Happy New Year! The New Year is a great time to get a fresh start on your online non-profit fundraising. Here are your 2015 New Year’s resolutions to ensure your online non-profit fundraising is as successful as possible.
1. I resolve to start the year off with a plan.
Look at your marketing plan for the year. What’s that? You haven’t really written it out yet? Go through your calendar month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter and map out your goals and your campaigns for the upcoming year. Be sure to schedule board meetings and visits, time to start working on your annual report, and each of your media goals.
2. I resolve to hold capital campaigns each quarter, around holidays and events.
Consider your organization’s major events, milestones, holiday observances and other times of year when your donors have your organization top of mind. Each quarter, use these events as a strategic opportunity to send out a targeted email marketing campaign. Don’t miss these opportunities—you already have a theme and a focus in the bag. You’ll keep those gifts rolling in all year long!
3. I will commit to donor appreciation and recognition.
Make 2015 the Year of the Donor. Add donor names to your website. Send those personal emails. Find ways to make your donors feel recognized and special. If you send out an online newsletter, be consistent and always include a section thanking donors, volunteers and contributors. Stewardship breeds repeat donations.
4. I will document stories and boost my story file.
Inspiring and poignant stories bring your organization to life on the web and show donors why their support is so vital. Resolve to add more stories to your website—and be sure to get those pictures up, too! If you haven’t created a story folder where you capture every tidbit and wonderful heartwarming morsel that goes on at your organization, NOW is the time to start. When it comes time to work on your annual report or face your fall giving season, your story file will save you tons of time and energy.
5. I will discover which tools work well and COMMIT.
If it ain’t broke….well, you know the rest. If a particular tool is working well for your organization, commit to using it to the fullest degree. Constantly switching out your toolkit causes delays on your website and you risk letting donors fall through the cracks (not to mention a mutinous staff)!
6. I resolve to diligently amp up my social media.
When it comes to online non-profit fundraising, social media is your BFF. Figure out a way to manage your content. That might mean hiring help, implementing a scheduling program or even streamlining your social media. (Do you really need to be on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook AND Twitter?) Whatever platforms you use, make it your goal to consistently offer up quality content. Social media is a reality in today’s world, so if you’re ignoring it or letting it slip you’re losing your donor audience.
7. I will update all of my contacts from those holiday mailings.
You know those email addresses that kicked back to you as undeliverable? That pile of “return to sender” envelopes on your desk? Well, now’s the time to get those updates in your database and start the year out right! Keeping updated records shows your donors you really care enough to keep things personal. Plus, you ensure you’re not any wasting time on your next correspondence.
8. I resolve to keep my eyes open for new ideas, partners, campaigns and crowd funding opportunities.
2014 was the year of the viral campaign. (Ice Bucket Challenge, anyone?) Smart non-profits identified this opportunity and were able to participate and learn from it. Keep your eyes open for the next big industry idea. Read online forums and subscribe to blogs and newsletters. Keep up your connections with partner organizations, matching campaigns and other resources.
Make 2015 your best year yet by ramping up your online non-profit fundraising!
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Ah, New Year’s Eve: time to reflect, celebrate, and roll in the new. For non-profits, the New Year often signifies the end of one of the most lucrative donation seasons.
So NOW is the time to maximize your potential donations by creating irresistible donation pages your donors can’t miss and can’t resist. Here’s how…
1. Add Crystal Clear Donation Buttons
The WORST thing that can happen to a potential donor? Literally getting lost when they visit your website. Even if you offer great content and excellent resources, it won’t matter one bit if your donor can’t find that donate button.
Donation buttons should be prevalent on your homepage, not hiding in a corner or behind a tab. Include big, clear bells, whistles and arrows pointing donors to the right place—but not so many bells and whistles (or banners, pop-ups and confusing distractions) that your donors get distracted by something shiny, then click away from your donation page, entirely forgetting to donate.
Offer no more than four dollar amounts and a write-in: $5, $10, $15, or more, for example. Assign each amount to its impact: “Your gift of $X today will allow us to provide Y for Z.”
Avoid vague language on your donation button, such as “Friends” or “Supporters.” Polite non-profits often feel brash saying “GIVE US YOUR MONEY,” but don’t hold back.
Your best button word? DONATE. Test your site with a few fresh eyes to ensure any visitor can quickly find the donation button in a few seconds.
2. Offer Easy-Peasy Donation Methods
It may seem like a no-brainer, but be sure your donation page allows your donors to give easily and quickly. Nothing sours a charitable mood quite like wading through a page that takes forever to load, shows signs of sketchy security, or requires your donor to fill out a tedious form or go through a lengthy login process just to make a simple donation.
Don’t make your donors jump through hoops. If donations require more than two clicks, you’re going to lose your donor.
Many vendors, including Square and BluePay work with non-profits for low rates or no extra fees, allowing your organization to accept donations easily and securely. Consider offering PayPal as a familiar, secure and simple payment method. Check with your local credit union—oftentimes they’ll work with your non-profit to set up an EFT system.
Thank your donors with one clear, simple email acknowledgement. Don’t clog up their inbox or your donor might get in the habit of ignoring your future correspondence—or worse, flagging your emails as spam.
3. Tell Your Story
Your donation page should be simple. Reach into your elevator pitch bag and pull out your most poignant, shortest story that clearly sums up your mission. Help your donor quickly realize why their donation is so vital. Save your novel for your annual report.
Include strong, clear photos on your donation page to help your donor envision the population they’re backing. Choose a few powerful images so your supporters feel like the superheroes they are.
4. Craft Can’t-Miss Calls-to-Action
Always end your donation page story or request with a strong call to action. For example, “Help us today,” or “Your gift today helps us reach our goal of sponsoring XX students in 2015. Donate today.” Be sure donors understand your urgent need for their gift. Many a gift has been put off for a rainy day and forgotten. You need donors to click now.
Try including a progress meter illustrating how each donation contributes to reaching your overall goal. Crowdfunding sites such as Fundly, GoFundMe and others use this tactic, as it often pushes donors to dig deeper and give that little bit extra to help meet the target.
5. Keep Your Bottom Line in Mind
Maybe you have several important needs and you think donors may feel stronger about one aspect of your organization than another. For example, a disaster relief organization may offer the option to give to the overall fund or just to a recent mission.
Providing this option can help donors feel they have more control over where their money will be allocated.
However, for most non-profits, your entire mission is important. Many non-profits operate on a shoestring, so you don’t want to filter too much money to only support one shoe. Limit donor choices to one “special” option if you really feel it’s driving donor traffic to your site. Offer too many choices and you’re creating a nightmare for your accounting team, plus you may actually cause deficits in other areas of your organization.
Consider encouraging donors to donate to your organization as a whole, then let them know ALL of the great ways their gifts will further your mission. Helping donors focus on the big picture helps you keep an eye on your bottom line and gives you the ability to allocate funds to areas with the greatest need.
Use these smart donation strategies for your non-profit donation pages and you’ll be ringing in the New Year in a celebratory mood, knowing you’ve maximized your year-end donation potential!
When fundraising for your nonprofit, a compelling story is critical for engaging donors and generating support for your cause.
How can your nonprofit most effectively tell YOUR stories and land more BIG donations?
6 Keys to a Donation-Inspiring Story
Here’s how to ensure every single one of your nonprofit’s stories really hits home with your donors. Your nonprofit’s stories should be:
- Emotional, compelling, specific, and interesting
- Focused on the needs of the population-served, rather than the needs of the organization itself
- Contain elements of good storytelling, including background, protagonist, and conflict
- Be brief, but engaging
- Be outcome-based
- End with a call to action or a resolution
That last one is key: Stories on the web should always include a call-to-action button, offering donors a way to help NOW, at the very moment they’re most inspired by your organization’s stories.
Let’s go over a generic example…
Which Story is More Compelling?
“Happy Tails shelter feeds and cares for hundreds of dogs, but needs more funding. Many of the dogs need veterinary care and expensive treatment; plus, we need to cover costs incurred for shelter, food and staff. The building is very old and falling apart. Generous donations can help save many more dogs and keep the shelter doors open.”
“Bailey, this tiny Maltese, was found in an abandoned lot—cold, alone and terrified. Our Happy Tails volunteers lured him out with gentle coaxing and bites of cheeseburger. It was obvious the little dog had been hit by a car. Through our benevolent donors, we were able to repair Bailey’s leg and help him find a family to love him forever. Donations like yours give animals like Bailey a second chance. Last year we found homes for 230 animals like Bailey, but there are still many more animals to save. Won’t you help today?”
The second story talks about the needs of the target population and gives examples of donor dollars at work. There’s a clear background, a protagonist and a conflict. The story is brief, but emotional and engaging. Before and after pictures could accompany a story to put a real face to the name. You’ll notice the story also provides a measurable outcome and ends with a strong call to action.
Remember, regardless of the type of your nonprofit: This isn’t about your needs as an organization. Nonprofits run lean, and by their very nature, they’re not known for luxurious amenities. Donors know you have overhead costs, but they really want to believe their dollars are directly helping your target population and cause.
Keep your story focused. Remember, you story is NOT your mission statement—this is a way to warm your donors’ hearts (and open their wallets)!
Get Inspired…and Share Your Stories!
No matter your organization’s focus or target audience, you should have a set of go-to stories at all times. Keep a story folder on your desk, on your desktop, or in your notepad, and jot down three or four stories that truly reflect the impact your organization has had on at least one life. Update your story list regularly as you hear about great things that happen because of your organization.
Tell your story everywhere. Open your emails with a story. When you meet with a potential funder, tell your story. Tell your story on your website and create videos to share on your Facebook page and on other social media outlets. Put the story on your blog. Ask for testimonials, and use them on your promotional materials. Spreading your story will ensure both your story and your organization rise to the top of the “best seller” list.