The Tools Every Charity Should Have in Its Online Fundraising Toolbox
I hope you enjoyed last month’s article “Fundraising Big Online: How Little Charities Are Punching Above Their Weight.” For those of you who missed it, let me provide this disclaimer: I run an online fundraising company, so my perspective is very pro-digital … but it’s also informed by 10 years of Internet fundraising experience, so I hope it will be of some value to you.
This month’s topic is dear to my heart. As the leader of a tool-building company, I spend a lot of time talking to organizations about the digital tools they’re using, the tools they like and the tools that don’t work. To keep this simple, I’ll group tools into categories or levels. Imagine you’re in the elevator of an e-philanthropy department store, and you’re ready to shop …
Level 1: Your Web presence
Your homepage defines who you are online. Many current and future donors will form an impression of you simply by what they see in a few seconds on your homepage. The good news is that there’s a shift away from spending lots of money on expensive Web site management tools and toward taking advantage of a new breed of powerful and inexpensive solutions available on the market. Keep in mind that even the most inexpensive Web site management tools require care and feeding by someone, so plan accordingly.
The best Web sites are those that change at least slightly each day, each week and each month.
More and more, organizations are realizing that it isn’t enough to simply have a single Web presence. Though important to manage your own domain effectively, the fact is that most people on the Internet will never visit it. This makes it important to have a page on Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube and other networks that are frequented by the kind of people you’d like to reach.
Level 2: Basic donations and e-mail tools
Once you’ve established your Web presence, you need to make sure your sites have basic plumbing to allow someone to leave an e-mail address and a donation. Good news again: There is an abundance of both of these types of tools, so it’s worth shopping around to find the one that best suits your needs. Price, security and branding capabilities should be primary considerations as you compare one toolset to the next.
You can really leverage all of your direct-response skills on this level: Build an e-mail list as big as possible; solicit that e-mail list carefully to drive donations and repeat.