Fundraising for your future.

Blog October 2, 2015 By Kevin Wolfe

Mobile Fundraising DonorDrive

In a few short years, the peer-to-peer fundraising space has evolved dramatically. Back in 2007 we started building DonorDrive when two of our large nonprofit clients expressed a similar need: they wanted innovative software that would make it easy for event participants to fundraise through their friends, family and coworkers. By continuing to work closely with our clients on innovations that serve their real-world needs, DonorDrive has grown into the most effective and largest privately-held fundraising software available today.

Instead of gazing into a crystal ball to see the future of fundraising, our client feedback is based on the real numbers they see in the data of their success. Many of our clients (like World Vision, AFSP, Extra Life and Climate Ride) have seen unprecedented peer-to-peer growth in the last year. We thought we’d share the emerging trends that our clients are having success with in order to help all nonprofits get a better understanding of what’s to come in fundraising over the next year and beyond:

  • Creative fundraising will continue to drive both organizations and supporters.
  • Trending topic campaigns are on the rise.
  • Fundraising must get more flexible.
  • Data is gaining importance. Again.
  • Fundraising must continue to get easier.


Creative fundraising will continue to drive both organizations and supporters. 

Two trends are happening: 

  1. Organizations are looking for new experiential fundraising vehicles to engage their supporters. 
  2. Their supporters also want to do their own thing.

The reason we built DonorDrive to do both well is that in today’s fundraising environment, organizations and finding that they truly need both. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals uses DonorDrive for creative new events like Miracle Challenge (a virtual exer-thon) and Extra Life (a 24-hour gaming marathon.) In 2014, Extra Life raised over $6,000,000, all online. This is an sound example of how successful organizations are using DonorDrive to create virtual events that have a national appeal. These events forego the expense of building a new signature series. Like Extra Life, a virtual event can appeal internationally to a very specific audience or virtual community. Expect that these events will be appealing to groups like the growing senior population (as they get less ambulatory and more active online) or that they will focus on specific interests, like celebrities and products.

 In 2014, Extra Life (a 24-hour gaming marathon) raised over $6,000,000, all online.

At the same time that we’ve seen organizations get more creative, there’s been 54%  growth this year in supporters using DonorDrive for creative DIY campaigns. These are giving commercial marathon runners and individual supporters with virtual lemonade stands easy access to fundraising tools to raise on behalf of the organization. So while supporters have fundraising creativity, the organization has complete control over brand, data and dollars. 

There’s been 54%  growth this year in supporters using DonorDrive for creative DIY campaigns.

The trends of nonprofit fundraising creativity and supporter fundraising creativity are both on the rise and what’s interesting is that they don’t conflict. If anything, fresh events and DIY are growing off each other: Organizations are meeting new participants through their innovative events and then those same enthusiastic supporters are starting their own DIY campaigns.

Trending topic campaigns are on the rise.

In these days when communication moves at the speed of social media, society’s cumulative interest is intense, while its attention span is short. The capability for a nonprofit to react to a social trend by implementing a fundraising campaign idea in less than an hour is vital. The capability to respond to an immediate need can mean massive viral success. Last year World Vision used DonorDrive for an emergency campaign to raise enough to fly four million pairs of donated surgical gloves to Africa at a time when Ebola dominated the news. (These gloves would go on to play a key role in ending the outbreak.) An even greater emergency than the outbreak: There was a short window to get the gloves flown in before the government of Sierra Leone closed the airport. The campaign was launched in DonorDrive by a World Vision staffer on a Saturday evening. In 66 hours their campaign had raised the needed $135,000. If extensive planning, approval and setup were required (as in many nonprofit campaigns) this type of fundraising couldn’t have succeeded.

Fundraising must get more flexible.

As you can see from the examples here, nonprofit success is depending more and more on the capability to handle a wide variety of fundraising. Trends and opportunities emerge fast and the organizations that have the software in place to respond promptly with a campaign or to rapidly build a national infrastructure are the ones that can best turn the current sentiment into revenue for the cause. In 2008 when AFSP started using DonorDrive, they had 40 community walks. Local chapters started forming at a fast clip and in less than 10 years, AFSP has grown to over 400 walks on our software.

AFSP has grown to over 400 walks on DonorDrive.

In our continual development of DonorDrive we’ve heard the need for making our software not just effective, but also flexible enough for the agility required to make an organization successful today. Our clients use our software for national signature, team-based, chapter, third-party and virtual events, as well as ticketed events, capital campaigns and DIY fundraising. Going hand in hand with this flexibility is the dependability needed to handle the large donation volume of a 24-hour, six-million-dollar event or to handle the structural growth of our clients. 

Data is gaining importance. Again.

We saw the growing thirst for numbers from our clients move well beyond simple dollar amounts long ago. Their fundraiser data is now helping them determine when to launch registration for maximum participation, to determine what messaging they send to participants is the most motivating and to spot their supporters who have the biggest impact, so they can nurture those relationships. DonorDrive’s built-in reporting is unparalleled in tracking peer-to-peer fundraiser data and our APIs, our popular export formats and our sync with popular CRMs (like Salesforce, Raiser’s Edge and Clearview)  give nonprofits the most immediate access to their data in an easily-digestible format. Through our custom fields, clients like Climate Ride gather extensive data from their participants that helps them to make their five-day rides life-changing events for each rider. We expect that the movement of better-data-driving-better-donations will only escalate.

Fundraising must continue to get easier.

Very early on DonorDrive clients told us that a participant who requires the organization’s time to ask questions—is also a frustrated participant. And if that supporter is busy complaining about software hassles, they can’t be spending that time fundraising. We’ve worked extensively with our clients on making fundraising a question-free process for their participants. Our Fundraising Motivation Engine® is an industry first that automatically coaches participants and helps guide them through the fundraising process. We’ve made it easy through onscreen smart notifications as well as email and social notifications that can be scheduled or triggered by the participant’s actions and inaction. These notifications give participants the guidance and encouragement they need to be better fundraisers. We continue to refine the Fundraising Motivation Engine with additions that make it easier to customize the messaging for each participant based on a broadening set of trigger and scheduling criteria. From our clients: When DonorDrive sends participants the right message at the right time, they’re a lot more likely to be successful fundraisers.

If that supporter is busy complaining about software hassles, they can’t be spending that time fundraising.

According to Giving USA,  the number of new nonprofits was up 6% in 2014. And while it sometimes seems that shiny, new organizations pop up out of nowhere, that’s usually not the case. It’s more likely they’ve been quietly and efficiently growing, then are suddenly thrust in the public spotlight. If you examine these organizations and those examples above you’ll see what it will take for your organization to succeed tomorrow: quick response to those fleeting fundraising opportunities and trends, the agility to handle the growth they bring and software that can readily handle both.