After years of experience, months of package- and strategy-testing, weeks of data analyses and days of hard work developing strategic multi-channel acquisitions and appeals, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to execute a successful fundraising program. Today, I’d like to share some of our expertise in the form of Hot Topics and Trends in Fundraising—a first-hand look at simple ways you can make a positive difference by acquiring, retaining and stewarding donors for long-term success.


  • Be aggressive with your fundraising program—make solicitation and stewardship top communications priorities.
  • Design a segmentation strategy that allows you to track different cohorts in your database.
  • Understand your key performance indicators, and build your budget and strategy around retention and long-term value.
  • Find opportunities to engage your base beyond requesting a gift, e.g., sign-and-return devices.
  • Keep your direct mail fresh by using different formats, envelope colors and sizes.
  • Test different voices when developing fundraising communications. Donors respond to leadership, specialists and high-profile individuals.
  • Promote matching gift opportunities; they create urgency as well as increase both response and average gift.
  • Model softer portions of your donor base (e.g., deep lapsed, memorials, events) to find the most productive segment.
        • Shape a comprehensive digital experience that provides value to your donors: Create a program that goes far beyond solicitations.
        • Cater to the digital usage habits of your donors or be ignored: Don’t expect them—especially Millennials—to be reached on your organization’s terms. Go where they are and excel there.
        • Go heavy on compelling visuals online. From The NonProfit Times: “Web posts with visual components drive up to 180% more engagement,” and “research indicates people process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.”
        • Be sure to have a responsive website so you can adapt to the growing number of devices that donors may use to visit websites.
        • Evaluate the abandonment rates on your donation pages: Remove extraneous fields, add security signs near the donate button and eliminate links to other parts of your website.


    Say ‘THANK YOU!’ immediately and often.

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As nonprofits everywhere face unprecedented challenges, S&W is stepping forward to help—working on rapid response strategies with our clients, curating resources for easy access, offering answers from our expert team, and bringing people together from across the nonprofit world to share ideas. The point, as we say, is Powering Missions That Matter—now at the moment they matter most.

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