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8 Guidelines for a Successful Online Fundraising Campaign

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Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash.

As a result of the pandemic, organizations have moved their businesses to be partially or completely virtual and digital. Non-profit organizations are no exception. As the digital world grows, this poses a great opportunity for non-profit organizations to run strong online fundraising campaigns to support their causes – especially in the education industry, which has taken quite a hit from the pandemic. 

Creating a fundraising campaign that catches the attention of your donor audiences and stands out among your competitors is crucial to its success. Online campaigns can be time consuming and tech-intensive to plan and implement, but in many ways take much less effort than in-person fundraising events. The trick is to have online campaigns generate the higher-end revenue that many in-person events generate. Here are some helpful online fundraising tips that will help you boost your fundraising campaign without wasting valuable time or stretching your wallet. 

  1. Set clear campaign goals 

A campaign with no end goal is pretty pointless. In the planning and implementation stages of creating your online fundraising campaign, be sure to outline clear goals. While every fundraising campaign is usually rooted in raising money for a certain cause, there are opportunities to achieve other intrinsic goals for the organization. An overarching goal could be to raise X amount of money for the campaign, but another goal could be to increase your overall brand awareness, increase your social media followers, etc. 

  1. Prioritize ease of donation for donors 

In order to maximize the donations made to your online fundraising campaign, it’s important to cater to all donors. Remember to analyze your audience as you plan your campaign. Every organization has different levels of donors with different demographics that will impact the modality and amount of their donations. For example, millennials may appreciate the ease of donating through a text message, while older donors may prefer to donate more traditionally, by check. If a goal of your campaign is to engage younger donors, implementing a mobile-first campaign design would be beneficial; however, it’s important to analyze your audience demographics to make sure you’re making the best decision on that front. 

To make sure the needs of your donors are being met in the donation process, a few strategies to implement are:

  • Optimize mobile donations for younger donors 
  • Allow smartphone donations through apps like Venmo 
  • Encourage smaller, recurring donations
  • Implement a text-to-donate system
  • Set up auto-recurring donations for donors
  1. Keep up your branding 

Your brand is much more than your logo and color scheme. Your organization’s brand also comprises your tone and voice, which is used to build trust amongst your audience and donors. Use the strength of your brand to your advantage and keep it front and center. 

Keep your visual branding consistent along with the content that your team publishes in the duration of the campaign. A fundraising campaign is not the time to switch up your logo or try out a new tone of voice. Stick to what your donors are already familiar and comfortable with. 

  1. Use multimedia and videos to promote your campaign

Storytelling is a large part of non-profit campaigns, and videos are the ticket to strong storytelling. They are the visual aid that gives donors an inside look at your cause, and hopefully touches them and encourages donations. Whether the video is short and humorous or lengthier and more serious, having a video element in your campaign will yield more power marketing-wise than any photo could. 

  1. Secure matching gifts for a portion of the campaign 

Who doesn’t want to contribute to a good cause when their donation is being matched? 

This is a great strategy to implement in the mid-campaign lull that usually ensues after the excitement from the beginning of the campaign wears off. Matching gifts encourages urgency with donations. Matching gift programs have proven to increase overall donations to online fundraising campaigns. In fact, promoting matching gifts in fundraising efforts resulted in a 71% increase in response rate to the campaign and a 51% increase in the donation amount in 2018. For best results with this tactic, limit the matching time frame for the campaign to motivate donors to make gifts quickly to have their donation matched. 

  1. Create a campaign hashtag for social media promotions 

Creating a unique campaign hashtag to share on social media is a clever way to keep track of the online conversations happening around your fundraising campaign. Strong hashtags can set you apart from competitors and the content mess that is the Internet. The key to a successful campaign hashtag is to keep it unique and easy to remember; common one word hashtags won’t stand out. Also, be sure to research the hashtag to make sure it is not already being used, or if it is, that it is not being used in an objectionable way. A smart way to implement a campaign hashtag is to ask your donors to post on social media with the hashtag after making a donation to show their support for your campaign. 

  1. Build a recurring donation page 

It is statistically proven that recurring donors donate more annually than one-time donors who make larger gifts up front. Recurring donors are a crucial part of your donor audience, and your online fundraising campaign should encourage recurring donations. One option is to implement a recurring donation add-on to your donation form. When donors are making a gift, they can have the option to donate that same amount weekly, monthly, etc. 

We use GiveWP on many of our WordPress non-profit websites. This software includes an option for recurring donations, as well as fee recovery, which is another way to increase your bottom line.

Another way to convert one-time donors to recurring donors is to build a landing page for recurring donations. This is more effective than just installing an add-on because it gives you the chance to create a landing page that visualizes your cause to donors and shows the impact they can make. Show donors what their monthly gift will provide, to make them feel more invested in the end result of their contribution.

  1. Thank your donors 

Thank-you emails and notes to donors are a given for any gift made to a campaign (and required for tax purposes), but there are a few ways to amp up your gestures of appreciation to make your donors feel special:

  • Include testimonials from beneficiaries of the donations
  • Promote the impact of donation. Show exactly how their donation will make an impact, either through visuals or statistics. 
  • Personalize email messages to donors after they make donations
  • Send final campaign results to donors, prioritize follow up communication post-donation 

Society’s increasing reliance on virtual communication and technology offers a great opportunity for nonprofit organizations to hold online fundraising campaigns. Does your non-profit need help preparing for a fundraising campaign? Check out our work with other nonprofits and contact us today. 

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