If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that fundraising for nonprofits in the age of social distancing is a challenge. But, as the year has also shown, digital fundraising and virtual events can be just as effective (if not more!) if you finetune your strategy.
Because live streaming, video conferences, and other digital methods of communication are on the rise more than ever before, it’s essential that nonprofits tap into digital fundraising beyond this year. From your website to social media to outreach, you can prepare your organization to pursue digital fundraising and benefit your nonprofit—even after the pandemic has passed.
Here are some of our top strategies for doing this:
- Enhance your website’s UX.
- Leverage different fundraising channels.
- Emphasize virtual events.
- Maintain your content.
Keeping these tips in mind will help your organization find even more success as we make the transition into the new year. Let’s get started.
1. Enhance your website’s UX.
Where’s the place your supporters go to most often to get information and updates about your organization? Your website.
Part of an individual’s experience with your nonprofit comes from how they interact with your website. This means you want to ensure they have a positive user experience (UX) as they navigate through your pages and information. Then, when that individual decides to engage with your nonprofit, whether it’s through donating, registering for an event, or signing up for a newsletter, the process will be streamlined and easy to complete.
There are many ways to improve your website’s user experience. You can use certain plugins to boost your SEO, draw attention to specific pieces of content, and more. But beyond that, to enhance your website’s user experience, you should:
- Be brief and to the point. You don’t have much time to grab a visitor’s attention once they land on your website. Present your cause in a concise but compelling manner, explaining who your constituents are, what kind of work you do, and what you have going on. The easier it is to sift through your content, the more likely visitors will be to digest it.
- Simplify your forms. Whether a supporter is registering for an event or submitting a monetary donation, the forms on your website should be simple and straightforward to fill out. Don’t ask for too much information or require too many fields, as you might lose out on more people completing the forms.
- Streamline your donation process. Make it easy for people to donate. If the process isn’t streamlined, many donors won’t finish it. Use calls to action (CTAs) to direct visitors to your donate page (like a prominent “Donate Now” button) and ensure your website is optimized to inspire donations. Accept payments through a secure, PCI-compliant payment processor, and embed your donation form right on your website so donors don’t have to leave and go to a third-party provider. Even more, you can offer recurring gift options and suggested donation amounts right on your form to help donors decide what they want to give, and encourage repeat donations.
- Make sure your pages load quickly. Page load speed is an issue that’s often overlooked when creating and maintaining a website. Use a free tool like Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify areas where you can speed up your website. Oftentimes, large, uncompressed images cause pages to slow down. Keep an eye on your media to ensure they’re optimized for page speed.
Having a focus on your visitors’ user experience can help drive more donations, communicate your mission, and prime your organization to take part in additional digital fundraising initiatives.
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2. Leverage different fundraising channels.
Your website is one of your biggest assets, especially when it comes to providing information about your nonprofit to the greater community and accepting donations. But in the age of digital fundraising, there are other channels you should also be incorporating.
Here are a few key digital fundraising channels to consider:
- Peer-to-peer fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a form of social fundraising where nonprofits call on their supporters to fundraise on their behalf. Through the use of individual campaign pages, these volunteer fundraisers spread the word to their own circles of friends and family and help raise money for your cause or event. This form of fundraising works wonders because it expands your reach beyond just your typical audience.
- Text-to-give. Everyone’s on their phone nowadays, especially this year! Run a text-to-give campaign that makes it easy for supporters to donate directly from their phones.
- Crowdfunding. Similar to peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding is a way of raising money from large groups of people in the greater community. But rather than calling on individual supporters to create their own pages, there’s one main campaign page that supports the nonprofit. Crowdfunding, especially this year, has proven to be an effective channel of fundraising for many missions and types of projects.
- eCard campaigns. eCard campaigns allow supporters who participate to select from a set of images and sayings and send customized eCards to their friends and family. The supporter pays a fee to send the card to each recipient, so you get to raise money and spread the word to more people.
There are many ways digital fundraising can take flight this year and beyond. If you’re looking for even more tips, trends, and campaign ideas, take a look at the Cornershop Creative team’s guide to digital fundraising.
3. Emphasize virtual events.
Virtual events are at an all-time high right now, and there are a lot of benefits to holding your fundraising events online (in addition to safety!). Virtual events expand your audience to people from all over, including those who wouldn’t have been able to attend an in-person event.
While this can mean more competition among nonprofits to attract attendees, this also means you have the ability to make your nonprofit and its events stand out.
Here are ways you can make the most of virtual events starting now:
- Provide streamlined online registration. We already mentioned how a simplified form can encourage users to complete the registration or donation process. Allow prospective attendees to register online, pay online (if there are any fees), and receive information online. If you have an email list, encourage attendees to sign up for it at the time of registration so you can continue providing them with information about your organization and future events.
- Promote on social media. Many people get their news and event information from social media platforms. They’re also inspired to give and get involved with nonprofits via social media. Taking advantage of advertising tools from places like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can help your organization gain more exposure and engage with those most interested in your cause.
- Use all the tools at your disposal. From video conference tools to live streaming platforms, there are many ways you can host your event and keep your audience engaged. If you’re looking to live stream, for instance, check out Re:Charity’s guide to live streaming for nonprofits.
Virtual events are a fantastic avenue to take, even after the pandemic has passed. Reach more people, bring in more donations and support from the greater community, and gain experience with new tools that will help you continue serving your mission for years to come.
4. Maintain your content.
While you might have already run an audit of your website to improve the user experience, this is not a one-and-done solution. It’s important to actively maintain your website (and all of your content) this year and beyond to ensure you’re still keeping your supporters engaged and representing your organization in the best light.
- Regularly updating your content. Posting regular updates, new blog posts, and upcoming events will reassure your supporters that you have a lot going on! No one wants to find out an event they’re interested in has long since passed.
- Cleaning up your site. Make sure your visuals display correctly, all the links and menus work, and that your media files are organized. For example, do you have a lot of unused or duplicate images uploaded to your site? Use helpful tools like this one to remove duplicate images and speed up your site.
- Making sure everything is secure. Having an encrypted site means all payment information, registrant information, and other personal details provided by your supporters will be protected. Protect your donor data by maintaining an SSL certificate and keep your supporters’ trust.
There are many ways you can maintain your content beyond this year, and regularly performing checks with your team will ensure your website still runs smoothly years down the road.
As digital fundraising grows and evolves, it’s essential that you stay on track to keep up. Make sure your website supports a positive user experience and is constantly updated and maintained. Make your nonprofit stand out by pursuing different fundraising channels and virtual events. From there, you’ll be in a place to benefit from digital fundraising for many years to come!
This guest post was contributed by Ira at Cornershop Creative.
With 15 years’ experience, Ira is an expert in nonprofit online communications and online fundraising. His work has resulted in increased funds and resounding supporter engagement for hundreds of organizations.
Ira oversees our project management team and works with clients to provide our clients with the best possible final product. He also manages all of our strategic engagements and helps guide nonprofits to determine their long-term strategy goals for online communications.