Summer’s almost over, and the weather is starting to get a little cooler.
Kids and college students will be packing up book bags and suitcases and heading off to their respective halls of knowledge to learn about the Pythagorean theorem and the significance of metaphors in 18th century British literature.
But what about you? What do you want to learn more about this semester?
There are any number of fantastic courses available, but the best place to start is right here.
These are your six back to school lessons for online fundraising:
Mobile fundraising has been around for a while, but it’s been growing in leaps and bounds recently – and for good reason!
Let’s clarify what we mean by mobile fundraising, though.
Mobile fundraising or mobile giving is comprised of:
- Mobile-responsive online donation pages,
- Mobile peer-to-peer campaigns,
- Mobile giving apps,
- QR code promotions,
- And more!
Your organization doesn’t have to start using all of these mobile fundraising methods right away.
In fact, it’s probably best to start off with one or two and determine if your donors are on board with mobile giving.
To get started with mobile fundraising (at least in the general sense), you’ll want to follow these steps:1. Create a mobile-friendly website.
Many people are going to want to give to your nonprofit via your website. If you want to collect donations from your mobile-using supporters, your website must be mobile-optimized.
If it isn’t, your donors are going to have a difficult time giving to your organization as they scroll, pinch, and zoom their way through your site. They might give up on the process entirely!
2. Try a text-to-give campaign.
The next mobile fundraising avenue most people think about it text-to-give.
Popularized by the American Red Cross’s campaign for the 2010 Haiti earthquake, text-to-give is an easy way for donors to send their donations to nonprofits in mere seconds. The American Red Cross’s method required donors to text a keyword to a number to give. The donation(s) was then tacked on to their monthly cellphone bill.
Many nonprofits followed suit. What many people didn't realize, however, is that donations were capped at $5 or $10, and nonprofits often had to wait up to 90 days before they ever saw the money, making raising funds for an emergency (like an earthquake) difficult and frustrating.
However, with next generation providers (@Pay comes to mind), donors can give however much they want (without bringing their cellphone provider into the mix), and nonprofits receive funds within hours or days.
You can try your own text-to-give campaign as a stand-alone fundraising method or at a fundraising event!
3. Consider a Mobile Giving App.
This final step is not for the faint of heart. Developing a mobile giving app takes time, money, and effort. If your nonprofit isn’t prepared to invest in it, don’t do it.
If you are ready to create your own mobile giving app, keep the following in mind:
- The app should make online and mobile giving easy. Make the app as intuitive as possible.
- It should be able to integrate with your other software. You’ll need to collect and store the information you receive from your mobile giving app. Make sure that it integrates seamlessly with your nonprofit’s CRM software.
- Incorporate communications options. Your mobile giving app should allow your nonprofit to get in touch with your supporters quickly and easily.
Mobile giving apps can be great for larger, more developed nonprofits. If you’re a smaller shop, it’s wise to start with a mobile-responsive website and a text-to-give platform.
Looking for a cheat sheet? Mobile fundraising is crucial for your online giving strategy. Make sure you implement it in some form or fashion, whether it’s text-to-give software, a mobile-responsive online donation page, or a mobile giving app.
2. Host a Smarter Online Auction
You might be asking yourself, “Why should I host an online auction anyway?”
Well, if you’re planning on hosting an event with minimal set-up costs and overhead, an online auction is your best bet.
An online auction is just like a traditional auction – except all of the bidding takes place online!
You’ll still need to ask local businesses and individuals for product donations.
And you’ll still have to write up descriptions for all of the items you plan on auctioning off.
And, of course, you’ll have to make sure that all of your winners get their items.
But, you won’t have to:
- Rent out, set-up, and tear-down a venue.
- Pay for food, drinks, and decorations.
- Recruit as many volunteers (you’ll still need some people).
- Worry about displaying the items the right way.
- Conduct in-person check-in and check-out.
In short, online auctions take some of the pressure off of your organization.
To host a smarter online auction, follow these top tips:1. Take great pictures of your items.
Since your bidders won’t be able to see your auction items in-person, you have to represent them well. A blurry cellphone picture isn’t going to cut it.
Place the item in good lighting and take several shots from different angles.
2. Write descriptive captions.
If you want donors to bid on your item, you have to convince them of its worth. At silent or traditional auctions, this is easy; you have an auctioneer or emcee who can talk up the items and answer any questions.
With an online auction, however, you have to use the tools you’re given. Make sure that you write up a vivid description of the item and list out any restrictions (i.e., the date by which a gift card must be used).
3. Use social media to your advantage.
You’ll obviously still need to send out invitations to your online auction, but you can go the extra mile and push your fundraiser with social media!
Schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that let people know the details of your auction. You can even post about it as it’s happening! Some people might get caught up in the excitement and start bidding on items (even if they hadn’t intended to in the first place!).
Looking for a cheat sheet? An online auction is a great fundraising option for nonprofits who want all the fun and excitement of a regular auction without the overhead costs.
3. Use a Matching Gift Tool
You may have read one of the articles about matching gifts I’ve previously written for GuideStar. It’s a pretty in-depth piece about specific best practices that nonprofits can use to raise more money from matching gift programs.
I won’t restate the points from that article, but I will go over a crucial matching gift necessity.
If you want to raise more matching gift revenue, you’re going to need a matching gift tool.
A matching gift tool can help your donors learn more about their employers’ specific matching gift program and access the necessary documents, forms, and instructions for submitting a matching donation.
A matching gift tool can be embedded directly into your website (anywhere on your website, actually). You can place it on your “Ways to Give” page, on your donation form, and even on your acknowledgement screen.Looking for a cheat sheet? With a matching gift tool, your donors will be more educated about matching gifts, making them more likely to submit match requests to their employers.
4. Give Your Website a Makeover
A nonprofit's website is crucial for its fundraising success. Without a beautiful, functioning website (and blog!), a nonprofit is unable to reach donors across the country and around the world.
There are numerous best practices for (re)designing a nonprofit website, but we’re only going to hit the high notes here:
1. Be consistent
Your website should have the same look and feel on every single page (including your donation page!)
Include the same (or similar):
Your donors should never doubt whether or not they’re on your nonprofit’s website.
2. Stay organized
Your nonprofit’s site should be easy to navigate for all users. No one should wonder how to get to your “Ways to Give” page or your “Request more Info” form.
Lay out an easy-to-use navigation system with functioning menus that take people where they want to go.
3. Use images
For the sake of everyone that accesses your nonprofit’s website, use images!
Beautiful images can take a website from “good” to “great.” You get bonus points if the images you use are of the people, communities, or animals that you help.
Make sure your images are resized and compressed before you load them onto your website. Large, heavily-pixelated images will slow down your website’s load time. The longer donors have to wait to access a page on your site, the more likely they are to click the back button or “X out” altogether!
All three of these tips can help make your website more user- and donor-friendly. If you can use your website to educate donors, they will be more likely to make a donation right then and there.
Looking for a cheat sheet? Use your website to your fundraising advantage! Keep it consistent and organized and incorporate images into your pages and blog posts.
5. Try Peer-to-Peer Fundraising at Least Once
An article published by Qgiv states that:
Fundraising isn’t a cheap endeavor. No matter what avenue your nonprofit takes, you’re going to have to pay some money to raise some money. But with peer-to-peer fundraising, you’re able to fundraise without shelling out a ton of money.
It’s a great point, really. Fundraising always costs something. Whether you’re sending out direct mail appeals (stamps aren’t cheap!) or throwing a fundraising event (renting a venue isn’t cheap, either!), you’re going to have to pay money to generate revenue.
However, peer-to-peer fundraising solves at least part of that problem and enables your organization to work directly with your donors to raise money.
In general, peer-to-peer fundraising tends to go something like this:
- A nonprofit chooses a peer-to-peer fundraising platform.
- The organization determines which of their donors or volunteers could be fundraisers.
- The individual fundraisers set up their own peer-to-peer fundraising pages using the platform.
- The fundraisers send out the links to their fundraising pages to their friends and family members.
- The fundraisers participate in an event (usually an active one like a walkathon or marathon) that signals the end of the fundraising period.
So why should you host a peer-to-peer fundraiser?
Well, in short, your nonprofit has the potential to raise more money and acquire more donors with peer-to-peer fundraising than other more standard fundraising techniques.
Think about it: let’s say you recruit just 50 individuals for your peer-to-peer campaign. If each of these donors reaches out to just two of their family members of friends, your donor base just gained an extra 100 supporters!
And if your campaign has a larger fundraising base to start with, the potential is even greater.
You won’t be able to host a peer-to-peer campaign each and every month of the year, but kicking one off at least one every 12 months can give your nonprofit the fundraising and acquisition boost it might need.
Looking for a cheat sheet? Peer-to-peer fundraising is an easy way to increase your fundraising revenue and grow your donor base.
6. Read up on Online Product Fundraising
Some people have asked if selling “stuff” to raise money is really worth it.
It’s a valid question. Most fundraisers have heard horror stories of nonprofits ordering too many mugs, water bottles, or keychains, only to be left with an overstock of items stuffed in a closet somewhere.
These nonprofits may have missed the mark because they didn’t think about product fundraising and online fundraising together.
Only until recently have nonprofits started thinking about product fundraising online.
With online merchandise storefronts, organizations can sell t-shirts, tote bags, keychains, and other merchandise to donors regardless of where they live.
Nonprofits can even incorporate product fundraising into their peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Since most people who donate to a peer-to-peer campaign will be participating in an event tied to the campaign, they’ll want something to commemorate their experience.
Looking for a cheat sheet? Product fundraising can work, if your nonprofit plans it correctly. Take your product fundraising online to see the best results.
I hope that these six back to school lessons for online fundraising got you thinking about your upcoming fundraising efforts.
Before you know it, we’ll be entering the end-of-year fundraising season. You’ll want to have these lessons down pat to prepare for the busiest time of year!
What other online fundraising techniques have you used in the past? Let me know what your thoughts are in the comments.
The preceding is a guest post by Adam Weinger, President, Double the Donation. Adam is blending his corporate experience with nonprofit fundraising. After speaking with a host of nonprofit organizations about the need to access matching gift funds in a cost effective way, Double the Donation was born.