On-site and Online Fundraising Best Practices

Anthony Sicola- 08.25.2009 Follow me on Twitter

I attended the season finale of the Stern Grove Festival in San Francisco on Sunday and got to enjoy a typical (overcast) San Francisco day in a typical (eucalyptus trees) San Francisco outdoor venue with about 2500 typical (fun-loving) San Franciscans. “Why do I care?” You might ask… Well, I attended the event with fundraising best practices in mind, so as I was listening to the San Francisco Opera Orchestra and some incredible tenors and sopranos, I was thinking about how nonprofits are becoming savvier as fundraisers and engaging their donors in the process.



So, what did the Stern Grove Festival do that nonprofits across the country aren’t doing on a daily basis? Probably nothing earth-shattering, but what they were doing, they were doing very well. I would even say that they adhered to many fundraising best practices. I’d like to break out what they were doing on two levels, on-site and online because they’re doing some great stuff all nonprofits should be considering.





1. Mobile Giving: At the venue, there were opportunities to give as soon as you entered the pathway to the grove. Signs greeted you on the path asking you to give $5 by texting GROVE to 90999. When you got into the venue there was another reminder sign by the stage asking you for a mobile donation. They use mGive’s mobile giving service (mGive is one of Blackbaud’s Application Partners, contact them to get your mobile giving campaign started today)

2. Donation Stations: Once you got to the entrance you had the opportunity to donate at the donation stations at every walkway. You even got a cool, “I Gave at the Grove” sticker to wear on your jacket. 

3. Event Volunteers: Volunteers walked around before the show and during intermission with cashboxes and red balloons saying “Give at the Grove”. The volunteer’s jobs were to talk to every event attendee and get them to donate and give out donation stickers. (You can find volunteers on VolunteerMatch or Idealist)


Once I got home, I checked out the Stern Grove Festival’s website and found many more ways to get engaged with the organization:

1. Social Media: You can follow the Stern Grove Festival on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube. You can also listen to Stern Grove Radio on Rhapsody. These are all great ways to steward your supporters and get them involved with your organization.

2. Online Reminders: A supporter can go to their site and sign up for text message alerts and announcements, they can invite a friend or add the event dates to their calendar program like Outlook® or iCal®.

3. Donate Now: Probably the single most important thing nonprofits should have on their websites. Stern Grove Festival’s donate now button was front-and-center on the home page with big, bold letters saying “GIVE TO THE GROVE.

4. Volunteer Information: This was plainly visible on the front page, making it easy to get involved if you wanted to volunteer with them.

5. Ecological Information: The website provided a wealth of knowledge on how to rideshare, take public transit as well as providing directions to ride your bicycle to the festival. Perfect for eco-conscious San Franciscans.


There was obviously a lot of thought put into synchronizing their onsite and online fundraising strategy to make it easier for supporters to give in-person or on their website.  Kudos to Stern Grove Festival for putting on a great show and engaging me as a supporter!


How many of these fundraising and donor engagement strategies are used by your organization? Leave a comment below and let us know!


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