Lots of people have asked me how to raise money online.

I get the sense that they think it’s something hard or mystical.

Actually, it’s not anything magical at all.  It’s simply fundraising using the internet as a tool.

To make it really easy, I’ve got 7 simple steps you can take to get started or crank up your online fundraising efforts.

1.  Collect email addresses at every opportunity. Since email will be your primary communications mechanism, focus on collecting them.  Ask every chance you get, both online and off.  Make sure you have a sign-up box on your website for people to enter their name and email.

2.  Communicate. Send regular, consistent newsletters and updates.  You can send a once-monthly newsletter or a twice-monthly update.  The key is to send regular information that your audience will be interested in.

3.  Have a big, easy-to-see “Donate” button on your website. Put it toward the top of the page and make sure it shows up on every page.  Make it easy for your website visitors to find the button and respond to it.

4.  Tell your story on your website. Make sure your website clearly states who your organization is and the need your organization is working to fill.  Don’t make your web visitors wonder who you are or what you’re trying to do.  be sure to include some compelling photos to illustrate your work.

5.  Be concise. People are impatient online so keep the text short and to the point.  This is not the time to share everything you know!

6. Thank donors electronically. Be prepared to thank people via email when they give online.  You’ll likely want to invest in a software or service that can do this for you.

7. Leverage your social media. Use your Facebook and Twitter accounts to encourage people to visit your website and sign up for your email newsletter.  This is known as “driving traffic” and helps build awareness for your cause.

Follow these 7 simple steps and see what happens.

  1. Sandy,
    Good tips all.

    Three things I’d add:
    1. Don’t forget to make the case for large gifts on your website.
    2. Integrating online with your mail and other solicitations gives donors the complete package, and
    3. There’s a great little study just released by the Institute for Conservation Leadership on how small nonprofits are raising money online. I like the report because it has wonderful case studies. See our blog for more info at http://www.ceffect.com/blog/fundraising/how-grassroots-nonprofits-are-raising-money-online/

  2. Sandy, great steps you put together and I have seen organizations be effective with several of these. It seems that step 1 “Collect email addresses at every opportunity” is often overlooked. I encourage non-profits to use registration tables at special events as collection tools. When donors are checking in for an event, it is simple to add one more field to a registration card or have a volunteer ask for the address.

  3. Great post. Really straight forward and simple advice. I would also add… use those who comment on your social media sites to engage their friends and help you build your online community.

  4. Sandy,
    I am in the middle of helping to set up an online fundraising event. It is amazing what technology now allows us to do, but you are right to remind us that it is just a tool. One thing I would add to your tip about “leveraging your social media” is that you should also encourage your online network of friends to encourage others to participate.

  5. These are great tips — simple, to-the-point and easy to accomplish! I’m excited to pass them on to my clients who sometimes struggle to stay focused in the face of changing online technologies.

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