Thriving Digital Connections: Supercharge Your Fundraising Strategy

This week, we are dedicating the last installment of our Thriving Digital Connections series to a topic that has come to play an even greater role in the lives of nonprofits this year: fundraising and online giving behaviours. In this post, we’ll share insights from leading experts like CanadaHelps on what has changed for the nonprofit sector over the past year, and we highlight some exciting advances in the emerging landscape of digital giving, including tools and best practices to help your nonprofit make the most of this ongoing digital transformation!


COVID-19 and Fundraising: What Has Changed for Canadian Nonprofits?

When it comes to fundraising, it’s undeniable that the pandemic has ushered in a new era of planning and problem-solving for nonprofits. Recent developments like the closure of GoFundMe for Charities have also added new layers of complexity to the process of securing donations from returning and new donors alike.

As our colleagues at CanadaHelps report, during the pandemic “charities quickly adapted to physical distancing measures, taking their work, service-delivery, and fundraising online.” Many organizations faced an increased demand for their services, and had to adapt quickly while frequently also losing important revenue streams because of the restrictions on in-person interactions and other constraints. At the same time, CanadaHelps’ study found that 2020 “was also a year of resilience and generosity: while overall giving was down, online giving grew substantially last year, up 116% over 2019.”

This is an important trend to keep in mind––one with long-term implications for how the sector will engage with donors in the future. Last month, the CanadaHelps team joined TechSoupCanada to decode the key trends that have defined 2020 and that will continue to influence giving behaviours in 2021 and beyond. Below is a recording of our joint webinar, Innovating Forward: Leveraging New Giving Behaviours for Nonprofit Success:



The New Landscape of Giving

In addition to sharing their insights with us, the CanadaHelps team has produced a suite of impressive, hands-on reports to help nonprofits recognize, adopt, and navigate changes to this emerging landscape of giving. Their Giving Report 2021 takes a detailed look at the charitable sector over the past year, with a special focus on online giving and the trends and tools that are defining it. Their report uncovered the following trends, among many others:

  • Overall, Canadians give 1.6% of their income to charity;

  • Canadians give to a diverse range of causes, and some grew at much faster rates than other charitable categories: for example, causes supporting Indigenous Peoples, social services and health charities; 

  • Online donations supporting social services and health charities also grew significantly in response to COVID-19;

  • At the same time, there is a growing giving gap: current giving is driven by an aging population, and younger generations are not keeping pace.

Online giving and digital fundraising, on the other hand, have the potential to democratize support for the Canadian nonprofit sector and to engage younger generations in the process. To successfully broaden engagement, nonprofits will need to embark on a process of digital transformation to keep their outreach strategies relevant and responsive.

CanadaHelps’ companion report, the 2021 Digital Skills Survey Results, seeks to understand and assess the degree to which Canadian charities are open, interested, and willing to adopt new digital tools––and to identify barriers in using them. In the first survey of its kind in Canada, their report summarizes key findings from over 1,400 diverse charities, including the following findings:


  • A majority of charities believe that digital adoption is important, yet more than two-thirds of charities report the adoption of digital tools is a lower priority for their organization;

  • More than 55% of charities expressed either a lack of funding or the skills, expertise, and knowledge for greater use of digital tools;


For nonprofits eager to learn more about how the can embrace digital transformation, TechSoup Canada offers a number of valuable starting points––ranging from e-courses, webinars, blog resources, and practical tools.

Resources to Get Started Engaging Donors Digitally

In addition to learning more about the broader digital transformation context, there are a number of practical ways to get started bringing your fundraising strategy online. Here we highlight a short list to get your creative juices flowing!

LOCAL AND CAUSE FUNDS: While the average large charity gets the majority of its funding from the government, smaller charities rely more heavily on donations from individuals. Local and Cause Funds are aggregate funds that include small and medium-sized charities doing work in a particular community or for a specific cause. These funds are designed so that individual donors can easily make an impact across many charities. When a donation is made to a Local or Cause Fund, the donor’s gift makes a broad and lasting impact by supporting a group of trusted charities working towards the same cause. Since launching in 2020, Cause Funds like the COVID-19 Healthcare and Hospital Fund raised over $2.7 million for hospital foundations across the country, while the Black Solidarity fundraised more than $1.8 million for charities supporting Black Canadians. Find more about them on this introductory page!


GOODSZILLA: This innovative platform allows users—whether everyday people or retailers—to sell products and donate a portion of their sales to a charity of their choice. As its founder, Toju Ogbeide, recently explained in this interview with the Toronto Star, Goodszilla “comes from the concept of a marketplace that uses buying and selling of goods to do good in the world.” Or, as its tagline summarizes: “sell cool stuff, buy cool stuff, support fantastic charities.” Learn more about how to use Goodszilla on their How It Works page!

FUNDRAISEUP: Fundraise Up is a growing industry leader committed to creating the best online donation experience in the world. Their mission is to empower nonprofits and other social change organizations with the right tools to get better donations from happier donors. Their pre-built fundraising components are easy to customize and were strategically developed to increase visitor engagement and prompt donations throughout your site. To learn more about them, your organization can request a demo––or don’t miss their webinar with TechSoup Canada, Leveraging Modern Technology in the Nonprofit Space to Increase Giving… they share lots of super helpful tips and strategies with our community!



TECHSOUP CANADA E-COURSE: Eager to dive in and learn even more? The TechSoup team has bundled all of our fundraising courses into a single e-course track for easy access! From creating a winning fundraising invitation to tackling how to use the best technology and social media, this module includes what you need for effective and dynamic fundraising. Get started by visiting our Fundraising for Nonprofits e-course page!


TECHSOUP CANADA PRODUCT CATALOGUE: TechSoup Canada members ready to digitize and streamline their fundraising strategies may also be interested in getting acquainted with our our product catalogue, which features products like Arreva’s Exceed! Basic. This fundraising and donor management tool is perfect for small to medium-sized nonprofits looking to manage information about donors, prospects, board members, volunteers, and other constituents. It also helps organizations organize and track donor gifts, pledges, and dues; create reports to target and analyze campaigns, and lots more.


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