Improving Donor Experience in Nonprofit Fundraising

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a significant strain on the ability of nonprofit organizations to meet fundraising goals. In fact, many nonprofit professionals report that the pandemic is the number one challenge to fundraising they face today, and almost a third1 report that they anticipate a shortfall in 2021.

The inability to get in front of donors has, and will continue to impact fundraising efforts. On the other hand, challenges to traditional fundraising models have encouraged nonprofits to be innovative in how they reach out to their donor communities, including casting a wider net to reach more potential donors, increasing investment in developing major gift pipelines, and exploring new, innovative digital philanthropy platforms like crowdfunding.

Even if these strategies are executed perfectly, poor execution and processing of gift agreements can create delays in getting critical revenues to the organization - and even damage donor relations. With many organizations grappling with manual gift agreement processes and an over-reliance on physical signatures, technology plays an important role in helping to remove areas of friction to the gift giving process. 

Nonprofits experience gaps in agreement execution

A recent survey of employees working in development departments of non-profit organizations found that, on average, one third of organizations experienced gaps in gift processing, collection and stewardship​ due to workflow challenges. They report that gift processing timelines and staff continuity planning are among the more common issues.

The survey also found it essential to make sure that the correct pledge agreement is sent to the donor. Over half of the organizations indicated that sending an incorrect pledge agreement has a major impact on their ability to close the agreements, leaving money on the table, and increasing staff workload and processing time. 

We spoke with Wayne Combs, President of the Association of Advancement Services Professionals to get his thoughts on aligning the challenges of managing a multitude of agreements with the donor experience. “It’s not uncommon for development teams to have multiple sets of language that they use in their agreements: standard template language, and language that is used for exceptions. Managing this can be difficult and mistakes in agreements with the wrong language introduces confusion that can slow down the overall agreement process – and negatively impact your donor experience,” said Combs.

Using Technology Can Improve Donor Experience

When nonprofit organizations struggle with manual gift agreement processes and an over-reliance on physical signatures, technology can play an important role in streamlining the gift-giving process, and improving donor experience. “When you are in the field of development, the donor comes first,” said Combs. “We want the donor experience to be as easy and intuitive as possible. It's critical to use tools that enhance the donor experience – and that are equally easy to use by multiple parties –both backend and user facing.”

One way development teams are using technology to improve the donor experience is by adopting agreement technologies. 

With technology like the DocuSign Agreement Cloud for Nonprofits, organizations benefit from:

  • Increased efficiency and ease of use for improved cost per dollar raised and donor experience. Streamline the gift agreement process by automating manual tasks and orchestrating complex workflows. With pre-built connectors and APIs, organizations can enable key agreement tasks in third-party apps, like pulling in data, generating agreements, kicking off workflows and more. You can also improve donor experience by providing a personalized digital submission experience.
  • Better transparency and improved interdepartmental relationships. Connect and track agreement processes across contributors, reviewers, approvers and more providing greater visibility into gift status to all interested parties
  • More accuracy, fewer mistakes. Prevent costly mistakes by standardizing and automating agreement workflows and secure agreements in a centralized repository. Automatically review and flag language that may introduce risk to the organization.
  • Improved reporting. Improve gift processing efficiency by quickly identifying and addressing approval and review bottlenecks. Reporting and advanced analytics allows teams to improve overall fundraising strategy.

To learn more, check out the DocuSign Agreement Cloud for Nonprofits.  

1Docusign/Qualtrics primary research; 12/24/20 to 1/19/21; 102 nonprofit professionals