The Future of Fundraising Revenue Sources Part II: Small, Casual, and Micro-Donors

casual donors and micro-donors Relationships

Nonprofits are refocusing their fundraising efforts on these two critical groups of donors.

We discussed in a recent blog post how many nonprofits are switching their focus from traditional funding sources to more reliable and self-driven revenue streams, based on data obtained for The State of Nonprofit Fundraising 2022.

Nonprofits want to know that the efforts they put into fundraising will generate a return. Throwing the dice on a grant, then facing tight restrictions on how that money can be spent, may not offer the flexibility or ROI that organizations need when faced with so many other uncertainties.

Embracing Big and Small

The 31% of nonprofits who held hybrid events in 2021 uncovered an important finding: small donors and major donors are two very different and distinct groups, and must be catered to separately. Big donors and corporate donors preferred in-person, live events. Individual donors were able to attend events in which they might not have been able to participate otherwise.


What’s a hybrid event? These ground-breaking fundraisers combined small, in-person gatherings with online donor participation into a single event. The live portion could cater to big donors, while a virtual program engaged remote donors and those who could not attend in person.

80% of organizations who held a virtual or hybrid event in 2021 reported new donor attendance or new donor interest. These new, casual donors—often remote in location, and participating in the cause online—sustained nonprofits at the peak of the pandemic.

That will likely continue as donors in the middle of the major-to-micro-donor spectrum fade, and other fundraising sources dry up.

Nonprofits Are Beginning to Understand Small and Micro-Donors

Now nonprofits are opening their eyes to the vast power that small donors and micro-donations can have in great numbers.

Though The State of Nonprofit Fundraising found that only 26% of nonprofits said they anticipated small gifts would be critical to their revenue this year, almost 40% said these small gifts were very important. Even though small donors aren’t a top priority for all organizations, most are beginning to understand their overall holistic importance.

Recruiting Small Donors and Micro-donors

Nonprofits already understand the importance of social media in modern fundraising. We found that 73% of nonprofits use social media channels regularly to communicate with their current donors. But social media is also a fantastic tool for finding and recruiting micro-donors.

Maybe a new donor encounters your cause online and decides on the fly to make a small gift, and never think about it again. These casual donors may seem inconsequential in the big picture, but they’re capable of great fundraising power in large numbers. And with the right methods of cultivation, these small, one-time givers can become even more.

Turning a One-Time Donor into a Lifelong Donor

Nonprofits face high recruiting costs in time and resources courting new donors. So, fundraisers understandably want to make sure it’s spent wisely—and some are not yet ready to invest in small donors.

But what if one small gift wasn’t the end?

Campaigns that reach a broad audience are the perfect opportunity to bring in that one-time donation, and use it to start a relationship. Someone who was curious about your cause once probably wants to know how it all turned out in the end—so stay in touch, and shout about the success of your campaign when the work is done.

Invite these small donors to participate again! Provide avenues for supporting the cause outside of monetary giving. Many of these micro-donors are looking for ways to get involved until the next time they can afford a donation.

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