Using the Web to Fundraise for Special Events
More and more, nonprofit organizations are giving constituents the tools to rally support for them and get donation pledges online.
Online fundraising can be especially useful for annual, pledge-driven events like walk-a-thons; seasonal campaigns like an awareness month or during the summer for a “virtual” lemonade stand; or just as an ongoing, grassroots way constituents can support a cause.
Laurel Ackerman, marketing director for Firstgiving, an online fundraising service, says that’s because using the Web is a more efficient way to ask for pledges — much easier than calling on the phone or going door to door to friends and neighbors. Participant fundraisers can reach more people with less effort; it offers an immediate response capability and is an easier way to collect funds, as donations are made online with a credit card and go directly to the organization.
What’s more, people who would like to participate in an event but can’t for one reason or another can use the feature to participate virtually. They can fundraise online and ask friends and family to support their cause, whether or not they are, in fact, participating in the event. Constituents also can create their own events to support a charity, to which people can make pledges.
The first step for organizations looking to add this feature is to select an online person-to-person fundraising tool that allows constituents and event participants to create their own, personalized fundraising page. Select a tool that will allow participants to include a message and a photo on the page. They then can e-mail the URL for the page to friends and family or post it on their blogs or online profiles at social-networking sites like MySpace to collect donations. Some tools also allow donors to leave supportive comments for the participant and the charity. The bottom line, Ackerman says, is to select a tool that’s usable.
“The last thing you want to do is ask your supporters to set up a fundraising page and then have them not be able to do it,” she says.
The next step for the organization is to get the word out that event participants and constituents can use the feature. Put it in your newsletter, mention it at event kick-off meetings and incorporate messaging about the feature into different campaigns that already are running. Include it on pages that offer constituents ways they can support your organization: donate, volunteer, send supplies or create a fundraising page. Organizations also can pro-actively drive constituents to use the feature. Offering constituents a motivator for creating a fundraising page is one idea Ackerman recommends.
Don’t forget to thank both the donors who give money through these pages as well as the participants who fundraised for you.
“Definitely thank them, keep them engaged and, with donors, thank them individually for their donation and suggest maybe that in addition to supporting you by donating, they could create their own fundraising page next time around,” Ackerman adds.
Laurel Ackerman can be reached via www.firstgiving.com