Nonprofit and faith-based organizations have lost their traditional methods of community and donor engagement due to the global health crisis. Many groups are turning to digital giving platforms and other tech solutions to maintain and boost giving.
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The holiday season is the time of year when charitable giving hits its peak, with nearly one-third (31 percent) of annual giving occurring in December alone. However, the pandemic pushed nonprofit and faith-based organizations to face unfamiliar hurdles while navigating the most recent holiday season, forcing them to throw away traditional methods of community and donor engagement. Now, those methods can be used all year round to raise awareness and funds for worthy causes.
As the crisis continues to affect traditional methods of engagement and giving, many nonprofits and churches have accelerated the adoption of digital giving platforms. They can no longer rely on in-person events and services to raise donations. This digital giving is looking to be more than a trend.
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Nonprofits such as charities, research foundations and churches have typically been very old-fashioned in the way they collect donations. These entities commonly stay connected with donors through mailers and events (such as galas and luncheons), where money is collected for specific causes. One example of these traditional methods is the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas Kettle campaign.
Through the Christmas Kettle campaign, volunteers stand outside — at times dressed as Santa — ringing bells to draw in donors who can place cash or checks inside of the branded red kettles. For the 2020 Christmas Kettle campaign, the Salvation Army turned to touchless digital giving. Spokesperson Mike Leland stated in a December press release, “In the midst of the pandemic’s second wave, the safety of the public, our staff and volunteers is our number-one priority — everyone’s health is extremely important to us. The reality is we still have to raise money to serve our communities and we hope this new technology is the answer to our worries this year.”
Nonprofits have been pushed to move quickly toward digital methods of giving due to the pandemic, and this trend is likely to stay due to the impact it has on the increase in donations through an easier payment method. At Pushpay, our data has shown that when organizations leverage digital solutions to accept donations, giving increases by 64 percent, recurring giving increases by 24 percent and overall giving increases 12 percent annually.
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Keeping it personal
It’s imperative for nonprofit leaders to build relationships with customers through digital and mobile experiences. Personalization is key to driving customer loyalty. KPMG found that personalization is the strongest pillar in driving customer loyalty in 19 of 27 markets studied and noted that understanding customer-specific needs and circumstances and adapting the experience accordingly is now the expected norm. With this in mind, organizations should look at their current approach and determine what areas they can implement a personalized approach. For example, nonprofits could check-in with donors through recurring e-mails, electronic-thank-you cards or virtual event invites on community pages (e.g., Facebook Live tree lightings, church services).
Nonprofit and faith-based organizations are also turning to software-as-a-service (SaaS) technologies such as an integrated church management software (ChMS) that provides actionable data insights to build stronger, more personalized relationships with their communities, maximize participation, and grow giving. Digital connection platforms allow for nonprofits to have more giving moments with their community members. ChMS, for example, can generate data for nonprofit leaders to harness insights to keep a good pulse on the health of donors and their giving habits. For instance, a church may have someone who donates consistently month over month but suddenly stops giving. This may indicate changes in that person’s financial situation and is a great cue to reconnect with that donor and offer help. Another example would be using ChMS to identify patterns in member attendance (virtually or in-person), which can provide staff leaders some insight into who is engaging, who may be disengaging, and even who might be in a period of distress. With these types of digital platforms, charities, churches, and other nonprofits are able to stay connected to their donors as we continue to live in a socially distant world.
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Highlight donor impact
Digital giving platforms offer a clear and simple way of showing donation summaries or money raised. This can be leveraged to show donors exactly how they’re contributing and even what the funds are being used for. Reconnecting with donors to share this information ultimately continues the life cycle of donation efforts. The more connected people feel to the cause, the more likely they are to donate. Highlighting donor impact ultimately allows donors to feel more engaged and a part of something bigger than themselves.
Leveraging technology to assist in keeping these audiences captivated is morphing into the lifeline of the nonprofit sector and is accelerating rapidly as the world continues to evolve post-crisis. Nonprofits must be open to adopting digital giving solutions as technology continues to advance and the world pushes forward — together but at a distance.