How to Make a Passive Fundraising Ask

Passive fundraising is the nonprofit superpower you might not know you need.

Using passive fundraising to ask for donations can generate more money consistently over the long run, and after initial setup can almost run on its own. It’s a secret tool that the best fundraisers use to keep funds flowing to their organizations.

But how do you make a passive fundraising ask?

It’s easier than you might think and there are a variety of ways to do it. A good passive campaign just takes a little creativity and planning.

What is a Passive Fundraising Ask?

Passive fundraising involves any activities that don’t require a direct campaign or connection with a potential donor. Most passive fundraising campaigns work in concert with other efforts and while initial donation amounts can be small, they can add up considerably over time.

Passive fundraising has two key characteristics:

  1. It involves an indirect ask for money. Rather than sending an email that highlights a need or new campaign, it is subtle such as a tagline in your email signature that shows the benefit of dollars received.
  2. It’s an evergreen lead generation tool that appeals to donors with little ongoing maintenance. Passive fundraising efforts can last months to years to the lifetime of your organization.

Successful passive fundraising campaigns bring in more money than they cost to set up. (This may sound like a no-brainer, but without strategy and goals passive campaigns can be a bust.)

Passive fundraising often appeals to people other than your core donor base. They are less motivated by big campaigns, awards dinners or events, and recognition. These donors might connect with your goals or mission and only have a few dollars to contribute.

Passive fundraising methods can also appeal to individuals that are interested in your organization and want to see what it is about without making a direct inquiry. These soft leads can emerge as some of your biggest supporters over time if the relationship is fostered well.

Benefits of a Passive Campaign

From the onset, a passive campaign will not have the same goals as a major fundraising event. But it should also take a lot less effort.

The main benefit of this donation source is that it is a low-risk, low-effort way to generate funds. Most of the ways to create a passive fundraising ask include some simple setup and then you are on the path to seeing funds trickle in.

Don’t forget to launch and pair passive asks with major campaigns. Having multiple options for gifting can help more donors participate in campaigns in different ways, maximizing their giving efforts.

Other benefits of a passive fundraising campaign include:

How to Create a Passive Ask

There are plenty of ways to develop a passive fundraising ask. They fall into two categories:

  1. Ongoing asks that have no distinct end
  2. Time-based asks that happen during a specific window

Both passive asks can be beneficial and appeal to different types of potential donors. While ongoing methods are best for generating a steady and consistent funding stream, time-based asks can generate more buzz and donation surges.

Ways to create a passive ongoing fundraising ask include:

  • Add a donation button to social media pages
  • Put a donation button in the header and main navigation of your website
  • Include a message in the signature of all organization emails about how to donate
  • Always include a recurring gift option on donation forms
  • Partner with a third party such as Amazon Smile or grocery stores, that allow users to connect shopping accounts to your organization (you’ll get a portion back from each sale)
  • Allow and encourage corporate matches for individual donations
  • Include a partnership/sponsorship opportunities page on your website that also highlights partners
  • Register as a verified charitable organization on Facebook so you can add a donate button to posts or allow individual users to create donor campaigns for you 
  • Create an automated email that goes to all new subscribers highlighting the mission of your organization and ways to get involved with the key call to action being a donation (GiveWP integrates with popular email and CRM tools to make this easy)  

Most ongoing passive fundraisers aren’t going to net huge gains to the bottom line, but over time can create a constant flow of funds. The more people you connect with using passive asks, the greater your chances are at higher income levels.

Some of the biggest fundraising potential comes from recurring donations, company matches, and sponsorships.

Other passive fundraising activities may be more sporadic, occur during a dedicated time window, and have different goals. These include:

  • Run a merchandise sale with preorders so you don’t have to buy inventory in advance
  • Partner with a restaurant for a percentage night from each meal
  • Work with ambassadors who can earn perks for generating donations
  • Include a donation option that can be added on to other campaigns throughout the year, such as event tickets, merchandise sales, or volunteer signups
  • Initiate a crowdfunding campaign for a specific project
  • Tie passive online asks to a local or national event such as Giving Tuesday, National Nonprofit Day, or another awareness day that relates to your organizational mission by using hashtags on social media 

This type of passive fundraising campaign can provide a more instant and impressive revenue boost. The challenge is that these campaigns take a little more legwork and effort and can only happen a few times a year without risk of creating donor fatigue.

To maximize your passive fundraising ask, mix and match elements of ongoing and time-based activities as part of your overall giving strategy.

Incorporate a Passive Ask into Other Campaigns

A passive fundraising ask can be a standalone effort, but it will be most effective as a compliment to other campaigns. Look for ways to incorporate passive asks into annual campaigns, targeted efforts such as Giving Tuesday, or end of year giving.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Always include the option for a company match
  • Add a recurring donation option to suggested donation forms and amounts 
  • Stack events, such as a fundraising gala and donation night at a local restaurant, in the same timeframe
  • Align with campaign goals and messaging to appeal to wide potential donor base

Making just the right ask is a key component of any fundraising campaign. 

It starts with research and crafting a narrative that will resonate with donors, engaging with the audience, making an honest ask, and curating a lasting relationship. A passive ask is just one piece of a solid fundraising campaign.

Make the Ask Simple

A successful passive donation ask is simple, engaging, and easy to complete.

If a new donor struggles to complete the donation process, you will miss out on those funds.

If you are using a donation button, it should have a clear design that tells users what will happen next. “Donate now” is a solid choice for button microcopy.

When a donor gets to the website donation form, it shouldn’t ask for extraneous information. Include a couple of suggested donation amounts with giving levels and labels. GiveWP allows you to create donation forms with ease. Find guidance on how to do it in the documentation.

Use a consistent design for donation forms and elements that match your brand and style. If a user clicks a link from an email signature to donate, for example, and it doesn’t match the look of your organization, it could turn them away. A lack of visual identity can worry potential donors about the credibility of credit card or payment processing tools or make them think the link took them to the wrong location. Using your visual identity and color palette is key.

All online fundraising portals and asks should take donors to the same location for the same reason. Avoid using different tools for active and passive campaigns. Again, entering an online donation portal that looks different can be a red flag for donors. GiveWP has all the tools you need to create multiple campaigns in a unified manner.

Finally, a passive ask is still an ask. Be straightforward about your intent.

Consider the following asks:

  • Donate now
  • Make a tax-deductible donation
  • $20 can help [insert mission here]; contribute today
  • Shop with [insert third-party here] and a portion of proceeds benefit us
  • Donate with PayPal, it takes just one click

Start Generating Passive Donations Today

There’s no better time to start bringing in additional revenue with passive fundraising.

Start with one or two of the suggestions above as part of your overall organization strategy. Remember to tie passive asks to overall goals and campaigns to make the most of these micro-fundraising efforts.

GiveWP has everything you need to incorporate many of these actionable ideas into your online giving toolkit and start generating more passive asks today.

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