If you’re involved in raising money for a cause you have a variety of choices for how to achieve your goal. Some fundraisers use traditional methods such as bingo or casino games nights, dinners, auctions and phone banks and telethons. Today, however, most non-profits rely on online fundraising as either part of their campaigns or as the main focus of the fundraising effort.
Some of the benefits of traditional fundraising include a more personal touch that is more engaging and encourages involvement in the cause, raises the organization’s visibility and brings people together for a common goal. On the flip side, the traditional methods are time-consuming, require a lot of manpower and capital and often don’t yield a positive return on investment.
Online fundraising offers a wide range of advantages including the ability to surpass geographical limitations, offers easier access to potential new supporters, raises the organization’s visibility and makes it easier to keep the contacts, campaigns and other elements of the fundraising effort organized.
If you’ve decided to devote some or all of your fundraising efforts to an online campaign, there are a few things on which you should focus your attention. Each campaign has its own individual goals and strategies but there are some common elements that good online fundraising campaigns share. They include:
A soft launch allows you to give your campaign some momentum before the main launch. It gives you the confidence to reach out to your broader supporter base and gives potential donors confidence in knowing that others are supporting your cause. Studies show that people are more likely to give when they are closer to their goal. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get a few key fundraisers to put in some funds before you launch officially.
To do this, contact your most dedicated supporters and ask them to create a fundraising page and then reach out to their own family and friends to donate and share.
In the same way that any marketing campaign needs a brand, the fundraising campaign needs a brand too. Put the campaign brand at the front and centre of all of your fundraising efforts so that people understand the cause to which they’re being asked to donate. The brands make it easier for you to promote the campaign across all communication channels. Someone who is not on your social media account might be on your email list or a casual visitor to your website may be inspired to get involved. You want to keep the campaign visible to as many people as possible.
If your organization has social media accounts, consider changing your profile and background pictures to content that relates. You can change everything back later but, during the course of the campaign, the campaign will have the extra visibility that it needs.
Use relevant stories to demonstrate how your organization is impacting the world – and how donors’ contributions contribute to that impact. Your biggest enemy is apathy and your biggest challenge is to convince your donors that their support will make a difference. You want to link their donations with the real-world impact that those donations will realize.
Include, in the campaign, information about the impact that specific gift sizes will have on the work that the organization does. For instance, “$25 will feed and cloth X people for X days,” etc. Try using an infographic – these are powerful tools in which information about your organization’s work is presented in graphic form which, studies show, is more powerful in engaging viewers.
In today’s world where media dominates, videos are one of the best ways to tell a story. With a video, you can combine visual and auditory elements that bring the cause to life. Studies show that social media posts that contain videos have a higher level of engagement. Create a campaign video and build it into your fundraising pages to make it easier for donors to learn about the cause and connect with the people being helped.
It’s not difficult to make a video today. You can film footage from your programs and testimonials with your personal smartphone and then splice the videos together using easy and free YouTube tools. Or, you can get a professional to make you a professional video for more impact.
Set milestones for your campaign and celebrate the successes when those milestones are met. This adds momentum to your campaign, not only for the donors but for the fundraisers as well. You’ll create a more motivating environment and keep everyone’s spirits up when you take the time to update donors and fundraisers with positive results.
In today’s world of social media, one of the best ways to accomplish this is to post the campaign’s progress to the organization’s social media account on a regular basis. Post both the progress of the campaign’s incremental goals and the successes of individual fundraisers to spread the good news.
Maintain a professional atmosphere among the fundraising staff, including both paid staffers and volunteer fundraisers. The success of any fundraising campaign is highly dependent on these individuals. The information and attention that you give to these fundraisers make a tremendous difference.
Research shows that fundraisers who receive a page of fundraising tips and talking points raise a significantly higher amount than those who don’t receive such support.
Studies show that people donate more when they are directed to a branded online donation page. The donation check-out pages should be branded to your organization, not as a generic donation page, and should relate specifically to your campaign. This makes the donor experience more consistent and rewarding.
This is especially true if your organization has multiple campaigns running simultaneously. Donors should see a customized donation checkout page for every campaign. Each page should include the campaign logo, the text that relates to that campaign and a call to action.
Many donors will be more motivated to give when they hear that their donation will be matched (sometimes doubled, tripled or otherwise multiplied). Knowing that there are matching funds ignites interest and conveys the message to potential donors that their contributions will go above and beyond what they have actually given.
It also creates a sense of urgency when they hear that the matching donation period will be up until a certain date. Large donors can be approached and asked to match smaller donations which motivates everyone involved.