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Nonprofit Fundraising Insights from AFP

By April 11, 2019

Giving is personal. Is your fundraising technology also personal?

We are wrapping up yet another amazing fundraising conference in San Antonio, and are excited AFP has announced our new partnership to better serve their 31,000 members globally in their use of technology.

This partnership will extend far past the conference with thought leadership, webinars, and convenings. One example of this is the 2019 Fundraising Productivity and Effectiveness report that will be distributed to all AFP members.


2019 Fundraising Productivity and Effectiveness report

But, back to AFP Icon. Outside of some of the best breakfast tacos I’ve ever had in Texas (sorry, Austin!), there were meaningful connections, sessions, and conversations. Above all else, the three major themes from AFP Icon 2019 that we heard at the booth and in sessions were:

    1. Building deep, long-lasting, and diverse relationships and donor experiences is top of mind for development leaders, both digital and physical.
    2. Focusing on the most effective funding sources, and instilling productive fundraising techniques, are critical to success.
    3. Nonprofits are looking to use modern technology as their next big supporter; however, many are still on a journey when it comes to adopting the latest advancements.

Keep reading for all the details!

Inspire, cultivate, and connect with supporters.

1. Build deep, diverse relationships to support a great constituent experience

As you would guess, it was a social bunch at AFP this year, like every year. Fundraisers are relationship experts. This year a number of conversations extended far beyond stewarding relationships into trust, transparency, and longer term strategy.

For example, The Color of Money session with Shawn Wills and Lenita Dunlap focused on diversity with board members, leadership, and in segmentation of constituents for outreach.

These same supporters are also consumers, and one facet of segmentation is by age. We were lucky enough to host a session dedicated to inspiring and engaging Millennials and Gen Z donors to give, and talking about the experience of these digital natives.

Engagement experts Elaine Stanfield and John Patton shared trends in Millennial giving and provided recommendations on how you can use technology to reach Millennials and Gen Z on their terms, to motivate them to give to your organization. Some stats to keep in mind as you’re figuring out how to engage Millennials:

The majority of <strong>Millennial website browsing</strong> is done via <strong>mobile device</strong>, but the majority of <strong>donations</strong> are completed via <strong>desktop</strong>.  55% prefer to give online with a credit/debit card for payment 39% arere most inspired to give by social media 23% are most inspired to give by email 20% are most inspired to give by website 88% say they’re likely to give through Facebook fundraising tools in the future 69% prefer to be thanked for a donation via email

2. Focus on the most effective funding sources and productive fundraising techniques

There was a lot of conversation around how to do more with less, and focus on the most productive areas to raise resources. Our 2019 Fundraising Productivity and Effectiveness report dives deep into important data around how fundraisers can be more efficient and use technology to support their day to day. Top takeaways are:

  • Major gifts are the greatest source of revenue for nonprofit organizations, and if development teams had more time, 65% saying they would spend it here. However, earned income is identified as the most productive way to generate revenue when looking at its proportional contribution to overall revenue as a function of the amount of staff time it requires.
  • A large challenge however, is that this report found that although 97% of fundraising teams had access to the CRM system and data, only 47% of marketing had access to data for communications, and a mere 36% of programs teams were there to help fundraisers with transparent impact data.
  • Those organizations that exceeded their fundraising goals also had more types of donor data in their system, but also took advantage of some of the latest productivity features that are available in today’s CRM platforms (e.g., mobile, email connectors/trackers) which, in turn, significantly increased overall user experience.

I hosted a session with Kelli Hudon on our product management team covering how to go about Digital Transformation and techniques nonprofits use to ensure they are constantly taking advantage of opportunities to optimize revenue and productivity.

3. Use technology as your next big supporter

There was much discussion around how technology can be used to support fundraising. Our favorite topic that hit the stage was artificial intelligence, and the implications for fundraisers. According to a Nonprofit Trends Report from Salesforce Research, the use of artificial intelligence is projected to grow 361% in the next two years.

Dustin Pitts and Andrea Schiller presenting at the fundraising conference.
Dustin Pitts and Andrea Schiller presenting at the fundraising conference

In “The Robots Are Coming: AI and the Future of Fundraising,” Lead Solution Engineer Dustin Pitts and Senior Product Marketing Manager Andrea Schiller presented on AI and the future of fundraising. Some high level recommendations for how to use cutting-edge technology across fundraising teams, regardless of your technology tools include:

Direct mail fundraising tips:

  • First, improve your data hygiene
  • Using statistical models for segmentation can help build better segments
  • Leverage marketing automation to save time
  • Consider AI tools like image recognition for possible gift caging process improvements

Major gifts advice:

  • First, identify major donors (AI can help!)
  • Use technology to help with identifying planned gift donors and for your prospect research
  • Use your data to uplevel important analytics or identify the next best action

Telemarketing tips:

  • Use automated dialing and real-time scripts
  • Use tech to incorporate past action into conversation, including web clicks, previous cases and previous donations

Curious to learn more? recently hosted an AI for Good Week to share insights from industry leaders on how nonprofits can use AI to advance their missions. Get a peek here in the AI Week recap blog or see all the resources on the AI for Nonprofits page.