprofit seeks to raise during a specific initiative or throughout the year. Analyze previous fundraising data or conduct a feasibility study if you’re proposing a capital campaign to create your goals.

Use a gift range chart to assess the viability of your goals. A gift range chart outlines gift amount, number of gifts, number of prospects, and cumulative gift totals.

3. Identify donor prospects.

Conduct prospect research to determine which prospective donors have the most giving potential and are most likely to give to your organization. After determining which donors you’d like to focus on stewarding, you can begin allocating your resources towards different donor segments accordingly.

4. Clean your database.

Clean donor data is essential to stewarding strong relationships. Ensure that your donor database is updated with accurate contact information for your donors and remove duplicate entries. Good data hygiene allows you to customize donor outreach and marketing efforts.

5. Develop a strong case for support.

A case for support outlines your fundraising goals, how you’ll achieve them, and what you plan to do with the money you raise. Articulating what you’ll do once you achieve your fundraising goal is crucial to communicating the value of supporting your organization to potential donors.

Incorporate your case for support into your donor outreach strategy. When writing donation request letters, explain the specific ways a donation will support your nonprofit’s work.

6. Build an action plan.

Based on the information you gathered previously, create an actionable list of steps. Your team can follow these steps to achieve your fundraising goals. These might include donor cultivation efforts, fundraising campaigns, or corporate partnership initiatives.

Your plan should be detailed, including who is responsible for each activity, the estimated cost, and how you’ll measure success.

7. Strengthen your internal operations.

Everyone at your organization should understand how their work relates to your fundraising strategy. Leadership should delegate tasks, establish priorities, and support staff in adhering to goal timelines. Open channels of communication within your organization support strong internal operations.

8. Optimize your marketing strategy.

Reach supporters with an impactful nonprofit marketing strategy. Consider a multichannel approach, incorporating social media, direct mail, and other platforms in order to reach more potential supporters. Customize your messaging on each platform to target specific audiences, but make sure your branding is consistent across channels.

9. Engage and build relationships with donors.

Retaining existing donors is a cost-effective way to fundraise. Continue building relationships with your current donors by updating them on your fundraising progress and thanking them for their contributions. For instance, consider sending heartfelt letters and acknowledging supporters on a donor recognition wall.

10. Determine how you’ll measure success.

Tracking key performance indicators allows your organization to quantify the success of different initiatives and organizational growth over time. Choose metrics closely related to your goals.

You might measure event attendance, donor retention percentage, or donor acquisition rate. Over time, these data points allow you to see what works well for your nonprofit and where you should change your strategy.

An effective fundraising strategy helps your organization lead successful fundraising campaigns and develop a sustainable stream of revenue. By clearly outlining your goals and how you’ll achieve them, your nonprofit will be well-prepared to maximize donor support, even in the most turbulent of fundraising landscapes.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

How to Start a Fundraiser – Discover effective strategies for planning your next fundraiser and driving amazing fundraising results.

The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Strategic Planning – With a strong strategic plan, your nonprofit will have a strong sense of what it needs to accomplish to advance its mission. Explore the basics of crafting a powerful nonprofit strategic plan for the future.

Discover how a donor pyramid can inform your donor stewardship strategy and help you create fundraising plans.

Nonprofit Basics: The Donor Pyramid

To strengthen your foundation for fundraising, it’s important to balance donor acquisition with donor stewardship strategies. Acquiring new donors should always be a goal for your nonprofit, but you also need to prioritize creating lasting relationships with donors in order to retain them over time.

One tool to help you steward existing donors is the donor pyramid. Using this model to visualize your donor base can help you understand how different types of donors are supporting your organization’s goals.

What is the donor pyramid?

The donor pyramid, or gift pyramid, is a graphic that nonprofits create to visualize their donor base that involves arranging donors by giving level. Each level of the pyramid represents a different group of donors, going from prospective donors at the bottom all the way to major donors at the top.

A donor pyramid allows you to visualize your donor segments and cultivate relationships.

Within the pyramid, donors are usually ranked by giving and engagement levels. However, the arrangement of donors may differ based on your organization’s goals. Depending on your objectives, you might also organize donors by giving frequency or donor acquisition date.

Why are gift pyramids useful?

The goal of a gift pyramid is to see where donors are currently and create strategies to move them further up the pyramid over time. Understanding who makes up your donor base is essential to creating a fundraising plan that effectively reaches your supporters and encourages them to give more frequently.

Donor pyramids are helpful for improving both your fundraising and donor engagement strategies. Look at your donor pyramid to determine what major groups comprise your donor base, and consider engagement strategies that target these groups specifically.

Use giving pyramids in combination with other tools, like a stewardship matrix, to intentionally cultivate relationships with your donors. As you use the donor pyramid to visualize donor segments, a stewardship matrix tracks how you engage each segment.

How to create a donor pyramid for your nonprofit

Creating a donor pyramid is a powerful way to visualize your nonprofit’s base of supporters. To create your gift pyramid, follow these steps:

  1. Use donor data to determine levels of giving (minor, mid-level, major). Be as specific as you need to, leveraging information from your CRM or donor database for up-to-date data. Consider investing in predictive modeling to easily and accurately collect data on your donors’ giving potential.
  2. Divide your donors into segments based on giving history, frequency, and amount. A more basic pyramid might only include amount, whereas you might include multiple data points for a more detailed look at your supporter base. Once you have a clear understanding of your donors’ habits, you can optimize the donor journey for different segments.
  3. Determine specific donors or segments you want to steward, and create a strategy. Are you interested in building your monthly giving program? Look at who your current recurring donors are and evaluate strategies that encourage them to donate regularly.

You can vary the structure of the pyramid to fit your organization’s needs. Add levels, change the order of different segments, and change the model as needed to meet your nonprofit’s goals.

Other Resources to Explore

Nonprofit Basics – Learn more nonprofit management essentials by exploring other expert resources.

Nonprofit Marketing: Ultimate Guide and Best Practices – Discover impactful ways to promote your campaigns and market your organization.

40+ Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits to Spread Your Mission – Get inspired by these marketing ideas and find creative ways to share your nonprofit’s mission.