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4 ways to increase donor acquisition in digital fundraising


In the internet age, there’s plenty that nonprofit organisations can do to go beyond direct mail and phone calls, improving and expanding their donor acquisition processes. Digital campaigns can help them to overcome limited budgets and resources, and focus in particular on young audiences who live a large part of their lives online.

With this in mind, here are four tips for every nonprofit business, charitable organization and government-funded agency, to help them increase donor acquisition through their online fundraising efforts.


1. Take Advantage of Mobile and Social Media

Over 80% of U.S. citizens have at least one social media profile. Around the same percentage own computers, over 75% have smartphones, and nearly 90% use the internet in some way. As such, it’s absolutely essential for nonprofits to create and maintain mobile apps and social media pages to draw in donations.

One of the most recognizable online fundraising efforts of recent history was the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge,” in which participants were called out by friends, family members or coworkers to dump a large bucket of ice-cold water over their heads. In turn, those chosen for the challenge then called on new candidates to perform the challenge next.

increase donor acquisition in digital fundraising

Source: Anthony Quintano

The primary purpose of what became a social media phenomenon was to raise awareness for the good cause, but it was also meant to bring in donations from the people who participated. It was extremely successful in both regards, with the organization raising millions of dollars – this wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance of viral social media efforts.While not every charity or nonprofit organization can match the fervor of this social media campaign, it’s still an excellent idea to hire a resident social media expert and mobile application developer, in order to take full advantage of the internet’s mobilization potential. 

2. Combine Real Life with Online Efforts

Just because you have simultaneous efforts going on in digital frontiers and in the flesh, that doesn’t mean they should be exclusive. For example, you can combine real life events with technological tools by hosting fundraising events that make good use of mobile applications.

Participants in silent auctions can bid using an app or webpage as they’re attending your fundraiser in real life, or use the same application to learn more about the finer details of your cause. Given the number of individuals who own mobile devices, this proves an engaging way to encourage a higher volume of donations. Furthermore, this innovative use of technology is sure to keep your organization at the forefront of donors’ minds long afterward.

3. Create an Appealing Webpage

While your website may seem adequate, the internet moves fast. If you can’t keep up, you’ll probably turn away potential donors due to the lack of appeal on your page. To start with, you should engage in digital marketing best practices like pay-per-click advertisements and featured posts across social media channels in order to draw more visitors to your charity’s website in the first place.

Once prospective donors are on your page, make sure your design is both simple and pleasant– use colors that are easy on the eyes, place graphics and videos strategically, and make navigation intuitive. Poorly designed websites can be extremely detrimental to your effort to acquire new donors, no matter how impressed they are with the agency’s mission.  

4 ways to increase donor acquisition in digital fundraising

4. Show Them Where the Money Goes

It’s one thing to receive thank-you emails each time you contribute, but it’s an entirely different feeling knowing exactly how that money was put to use. Attach your donors’ names to the fund balance, so that way, wherever their donation goes, you can send an immediate update with a photo and description of exactly where it was spent. In turn, this will encourage your donors to continue offering funds so that they can see where your collective efforts take them next.  



It’s always an immense task to continue gaining new contributors every day. However, with online resources dominating the fundraising sphere, it’s so much easier than it used to be to get the word out about your cause. However, it’s not as simple as posting your organization’s link and waiting for the donations to roll in. There is some strategy required if you truly want your nonprofit or charity to succeed.


Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for SBI Association Management. 


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