A guide to reaching more donors using these online fundraising ideas
When you raise money online, you can connect with donors around the world to grow awareness and support for your mission.
If you’re struggling to reach online donors effectively or looking to update your online fundraising approach, you should assess your current fundraising strategy to ensure you’re making the most of online fundraising opportunities.
In this guide, we’ll review five tips that help nonprofits like yours effectively reach more donors online. These tips include:
- Crafting a development plan
- Choosing effective online fundraising platforms
- Segmenting donors to personalize your communications
- Launching a multichannel marketing strategy
- Tracking your progress
Online fundraising and outreach efforts are all about reaching the right people at the right time with the right message. But what does this look like in practice? Let’s dive in.
1. Crafting a development plan
Your nonprofit likely has a development plan that serves as a roadmap for reaching your fundraising goals. Windmill Hill Consulting describes such plans as “the antidote to uncertainty,” allowing nonprofits to establish priorities and the necessary steps to take throughout a certain period.
To reach donors online, you’ll need to build out a strategy that specifically focuses on your online fundraising efforts. When building out the strategy, make sure you clarify how online fundraising will fit into your current development framework and support your overarching funding goals.
When creating your online fundraising strategy, you should:
- Set a goal. Set a specific, measurable goal to work toward. For instance, are you hoping to earn 25% of your total yearly fundraising revenue from online donations? Or are you looking to earn 100 new monthly donors via online outreach campaigns? Once you know your goal, you’ll be better able to determine which actions you need to take to reach it.
- Determine deadlines. Your goals should have deadlines attached to them. When will you check in on your fundraising progress and when do you hope to reach your online fundraising goal? Set specific benchmarks for assessing your progress.
- Choose fundraising ideas. Peer-to-peer initiatives, crowdfunding pushes, social media campaigns, virtual auctions—there are many options to choose from when it comes to online fundraising tactics. Choose several initiatives to launch throughout the year that will help you reach your fundraising goals.
- Review your fundraising tools. Look at the online fundraising solutions your organization already has and determine whether you’ll need to add new software tools to your toolbox. For example, if you want to launch a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, you’ll need specific software to allow supporters to create individual fundraising pages and collect donations online on behalf of your nonprofit.
Just because you set a plan doesn’t mean you have to stick with it. Make time to check in on your efforts; if you’re not close to meeting your goals, figure out what else you want to try to reach them. Keeping your plans flexible allows you to quickly adjust to obstacles as they arise or take advantage of opportunities for improvement.
2. Choosing effective online fundraising platforms
To raise money online, you’ll need an online fundraising platform. Do you have access to the necessary tools to host online fundraising campaigns? Here are a few types of online fundraising software solutions that can help you raise money online:
- Online fundraising platform: Your online fundraising platform should allow you to create donation pages that make it easy for supporters to donate. This platform should also integrate with your donor management software solution so you can gather donor data, like their personal contact information or reasons for giving. By keeping track of donor metrics, you’ll be able to see which actions you need to take to increase your donor retention rate and new donor acquisition rate.
- Donor management software: To learn more about your supporters, you’ll need a tool that will help you to track donor data. Donor management software solutions offer features such as donor profiles, data segmentation, engagement metrics, and more. Once you have this information on hand, you can use it to personalize your outreach efforts and keep them engaged.
- Event management software: These platforms allow you to plan events, recruit volunteers, and assess event data, all from one system. They also allow you to analyze the effectiveness of your fundraising events and determine what you can adjust going forward for even greater success.
One important thing to keep in mind when searching for software solutions is to find one that integrates with the other tools you already use. This allows you to leverage your data across multiple platforms without having to manually upload or transfer information, which can take time and leaves room for error.
3. Segmenting donors to personalize your communications
Your online fundraising and outreach efforts will be much more effective when you speak to donors on a personal level.
Bloomerang defines donor segmentation as “the process of separating your nonprofit supporters into groups based on common qualities and characteristics they share.” By segmenting your donors, you can create more tailored communications that appeal to donors’ interests and preferences.
When creating your donor segments, you can group donors based on criteria like:
- Frequency: How often do donors contribute? Create segments for monthly, annual, and one-off donors.
- Recency: How long have donors been giving to your cause? Group your donors into segments based on their history of support.
- Amount: How much do donors give? Create segments for major, mid-level, and smaller donors to send relevant appreciation messages to each group.
- Interests: What programs, projects, or topics interest donors the most? For instance, you might create one segment for donors who are interested in supporting your volunteer program and introduce them to additional engagement opportunities, such as your monthly giving program or online advocacy efforts.
Adjust your outreach messages based on the segment you’re appealing to. For instance, you can send background information about your mission and programs to new donors that your long-term supporters are already aware of.
4. Launching a multichannel marketing strategy
Think about the online platforms or social media sites you use every day. You likely don’t just go to one website or social media site. That’s the case for your donors, too.
When developing your online fundraising strategy, use a multichannel marketing approach to reach donors on multiple platforms instead of trying to reach all of them on one platform. You should reach donors on platforms or channels like:
- Your website. Your website should inform visitors about your nonprofit’s mission and goals, then direct them toward your online donation form and other important landing pages. Your fundraising pages or donation pages should be mobile-friendly and easy to use.
- Email. Whether it’s your monthly newsletter or fundraising marketing emails, you should include links to your online donation forms and other important fundraising pages so subscribers can easily make online donations.
- Social media. Develop a social media presence on more than one platform to appeal to different donors. Assess the unique features of each platform and how you can best promote your fundraising campaigns.
To determine the most effective approaches for each platform, you can run an A/B test. A/B testing involves creating two slightly different versions of a marketing message or design to determine which elements were more successful when it came to engaging your supporters. For example, when sending emails, you can test different subject lines, calls to action, and in-text visuals. Remember, to determine which change had the greatest impact, adjust only one element at a time.
5. Tracking your progress
Using your online fundraising platform, donor management software, and marketing platform tools, track your campaign progress and determine which strategies are working and where there are areas for improvement. To figure out how your campaign is performing, track metrics such as:
- Your total online fundraising revenue
- Fundraising revenue from each online source
- Online fundraising return on investment
- Email open and click-through rates
- Social media engagement metrics (shares, likes, comments, etc.)
- Fundraising landing page conversion rate
Continually review these analytics to adjust your online engagement strategy as needed. You can leverage each online fundraising campaign you launch to continually refine your online fundraising and marketing plans.
With so many online fundraising platforms available for nonprofits today, reaching donors online has never been easier. With the right strategy and tools in place, you can start developing genuine supporter relationships and fostering them via online platforms right away.
Guest Author Bio
Joshua Meyer brings more than 20 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the VP of Demand Generation for Bloomerang. As a member of the Bloomerang marketing team, Josh manages the organization’s growth marketing efforts.
Through his previous roles at the Human Rights Campaign and OneCause, he has a passion for helping to create positive change and helping nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.