From Auctions to Text-to-Give: Accelerate Your Fundraising (Guest Post)

Incorporating new methods of fundraising can energize both your supporters and nonprofit staff, as Jacob Spencer, Customer Success & Account Manager at Donately, explains in this article. He offers five actionable ideas for elevating and adapting your current efforts so you can better serve your cause!

Your nonprofits’ fundraising efforts are in a rut. Perhaps you’re struggling to meet an impending fundraising goal deadline or you’ve simply gone on for too long using the same old fundraising strategies. Your supporters are looking for something new and exciting to get involved in, just as you’re looking to inject new life into your fundraising strategy. 

From hosting an online auction to giving newer platforms such as text-to-donate a whirl, there are plenty of invigorating fundraising ideas that can give your efforts the jolt they need to succeed. These fundraising ideas might be the catalyst your organization has been looking for to bring your strategy out of its stagnant state and approach fundraising with renewed vigor. 

This guide will help you accelerate your fundraising with the following ideas: 

  • Incorporate a text-to-give campaign in your next event.
  • Optimize your online donation page. 
  • Take advantage of an annual giving day.
  • Plan your auctions more strategically.
  • Leverage matching gift programs. 

Here at Donately, we’re obsessed with what’s new and revolutionary in the world of online fundraising. Our digital fundraising tools and ideas help nonprofits explore untapped fundraising opportunities and optimize their strategies to raise more for their causes. We’ve seen all kinds of organizations increase their success by pursuing these ideas. Let’s dive in!

Incorporate a text-to-give campaign in your next event.

Text-to-give campaigns reach donors on a device most of us already use every day—our mobile phones! 85% of Americans now own smartphones, and studies have shown that Americans check their phones an astonishing 96 times a day

These statistics all mean one thing—if your organization isn’t equipped to launch a mobile-focused campaign, you’re missing out on a potentially major fundraising opportunity. 

Donately’s text-to-give guide explains how the process works: 

Flow chart with giving process
  1. Set up a mobile-friendly donation page using your online fundraising platform.
  2. Invest in a text-to-give platform and receive a dedicated phone number and keyword.
  3. Share your number and keyword with supporters and encourage them to text the number.
  4. When supporters text the keyword to the number, they’ll receive a link.
  5. The link reroutes them to your online donation form, where they fill in their information and submit their gift. 

You can offer an ongoing text-to-donate option and use social media and emails to invite donors to participate. You can also encourage supporters to share the number with their own networks so more people get involved.

Another way to use this platform is to encourage more donations throughout a specific fundraising event. This way, you can keep attendees engaged in fundraising throughout the event to keep the momentum going. 

Let’s look at an example of what this could look like. Perhaps you’re hosting a hybrid event like a silent auction. Amid the ongoing bidding, you can intermittently throw your text-to-give number up on the screen and encourage in-person and virtual attendees to contribute. You can even set hourly fundraising goals to ensure your event is making progress toward your overall goal. 

This platform can accelerate your fundraising by offering a convenient, easily accessible way to solicit continuous donations. 

Optimize your online donation page. 

Your online donation page is the staple of your virtual fundraising efforts. It’s a fundamental aspect of several fundraising campaigns like your text-giving campaign and peer-to-peer fundraisers, and you can easily promote the page using your social media posts or email newsletters.  

As this guide to nonprofit fundraising strategy points out, in today’s internet-obsessed world, your organization needs a way to accept donations 24/7, 365 days a year using digital platforms. Your giving page is the centralized hub that can allow you to accept donations at any time using a variety of payment methods. 

To increase donations quickly, your donation form should be streamlined, well-designed, and conveniently accessible. Your page should be:

  • Embedded in your website. This makes it easy for website visitors to identify where they should go to contribute. You should also design the page with your organization’s brand guidelines in mind to leave donors with no doubt about where their donations are going. 
  • Streamlined to only include necessary form fields. Don’t bog donors down by playing 20 Questions on your donation page. Only ask for necessary information (e.g. their name, contact information, and payment data), and limit the visual elements on the page to keep visitors’ focus on completing their donations. 
  • Compelling. Choose images and graphics that showcase your mission and the impact your organization makes on the world. Include a brief but captivating description of why a donor should support your cause and what their gifts fund. Just bear in mind that you don’t want to overload the page with too much content as we mentioned.

Here’s an example of what your donation page might look like across different devices:

Donately Donation Page

You can see how this page gets right to the point by asking visitors to choose their donation amount and input only necessary payment information. This page uses just one engaging photo and a brief description at the top to draw visitors in and remind them of what they’re contributing to. It’s also optimized to fit any screen size, which is critical so you don’t alienate anyone using a smartphone or tablet. 

Check out this donation page best practices overview for more tips on how to design your online giving form. Remember that your form shouldn’t just be a payment processor—you should use it to reaffirm your supporters’ decisions to give and reassure them with a professional, streamlined process. 

Take advantage of an annual giving day.

Nothing sparks urgency in donors like a 24-hour fundraising challenge! Annual giving days offer just that—an intense period of fundraising spurred on by a dedicated marketing push to raise awareness and encourage supporters to get involved.

Here are a few ideas for launching a giving day fundraising campaign:

  • Giving Tuesday: Giving Tuesday is the annual international fundraising movement that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It’s the unofficial kickoff of the year-end giving season, and it’s becoming more popular each year, meaning this is a great opportunity to hitch your fundraising wagon to. Create social media posts with relevant hashtags like #GivingTuesday and your own unique fundraising hashtag to raise awareness and generate enthusiasm for your campaign. 
  • Awareness day: Your cause might align with an annual awareness day. For instance, if you work for any environmentally-focused nonprofit, you might launch special events on Earth Day. Or, if your organization raises awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research, you might participate in activities on World Alzheimer’s Day (Sept. 21). These special days provide a natural opportunity to promote your cause and encourage people to give. 
  • Peer-to-peer challenge: Boost the urgency of your giving day even more by adding in a little friendly competition. With a peer-to-peer challenge, you can recruit volunteers to fundraise on your behalf and compete against each other to see who becomes the top fundraiser. Fun challenge ideas include a run or walk-a-thon or a social media video or post challenge.

Because all of these fundraising ideas are contained within a single day, they naturally inspire a greater sense of urgency. But you can also use your marketing platforms to spread the message that supporters have to give right now or else you won’t reach your goal. Create posts tracking your fundraising progress and encouraging supporters to keep contributing. An illustration like a fundraising thermometer can be an effective visual representation of your efforts that illuminates your progress throughout the day. 

Plan your auctions more strategically.

Many nonprofit organizations rely on annual auctions to provide a sizable chunk of their annual fundraising revenue. But just because you might host an auction each year doesn’t mean your event has to offer the same experience each time. 

For instance, at your next auction, offer valuable items and a variety of unique and interesting experiences that intrigue bidders and provide them with something new. Dedicated online auction item platforms like TravelPledge help connect nonprofits with business owners willing to contribute exciting experiences ranging from wine tastings to multi-day luxury trips. 

Keep in mind that the success of your next auction event doesn’t just rely on inviting the right people who will be top bidders—it’s also important to take a strategic approach to acquire corporate partnerships. Corporate partners donate the items and experiences you’re looking for that will entice your audience to bid higher. Plus, if you’re able to make a meaningful connection with a corporate partner, you can create a mutually beneficial partnership that lasts for many years. 

Check out this blog post to explore best practices for requesting corporate sponsorships for your next auction. Tips include leveraging personal connections and creating personalized messages for each business to capture their attention. Be sure to also emphasize what the business will receive from this relationship, including positive publicity and a marketing opportunity. 

Another way to approach auctions more strategically is by writing personalized letters for each prospective corporate sponsor rather than generic, one-size-fits-all emails. This helps make your cold outreach less awkward and more genuine. Be sure to use letter and drip campaign templates to guide your outreach strategy and provide a framework for all future efforts.

Leverage matching gift programs. 

Matching gifts are a valuable, often-untapped resource that can help you raise a lot for your cause in a relatively short period of time.

In matching gift programs, companies match donations made by their employees to eligible nonprofits. Businesses often match at a 1:1 ratio, but some offer 2:1, 3:1, or even 4:1 ratios. Even with this great potential, Double the Donation’s fundraising statistics page explains that an estimated $6-$10 billion goes unclaimed in matching gift funds each year.

So what does this mean for your fundraising efforts? These programs represent a potentially exponential increase in fundraising. All you have to do is reach out to your audience members, explain the impact of matching gifts, and encourage them to research their eligibility. 

Using a service like Double the Donation’s database, you can even embed a matching gift database into your donation page so donors can research their eligibility right on the spot, without having to open another webpage. This is critical because your goal is to keep visitors on your donation page and avoid distracting them with external links so they can follow through with their contributions. 

Matching gifts often excite and inspire donors because they see how their individual contributions are automatically bolstered by their companies’ matching funds. By increasing your matching gift rate even a little bit, you can make a major difference in your fundraising progress because individual gifts can be doubled, tripled, or even quadrupled. 

If you’re looking to accelerate your fundraising strategy, don’t be afraid to make a few bold moves and get creative. These ideas are low-risk, high-reward opportunities that can infuse your fundraising efforts with new life and engage supporters in unique ways. You can impress donors and corporate sponsors alike with the fresh new ideas you bring to the table. Good luck!


Incorporating new methods of fundraising can energize both your supporters and nonprofit staff, as Jacob Spencer, Customer Success & Account Manager at Donately, explains in this article. He offers five actionable ideas for elevating and adapting your current efforts so you can better serve your cause!