Fundamental Best Practices for Online Fundraising: Part 1
Use of the Internet to fundraise was launched in the late 1990s, and through a process of trial and error, nonprofit
organizations have slowly been able to build donors' confidence in the technology and grow their online database for giving.
Today, online fundraising makes up an average of 7 to 10 percent of most nonprofits’ annual budget. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that your nonprofit organization knows the basics of a successful online-fundraising campaign and has knowledge of emerging online-fundraising trends in order to prepare for the future.
The Internet has become a transient medium in the nonprofit sector. It can become a moving target that you hit perfectly one week, then completely miss the next. Reinventing yourself is no easy task. However, keeping your eye out for fresh ways to fundraise to move your organization’s mission forward is imperative to your continued success.
Online fundraising has enjoyed constant increases year after year over the last few years, delivering constant growth and positive results. The importance of seeking new ways to market your nonprofit online giving strategy has never been more important. In this two-part series, I will share 10 ways your nonprofit can take a different look at its online fundraising efforts and see an even bigger surge in donations in the coming campaign. Here are the first five:
1. Ease of Use
Make giving to your organization easy. It is so important to have a donate button or link positioned on your website that is visible to the donor and consistently located in the same place throughout your site. Make it easy for donors to find and give the button or link a clear and obvious name like “Donate.” You want your donor to give without having to guess at it.
2. Use Relevant Visuals
In the online community, your images are the single most important part of any fundraising campaign. If you have compelling photos that tell the story of your mission, you make an instant connection with the donor.
3. Be Specific
If you don’t ask, they will not act. Donors will
respond the way you want them to if you are direct and provide them with all of the facts and information needed to make a decision on the spot. Be very specific and do not leave them guessing. Eliminate any need to follow up with questions.
4. Offer a Timetable
We all know that if we can, we’ll procrastinate. Hold people accountable and give them a timeline. This creates a sense of urgency. Do not think of it as pressure, but that you have an immediate need. If you are raising money for something large, it helps to break it into smaller campaigns. People will enjoy the excitement of meeting a goal or milestone.
5. Innovate and Be Creative
Emails are quickly becoming a lost art in the nonprofit marketing arsenal. The problem many fundraisers have is a lack of
innovation. They think that making an email responsive is the only thing they can do to add value to their email campaigns. Prompt donors by including a catchy phrase in your subject line. “Make your mark on the world” has attracted more donors to at least open and explore vs.“Give today.” Be creative.
Be sure to tune in for next month’s issue to find out what my final five best practices are for online fundraising.
Tarsha Whitaker Calloway serves as vice president of philanthropy for Tessitura Network. For almost two decades, Tarsha has helped nonprofits develop fundraising, board governance and fundraising strategies to further their mission. Tarsha has directly led efforts to raise more than $50 million for the nonprofit organizations, including the Woodruff Arts Center, Emory University and the American Cancer Society. She frequently presents locally, regionally and nationally on fundraising; organizational and board development; and diversity and philanthropy.
Outside of work, Tarsha has a monthly column in NonProfit PRO magazine and is actively involved in her community, including board of trustees for Destination Imagination, board of directors' executive committee for Leadership DeKalb, board of directors for National HBCU Hall of Fame and former board chair for Atlanta Shakespeare Theater. Tarsha holds a master's of business administration in international business from Mercer University Stetson School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and theater from Texas Southern University. She also holds certificate in current affairs fundraising from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and a certificate in diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace from South Florida University.
Tarsha resides in Atlanta with her husband and son.