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Allison Gauss
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Webinar: How Top Nonprofits Succeed at Online Fundraising

We recently hosted a webinar on how top nonprofits like Pencils of Promise can succeed at online fundraising when they invest in the right platform, build an online fundraising machine within their community, and use technologies like Salesforce to track their results and share it across teams.

To lead the way, we brought together Classy’s own Director of Business Development, Mike Spear, with two key players at Pencils of Promise (PoP), an organization that builds schools and educates children in developing countries. They also excel in online fundraising. Jonathan Tan, PoP’s Data Coordinator, works with their Salesforce account to get a detailed understanding of their donors, and Ben Bromberg, the Backend Database Manager, helps them understand and learn how to improve the process of turning donations into impact.

top nonprofits webinar hosts

Our hosts each brought a unique set of skills and insights for a comprehensive look at online fundraising and what it takes to employ this development strategy successfully. Here are some highlights from the discussion.

Reasons to Invest in Online Fundraising

Online fundraising is bigger than ever, but not all organizations are making the most of the opportunity. For nonprofits hesitant to invest in online fundraising, there are four big reasons to take the plunge (or at least get your feet wet).

1. Online Fundraising Empowers Your Team to Do More With Less

“A good system will allow you to launch effective fundraising campaigns quickly and easily, without necessarily having any technical expertise,” said Mike Spear.

For young or very small nonprofits, like Vs. Cancer, a strong online presence and fundraising platform empowers them to think big and grow.

webinar slide vs cancer

2. You Build Relationships That Scale

When you can create unlimited donation pages, you can give donors a personalized experience that caters to their interests and history with your nonprofit. For example, you can appeal to first-time donors with different copy and suggested giving levels than you would use when approaching a recurring donor. For a growing nonprofit, this means being able to maintain authentic, close relationships even as your community expands.

3. You Can Focus on Revenue Expansion

Offline revenue streams, such as direct mail appeals, are difficult to maintain and grow. Online fundraising can dramatically increase your fundraising potential and has become a central element of modern nonprofit development strategies. Peer-to-peer fundraising, for example, helps Pencils of Promise reach beyond their existing donors and into their supporters’ social networks.

4. It Helps Drive Long-Term Impact

Team Rubicon is an example of a nonprofit that prioritizes their development and infrastructure. Their founder and CEO Jake Wood explains that this is simply the best way to make a bigger impact.

Jake Wood Team Rubicon

How to Build a Fundraising Machine

Pencils of Promise uses Classy and Salesforce to get a comprehensive understanding of their donors and fundraising. Because the platforms have a direct integration, all of their fundraising data syncs with their Salesforce account. “As someone who works in data analysis a lot, this integration saves a huge chunk of time and effort,” said Jonathan. With information on donations and fundraising synced with each donor’s entry in Saleforce, PoP can understand a supporter’s history with the organization and use it to inform their communications.

Jonathan explained that one of the strengths of PoP’s peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns is that they not only get existing supporters involved, but they also recruit and collect contact information from new donors.

Last year, we saw about 12,000 unique donors and about 10,000 of them were first-time donors. So our job then is to retain those donors.

Jonathan Tan

When donors interface with PoP’s Classy donation pages, the information is sent straight to Salesforce, where the nonprofit can trigger communications to nurture and reengage supporters. This means that when someone gives to PoP, the organization can easily send thank you messages, impact stories, and future appeals. Some of these contacts will give again, or even fundraise, which brings in even more new donors.

How Technology Supports Transparency

One of the things Pencils of Promise is known and celebrated for is their commitment to transparency. They make it their business to know exactly where donations are going and how the programs affect communities. Communicating their findings to donors builds a sense of trust that nurtures long-term support. All this is made possible, in part, by their use of project-based online fundraising campaigns and data tracking through Salesforce.

Having used the CRM for donor records, marketing communications, and even job applicants, PoP decided to build their own impact-tracking app with Salesforce. Ben Bromberg explained that while it was an investment of time and resources, the decision ultimately helps the nonprofit accelerate growth and progress toward their mission.

At this point, our impact app is enabling us to do all of our analysis on our programs, to really see what’s working.

Ben Bromberg

Just one example of how the Classy + Salesforce integration helps PoP deliver amazing donor experiences and transparency comes from the option to fund a school. If a peer-to-peer fundraiser raises $25,000, the funds are used to build a school in Ghana, Guatemala, Laos, or Nicaragua. When a supporter hits this fundraising goal, the data from Classy syncs with Salesforce and triggers the organization to begin constructing the plaque that will mark the soon-to-be school.


Having the right tools that work together enables Pencils of Promise and other top nonprofits to stay on the cutting edge of fundraising, impact, and transparency. Their innovation and commitment to data-driven impact shows how nonprofits can harness the power of technology for social good.

Watch the full webinar to get insider tips from Pencils of Promise on…

  • Creating donor personas.
  • Building a successful community of fundraisers.
  • Turning one-time donors into recurring givers.

Watch Now

Top Nonprofits Online Fundraising webinar

  • Shawn C

    We recently found and have been happy with the success of allowing our members to donate gift cards. It helped when we were receiving feedback that our members just didn’t have cash to give. Definitely worth checking them out as an additional stream of fundraising.

    • Allison Gauss

      Thanks Shawn! I hadn’t heard of this option before.


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