In the modern world of nonprofits, there are a variety of choices for how to raise funds.  Traditional or “offline” methods are still important, but now we also have the ability to do online fundraising, which opens up a whole new world of fundraising possibilities!    

Raising money online is so convenient and affordable that most organizations are hopping on board.   And although online fundraising is typically more cost effective than most traditional methods, the goal for any nonprofit like your own isn’t to choose one method over the other, but rather to discover which fundraising methods work best for you and then only use those that also align with your nonprofit’s internal resources.

Traditional and online methods each have their important place, but it’s up to you to decide how you want to utilize each.  If you haven’t done so already, you should do a retrospective assessment of your fundraising efforts from the past year and grade each based on how successful they were.    

For those who haven’t fully utilized an online fundraising platform yet, but are considering it, we’ve listed some pros and cons of traditional and online fundraising methods to help you wage which aspects of each would be most beneficial to your nonprofit.


 

Traditional Fundraising- Events

PROS
CONS
Encourages board involvement
Time consuming
Attracts new supporters
Limited to local supporters
Brings people together for a common goal
May not yield a positive return on investment
Raises your nonprofit’s visibility
Typically requires a lot of planning, manpower & capital

 

Traditional Fundraising- Direct Mail

PROS
CONS
Engages past supporters on your mailing list
Taxing to internal resources:  Time, money and manpower
Provides an opportunity for recipients to give
Requires an investment in printing and mailing supplies
Could appeal to recurring donors who are accustomed to direct mail donations and older populations
May not yield a positive return on investment
Donations are limited by the constraints of your direct mailing list
Doesn’t cater to those who prefer digital

Online Fundraising

PROS
CONS
Surpasses geographical limitations – Anyone can donate at any time from anywhere
May require some level of tech savvy
Helps attract new supporters
Financial investment depends on the fundraising platform
Helps you engage with and retain supporters
May require online account maintenance
Raises your nonprofit’s visibility
Card processing fees with online transactions (minimal)
Helps keep your contacts, campaigns, and so much more organized
Donations limited by number of people exposed to the platform – unless paired with offline efforts
Has less financial risk than traditional
Caters to millennials and others who prefer the convenience of responding to online appeals
Automated functions that save time:  Donor receipts & tax information, thank you emails, donor data collection & record keeping, and more

 

A key point to remember is that traditional and online fundraising are both limited to an extent when they’re done exclusively.  There could be people who want to get involved in some way with a really cool event you’re having, but cannot physically be there…  

Do you think they’d be more likely to send you a check in the mail or click a ‘Donate Now’ button on your awesome fundraising page?  With the right online platform, you can make remote people feel like they were still a part of your event.   

And conversely, if you’re limited to only online fundraising efforts, you could be missing out on engaging with important members of your local community who prefer to do things in person or who may not be actively involved online.  Finding the right balance is key to your nonprofit’s future success.  

Ready to reassess your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts?  Download our free guide:  Create a More Effective Fundraising Plan 

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