As we approach the deep fundraising season, many folks are asking about online fundraising, so I wanted to share a few things.

Remember that the internet is a tool you can use to raise money.  Just like any other tool, it’s the your skill in using the tool that will determine success – not the tool itself.

It’s definitely NOT a “build it and they will come” model.

Just because you have a website or a Facebook page does not mean people will flock to it and give you money.

Lots of people have asked me how to raise money online and 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 seven 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, 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 Now” 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 website 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.

Implement these simple tips and your online fundraising efforts will pay off in dollars and time.

  1. I love #3- have a big DONATE NOW button on your website. I don’t want to have to search for a way to give online. Why make it harder for your donors.

    Thanks for all of the great points and advice for nonprofits.

  2. Excellent advice, Sandy. Frequent communication with your donors is so important. It’s especially important to take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this stuff that they’ll really be interested in?”

  3. Sandy, Yes! I am raising money for charity online right now.I am running in the Susan Komen 5K this Sunday and loved the ease of being able to raise money for a great cause online. The e-mail system is absolutely the way to go. I have already surpassed both my first and second fundraising goals. Now, off for a run!

  4. Sandy–SO timely! I am in the process of setting up my Creatively Fit Painting Marathon as an opportunity for other organizations to raise money–don’t like to run? Paint! I will have to keep you posted and check in to see if you can help! I am exploring online platforms that make it easy for people to donate. An organization who is going to partner with me is using Ever worked with them? Thanks, Sandy!

  5. Fantastic. I especially appreciate your point about telling your story. I’ll soon be making a few changes to the “about” section of my website — I think it’s time to tell a little more of my story!

  6. These are great steps for online fundraising. I especially like your last step of leveraging your social media. However, I would change the words to “leverage your social network.” Using the voice of your supporters can be a powerful method to expand your reach and build trust as you raise funds.

  7. I remember attending a workshop years ago at a DMA conference. Websites were still fairly new. The phrase he used always stuck with me. “It’s one thing to put out really great dog food. It’s another thing entirely to get the pups to eat the dog food.” Tools are tools not results. Thank you for a straightforward and practical set of reminders.

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