How BRIDGE helped participants raise $5 million on their year-end campaigns

Róisín McGovern
Digital Training Lead
16 Apr 2021

Last year the COVID-19 pandemic created challenges across many sectors, but especially for nonprofits, many of which were previously reliant upon in-person events and more traditional means of fundraising. At Lightful, we’ve been working with charities to understand how the pandemic has affected the sector and what’s become evident is that digital fundraising skills are vital in adapting to the ‘new normal’ that has emerged following the pandemic.

Charities have had to rapidly shift not only their services but their fundraising to online channels. For many, taking the leap to digital fundraising was a major learning curve but an important one - charities cannot be left behind in the digital transition.

Lightful's partnership with Jessie Ball du Pont Fund

At Lightful we believe that those doing the greatest good deserve the best technology which is why in September 2020, together with partner Jessie Ball du Pont Fund, we delivered a BRIDGE (building resilience in digital growth and engagement) programme specifically focused on digital fundraising. It had become increasingly clear during the most part of last year that nonprofits needed urgent funding, and they needed to be doing it online.

Our grantees have seen amazing results using Lightful's digital tools and training, which is especially important during a time when expanding their digital storytelling and online donor engagement is critical to their survival.” - Mari Kuraishi President, Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

Of the 90 organisations that took part in BRIDGE, many had never run a digital fundraising campaign before, with 47% reporting that they did not have a digital strategy in place when beginning the programme.

Because of the need for social media training, we tailored the BRIDGE curriculum to help participating organisations accelerate the development of their digital strategies, while also learning key skills in online storytelling and fundraising.

Through a combination of e-learning content, live webinars and one-on-one support from the Lightful team, we helped participants raise over $5 million during November and December 2020.

“We have shifted our thinking to believing that our donors are comfortable with online giving. Prior, we considered them too old to want to use online tools.” - Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.

Incentivising giving

To incentivise fundraising for Giving Tuesday and end of year giving, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund offered a match fund opportunity, a first for the foundation. Adding the match element inspired participants to take their digital fundraising to the next level, to encourage donors to give differently, and to implement new tools and techniques which they hadn’t used before. And it worked!

We have traditionally received very few online donations, our donors are older and very traditional, 95% of them give by check. We raised more online in the past few weeks than we did in the whole of 2019! This truly an education and a culture shift for us, one that I am so excited to be a part of!”- Pinnacle Living

Together with Lightful, the Jessie Ball duPont Fund has enabled small and mid-sized nonprofits working within their local communities in Florida, Virginia and Delaware to not only survive the digital transition but thrive. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, these charities have found their voice and reinvented their storytelling and fundraising tools.

“It [Giving Tuesday] was the biggest single day of giving in our institution’s history and that is definitely due to this prestigious match and challenge” - Randolph College.

Participants left BRIDGE with new skills, the knowledge to run an effective online fundraising campaign, and most importantly, a renewed faith in their digital resilience for the future. Empowering nonprofit leaders with the digital tools to future-proof their services, communications and fundraising are crucial as we begin to recover from this time of great change, and rebuild a better world.

Find out more about the BRIDGE programme here.


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