Building an Integrated Online Fundraising Strategy
With the potential to reach a wide audience rapidly and cost-effectively, more and more nonprofit organizations are using online communications tools to connect with donors, members, volunteers and supporters.
At the Center for Nonprofit Success' New York Fundraising Summit earlier this month, I discussed the topic of online fundraising, and how to harness technology to build and maintain productive donor relationships.
An online fundraising program consists of much more than a "Donate Now" button on your Web site. An organization needs to be proactive in communications with donors and potential donors both online and offline. The most successful nonprofits maintain an integrated approach for fundraising. But with so many channels, trying to find the right balance is difficult.
Before an organization jumps on any new media bandwagon, it needs to focus first on some tried-and-true fundamentals — making sure it has a solid Web site and compelling e-mail program, and cultivating a strategy for acquiring new donors. After all those ducks are in a row, then it can begin to think about integrating with social media.
Here are key components to an effective integrated online fundraising strategy:
1. Online fundraising fundamentals
With the advent of Facebook and Twitter, and other channels emerging all the time, integration can be a daunting task for many nonprofit organizations that are already understaffed.
Yet nonprofit organizations need to stop, take a breath and look at the fundamentals. Before you start moving donors between channels, you need to test your Web site for usability. It is so important to have intuitive Web site navigation architecture. People online have very little patience and will quickly click the “back” button if they can’t find what they want. You have seconds to engage visitors before you lose them.
Make sure your donation forms are always one click away, and always reassure donors about the security of the form. Donors are getting savvier about security settings on donation pages. They look for security certificates (e.g., VeriSign), https vs. http and the lock icon. Some of those offline donors are still not comfortable donating online, so providing the option of a printable giving form alleviates those concerns. And don’t forget to include a source code on the form for your data entry team.