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Future of Fundraising: 5 Nonprofits That Are Leading the Way

This article is contributed by Cassie Losquadro, Solutions Executive at GoodUnited. Cassie has spent the last 5 years in the fundraising technology space. Cassie is energized by working with nonprofit leaders and changemakers who are to a person, saving the world through their initiatives. 

Fundraising is a constantly evolving struggle to engage donors and drum up enthusiasm for your mission. The pandemic hasn’t made this fight any easier, but in the face of all of these challenges, there are a number of nonprofits that have continued to innovate and lead the way towards more intuitive, more engaging fundraising strategies.

American Cancer Society
Stop Soldier Suicide
Habitat for Humanity
Susan G. Komen

Explore how these trailblazing organizations have leveraged the power of social and virtual fundraising tools to increase their success. In fact, taking their strategies as an example, you may very well be able to expand your own incoming revenue streams and discover new and exciting ways to connect with donors.

1. American Cancer Society

How have they led the way?

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a huge obstacle to the American Cancer Society’s typical fundraising event line-up, particularly its Relay for Life campaign. In fact, despite being such a large and well-known organization, ACS faced the very real possibility that it wouldn’t be able to fund its annual research programs.

Luckily, even with its most critical in-person fundraiser dimmed, this nonprofit organization refused to be so easily defeated. Adjusting to restrictions of the pandemic, ACS partnered with GoodUnited to launch a savvy social media fundraising campaign— a Facebook Challenge.

Facebook Challenges allowed ACS to host engaging, virtual peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns to promote their brand and bolster incoming revenue. The organization invited online users to join the Challenge-specific Facebook groups, where they would then complete simple tasks, such as doing squats or walking, while raising funds using personal Facebook fundraisers.

These Challenges not only enabled ACS to meet its annual fundraising goal, but break Facebook fundraising records entirely by acquiring over $23,000 in donations in one day. On top of that, ACS acquired thousands of new supporters through these initiatives.

Now with in-person engagement opening up once again, ACS has paired their new Facebook Challenges with traditional fundraising to maximize overall annual revenue.

How can you emulate their success?

Consider partnering with a social fundraising services provider. These agencies can help you take to platforms like Facebook to reach new supporters and launch intelligent, savvy social fundraising campaigns for increased fundraising success.

For more information on Facebook Challenges and partners to help you host your digital fundraising campaigns, the GoodUnited guide to Facebook fundraisers provides resources and step-by-step information on how you can begin taking advantage of this profitable channel.


How have they led the way?

With human health and social concerns at the forefront of everyone’s minds during the COVID-19 pandemic, ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, struggled to maintain support for their animal-centered mission. ASPCA had to think outside of the box to increase revenue without diverting important resources away from its rescue projects.

Their innovation came in the form of matching gift software. Matching gifts are corporate philanthropy programs wherein a donor’s employer will match their donation by a fixed ratio, sometimes doubling or even tripling the original donation.

By investing in Double the Donation’s matching gift database software, ASPCA was able to integrate a streamlined matching gifts tool directly into their donation form. This has allowed it to multiply thousands of incoming gifts with the simple click of a button.

Best of all, donors were not even burdened to give more than expected—their employers were automatically requested to add onto employees’ gifts.

How can you emulate their success?

Studies show that between $4 – $7 billion in matching gift funds go unclaimed every single year. Don’t allow these funds to continue to pass you by. To raise awareness for matching gift programs and facilitate matching gifts for your donors, consider integrating a dedicated matching gift tool into your own donation form.

3. Stop Soldier Suicide

How have they led the way?

Stop Soldier Suicide (SSS) has been dedicated to battling the rising epidemic of military suicides since 2010, yet COVID-19 presented a uniquely harrowing risk to its cause that it had yet to face. While other nonprofits simply feared financial losses from the pandemic, social distancing and limited person-to-person engagement meant that veterans and their families were more isolated than ever during a time of great emotional distress.

To overcome these grave obstacles, SSS used Facebook groups to connect with people in need. By forming its own state-by-state communities on this platform, SSS was able to maintain a rich network of support between its followers and soldiers in need.

These groups facilitated the sharing of online resources, mental health support, and even the aforementioned Facebook Challenges that enabled SSS to raise over $2.5 million more in 2020 than in 2019.

From greater donations to the creation of lifesaving emotional support networks, SSS was able to revolutionize its online engagement and fundraising strategies in the face of harrowing obstacles.

How can you emulate their success?

Take to social media. Social media is truly the wave of the future, and platforms like Facebook offer sophisticated solutions to generate online donor communities, host Challenges, share resources, and more meaningfully connect with supporters.

4. Habitat for Humanity

How have they led the way?

Habitat for Humanity has had quite a diverse array of different fundraising and engagement programs for decades. For example, not only is it well-known for its volunteer program, but it also actively processes in-kind donations and has run its donation-driven ReStore since 1996.

Between all of these rich and well-maintained programs, it’s difficult to think of how it might’ve been able to expand its operations. Yet impressively enough, Habitat was able to push the envelope of fundraising innovation even further through its online auction initiatives.

Leveraging its Bid to Build program, Habitat for Humanity partnered with OneCause’s virtual fundraising software to seamlessly continue their auction events through virtual and hybrid means.

Not allowing the global health crisis to faze it, Habitat’s online auction campaigns have allowed it to sharply raise incoming donations, continue supporting communities in need, and find yet another way to engage its loyal supporters.

How can you emulate their success?

Consider engaging in online auctions. This is a highly lucrative fundraising method, and the right software solution could easily accommodate the success of any auction type, from traditional auctions to completely new virtual and hybrid auction events.

5. Susan G. Komen

How have they led the way?

The pandemic brought so much attention to the health crisis of COVID-19 that other illnesses and their research campaigns, such as breast cancer, faced a dire threat to their fundraising and engagement goals.

While Susan G. Komen was already active on social media long before the pandemic, it took the crisis as a challenge to double down on their digital strategies, strengthen donor relationships, and engage supporters in fun, innovative ways.

Facebook communities and Messenger allowed it to achieve these objectives. Facebook groups offered Komen a dedicated space to foster intimate, active supporter communities who collaborated to increase the success of the cause for which they were all so passionate.

Meanwhile, Messenger provided an opportunity to engage with supporters one-on-one. Through automated and customizable conversational messaging, Komen was able to encourage supporters to share their survivor stories, engage with supporter communities, and even participate in Facebook Challenges for the mission.

Through these social media tools, Susan G. Komen was able to expand its online audience, exceed fundraising expectations, and deeply enrich its relationship with supporters on a broad and individual scale.

How can you emulate their success?

Make your social media presence count. Engage your supporters in fun and enriching activities, and take to existing social media tools such as Messenger to create lasting connections with your donors through one-on-one conversations.

The world is changing, and many traditional methods of fundraising need to be supported by new techniques. But there’s no reason to fear these new fundraising tools. Many of them are fairly simple to use, and rather than just replacing traditional methods of engagement and brand awareness, they can optimize and even supersede the old ways.

Implement these new, cutting-edge techniques to maximize your fundraising success, connect with supporters, and foster community-building in ways that scarcely could have been imagined not so long ago.

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