Earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe and created unforeseen challenges, particularly in the nonprofit sector. With unemployment rates nearly reaching an all-time high, many donors were hit hard financially, which heavily impacted nonprofit support.
Many smaller organizations have faced tough decisions and fully recognize that putting fundraising efforts on pause simply isn’t an option. With social distancing guidelines still in full effect, nonprofits are having to get creative by rethinking their strategies and shifting their efforts to the digital space.
Chances are, technology already plays a role in your fundraising strategy. Maybe you have a donation page and share occasional updates on social media. However, if you want to connect with supporters and maximize fundraising dollars fully, that’s not enough. As you start redefining your approach to online fundraising, let’s explore a few tips for improving your strategies:
- Start with a compelling idea.
- Optimize your online donation tools.
- Improve your organization’s website.
- Perfect your communication strategies.
Without an actionable plan, your nonprofit will struggle to sustain operations, let alone thrive among the economic uncertainty. Ready to solidify your approach to fundraising during COVID-19? Let’s dive in!
#1: Start with a compelling idea.
At the core of any successful online fundraiser is a compelling campaign idea. To connect with your supporters, you’ll need to get creative and appeal to their interests, and the same fundraisers you host time and time again simply won’t cut it.
To take a proactive approach and secure support from a distance, you’ll need an idea that suits the digital space. Here are a few compelling suggestions that can easily be conducted by any nonprofit regardless of budget:
- Shoe drive fundraiser. All you need for this fundraiser is some passionate supporters who are looking to clean out their closets. Simply place collection bins around the community, and encourage supporters to donate their gently worn, used and new shoes. Then, notify your fundraising partner (like Funds2Orgs) to pick up the collected shoes. For this fundraiser, people can easily spread the word through calling, texting, and social media—all contact-free.
- Crowdfunding. Chances are, you’ve encountered one of these campaigns at some point. Simply put, you’ll create a campaign page that you share across your communication platforms. For the best results, encourage donors to share the page with their friends and family members. So long as your ardent supporters back you, you’ll set your nonprofit up for a successful crowdfunding campaign.
- Virtual 5K. The main difference between a virtual 5K and a traditional one is that registrants can participate wherever they choose when it’s digital. They’ll just need to record their time and distance using their smartwatches or a free fitness app. You can even combine fundraising ideas by coordinating a shoe drive fundraiser and offering a reduced entry fee in exchange for a pair of shoes. Check out this list of sports fundraising ideas by Funds2Orgs for more athletic-based fundraisers that will get your supporters up and moving.
Starting with the right campaign idea for your audience is essential for securing support, especially since it takes extra effort to connect from a distance. Use the above suggestions as a solid starting point and adjust them to suit your supporters’ interests
#2: Optimize your online donation tools.
To back up your fundraising ideas, you’ll need the right tools to get you there. Your online donation software serves as the foundation of your online fundraising strategy, and without an effective toolkit, your efforts will likely fall short.
When searching for the right donation tools to suit your team’s needs, you’ll need to find options that offer complete functionality. Specifically, be on the lookout for these crucial features to make the most of your opportunities:
- Recurring gifts. Monthly giving is the key to creating a steady revenue stream. Chances are, your most passionate supporters will jump at the opportunity to boost their engagement and give consistently. Because of this, make sure your online donation tools offer an easy-to-select recurring gift option.
- Mobile giving. Approximately half of all nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile devices, according to this fundraising statistics page. In other words, your online donation form and other giving tools need to be optimized for mobile if you want to maximize your fundraising potential. With a mobile-responsive donation form, you’ll be able to easily share it and secure support, whether it’s through email or text messaging.
- Secure payment processing. If your donors are unsure if their personal data is safe, they’ll likely abandon the process before submitting a gift. Ensure your donation tools offer secure donation processing, so donors can be confident and won’t think twice about contributing.
Your donation tools can make or break your online fundraising strategies. Take the time to select the right platforms, and you’ll build a powerful toolkit that suits your organization’s needs and maximizes revenue.
#3: Improve your organization’s website.
Your nonprofit’s website is your primary marketing asset. It serves as the central hub of all information related to your cause and is likely a user’s first stop when looking to learn more about your mission.
Regardless if they’re a long-time donor or a first-time visitor, your website will need to give them exactly what they’re looking for intuitively. Here are a few tips for creating a website that offers value to all users:
- Feature a navigation bar. Be sure to feature high-value pages (e.g., your donation form, your “About” page, etc.) in your navigation bar, so users can quickly find what they need. Be sure to make each navigation title clear and concise. Keep each title between one and three words, and avoid language that doesn’t clearly portray the landing page’s content.
- Create a blog. Diversify your posts by featuring a variety of content. For instance, this is the perfect opportunity to share powerful stories related to your mission. Gather a range of perspectives by encouraging staff members, donors, board members, or volunteers to write posts and recount their experiences. From here, you may even consider featuring your most passionate donors and volunteers with a monthly spotlight.
- Feature compelling imagery. The right visuals will show your impact, evoke emotion, and encourage visitors to stay on your website longer. Use high-resolution images of your staff and supporters hard at work. Just don’t overload the page with photos as this can distract the reader and slow down the page. Instead, place them strategically and be sure each one serves a purpose.
Nonprofit web design isn’t difficult so long as you have a strong vision and the tools to back it up. Check out Morweb’s list of best nonprofit websites to see some of the above tips in action and gather inspiration for your design.
#4: Perfect your communication strategies.
With social distancing keeping donors and nonprofits apart, proactive communication is more critical than ever. However, it takes more than sending the same messages across as many platforms as possible. Instead, you need to craft a careful approach and diversify your strategy based on the platforms that your supporters use the most.
As you get started developing your communication strategy, you’ll find numerous options for you to choose. Instead of getting overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to explore your options. Here are a few top considerations to keep in mind:
- Texting. With the vast majority of people owning cell phones (96% to be exact), you’d be remiss not to take advantage of text messaging. There are several options available with this communication method. For instance, you may choose to disperse essential announcements, or you may decide to offer mobile giving options like text-to-donate.
- Email. This option is one of the oldest and most important marketing channels in the digital world. Start by sending emails to make significant announcements and thank donors for their generous gifts. Then, you might consider creating a monthly newsletter that highlights your work and any major giving opportunities or upcoming events.
- Social Media. Instead of posting the same updates to each of your organization’s social media pages, adjust your messaging based on the platform. For instance, Twitter has a character limit, making it great for succinct updates, whereas Facebook may be the place for text-heavy appeals. Check out more social media tips with this guide.
These are just a handful of communication methods your organization can implement. For the best results, experiment with several marketing platforms and find the perfect combination that appeals to your target audience.
If you want to gain traction in the digital space, there are several steps you need to take, starting with selecting a strong and creative campaign idea that suits your audience. Now that you’re well-versed on online fundraising, start implementing these tactics in your fundraising plan. In no time, you’ll capture well-deserved support and boost revenue.