Traditional fundraising strategies might still be the first-round draft pick when it comes to raising money for a nonprofit, but a new challenger has grown rapidly: online fundraising.
Online fundraising takes advantage of the new opportunities that the internet presents: near-instantaneous communication, massive outreach abilities, and secure ways to process donations that don’t involve breaking out the checkbook.
Odds are that your nonprofit already has a website. But how can you make sure that this website is doing everything it can to encourage visitors to make a contribution to your nonprofit’s cause?
Beyond using your website as a vehicle for your donation form, you want your website to encourage visitors to get involved and stay involved on a variety of levels, which will increase donations overall.
To help you make the most of your online presence, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite tips. Here are our best practices:
By implementing these strategies on your website, you’ll be able to encourage visitors to donate as well as keep your community engaged through more than just gifts. Let’s get started!
You’re a pro at making the ask and brainstorming awesome fundraising ideas. But how proficient are you in coding and designing?
Building a website can be hard, but you don’t have to do it alone. There’s a vast collection of resources out there for you to use that can help you make a great website.
One of the easiest ways to build a beautiful website is to use a strong content management system, or CMS. Nonprofits the world over are turning to these powerful interactive tools to build professional-looking sites without being experts in coding.
But what should you be looking for when you pick out a CMS?
These tools are all vital to the health of your website, on both the front and the back ends. You’ll need to prioritize different features based on the needs of your individual organization, so talk to your IT specialist about what they think.
For more advice on CMS necessities, check out Morweb’s nonprofit CMS features guide.
If you aren’t interested in purchasing a CMS or you already have one, consider enlisting the help of a nonprofit web consultant to design or update your website. Their experience will help you build your vision while staying on top of nonprofit best practices.
Once you and your team or your web consultant have built the bare bones of your website, it’s time to consider the user experience on every page, from the home screen to the donation form.
User experience is important for a few reasons:
An easy way to optimize your visitors’ online experience is to ensure that your website is either optimized for mobile or is totally mobile-responsive. Some CMSs will do this automatically, and any consultant will know this, but it’s worth double checking!
More and more people are using their phones to make their donations, so make sure that your website and donation page are easily accessible and functional from any device.
Don’t forget to optimize your donation and registration pages. Only include the fields necessary to complete the donation or registration process—you never know when a well-designed website will mean the difference between a great donation and no donation.
Finally, keep your website easy to navigate. Include a universal menu for easy access to any part of the website, including buttons to your donation page on every other page of your website.
Once someone wants to donate, you want to make it as easy as possible for them!
Your website is going to be a vital point of contact between your nonprofit and your constituents, so keep them in mind while designing it. The website should be the first place they go when they want to make a donation or find out updates on what’s going on with your work.
While brainstorming content for your website, consider the following questions:
These questions will help you decide what content to prioritize on your website to keep your visitors engaged.
If your nonprofit is in the middle of a fundraiser, include a live fundraising thermometer on your homepage! It’s a great way to show new visitors that your organization is active as well as show supporters how their contributions are stacking up.
If you need more convincing on the wonders of fundraising thermometers, read this discussion about why using a fundraising thermometer works from QGive.
If your constituency is very socially active, embed streams from your Twitter or Instagram accounts to show visitors what your organization is up to in real time. This is also a good way to direct first-time visitors to your other accounts and encourage them to follow you.
Keep your community aware of fundraising events, volunteer opportunities, and upcoming campaigns that your nonprofit is holding by including an up-to-date calendar on your website.
An updated events calendar is a great way to ensure that your community can stay engaged with your nonprofit on multiple levels, as well as acting as proof that your organization is still functional and responsible enough to maintain a website!
This step is all about putting the soul of your organization on display. Once you’ve got the content necessary to demonstrate what your organization does, it’s time to provide examples of what your team is up to.
Where does your team excel in marketing your nonprofit? Consider your most popular campaign, or your best-performing posts on Facebook or Instagram. Who is featured in those narratives? What do those pictures say about your organization?
You want to wow your audience through visual storytelling. Some good ideas for powerful pictures are:
Try to focus on people, instead of things. Adding a human face to the mission of your organization does wonders for encouraging other humans to get invested in the cause.
Your pictures (and videos, if you have them!) should inspire and encourage others to get involved through donations, volunteer work, event attendance, or all of the above.
Another important aspect of your website’s visual appearance is your logo and branding. Your logo should be consistent across every online platform for your organization. Consider using the colors of your logo to design your whole website!
Either way, your website should be consistently branded to your organization to build trust for your organization in the minds of the visitors. Having the same branding everywhere looks professional and reliable.
Is your nonprofit taking advantage of corporate philanthropy? If you’re not, you should! Absurd amounts of money that are bookmarked for philanthropic purposes are left unclaimed every year simply because people don’t know about these programs.
One of the most common policies is a matching gifts program, through which employers give money to a nonprofit that their employee has also supported through donations.
A creative way to take advantage of these programs is to invest in a matching gifts software. There are companies out there that do the legwork for completing matching gifts: they’ll find out the company’s policy and provide you with the forms necessary for your donor to complete.
There are even companies that will donate money to organizations that their employees volunteer for! Offer resources on volunteer grant programs with your volunteer registration pages to spread the word.
These types of tools make it easy for your donors to maximize the impact of their donation on your organization, without having to dig deeper into their own pockets.
Including one of these platforms as a resource on your website is a great way to ensure that your fundraisers are as successful as possible.
Your website is a valuable resource for collecting donations, disseminating information, and keeping your community engaged. By following these 5 strategies, you’re sure to get your online fundraising down perfectly.
Abby Jarvis is a blogger, marketer, and communications coordinator for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.