There are literally hundreds of ways for grassroots supporters to raise funds for a cause online. Many nonprofits receive donations from some of these multiple places, and of course, no nonprofit is going to look a gift horse in the mouth and shun these donations. However, this distributed support has major disadvantages over a platform that is built for, and managed by, your nonprofit. Let’s look at a few of the major ones.
For a nonprofit’s long-term funding growth, this is perhaps the greatest problem with relying on donations from various platforms outside of its control: the nonprofit has no direct channel to capture data on, and communicate with, grassroots fundraisers and donors after they make a donation. Because these other fundraising services aren’t controlled by the nonprofit and the donors’ data isn’t synced with the nonprofit’s various systems – such as financial tracking software, CRM and marketing automation – it is extremely hard to impossible to track these supporters and/or build a lasting relationship with them in the way that the nonprofit has strategically set out to do with its dedicated and managed fundraising platform.
With a modern, end-to-end fundraising platform built specifically for a nonprofit’s needs – which is what we do here at RallyBound – nonprofits can guarantee that their supporters are getting the optimal online and mobile experience that the nonprofit wants them to have. Many, if not most, other fundraising platforms were never built for the specific use cases that nonprofits need today – such as tribute donations, ticketing events, DIY and for that matter traditional run/walk/ride events. So beyond the fact that the data and design is completely out of the nonprofit’s control, the suboptimal experience that potential donors receive on these sites can actually make even that one-and-done donation less likely.
Branding and security concerns
Another issue with relying on fundraising from platforms outside of a nonprofit’s control is that the mission of the nonprofit and its carefully crafted message can be distorted on other platforms. While this is almost certainly never intentional on the grassroots fundraiser’s part, the nonprofit’s brand – and really the brand of the cause itself – could be effected in ways that would make it very hard to deal with. This could be as simple as the wrong logo being used, to as serious as fraud.
While most reputable third party fundraising systems have strong fraud deterrents in place, it still happens, and if someone – that a nonprofit has no formal relationship with – commits fraud in the nonprofit’s name, that could lead to wide-ranging trust concerns from other potential donors. Even if fraud doesn’t occur, other security concerns – especially hacking of accounts – could lead to an erosion of trust.
The answer is consolidation
At RallyBound, we’ve seen many nonprofits that have dealt with the issue of having grassroots supporters distributed across multiple platforms out of their control. While a challenge, as soon as a nonprofit has a dedicated and modern fundraising platform up and running (and honestly, the fact that many nonprofits do not have such a system in place is a large reason that many supporters resolve to use other systems in the first place) nonprofits should immediately begin to reach out and inform their supporters about the new platform.
Even though the nonprofit might not have direct means (i.e. email or phone number) to reach out to these supporters – which again, is a major drawback with relying on distributed funding sources – there are other methods that a nonprofit can reach these supporters. These include posting on official social media accounts, running advertising, and speaking with the media to get the message out about the new, official, platform. No matter how much the effort, it will be worth it when a nonprofit has converted all of those one-and-done supporters into long-term, recurring fundraisers and donors.
Also published on Medium.