by Sandy Rees
Founder & Chief Encouragement Officer
Get Fully Funded
The key to finding new donors online is to reach people who are already interested in the type of work your organization does.
The truth is that not everyone gives to charity. And of those who do, they already have their favorites.
So, if you operate a food pantry, look for people who are already concerned about people in their communities not having enough to eat. If you are a conservation organization, reach out to people who are already passionate about protecting the environment. If your nonprofit rescues animals, look for people who believe pets are family.
I call this strategy fishing where the fish are.
When you connect with a prospective donor who is already engaged with your issue, a little nudge is often all it takes to get that person to give.
But that little nudge can be tricky and most small nonprofits don’t give it the time and attention it deserves.
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To help you get started doing it right, here are 210 ideas for connecting online with prospective donors who have a high likelihood of becoming actual donors.
You don’t have to do all 210. Just pick the ones that best fit into your fundraising plan and will work for your unique needs.
- Make sure your message is focused on giving. Your website is an important marketing tool for finding new donors. It’s not a tri-fold brochure in the form of a website. Make it easy for visitors to understand what you do and super easy for them to make a donation in as few clicks as possible.
- Use SEO to attract traffic: Use SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices to drive people to your website who are Googling topics related to your organization’s work. This will take a bit of research to find the right keywords but it’s really worth it.
- Create compelling content: Write and post fresh, engaging, relevant content on your website including great photos and video of your programs in action. Create a ‘sticky’ site where visitors want to stay and get involved by making a donation.
- Post frequent, relevant blog posts: Keep your website fresh with frequent, meaty blog posts. Tell your best stories, the ones most likely to touch a visitor’s heart and inspire them to donate. And include heart-touching photos and video so the visitor can see for themselves what you do.
- Increase post frequency: Use a social media calendar and a scheduler to rev up your social media channels to find new donors. Incorporate direct, specific asks into your social media plan. (But don’t ask for money with every post!
- Try Facebook Ads: If your Facebook traffic has taken a dive due to changes in Facebook’s algorithm, consider investing in Facebook Ads. You can increase your reach to a targeted audience for just a small amount of ad spend.
- Create a compelling graphic. Use Canva to create an infographic or meme that relates to your organization’s cause, whether it is trafficking, college access, animal rescue, or refugee resettlement. Share this with partner organizations, local media, online influencers interested in your cause, and anyone else who can help you spread the word online
- Create an explainer video: A video that explains what your program does and who you help can not only educate, but inspire people to give. It does not have to be professionally edited, it just has to hit the right notes with prospective donors. Ask someone who had a positive experience receiving services from your organization to tell their story via video. Make sure they know they are not obligated to do so, and confirm that it is safe for them to have their image and words on social media. Just encourage them to speak from the heart.
- Enlist a high-profile person to give you a shout-out: Do you, your staff, your Board members, or your volunteers have connections to a celebrity who might use their social media platform to bring attention to your organization’s work? Think about high-profile people who live locally and have a history of supporting causes similar to yours and ask them to help, especially in support of a specific campaign.
- Five Dollar Friday: Identify a specific, urgent need that costs less than $1,500, and host a Five Dollar Friday campaign on social media (especially as a Facebook fundraiser), asking supporters to consider a $5 gift to fund the urgent need. Many people will give more than $5, and prospective donors may make their first gift through this low-barrier campaign. Choose a small, solvable problem so people know exactly where their money will go.
- Get on LinkedIn: LinkedIn is an under-appreciated social media platform for sharing news about your organization and finding new donors. Beef up your network, and encourage your staff, Board, and volunteers to do the same. Then consistently share the most compelling blog posts from your organization’s website with your LinkedIn network.
- Strengthen ties with partner organizations: Don’t think of organizations that work in the same space as competitors. There is enough money in the world to go around. Brainstorm ways to help each other by promoting and attending each other’s events, sharing each other’s social posts, referring volunteers who might be a better fit elsewhere, and going in together on a press conference or campaign.
- Create and distribute press releases: No one will know about your news if you don’t tell them. Let your local news media know about your milestones, wins, and great stories, so they can share articles and video that will drive their audience to your website to learn more.
- Pitch news stories, offering your organization as a source: Also let the media know about trends related to your cause. Be the local expert – the voice that brings issues to light. This is a very effective way to let people who are already interested in your cause know about your organization’s specific work.
- Comment on news stories: When your local media outlets report on a story related to your cause, comment on the story online to share context, thank the reporter for covering the issue, or gently pointing out another perspective. Use your full name and mention your organization’s name.
- Host an online auction: Auctions are a fundraising mainstay because they generate substantial interest and donations from supporters. And with the addition of online auction software, your access to potential donors can expand far beyond the four walls of an event hall. Online auctions give you larger reach to attract donors from other cities and states. Make sure your auction platform includes social and email sharing options, so that supporters can invite their contacts to join in.
- Host a webinar: Use Facebook Live, Zoom, or another tool to share news about your organization’s cause and how your organization is responding. Look for a fresh angle that might interest people who are interested in your cause. Market the webinar across all platforms and via email marketing. At the end of the webinar, offer a call to action to the audience including various ways for them to get involved.
- Launch a crowdfunding campaign: This amazing opportunity for finding new donors leverages the strength of relationships. Set up a unique link with a crowdfunding platform requesting donations for a particular need, such as computers for a youth center or additional shelving for a food pantry. Enlist your current supporters to share the link with their friends and family members, encouraging them to give to the cause. A deadline will help motivate people to give.
- Launch a peer-to-peer campaign: Similar to a crowdfunding campaign, a peer-to-peer campaign uses a platform that enables supporters to create their own fundraising page and unique link to share when asking their friends and family to donate. As with a crowdfunding campaign, you bring new donors in through your existing donors’ connections.
TWO MORE IDEAS
- Sell something: Selling a t-shirt with your organization’s name is a great way to engage existing donors, but for finding new donors, make a t-shirt featuring a wonderful image, graphic, or quote that relates to your cause. Enlist an artist or graphic designer to create something truly special. Think of other items you could sell that would go over well even with people not yet familiar with your organization’s work.
- Comment on blogs, YouTube videos, and social posts: When you come across a great blog post, YouTube video, or social post about your organization’s cause, leave a message in your organization’s voice letting the author know they are spot on or adding context. Don’t come across as a know-it-all, but instead cultivate a voice of someone who wants to work together toward shared goals.
Your best new donors are out there, but the internet is a crowded, noisy, unruly space. The key to finding new donors online is to establish a strong, credible, authoritative, friendly, constant presence.
Keep at it, and you will attract people who will love the work your organization does and want to give.
About the Author:
Sandy shows founders and leaders of small nonprofits how to fully fund their dream so they can make the difference they want to make in the world. She has helped dozens of small nonprofits go from “nickel-and-dime fundraising” to adding 6 figures to their bottom line. As a trainer, she shows her students how to find ideal donors, connect through authentic messaging, and build relationships that stand the test of time, so that fundraising becomes easy and predictable. Find out more at www.GetFullyFunded.com.