The title of the text next to an illustration of a man and a woman with tools and a light bulb rocket ship between them, representing handling unexpected event challenges.

4 Tips for Handling Unexpected Challenges During Events

When planning an event for your nonprofit or association, you’re probably focused on securing a venue, soliciting sponsor support, and encouraging people to register for your event online. Likely, you’re not anticipating things that could go awry at your event. However, all event organizers know there’s a chance that something will go wrong, such as the internet going out, your check-in software malfunctioning, or attendees getting lost.

While you can’t always prevent these issues from popping up, you can prepare yourself to tackle them head-on and ensure your event remains a success. In this guide, we’ll cover tips for handling unexpected event challenges so you can remain calm, cool, and collected if and when disaster strikes.

1. Create a crisis response plan.

Before your event, create a plan for addressing specific protocols and procedures your staff should follow in the case of an unexpected challenge or emergency. While you can’t anticipate every potential issue, list risks and scenarios that could arise and how your team would handle them.

For example, let’s say you’re hosting a panel as part of your virtual event, and the featured panelist loses internet connection, causing them to miss the session. In this scenario, you’d want to have answers to the following questions ready to go:

  • Is there anyone else who can step in to fill the panelist’s place?
  • Does the panelist have any materials or resources that attendees can reference to make up for the information they missed?
  • Will you need to make changes to the event schedule to accommodate the issue?

Additionally, delegate roles for your event staff, volunteers, and other key stakeholders in a possible crisis. That way, everyone knows their responsibilities and can prepare themselves to take action instead of overwhelming the event organizers with questions and concerns.

2. Familiarize yourself with your event tech in advance.

When you’re hosting an event, many of the potential issues you’re anticipating likely have to do with the event technology you’re using. Make sure all staff and stakeholders know how to use the software they’re responsible for—whether that’s your event management platform, app, video conferencing software, text-to-give tool, or something else entirely.

To get all team members on board with your event technology, follow these steps:

  • Assess your training needs. Start by determining who needs to learn how to use which features of your software. For example, volunteers may only need to learn how to check people in with your event management software while staff members must be familiar with how to set up gamification challenges and communicate with attendees.
  • Gather or create training materials. Next, provide your team with the resources they need to familiarize themselves with the software. These may include user manuals, online tutorials, help guides, and training videos. Additionally, you may compile a list of tips you’ve come up with after testing out the software yourself.
  • Offer hands-on training sessions. Lastly, allow team members to experiment with the software in a training session. Consider demonstrating how to use the tool and walking through key features so people can immediately start testing the software and ask questions.

Additionally, EventMobi’s event management software guide recommends looking into the customer support options for your event tools. Will you be able to contact them during the event just in case of an emergency? Some providers will even send a representative of their team on-site, which can help ensure everything runs smoothly and that your team can quickly resolve any issues with the software.

3. Communicate effectively with stakeholders.

If things don’t go as planned, being open and transparent with your stakeholders is essential. Keep everyone informed about the situation—including event staff, exhibitors, sponsors, speakers, and attendees—by:

  • Notifying everyone as soon as possible. Once you’ve assessed the issue and formed a solid plan to tackle it, let your stakeholders know what’s going on. That way, you promote honesty with your stakeholders, even when everything isn’t going according to plan.
  • Providing regular updates. Keep everyone updated on the status of the issue through announcements or push notifications on your event or conference app. For instance, attendees and speakers will appreciate knowing if there are any changes to your event schedule so they can plan accordingly.
  • Explaining your efforts to resolve the issue. Assure stakeholders that you’re working hard to resolve the issue by explaining how you’re fixing things. For example, if your internet connection goes out during event check-in, explain to incoming attendees that you’re currently working with the internet company to get the connection back up and running and will check them in manually in the meantime.

While you may be nervous about disclosing any problems or shortcomings during your event, your stakeholders will prefer your honesty over attempts to cover up the issue and hide it from those involved with your event.

4. Learn from your experience.

Mistakes happen, but it’s how you handle them that matters. After your event, debrief and evaluate how your team handled any challenges. Compare your original crisis plan to what actually occurred, and make updates as needed.

Then, document any lessons learned, best practices, and key takeaways to inform your future event planning and management efforts. For instance, if your conference venue was difficult for attendees to find and didn’t have adequate on-site parking, you may note to seek out another venue for your next event.

Lastly, ask stakeholders for their input. According to 360MatchPro, 66% of people volunteer to improve their community, and 83% volunteer to contribute to a cause they care about. These statistics demonstrate that your volunteers—and other stakeholders—are invested in your success, and they may be able to offer insight into what worked well and what didn’t from a different perspective.

With a plan (and the right mindset) for mitigating challenges, your team will be better prepared to handle any unexpected issues, hopefully alleviating some stress for your organization. After the event, be sure to thank attendees for their patience and positivity despite any challenges that may have occurred, and follow up with additional event or engagement opportunities.

This guide shares insights into the motivations behind why companies donate to nonprofits.

How and Why Do Today’s Companies Donate to Nonprofits?

Companies gave $29.48 billion to nonprofits last year, representing an incredible 3.4% increase. Nonprofits Source shared these impressive numbers in its corporate giving trends article, indicating that companies proactively seek causes like yours to support.

The benefits of corporate support for nonprofits are clear: more revenue, extra volunteer power, and greater brand exposure. But what’s in it for the businesses? It turns out quite a bit!

It’s about more than just looking good or getting a tax write-off. A lot is happening behind the scenes, and we’re excited to share a peek. First, we’ll explore common ways companies give back before diving into the corporate motivations behind these programs. That way, you can find the best opportunities for your cause and confidently interact with companies.

5 Ways Companies Donate to Nonprofits

From employee giving programs to direct donations, corporate giving looks different at every business, yet some programs are more popular than others. Let’s start with the most impactful one.

1. Matching Gifts

Corporate matching gifts help companies give back year-round. When a business offers this program, it promises to match employees’ donations to eligible nonprofits. The approach is straightforward:

  1. A donor gives to your nonprofit.
  2. The individual researches their employer’s program using a company search tool.
  3. If eligible, they submit a matching gift request via paper form or their company’s employee giving portal.
  4. After confirming the gift, the company donates to your nonprofit.

These programs empower your nonprofit to boost donations. When someone is on the fence, being match-eligible may be the push they need to give. In fact, 84% of donors are more likely to donate if they know their gift is match-eligible. In some cases, donors will actually give more — 1 in every 3 donors to be exact.

Knowing a match is on the line even gamifies the giving experience, especially when an employer sets an annual donation goal. There’s just one problem: a lack of awareness. 

You need to educate donors about these programs. Our favorite option is to embed a search tool into your donation page:

An illustration of a matching gift search tool embedded in the Cat Rescue Club’s online donation form

This catches donors’ attention during the height of their engagement. Using the matching gift database, they can research their companies’ guidelines. Matching gift automation software can also follow up with donors based on eligibility. While a match-eligible donor may receive an email linking to their employer’s match-request form, a donor with unknown match eligibility may be prompted to research their eligibility.

Go further than that by featuring matching gifts on your Ways to Give page, a dedicated matching gifts page, fundraising appeals, and social media. Share testimonials from beneficiaries about how an increased donation helped them, and ask your corporate partners to promote the opportunity to employees.

2. Volunteer Grants

Corporate volunteers already lend a helping hand, but did you know some employers will donate to further volunteers’ impact?

Volunteer grants are financial donations companies make to nonprofits where their employees volunteer regularly. This monetizes the volunteer hours their workforce contributes. For example, a company might donate $25 per volunteer hour, with a minimum of 5 hours required.

This encourages employees to engage in community service, knowing additional financial backing will amplify their efforts. Your matching gift database may even house information on companies’ volunteer grant programs, helping you pinpoint these opportunities.

3. Direct Donations

Other common ways companies give back are direct donations, grants, and sponsorships. For instance, AP News reports that Yield Giving, billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott’s foundation, announced it would give $640 million to 361 small nonprofits that responded to an open call for applications. The open call asked for community-led nonprofits with missions “to advance the voices and opportunities of individuals and families of meager or modest means.” Eligibility was limited to nonprofits with annual budgets between $1-$5 million.

According to Renee Karibi-Whyte, the senior vice president of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, open grant opportunities empower organizations without connections to specific funders. These opportunities surface organizations that wouldn’t otherwise have access to those offering major funding. Her company advises funders who run competitive grants and philanthropic prize competitions.

Companies often offer grants through their foundations. For example, 360MatchPro’s list of corporate philanthropy examples shares that the Coca-Cola Foundation awarded $94.8 million in grants to over 300 organizations in 2022.

4. In-Kind Gifts

Companies give in-kind donations of goods or services, enabling them to leverage their unique assets to support charity. Here are common examples of in-kind donations:

  • Pro bono services like designing nonprofit websites or offering legal advice
  • Products, such as how Chobani donates its food products to food banks, schools, and other organizations
  • Free equipment or technology, such as how Google offers Workspace to nonprofits and free advertising credits via the Google Ad Grant program

In-kind gifts can directly fulfill your nonprofit’s specific operational needs or project requirements, reducing expenses and allowing you to allocate your budget directly toward your programs.

5. Cause Marketing

When a company donates a percentage of its sales, it’s known as cause marketing. This approach supports and advertises your nonprofit while also increasing consumer loyalty by aligning the company’s products and services with social causes.

For example, Bombas is a popular retailer. For every item a customer buys, the company donates a pair of socks, a t-shirt, or underwear to a shelter, transitional living facility, or other relevant organization. Through its network of over 3,500 Giving Partners, Bombas has donated over 100 million items.

A summary of Bombas’ impact via in-kind donations, detailed above

4 Reasons Companies Donate to Nonprofits

If you’re a corporate partnerships manager at your nonprofit, understanding how companies give back is important, but you also need to understand why businesses engage in philanthropy. Then, you can align your communication strategy with each company’s goals and interests to secure financial support.

1. Communicate their values

Donating to nonprofits demonstrates a company’s commitment to specific social, environmental, or ethical issues, reinforcing its core values to consumers, employees, and stakeholders.

It’s about strengthening brand reputation, aligning the company’s image with stakeholders’ values, and using resources to influence the causes it supports.

To do this, companies often donate to causes aligned with their products and services. For example, The John Deere Foundation recently announced a three-year $3.9 million grant to the National FFA Organization. For context, John Deere manufactures agricultural machinery, lawn care equipment, and similar products. The unrestricted grant will enable the FFA to provide resources and educational programs to students interested in agricultural career pathways.

“This support truly helps us work toward our mission of preparing members for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success,” said FFA President Molly Ball.

As you can imagine, that grant will go a long way in supporting one of John Deere’s core values: a love for agriculture. Consider how your mission aligns with different companies’ values.

2. Boost employee satisfaction

Employees seek companies that give back to charity. Our employee giving research found that 86% of employees want to participate in corporate giving. CSR programs are linked to increased employee engagement, improved productivity, and reduced turnover by up to 50%.

Corporate philanthropy gives employees a sense of purpose beyond daily business operations. In particular, workplace giving involves employees in philanthropy.

Matching gifts make employees actively involved in corporate philanthropy. Meanwhile, volunteer grants turn employees’ hands-on involvement into financial support that amplifies their impact. Then, in-kind gifts allow employees to leverage their professional skills or contribute goods to nonprofits.

Knowing this, your nonprofit can target corporate employees to direct their workplace giving contributions to your cause. You can also communicate this benefit to corporate partners to increase their likelihood of launching these programs.

3. Tax Deductions

While companies genuinely want to give back, charitable spending is also tax-deductible. This financial incentive makes philanthropy more economically feasible for businesses and encourages them to allocate more resources toward social causes.

Use this compelling point in fundraising pitches. By highlighting donations’ altruistic and fiscal advantages, your nonprofit can strengthen its case for support and show businesses how contributing can be financially prudent.

4. Market Expansion

When a company donates to your nonprofit, it can connect with your donors, volunteers, and other corporate sponsors. That means it can introduce its brand to new markets and demographics. Plus, these new audience members will already know that the company has a philanthropic mindset, positioning the brand favorably in their eyes.

The best part is that this benefit goes both ways! Your nonprofit can access new donors and volunteers from the business’s loyal customers and employees. Corporate giving isn’t limited to industry giants either; local businesses can also boost your reach, connecting you with community members invested in making a difference.

In conversations with businesses, propose marketing their brand as a trade-off for financial support. For instance, if companies sponsor your upcoming 5K, promise to display their logos on promotional materials and event signage, offering them valuable visibility in return for their backing.

Getting Started

Companies donate in various ways for various reasons. There’s a growing commitment among businesses to contribute beyond mere profit-making, but the main point is companies are more philanthropic than ever. 

Your nonprofit needs to tap into these opportunities. When navigating this evolving terrain, understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of corporate giving is crucial for fostering beneficial partnerships. 

Start by searching your CRM for matching gift and volunteer grant opportunities. Contact eligible supporters and explain the grant application process. When your nonprofit joins forces with philanthropic businesses like this, the potential for positive change is boundless.

The article's title, "A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Event Management Software," beside an illustration of a woman using a laptop at a desk.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Event Management Software

For event planners at an association, nonprofit, or other organization, investing in the right event management software can streamline many of your tasks, making your job easier.

From large trade shows to fundraising events, having an event platform that facilitates planning, alleviates common bottlenecks, and enhances the attendee experience can ensure success every time. It also ensures your organization has ongoing access to data that you can use to guide your future decision-making.

However, there are a lot of options on the market and not all of them provide the same level of support or effectiveness. Here’s how to make the best decision before you invest. 

What is Event Management Software?

Event management software is a tool that supports the entire planning process for your event. This typically includes online registration, attendee badging and check-in, and gathering reporting data. 

Well-selected event management software is capable of:

  • Ensuring team productivity and successful working relationships
  • Enhancing attendee satisfaction
  • Improving return on investment (ROI)
  • Gathering strategic insights for decision-making
  • Reducing event planning costs and time drains

The best event management software helps you plan and execute events from start to finish. 

Types of Event Management Software

Every organization’s event needs are different, which is why there are so many different platforms to choose from. There are primarily two types of event management software:

Specialized Single-Purpose Tools

Some software products are single-purpose tools, meaning they are very good at doing one thing or one event. These tools can typically handle tasks like:

  • Registration and ticketing
  • Event marketing and promotion
  • Mobile app design and management
  • Floor planning
  • Badging
  • Sponsor management

If one single, specialized platform meets your specific end goal, it may be more cost-effective to consider this option.

All-in-One Event Management Software

All-in-one event software aims to address all of your event needs in a single platform. This typically includes all event planning tasks, including those listed above.

While these platforms have a higher cost, they can streamline event planning by keeping the entire project within a single application. This often includes everything from registration, event marketing, and event reporting. Their more robust features make them ideal when you’re not just planning a single event but likely will host multiple over time. 

What are the Common Features of Event Management Software?

Depending on your event needs, your software should include the tools and features necessary to plan an effective event and manage it from start to finish. There are numerous areas to consider, such as:

Sponsor Management

Managing sponsors is critical for all event planning teams. Event sponsorship management features can include:

  • Sponsorship categories to organize sponsors based on commitment or sponsorship levels
  • Digital asset management for sponsor logos and graphics
  • Sponsor portals that provide sponsors with relevant information
  • Custom sponsor branding options
  • Sponsor advertising options through an event app

These features streamline the sponsorship process, enhance sponsor engagement, and maximize the value for both event organizers and sponsors.

Registration Technology

Most event management solutions support establishing and managing your event registration process. Though tools are different, expect to find features like:

  • Badge creation and printing
  • Various types of registration, timelines, restrictions, and other customization options
  • Automated registration emails to provide reminders and detailed information for attendees
  • Group registration options
  • Secure payment gateways

These features are designed to make the registration process as smooth and efficient as possible, improving the experience for attendees and providing event organizers with essential data and insights for future event planning and marketing.

Event Marketing

Many platforms offer marketing tools that will assist in growing your total registration and attendance. Some of the most common features of event marketing are:

  • Email tools for sending various messages like event invitations, registration confirmations, and newsletters
  • Customizable event website, including registration forms, speaker profiles, agendas, and payment tools
  • Social media integration, which streamlines access to various social media platforms to share updates and engage with attendees before, during, and after events
  • Marketing analytics and reporting

Having a strong marketing plan is vital to ensuring your event produces the ROI needed to make the whole event worth it.

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing Event Management Software

Before deciding on any platform, it’s crucial to know what you need the tool to do based on the way you run your event. Effective event management software must meet your specific needs, and while these may change, consider what key factors matter most or how adaptable your prospective platform is. Here are several essential factors to keep in mind: 

Event Goals and Objectives

When selecting event management software, consider how the solution aligns with your event’s objectives and the overarching goals of your organization.

The software you choose should not only resonate with these goals but should also amplify your ability to achieve them with finesse and precision. It’s about finding a tool that transforms your vision into reality, fostering an environment where every aspect of your event is seamlessly orchestrated to meet, and even exceed, your attendees’ expectations.

Attendee and Staff Experience

The software you select should specifically address the types of experiences you hope to create for both attendees and event staff. Giving your attendees an impactful experience is key to building relationships. Always look for:

  • User-friendly experience for attendees
  • Ease of use for your staff
  • Available onboarding support

Keep an eye out for solutions with an easy-to-use but intuitive interface and supportive tools. You don’t want to make more work for your team or make it complicated for attendees to get the support they need.

Event Planning Frequency

How often do you plan to host events? For occasional or one-time events, you need solutions that align just with that type. However, if you’re hosting events on a regular schedule, it’s more important to ensure the planning and execution of multiple events at one time can work well together. 

Necessary Features

While event software with a plethora of features might seem attractive, focus on those that are essential for your specific requirements. Identify the features that are critical to your event’s success. This could range from registration and ticketing systems to attendee engagement tools or analytics.

Software bloated with features you’ll never use can lead to unnecessary complexity and costs. It’s important to differentiate between ‘nice-to-have’ and ‘must-have’ features. Use cost-effective decision-making and keep your budget in mind as you conduct research into potential options.


Many organizations use a variety of digital tools in their daily operations. The right integrations with an event management system can keep everything smooth and organized. Consider tools that align with your CRM, for example.

Steps to Choosing the Best Event Management Software

Navigating the event management software landscape can be intimidating, with an array of options each boasting unique features and capabilities. However, selecting the right software is crucial for your event’s success. Simplify your decision-making by following these steps:

1. Understand your event management needs.

Using your event goals, figure out what specific needs you want your event management software to address. For instance, consider:

  • Event types 
  • Team skills or in-house supportive tools
  • Target audience and attendees 
  • Growth rate over time
  • Analytics insights
  • Regulatory or compliance concerns

Note these down and use these as a reference as you begin exploring potential event solutions for your organization.

2. Identify your event management software non-negotiables.

Every event management solution should support the way you plan to operate your events over time. Outline factors you consider non-negotiable or the specific features and tools you want your product to offer. This may include:

  • Functional aspects like ticketing, event registration, attendee engagement, and agenda management
  • Integration requirements, including marketing and CRM tools
  • Training and support
  • Security features

For example, if you’re planning to host a hybrid or virtual event, you might want to prioritize solutions that make it easy for you to engage attendees online.

3. Research and compare software providers.

Once you have these lists, it’s time to check out the products on the market. During your research, consider the following information:

  • Market research and case use studies
  • Vendor evaluation, including references and reviews
  • Pricing comparison among products

Compare each solution based on your requirements and needs to start compiling the top options for your team to consider.

4. Request demos or sign up for free trials.

With your shortlist created, ask for demos or sign up for trial periods that allow you to test-drive prospective platforms. Take the time to read through and understand the often unseen aspects of new software like:

  • Pricing
  • Contract terms
  • Limitations and restrictions
  • Service level agreements
  • Legal and compliance requirements 

Once you’ve asked any specific questions and gotten a clearer understanding of how the platforms work, re-assemble your team and make your decision.

Choosing the right event management software tailored to your specific needs can transform how you orchestrate your events. By thoroughly evaluating and comparing available options, you can make a strategic decision that will yield long-term benefits, enhancing the way you manage and execute your events for years to come.

Higher ed professionals looking for new ways to use their technology to engage university alumni

4 Ways to Leverage Your CRM to Connect with Alumni

Your university’s alumni don’t just give back by donating to fundraising campaigns. They also help current students, represent your school in the community, and so much more. Because of all they do for their alma maters, engaging and connecting with alumni regularly is a priority for most universities.

But to engage thousands or tens of thousands of alumni—all with different interests and relationships with your university—you need the right tool. 

Your constituent relationship management (CRM) system houses all the data you need to successfully communicate with alumni. We’ll cover four strategies for leveraging this impactful tool to improve alumni relationships. Let’s dive in!

1. Identify opportunities to improve alumni offerings.

According to Redpath Consulting Group, one of the biggest benefits of a robust CRM is that it gives you a holistic, 360-degree view of every constituent in your database. By centralizing data in alumni profiles, your staff can get a better understanding of your alumni and the ways they want to engage with your university, allowing you to improve your offerings based on their preferences.

For instance, say that you track survey results in your CRM and recently sent out a survey about your Young Alum Mentoring program. You can analyze survey results both:

  • Individually in alumni profiles. For example, maybe Jane wants to see more STEM mentors available and Javier didn’t hear about the program enough to form an interest.
  • Across entire groups of alumni. You might learn that the class of 2021 expressed the most interest in the program or that liberal arts graduates as a whole feel underrepresented.

To engage alumni based on the feedback above, you might put extra effort into recruiting more STEM and liberal arts mentors. Or, if you discover that the most highly requested change to the Young Alum program is the age cutoff, you can extend the program to anyone who graduated in the last 10 years. 

2. Personalize alumni outreach.

In addition to using the information in your CRM to improve your offerings, you can use information about your alumni’s interests, habits, and preferences to personalize your communications. The more tailored and relevant your alumni outreach is, the more likely each recipient is to read and engage with your messages.

A robust higher education CRM can help you enhance your alumni communications with the following features:

  • Automated personalization: By creating email or text message templates, you can set up your CRM to automatically populate messages with individual alumni names, event attendance, past donation amounts, etc. 
  • Alumni segments: Organize alumni by shared characteristics and send messages that appeal directly to certain groups. For instance, you might segment alumni by class, field of study, career, demographics, and charitable interests to send more relevant messages.
  • Action-triggered email series: With integrated email automation tools, such as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you can use your CRM to set up entire email series that are triggered by alumni actions. When someone first joins your email list, for example, they might trigger a series of welcome emails.

To see these tactics in action, take a look at this example email message that recognizes recent alumni donors who graduated from a university’s business school:

Felicia, thank you so much for your generous $200 donation to the Randolph School of Business. Your gift will go towards scholarships for BIPOC students with dreams of earning their MBAs just like you did. Our current and incoming students appreciate your passion for excellence and inclusivity—thank you again!

3. Manage events.

Events are one of the most common ways that universities engage their alumni, whether they take the form of class reunions, volunteering events, or virtual public lectures. Your CRM can help you manage all of your alumni events by centralizing event data and automating reports and outreach.

A comprehensive CRM solution will allow you to:

  • House information about event logistics, plans, and invitations.
  • Send personalized invitations to relevant alumni.
  • Track event registrations and attendance.
  • Manage relationships with event sponsors.
  • Identify, recruit, and communicate with volunteers.
  • Report on the success of event marketing messages.
  • Send personalized thank-you messages and post-event surveys.
  • Track event-related donations and fundraising goals.

Plus, you can analyze data about your event’s success after the fact, helping you improve future event marketing and management. For instance, Double the Donation explains that tools like Google Analytics can help you report on user behaviors on your alumni website. By tracking website engagement data in your CRM, you can discover how engaging your event landing pages are and identify ways to improve them.

4. Engage alumni in fundraising.

Higher education CRMs include a variety of features designed to help institutions track and boost fundraising. You can record donations, monitor fundraising metrics, send personalized donation appeals, and more. 

By leveraging these features with alumni engagement in mind, you can increase the number of alumni who participate in your fundraisers and improve their experiences. Features like donor segmentation, marketing automation, and donation histories allow you to streamline alumni fundraising and track your results.

For example, say that you’re promoting a capital campaign to renovate a beloved dormitory and give students living there a better experience. You might use your CRM to take the following steps to engage more alumni in fundraising:

  1. Search alumni profiles for financial capacity markers that indicate which alumni might be good candidates for major giving.
  2. Create a segment of all the alumni who lived in that building while on campus.
  3. Reach out personally to alumni in that segment to ask for donations.
  4. Design and automate an email series about the capital campaign’s purpose, progress, fundraising needs, and expected impact.
  5. Track donations from alumni and send personalized thank-you messages that include their names and donation amounts.

Once the campaign is over, you can easily use your CRM to follow up with all the alumni who participated in or engaged with the capital campaign. Then, you might add them to a new segment of capital campaign donors and tailor future appeals based on their interest in this campaign.

If you need help taking full advantage of your CRM or feel that your current system isn’t meeting your university’s needs, connect with a higher education technology consultant. These experts can analyze your tech stack, recommend new solutions or integrations to fill gaps, and even implement a new CRM for you. When you have a robust CRM you can leverage strategically, you’ll be able to engage alumni more effectively and efficiently.

The article's title, "Ways to Use Learning Management Software to Engage Members," beside an illustration of someone using a laptop.

5 Ways to Use Learning Management Software to Engage Members

In today’s dynamic landscape, associations play a key role in facilitating networking opportunities, promoting professional development, and providing resources for their members. However, with increasing demands and expectations, simply offering membership benefits is no longer sufficient.

To build a thriving membership program, your association must evolve and find innovative ways to engage members continuously. Learning management software (LMS) emerges as a powerful tool that not only streamlines administrative tasks but also enhances member experiences through personalized learning opportunities.

In this guide, we’ll discuss five impactful ways to leverage this technology. First, let’s take a closer look at what an LMS is.

What is learning management software?

Learning management software is a digital platform designed to streamline the creation, delivery, and management of educational content and training programs. An LMS provides a central hub where organizations can host, track, and organize various learning activities, such as webinars, courses, and assessments.

For associations, an LMS simplifies the process of offering high-value learning opportunities to members in several ways:

  • Centralization: An LMS serves as a centralized repository for all learning materials, making it easy for associations to organize and manage educational content.
  • Accessibility: Members can access learning resources anytime, anywhere, providing flexibility and convenience in their learning journey.
  • Customization: LMS platforms often offer customization options, allowing you to tailor learning experiences to meet specific member needs and preferences.
  • Tracking and reporting: An LMS provides tracking and reporting features, enabling you to monitor member engagement, track progress, and assess the effectiveness of your learning initiatives.
  • Integration: Many LMS platforms integrate seamlessly with other association management software and content creation tools, streamlining administrative tasks and ensuring a cohesive member experience.

An LMS empowers you to deliver high-value learning opportunities that are accessible, engaging, and tailored to the needs of members. Ultimately, it allows you to drive member satisfaction, retention, and organizational success.

How to Leverage Learning Management Software

Equipped with an LMS, your association can deepen member engagement in the following ways:

1. Host a variety of educational events.

Chances are, your association already uses event software to organize events catering to members’ interests. Many LMS solutions have event capabilities so you can organize all sorts of educational opportunities for members.

Some popular types of events your association can virtually host using an LMS include:

  • Webinars: These online seminars involve presentations, workshops, or panel discussions on various topics of interest. Webinars provide flexibility for members to participate from anywhere, fostering accessibility and engagement.
  • Q&A sessions: Interactive question-and-answer sessions provide members with the chance to engage directly with subject matter experts or industry leaders. These sessions promote dialogue, knowledge sharing, and networking among participants.
  • Training workshops: Virtual training sessions offer members the opportunity to develop specific skills or knowledge in a structured environment. Workshops can cover a range of subjects, from technical skills to leadership development.
  • Networking sessions: Virtual networking events facilitated by an LMS create opportunities for members to connect, collaborate, and build relationships within your association community. Whether through breakout rooms, discussion forums, or virtual meet-and-greets, networking sessions foster camaraderie and professional connections.

When deciding which types of events to prioritize, it’s essential to consider members’ specific interests, preferences, and learning needs. By understanding their goals and aspirations, you can tailor your event offerings to deliver maximum value and engagement.

2. Offer certification programs.

Certification programs offer significant value for association members, providing tangible credentials and recognition of expertise within their respective fields. With an LMS, your association can:

  • Process payments for courses
  • Deliver and score assessments
  • Award downloadable and printable certificates

Additionally, certification programs not only serve as catalysts for individual professional growth but also elevate the reputation and credibility of your association. As members pursue and achieve certifications, they become advocates and ambassadors, further strengthening your community and influence.

3. Provide an exclusive resource library.

A comprehensive resource library is a cornerstone of member engagement, offering a wealth of valuable content that fosters continuous learning and professional development. Your association can use an LMS to build a website with gated, members-only resources tailored to their unique needs and interests.

For example, you might share content such as:

  • Industry reports
  • Case studies
  • Expert interviews
  • Templates

Take a strategic approach to content development and curation, ensuring that the library stays up-to-date, relevant, and aligned with industry trends and challenges. Regular updates keep members engaged and interested in exploring new resources.

Furthermore, your association can explore creative ways to monetize the resource library by offering access to non-members for a fee. This not only generates additional revenue but also extends your influence and provides valuable learning opportunities to a broader audience.

As members engage with your resource library, they gain valuable knowledge, insights, and practical tools that enrich their professional journey. This fosters a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing, strengthening the bond between your association and its members and promoting long-term engagement and satisfaction.

4. Nurture a learning community.

Building a vibrant and supportive community lies at the core of every successful association. Leveraging an LMS, you can cultivate a dynamic learning community that fosters collaboration, connection, and shared growth among members.

Several ways to promote a sense of community with an LMS include:

  • Building leaderboards. Leaderboards showcase members’ achievements and progress, fostering healthy competition and motivating participation in learning activities. 
  • Awarding digital badges. Digital badges serve as tangible recognition of accomplishments, encouraging members to strive for excellence and engage actively in your association’s educational offerings.
  • Creating discussion forums. Discussion forums provide a space for members to interact, share insights, seek advice, and collaborate on projects. This facilitates peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange.

As members engage with one another and actively participate in your association’s learning opportunities, they not only acquire knowledge and skills but also forge meaningful connections and relationships. This sense of belonging and camaraderie enhances the overall member experience, driving loyalty, satisfaction, and long-term engagement. 

5. Create tailored learning opportunities.

Remember that one size does not fit all, which means your association should embrace personalized learning approaches to cater to diverse member needs and preferences. By integrating your LMS with your membership management software and leveraging data analytics, you can gain valuable insights into member behaviors, preferences, and learning objectives. 

Through targeted surveys, solicit feedback and input from members to create more tailored learning opportunities. Consider including questions such as:

  • What format or type of learning do you prefer most?
  • How relevant are our current learning opportunities to your needs?
  • Which topics or areas would you like us to cover more?
  • What improvements, if any, would you like us to make to our learning program?

By adopting a learner-centric approach and adapting offerings according to member interests, you can maximize engagement and satisfaction with your educational benefits.

Learning management software represents a game-changing technology for associations seeking to enhance member engagement and deliver high-value learning experiences. By leveraging an LMS to host diverse educational events, offer certification programs, curate an exclusive resource library, foster a vibrant learning community, and create personalized learning opportunities, you can empower members to achieve their goals and aspirations. 

Moreover, by harnessing data-driven insights and member feedback, your association can iteratively refine and optimize its offerings, ensuring relevance, resonance, and impact over time.

The title of this article on a mint green background to the left of a graphic of two individuals collecting in-kind donations.

3 Strategies to Streamline In-Kind Donations for Supporters

Without fundraising, nonprofits would be hard-pressed to fulfill their missions. But monetary gifts aren’t the only contributions beneficial to your nonprofit. Other donations, such as in-kind gifts, are just as useful. Accepting in-kind donations allows your nonprofit to increase support by capturing the generosity of supporters who might not be able to donate monetary funds.

To help you maximize in-kind donations for your nonprofit, this guide will cover the top strategies for streamlining your in-kind gift process. That way, you can confidently solicit and accept a variety of donations from loyal supporters.

What are in-kind donations?

According to Jitasa, in-kind donations are contributions of products or services that companies and businesses give to a nonprofit instead of a cash contribution. This includes:

  • Goods. These are typically physical materials or assets that nonprofits can use to enhance some aspect of their work. It’s a great way for donors to support your organization while staying sustainable by recycling their items. For example, if you plan to host an auction, you might solicit in-kind donations of auction items from supporters.
  • Services. This type of in-kind donation is a contribution of time and expertise to perform a service that your nonprofit would otherwise have to pay for. Donations of services are particularly useful if your nonprofit is still small and doesn’t have the extra budget to hire external professionals. For example, an individual working at a marketing agency might donate their services to design marketing materials for your upcoming fundraising event.

Volunteer time is another common yet often overlooked type of in-kind gift. As volunteer time is estimated to be worth about $32 per hour, it is an incredibly valuable type of donation for your nonprofit.

Much like with any other type of donation, it’s important to recognize donors for their generosity after an in-kind gift. Establish appreciation strategies to specifically recognize donors for their in-kind gifts.

Now that you know what in-kind donations are, let’s dive into the top strategies for streamlining the in-kind donation process for supporters.

1. Establish clear guidelines for in-kind donations.

Have you ever tried making a payment for an item or service and had trouble getting your payment to work? Your first reaction was probably frustration. You may have even decided that you didn’t need that item.

It’s a similar feeling for donors—regardless of their gift type, you need to make the process easy to ensure that they go through with their gift. In-kind donations are no exception. However, their donation process will be slightly more complicated, as donors will need to go beyond inputting their payment information.

To ensure that donors go through with their in-kind gifts, establish clear guidelines. These should include:

  • Type of goods and services. Be upfront about the type of in-kind donations you’ll accept. This may change depending on where you are in your fundraising cycle or your current organizational needs. For example, if you’re hoping to plan several events in the next year, you might request the services of a fundraising consultant.
  • Condition requirements. For goods, specifically, include any requirements you have for item condition. For instance, if you’re looking for auction items, you’ll probably be looking for new or gently-used goods. If you’re looking for lighting equipment, you may be satisfied with functional items that show some wear and tear.
  • Excluded in-kind gifts. If there are any common types of in-kind gifts that you specifically won’t accept, include them in your guidelines. Let’s say that you’re looking for marketing help. You may request specific services to meet your exact marketing needs, such as branding expertise or video content creation.
  • Donation process. For goods, establish a drop-off point where donors can leave their gifts. Or, if you have extra staff time, create a pick-up system. For services, provide guidelines as to the commitment that you’d like the donor to make, whether they need to work with you on-site or if remote is acceptable, and any other expectations you might have.

After you’ve established guidelines for in-kind donations, add them to a landing page on your nonprofit’s website. That way, supporters can easily reference this information if they’re considering making an in-kind gift.

2. Promote in-kind donations to supporters.

If you don’t inform supporters about in-kind gifts, they may not even consider making them. Properly market in-kind gifts by promoting them through multiple communication channels. That includes your:

  • Website
  • Emails
  • Social media posts

In your messages, focus on the benefits of in-kind donations for supporters. You might say that it’s a convenient way to recycle their items while contributing to a great cause. Or, you could say that donating services allows them to give back to the community without any financial commitment. Add a link to your in-kind donation guidelines so that viewers can easily get started with the process.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to seek out local businesses to help promote in-kind gifts or make contributions directly to your nonprofit. For instance, if you run a soup kitchen, you might ask local grocery stores to promote your request for in-kind donations of canned food. Or, you might ask the same store if they’d be willing to donate that food directly.

3. Host an in-kind donation event.

Much like regular fundraising events give supporters a structured way to make financial gifts, an event that focuses on in-kind donations streamlines the gift-giving process.

Two great ideas to consider include:

  • Recycling drive. With a recycling drive, you can make money with in-kind donations of recyclable materials such as metal, plastic, or textiles. Ask supporters to collect these items and donate them to you. Then, sell these items to a local recycling center and put the funds back into your mission. If you don’t have the employee time to spare, Donate This Recycle That recommends arranging for pickup with recycling centers instead.
  • Clothing drive. Clothing drives are flexible events that can serve many different purposes. For example, if your nonprofit’s beneficiaries are people experiencing homelessness or poverty, you may organize a clothing drive to obtain winter clothing for them. Or, you can host a clothing drive fundraiser by selling any donations back to a recycling organization.

There are a variety of other donations that can feature in-kind donations, including second-hand store events and auctions. Don’t be afraid to get creative with events, but be sure to make your donation process clear for each one.

In-kind donations allow you to leverage the generosity of supporters who might otherwise not be able to contribute to your nonprofit. With a streamlined and convenient process, you’ll be able to maximize the number of donations you receive, allowing you to push forward your mission. Be sure to properly recognize in-kind donors to encourage their continued support and secure their future financial generosity.

The title of the article next to an illustrated person gesturing at charts on a board, representing the concept of nonprofit staff training.

Nonprofit Staff Training: How to Create an Effective Plan

According to an Independent Sector report, 48.5% of nonprofits increased their staff workloads to meet rising demands for services last year. Your nonprofit’s staff members have a lot on their plates. To continue making a difference, they must stay on top of fundraising initiatives, dedicate time to outreach, follow up with donors, and more.

As more community needs arise, it’s essential to equip your team with the tools, skills, and resources they need to streamline their roles and avoid burnout. One way to accomplish this is by creating a nonprofit staff training plan.

Having a deliberate training plan in place ensures that you stay on top of your staff’s learning needs and keep up with the latest best practices in the sector. Fortunately, there is a wealth of high-quality resources that you can offer to employees, from certification programs to online advice shared by nonprofit thought leaders. Let’s start by exploring exactly why staff training is so important to your nonprofit’s long-term success.

What are the benefits of nonprofit staff training?

Every member of your nonprofit’s team is a key contributor to your mission. Therefore, you need to hire and retain passionate, talented individuals who are capable of propelling you toward your goals. By investing in staff training, your organization can:

  • Attract top candidates. The world of nonprofits is fast-paced, which might seem overwhelming to newcomers. They may be concerned that they’ll be left to their own devices in their roles and forced to adapt with minimal help. Having a training plan that you can mention in job descriptions can assuage their worries and inspire more exceptional job seekers to join your nonprofit.
  • Improve employee engagement. Training your employees is an excellent way to demonstrate how much you value their contributions. As they learn and improve, they’ll feel more confident in their day-to-day responsibilities and proud of all that they accomplish for your nonprofit. The more competent they feel in their roles, the more likely they’ll be to stick around for the long term.
  • Boost operational efficiency. Your staff members need to leverage various tools and work as a team to fulfill your nonprofit’s purpose, whether they’re providing services to beneficiaries or putting together reports to inform your strategic planning efforts. Staff training can streamline their workflows, improve their efficiency, and empower them to build stronger relationships with stakeholders.
  • Increase its reputation. Developing a staff training plan demonstrates to your donors, volunteers, board of directors, and other community members that you’re committed to producing better outcomes for those you serve. This can increase your credibility and bring in more support for your cause.

Ultimately, the time and resources you devote to nonprofit staff training will shine through in the impact you make on your community. 

How do you create a nonprofit staff training plan?

The specifics of a nonprofit staff training plan will differ depending on your mission, staff members, and priorities. For instance, you might be trying to promote more matching gifts and determine that you need to educate staff members on how to speak about these opportunities with donors. Or, you might have recently adopted a new software solution that you need to familiarize your employees with.

No matter what your priorities are, you can follow these four steps to put together an effective training plan of your own:

1. Identify staff training needs and topics.

Ensure that you’re directing your resources to the right areas by sending out a survey to your staff members upfront. Ask them to share which topics of knowledge or skills they would like to focus on to improve their performance in their roles. Additionally, consider creating assessments to evaluate your employees periodically and identify any gaps you need to address.

Think about the training needs of both your frontline staff members and managers. After all, your managers can significantly influence the productivity, motivation, and collaboration of your employees. To prepare them for managing effective teams, you may enroll them in a nonprofit management training program that covers best practices related to time management, communication, and delegation.

2. Promote staff training opportunities.

Use the insights you gather from your staff input and evaluations to provide a framework for the training resources you’ll offer. Then, promote several types of opportunities that appeal to a variety of learning preferences. Some employees may enjoy engaging with their peers in live, instructor-led classes while others may feel more comfortable with learning at their own pace.

Some popular staff training options include:

  • Cohort-based classes. Enrolling your staff in online, cohort-based learning can boost their engagement and strengthen their bonds with team members. These classes are a wonderful way to learn from the expertise of a dedicated instructor and the knowledge of other peers in the sector in a structured format.
  • Mentorships. Nurture a culture of learning at your nonprofit by creating a mentorship program. Pair newer hires with more experienced staff members so they can quickly develop the skills and best practices they need to thrive in their roles. Plus, these programs also help mentors refresh their knowledge and feel more confident in their leadership abilities.
  • Conferences. Nonprofit conferences are ideal opportunities for convening with other professionals across the sector and sharing ideas on how you can better fulfill your missions in the current landscape. With topics ranging from fundraising to leadership, there’s bound to be an event that suits your staff’s training needs.
  • Asynchronous courses. For employees who prefer a more flexible learning schedule, direct them to online courses that they can work through at their own speed. These courses are cost-effective and cover topics such as matching gifts and cybersecurity through educational videos, quizzes, and other activities. However, it may be more challenging for staff members to feel engaged when approaching training on their own.

Include a mixture of in-person and virtual training options to appeal to more of your employees’ needs and make it easy for them to participate.

3. Reach out to experts as needed.

If you’ve identified specific areas of your nonprofit’s operations in which your staff members need more in-depth, specialized training, consider approaching an expert for guidance. According to Laridae’s nonprofit consultants rundown, there are many professionals are committed to supporting nonprofits in a wide range of ways, including:

Numerous ways a nonprofit consultant can provide expertise and support your nonprofit staff training plan.
  • Strategic planning
  • Communications
  • Governance
  • Human resources (HR)
  • Fundraising
  • Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI)
  • Finance
  • Legal Support

Depending on their specialty, a nonprofit consultant can help your organization improve its training program or provide one-on-one coaching for individual contributors, such as your managers.

4. Recognize staff learning accomplishments.

While creating a thoughtful training plan is an important start, you can maximize staff participation and engagement by coming up with ways to recognize them for their learning accomplishments. eCardWidget’s employee recognition guide highlights the importance of acknowledging your staff members by pointing out that 92% of employees are likely to repeat a specific action if they’re recognized for it.

For example, when staff members complete a course or program, you could:

  • Send congratulatory eCards.
  • Post social media shout-outs.
  • Host a celebration event.
  • Present small gifts of branded merchandise.

Just as your nonprofit thanks its donors and volunteers for the role they play in your success, don’t forget to make your employees feel appreciated for the efforts they invest into fulfilling your mission.

As you implement your staff training plan, continue to collect feedback from your employees and conduct follow-up evaluations to identify ways you can improve moving forward. For example, you might determine that you need to share more podcasts if many of your staff members indicate that they prefer taking in information auditorily. By tailoring your training to your staff’s needs, you’ll ensure that they’ll get the most out of the resources you provide.

Feature image for blog post on how to avoid perfectionism paralysis in capital campaigns

How to Avoid Perfectionism Paralysis in Capital Campaigns

If your capital campaign is going to be successful, you will need generous contributions from your very top projects.

In fact, according to recent research by Capital Campaign Pro, most campaigns raise more than half their goal (71%, on average!) from fewer than 20 donors. So how you approach those 20 donors matters a great deal.

And if you’re like many people, you may fall into the “We had better be perfect” trap. It’s a natural mistake. Because those top donors are so important, and you worry that you might not get more than one opportunity to ask them for a big gift, it’s got to be right!

As a result, you may be tempted to put off those big donor visits until all of your plans and your materials are buttoned down and look super professional.

In fact, you might feel paralyzed by your commitment to perfection and put off those big donor visits far longer than you should.

Here’s the truth, though. The drive to be perfect before you talk to your big donors, while understandable, is actually the wrong approach. Not only will it delay your campaign, it’s likely to diminish the chances of your success.


Because the essence of getting those large gifts isn’t buttoning down every detail. The essence is quite the opposite. Your task isn’t to make a perfect presentation, it’s to involve those large donors early and often in the planning of your project long before you make your pitch and ask for a gift.

Here are three things you can do to make sure you don’t fall into the perfectionism trap with your next capital campaign.

List of ways to avoid perfectionism paralysis in your next capital campaign, all of which are covered below

1. Mark planning documents as drafts.

Alternatively, get in the habit of using the phrase “preliminary plan.” Make sure to date each version of every draft. You will likely go through several drafts that will shift, change, and improve with each version. Without dating the versions and renaming and dating subsequent documents like your case for support or gift range chart, you won’t be able to keep track of which is an earlier version and which one is current.

2. Share draft versions with your most important prospects early on in the planning process.

Don’t wait until your plans are finalized. Think about it this way: If you don’t approach that local politician or business owner until everything is buttoned down and perfect, then all you have to talk to them about is money.

But if you share your plans while they are still in the formative stage, you can have far more probing and exploratory conversations with them. Those conversations will help you benefit from their ideas and give you insights into their interests and philanthropic motivations.

3. Know that it’s easier and less stressful to talk with donors before you’ve perfected your plans.

The more time and energy you’ve put into making everything perfect, the more likely you’ll find yourself selling and then defending your plans rather than discussing them.

It turns out that not only does trying to be perfect often slow you down, but it’s actually a less powerful approach to engaging your donors. And it is well-documented that engaged donors give more and give more generously.

So, don’t fall into the perfectionism trap. Train yourself to share your plans before they are fully formed and enjoy the benefits of getting wisdom and advice from the people who can help you most.

Connect your nonprofit with local businesses.

4 Tips for Connecting Your Nonprofit With Local Businesses

Whether you’re seeking sponsorship, volunteer support, or joint marketing opportunities, establishing partnerships with businesses in your community is a powerful way to enhance your nonprofit’s impact. However, developing these partnerships can be challenging, time-consuming, and confusing without a strategic plan in place. 

In this guide, we’ll explore four tips for connecting your nonprofit with local businesses. From identifying potential partners to creating win-win collaborations, these insights will help you build strong cross-sector relationships that support your mission and drive positive change in your communities.

1. Research and Identify Potential Partners

To identify potential partners in the community, a nonprofit can follow these steps:

  • Define your objectives. Nonprofits often seek partnerships when organizing a large-scale fundraising event, launching a community initiative, or implementing a specific program that requires additional financial resources and support.
  • Research local businesses. Conduct thorough research to identify businesses in the community. Utilize online directories, local business associations, chamber of commerce listings, and social media platforms to identify potential partners.
  • Ensure your values align. Evaluate the values, missions, and corporate social responsibility initiatives of the identified businesses. Look for businesses that have a natural connection or alignment with your cause or mission. For example, a dog daycare business would be an obvious match for an animal shelter since they have similar clients and services. 

Reach out to the identified businesses to introduce your nonprofit and express interest in exploring a potential partnership. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. 

2. Establish Clear Benefits

As you connect with local businesses, introduce your mission and communicate the benefits of a partnership. These may include: 

  • Community development: Partnering with a nonprofit allows businesses to contribute to community development and address social issues, which can have a direct impact on their growth.
  • Elevated brand reputation. Collaborating with a nonprofit allows businesses to align themselves with a mission or social good cause, which can enhance their brand reputation and perception among customers, employees, and influencers in the community. 
  • Increased brand awareness. Add the business’s contact information and logo to marketing materials like fundraising flyers, event invitations, and partnership-related emails to increase their brand visibility. Or, create a personalized video about your sponsor and post it to your social media pages.
  • Employee morale and engagement. Most employees value working for a socially responsible company. Creating matching gift programs, introducing volunteer opportunities, and sponsoring local nonprofits can improve their satisfaction. 
  • Tax benefits. Businesses may be eligible for tax benefits or incentives when they donate or support nonprofit organizations. These financial incentives can provide a tangible benefit to the business, helping to offset costs or improve the bottom line.

Customize these benefits to suit the specific goals, needs, and sectors of the businesses you’re approaching. For example, a pet rescue organization might ask a dog trainer to financially support their upcoming adoption event. In return, the pet rescue will use Gingr’s pet business software to promote the dog trainer’s services, potentially leading to an influx of new customers. 

3. Create Tailored Partnership Opportunities

Develop opportunities that cater to different types and sizes of businesses. Offer a range of options, such as:

  • Sponsorship opportunities: Sponsorships come in the form of financial or in-kind contributions. To incentivize larger gifts, Double the Donation’s guide to corporate sponsorships recommends creating tiered benefit packages that correlate to the level of support given. For instance, when you receive a donation of $10,000 or more, you might mention the business in a speech and display its logo on partnership-related materials. Businesses that give less than this might receive a social media shoutout instead.
  • Auction item donations: Many businesses have relevant products or services that would be valuable items to auction off at your next event. For example, a local hotel could offer a weekend stay, or an airline headquartered in your city could offer round-trip tickets. No matter what the business has to offer make sure you’re thoughtful about how you make your auction item donation request.
  • Joint initiatives: A joint initiative is a collaboration between a nonprofit and a partner organization, in which both work to create a mutually beneficial event, program, or campaign. It involves pooling resources and networks to achieve a greater impact than either organization could achieve alone. 
  • Employee engagement programs: Employee engagement programs focus on involving employees of a business or organization in volunteer activities, fundraising efforts, or other activities that support your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Research collaborations: Nonprofits and businesses might partner together to research studies or projects related to their missions. For example, an animal welfare organization might partner with a dog boarding business to research the safest, most effective accommodations. 

After presenting a business with a partnership opportunity, gauge their interest and thank them for their consideration, regardless of their decision. That way, they will be left with a positive impression of your organization.

4. Demonstrate Impact

If a business agrees to be your partner, take notes throughout the partnership, making note of successes and areas of improvement. 

Then, in your outreach, explain the impact that the partnership has made on your nonprofit and the community as a whole. Share success stories, testimonials, or data that highlight the tangible outcomes of your programs or initiatives. This builds credibility and instills confidence in other potential business partners, showing them how their involvement will make a difference.

Remember, connecting with local businesses requires building meaningful relationships based on shared values and mutual benefits. By taking a strategic and personalized approach, your nonprofit can form valuable partnerships that amplify your impact and strengthen the communities you serve.

In this guide, we’ll walk through all the details of how to start a fundraiser for your nonprofit.

How to Start a Fundraiser: The Nonprofit’s Ultimate Guide

Fundraising comprises a large portion of your nonprofit’s funding. Collecting donations empowers your organization to expand its reach and accomplish its mission.

However, it can be intimidating to start a fundraiser from scratch, especially for newer organizations and less experienced fundraising coordinators. Fundraisers require a certain level of organization, a clear strategy, and a lot of hard work to be successful. From creating your initial goals to developing your marketing materials, there are so many considerations that go into starting a fundraiser.

To help you stay on track, we’ll teach you how to start a fundraiser by walking you through the fundraising process step by step. Along the way, we’ll offer advice on how to pull off the fundraiser of your dreams.

Take a look at the steps we’ll discuss to make sure your fundraising plan is complete:

  1. Determine Your Goals For Your Nonprofit Fundraiser
  2. Select a Fundraising Campaign Type
  3. Develop a Fundraising Plan
  4. Choose the Appropriate Software Before Starting a Fundraiser
  5. Create Marketing Materials To Promote Your Fundraiser
  6. Promote Your Nonprofit’s Fundraiser
  7. Thank Donors For Contributing To Your Fundraiser
  8. Assess the Results of Your Nonprofit’s Fundraiser

It’s our goal at NXUnite to equip nonprofits with the tools and knowledge they need to be successful. Fundraising is such a huge element of nonprofit operations, so it’s important to know how to start a fundraiser properly. That’s why we’ve created this ultimate guide to help your nonprofit reach its fundraising goals.

With that, let’s jump right into it and learn how to start a fundraiser!

Our panels will help you develop a well-rounded fundraising plan.

1. Determine Your Goals For Your Nonprofit Fundraiser

To start a fundraiser off on the right foot, it’s important to set a focus for your campaign by creating clear goals. That way, you’ll build a strong foundation for the rest of the planning process.

The SMART Goal Method

Instead of creating generic objectives, there are some guidelines your organization should follow to make sure your goals are meaningful. The SMART goal model ensures that your goals are action-oriented and targeted to exactly what you want to achieve. Check out the elements of SMART goals:

  1. Specific. Make sure your goals have a clear purpose. It’s not enough to say you want to raise money for your cause. Indicate exactly what the money will go towards.
  2. Measurable. In this case, measurable typically refers to a clear monetary value you’d like to achieve. For example, your goal could be to raise $10,000 during the fundraiser. However, it could also be a certain amount of new donors you want to recruit or the number of returning donors you’d like to see.
  3. Achievable. While it’s good to be optimistic, you’ll also want to be realistic about what your organization can achieve. Don’t set your fundraising amount too high or give your nonprofit too short of a time to reach its goals.
  4. Relevant. Keep your organization’s current overall goals in mind when determining your fundraising goals. That way, your goals will align and make sense for your nonprofit.
  5. Time-bound. Set a deadline for your goals to motivate your organization to achieve them. Otherwise, you might put them off or not achieve them as quickly as you could.
The first step in how to start a fundraiser is to come up with SMART goals.

To sum up SMART goals, we’ll give you an example to refer to. If you coordinate school fundraisers, your goal might be to raise $100,000 over the course of the school year to help build a new playground. This goal is specific because it indicates exactly what the money will go towards. It’s measurable because you’ve assigned a monetary value to your goal.

Your team must determine whether your goals are achievable by evaluating your resources, but we know this one is relevant because it will add value to the school. Lastly, this goal is time-bound because it must be accomplished by the end of the school year.

Other Considerations For Your Fundraiser’s Goals

Now that you know how to create SMART goals, there are two other considerations you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Your definition of success. This consideration ties into the achievable aspect of SMART goals. Do you want to raise a certain amount of money? Maybe you want to secure new donors or retain a certain amount of donors from your last fundraiser. Whatever the metrics you’re using to determine your fundraiser’s success, they will help you determine how much you need to raise and how much you could raise realistically based on your organization’s size and scope.
  • The intended impact of your goals. You might know what the money you raise will physically go towards, but why is that project or initiative important? Returning to our school example, maybe your school wants to build a new playground because it will teach kids the importance of being active. Illustrating this intended impact of the playground when you’re marketing your fundraiser will create a more compelling call to action for potential donors.

Putting thought behind your goals will set your campaign up for success before it even starts by giving participants something to work toward. Once your fundraising goals are solidified, it’s time to choose what your campaign will look like.

2. Select a Fundraising Campaign Type

Once your fundraising goals are solidified, it’s time to choose what your campaign will look like. There are a wide variety of available options for nonprofit fundraisers. Depending on your goals, budget, and resources, you can select the type of campaign that best suits your organization’s audience and needs.

To make it easier to plan your campaign, we’ve divided some of the top nonprofit fundraising ideas into the general categories of online and offline initiatives. Of course, some of these ideas are flexible and can be hosted in either sphere. Additionally, you might choose to combine multiple campaigns to expand your fundraising capabilities—it all depends on what you hope to accomplish!

To help you learn how to start a fundraiser, this graphic lists four types each of online and offline campaigns, which are detailed below.

Online Fundraising Campaigns

A major advantage of online fundraising is that it breaks down geographical barriers, making it possible to connect with more supporters no matter where they live. These campaigns are also convenient for your supporters since they can participate from anywhere. 

Here are a few online fundraising campaign types to get you started:

  • Crowdfunding. Leverage the power of social media and gain support from a wide range of people using a crowdfunding campaign. You can request small donations that add up to your goal and ask that followers share your campaign page with their friends and family to engage even more supporters.
  • Text-to-give. Make donating online even easier by meeting supporters where they probably are—on their phones. When a donor texts a keyword to your organization’s five- or six-digit shortcode, they’ll receive a link to your online donation page, where they can quickly fill out the form and make their contribution on the go. To make the most of your text-to-give campaign, ensure your donation page is optimized for mobile use.
  • Matching gifts. Matching gifts are a popular form of corporate philanthropy that allow you to double many of the donations you already receive. When a supporter who works for a company with a matching gift program contributes and submits a match request, their employer will donate the same amount. Embed your matching gift tool directly into your online donation page to prompt donors to check their eligibility and submit match requests.
  • Online shopping. Online shopping fundraisers allow supporters to contribute to your nonprofit by doing something they were probably going to do anyway: purchase everyday items from their favorite e-commerce sites. You likely heard of (or even participated in) AmazonSmile before its 2023 discontinuation, but there are alternative platforms your organization can still leverage to run a similar type of campaign.

The one downside of online fundraising is that it’s often more difficult to form lasting connections with campaign participants. That’s why it’s especially important to follow up with supporters and say thank you after they contribute online.

Offline Fundraising Campaigns

Many people prefer the personal touch of offline interactions, which is where more traditional fundraising methods excel. Plus, offline campaigns can often be combined with online ones or converted to a hybrid format if some supporters would still like to participate online.

Some popular offline fundraising campaigns include:

  • Direct mail. Requesting donations through mail often feels like a more personal outreach method than a digital ask on the supporter’s end. Segment your donors based on how frequently they donate and how much they have donated in the past, then tailor your messages to each segment. Include a prepaid return envelope with each letter, and consider adding a QR code to your online donation page to offer another giving option.
  • Fundraising events. There are many different ways to gather your community in support of your cause, so choose a fundraising event that resonates with your supporters. Popular examples include galas, auctions, 5K races, and a-thon style events like walk-a-thons or bike-a-thons.
  • Major gift solicitation. It’s estimated that 80% of nonprofit donations come from the top 20% of donors, meaning major gifts are essential to your nonprofit’s ability to further its mission. While you’ll use prospect research tools to identify potential major donors online, you’ll need to build relationships with each prospect offline so they’ll be receptive to your ask.
  • Volunteer grants. Similar to matching gifts, volunteer grants are a form of corporate philanthropy that involves your nonprofit’s supporters submitting requests to their employers based on their involvement with your organization. The submission again takes place online, but this time the contribution is based on an in-person activity: the number of hours they volunteer.

No matter which combination of online and offline fundraising campaigns you try, take steps to get your supporters excited about their involvement with your organization.

3. Develop a Fundraising Plan

An effective fundraising plan will keep you organized and on track. It will serve as your roadmap and ensure you have everything you need to make your campaign successful.

To make sure your fundraising plan is comprehensive, here are the elements yours should include:

  1. Goals. Start off your fundraising plan by adding the SMART goals you developed earlier. These goals will guide the rest of your fundraising plan.
  2. Case for support. You’ll want to craft a compelling reason for why donors should support your cause. It’s best to make this specific to the initiative or project you’re raising money for.
  3. Campaign type. Once you figure out which fundraising campaign you’re moving forward with, indicate that in your fundraising plan. Again, you can use any combination of the ones we’ve listed previously or others you come up with.
  4. Marketing channelsChoose which marketing channels are best for your campaign. Examples of marketing channels include social media, email, and your organization’s website.
  5. Timeline. Before starting a fundraiser, set a definitive timeline for your campaign. It might help to develop a campaign calendar to plan out the work that must get done each week.
  6. Budget. Figure out how much you need to spend to make your fundraiser a reality. Think about the costs of fundraising events and initiatives ahead of time so you only spend what you need to.
  7. Corporate sponsors. There are many philanthropic companies willing to assist nonprofits by sponsoring their events, offering matching gifts, and providing in-kind services. Identify how you’ll narrow down potential sponsors for your fundraiser and craft compelling proposals for support.
  8. Team members. Determine which members of your team will be part of this fundraising project and how much external support you’ll need from volunteers. You’ll want to delegate responsibilities to them so everyone knows what to do.
A fundraising plan will keep your fundraiser on track.

Incorporating all of these items into your fundraising plan will set clear intentions for your fundraiser, making it easier to move along with the planning process.

4. Invest in the Right Software Before Starting a Fundraiser

Fundraising software is necessary for most nonprofit campaigns to run smoothly. From accepting online donations and processing payments to managing donors and volunteers, there are so many aspects of fundraisers where software can make a major difference.

Some popular types of software your nonprofit might leverage for its campaigns include:

This graphic shows three types of fundraising software your nonprofit might leverage to start a fundraiser, which are discussed below.
  • Event management software. From checking in attendees to livestreaming during virtual events, there are many elements of the fundraising event process that can be streamlined using software. Keep in mind that some events may require additional specialized software features, such as mobile bidding tools for online auctions.
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising platforms. These solutions enable your supporters to securely create individual fundraising pages to share with their friends and family. This is especially useful for a-thon style events like walkathons and bikeathons where participants collect pledged donations based on their performance.
  • Matching gift tools. As mentioned previously, embedding a matching gift tool directly into your donation form allows donors to quickly discover whether their employers will match their contributions to your organization. Make sure your chosen software integrates with a variety of corporate giving solutions and has auto-submission capabilities to streamline the process for your nonprofit, your supporters, and their employers.

If your organization already uses donor management software, look for fundraising software that integrates with the platform you use. That way, you can automatically transfer information about your new donors between the two solutions, saving your team time and energy. Later on, you can use that data to reach out to donors and improve your future fundraising campaigns.

5. Create Marketing Materials To Promote Your Fundraiser

Nonprofits need to come up with cohesive marketing strategies in order to promote their fundraisers effectively. Think about your campaign as a single story you want to tell. Every promotional material should work together in pursuit of your goals.

It can be difficult to create effective marketing materials on a budget, that’s why it’s essential to use the free or discounted marketing tools to empower your mission. This way, you’ll create stunning designs that are also cost-effective. With this in mind, here are some additional tips that will help you elevate your materials:

  • Focus your marketing on the impact your fundraiser will have. Of course, you’ll want to tell potential donors exactly what their money will go towards, but you’ll also want to highlight the underlying benefits of the project you’re funding. Make it clear why this project or initiative is important and what will happen if you don’t achieve your fundraising goals.
  • Using multiple different marketing channels will allow you to reach a broader audience. While you’ll want to tell the same cohesive story to all of your supporters, remember to adapt your message and content to each channel. For example, your social media campaign might feature short videos explaining the fundraiser while your website might contain an entire page dedicated to the fundraiser.
  • No matter which marketing channels you leverage, having well-designed images can help your marketing materials stand out. People are more drawn to images than words, and eye-catching designs can convey more information than you might think. Plus, images can break up large chunks of text to make it easier to read.
  • Feature your corporate sponsors. Corporate sponsorships can provide immense value to your nonprofit, but remember that they’re mutually beneficial relationships. Therefore, include the companies’ logos and details in your marketing materials to recognize them for their support and pave the way for long-lasting partnerships.

If your team has trouble creating its marketing materials, consider outsourcing the design work to a third-party graphic designer. We highly recommend Kwala, a nonprofit-focused graphic design company. By exclusively working with nonprofits throughout the years, they’ve become well-versed in what it takes to design materials that inspire support.

From social media graphics to fundraising flyers, Kwala can help bring your visions to life and spread awareness for your fundraisers in no time. Take this event invitation they created for the Wildlife Rescue Group for example:

Wildlife Rescue Group’s event invitation is a stellar example of the marketing materials you can create for your nonprofit fundraiser.

Whether you want artistic drawings or more realistic designs with stock photos, they’ll work with you to create the perfect promotional materials for your next fundraiser.

Once your marketing materials are ready to go, it’s time to share them with your supporters!

6. Promote Your Nonprofit’s Fundraiser

Your fundraiser could be for an outstanding cause with an organized fundraising plan behind it, but if no one knows about it, you won’t reach your fundraising goals. Promoting your fundraiser will attract new and previous donors to contribute to your cause.

As we alluded to before, your organization can use many different marketing channels to spread the word about your fundraiser. Use any combination of the ones we’ve listed below:

Try out a combination of these different marketing channels to promote your fundraiser.


You can’t go wrong with email marketing. It allows you to reach new and previous supporters and send a variety of different communications related to your fundraiser. Whether you’re informing subscribers about your fundraiser in your newsletter, inviting supporters to a fundraising event, or thanking donors for their contributions, email is an effective way to communicate about your fundraising efforts.


Your organization’s website is the home base for anything and everything about your nonprofit, so it’s a great place to include details about your fundraiser. Potential supporters will get the opportunity to look through other pages on your site to learn more about your organization before they lend their support.

Peer-to-Peer Outreach

One underutilized marketing tool is your supporters. Your existing donors and volunteers are some of your nonprofit’s biggest ambassadors. A genuine referral from one of them can go a long way in amplifying your fundraiser. Have them post about your campaign online and text their friends, encouraging them to donate to your fundraiser. You can even design event invitations or fundraising eCards they can use to challenge others to give to your campaign.

Learn more about designing donation and cause awareness greeting cards for your cause by exploring eCardWidget’s charity eCards guide.


If your nonprofit has a blog on its website, consider posting an article about the fundraiser. You could introduce or recap a fundraising event or provide an update about how much money you’ve raised so far.

Social Media

Social media is a great place to promote your fundraiser because your supporters can repost your content and share it with their own networks. You can also use social media as a chance to have some fun with your fundraiser’s promotion by playing into current trends and making short videos about the fundraiser with your team.

Press Release

See if any local media outlets will share a press release about your fundraising events. That way, you can reach members of your community who may know nothing about your organization.

Related Organizations

Ask your corporate partners, local businesses, or other related nonprofit organizations to help you spread the word about your fundraiser.

Google Ad Grants

The Google Ad Grants program provides nonprofits with $10,000 per month in Google Ad spend. As long as your organization is eligible, you can apply to the program and leverage Google Ads for free to promote your fundraisers and cause.

For help with applying for the program and managing your account, reach out to a Google Grant agency. A professional can take charge of your campaigns, so you can focus on other aspects of your fundraisers instead of writing ad copy.

Takeaway: The best marketing campaigns use multiple marketing methods. As long as you make the effort to interconnect each channel and communicate a cohesive message, leveraging multiple marketing channels will help you reach a larger audience.

7. Thank Donors For Contributing To Your Fundraiser

It’s always important to thank your donors, especially directly after they’ve made a donation. New donors can become life-long members of your community if you put in the effort to form relationships with them. Additionally, you can keep previous donors coming back by showing them you appreciate them.

The way you create a positive experience for donors is through effective donor stewardship. While 55% of US donors prefer to be thanked for their contributions via email, there are several ways to practice proper donor stewardship and leave a lasting impression:

Continue relationships with donors after your fundraiser with good donor stewardship.
  • Thanking donors by emailing them or calling them directly after they donate
  • Sending donors personal thank you letters with tax receipts
  • Treating donors with respect and care
  • Maintaining frequent communication with donors across marketing channels
  • Inviting donors to stewardship events
  • Sending donors reports that illustrate the impact they’ve made on your organization

Donor stewardship ensures that your organization creates and maintains strong relationships with your supporters. That way, your nonprofit can expand its network and build a community of supporters to work with and rely on when you start future fundraisers, projects, and initiatives.

Don’t overlook other supporters at this stage either! Recognize volunteers for any time and skills they used to make your fundraiser successful too. Sending a personalized eCard or quickly calling them can leave a positive impression. Additionally, take the time to publicly acknowledge your corporate sponsors for their contributions. You can do this with a sincere thank-you post on social media.

8. Assess the Results of Your Nonprofit’s Fundraiser

After your fundraiser, it’s essential to go back and look over your goals to see if you’ve accomplished them. This final step is important because it allows you to take the lessons you’ve learned from this campaign and apply them to your next fundraiser.

A great way to assess the results of your fundraiser is to ask your donors or event attendees for their feedback by sending them a survey. That way, you can get another perspective on what worked and what didn’t from fundraiser participants rather than leadership.

Additionally, there are some questions you’ll want to review with your fundraising team to evaluate your success. These questions may include:

Take the time to review the results of your fundraiser in order to make the next one even more successful.
  • Did you meet your initial goals?
  • Which marketing methods were most successful in achieving your goals?
  • Which marketing methods were unsuccessful?
  • Did you set an appropriate budget?
  • What were some successes that you should replicate when starting your next fundraiser?
  • What were some failures or shortcomings that you should avoid for your next fundraiser?
  • Are there any ways you could have used your resources more efficiently?

Taking the time to reflect upon your fundraiser will make your next one even more successful. Even though your team is likely busy with other projects, putting in a little time now means you’ll save time later in the planning process for future fundraisers.

Conclusion & Additional Resources

Now that you know the steps for how to start a fundraiser, it will be easier to stay organized and get the job done. Each time you host a fundraiser, you’ll get more familiar with the planning process, leading to more successful fundraisers.

In this guide to how to start a fundraiser, we touched upon many different considerations that go into fundraiser planning. We know you might have some further questions about how to host an effective fundraiser, especially if you’re a first-timer.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of resources that go beyond the basics of starting a fundraiser. These articles tackle more specific fundraiser tips and tricks that will help you along your fundraising journey. Check them out below:

Learn more about how to start a fundraiser by attending one of our panels or webinars.