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How Can I Raise Donations Online?

Digital fundraising presents a unique and fascinating new way to gather money and support for a cause.

What is digital fundraising? Well, it’s a way to build unique campaigns on digital fundraising platforms to raise money for nonprofits and charities using online channels such as social media and email to spread the word.

Soliciting funds via digital fundraising allows for a greater reach, allowing organizations to mobilize all the people needed to accomplish their goals. It’s supported by the explosion of mobile devices and smartphone use, with approximately 298 million smartphone users in the United States in 2021. The global pandemic also impacted fundraising, as nonprofits were not able to hold in-person events.

Let’s explore this guide on how to successfully raise donations online.

How Digital Fundraising Works And Who Can Use It

Digital fundraising streamlines an organization’s ability to reach potential donors. Telling the story of a nonprofit through videos, photos, and interactions from others can bring fundraising potential to an entirely new level. Emails with user-friendly links that allow for easy donations can be sent to regular donors. Even recruiting volunteers can be done using digital tactics.

Digital fundraising channels

Here’s how digital fundraising works: 

You choose an online platform, create your campaign, and share on online channels. Choose a platform that makes it easy to share, like FundRazr.  

But you still need to be strategic when conducting a digital fundraising campaign. Building and executing a successful strategy can be done by any nonprofit with the proper tools, knowledge, and understanding.

How To Create A Successful Digital Fundraising Strategy

Strategy can increase the effectiveness of your fundraising efforts. So before you launch your campaign, save a few weeks for planning. To be effective, your digital fundraising efforts need to be well planned, analyzed, and improved over time. That means creating a successful strategy, reviewing the results, and tweaking your plan as needed.

Here are some steps to take to make the most of nonprofit digital fundraising:

1. Define your campaign’s project, timeframe, and financial goal.

Here are three key questions to ask to build your strategy:

  • What are you trying to achieve? Are you looking to build support or do you have a fundraising target?
  • How much time do you have to do it? What is the timeframe for your campaign?
  • How much money will it take? What are the administrative costs for your campaign? 

Use the answers to these three questions to guide your campaign’s story, marketing strategy, and execution.

2. Build your campaign story.

You will hear this point echoed throughout this guide: a compelling, authentic story is what will drive your campaign’s performance. You need to tell the story of your cause to help potential donors connect to your mission. 

Remember these points:

  • Focus on the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. 
  • Explain who you’re trying to help, or what problem you’re trying to solve. Provide information on when you need to reach your goal, and why it matters. 
  • Make donation an integral part of your campaign story. Describe how donors are helping to solve a problem, and how and where their donations are used. Make the donors feel like they’re part of something important.
  • Use visuals like pictures, video and infographics to help tell your story.

More information on building a compelling story is provided in a later section of this guide.

3. Launch, promote and market your campaign.

Announce your campaign through all of your communication channels, including social media, email, and on your website. Encourage any sponsors or partners to promote it on their networks, too. Fundrazr makes it easy to add your campaign to a Facebook page or embed our fundraising widget on your website or blog. It’s all done from your Manage page. 

4. Encourage people to donate or share.

Include easy social sharing buttons so that supporters can share your message, whether they donate to the cause or not. 

Industry research shows that each share of an online fundraiser is worth approximately $10.87 USD in donations. One example is to share news and status updates on your campaign at least once or twice a day on Facebook, stressing the importance of the campaign and asking people to re-share! The Facebook algorithm will also feature your campaign more often in your network’s News Feed with this frequency.

5. As the campaign progresses, keep your donors and followers engaged. 

After your followers have donated to the campaign, continue to update them on your mission. Provide milestones toward the campaign goal, allowing supporters to stay engaged and feel part of the team. Fundrazr makes it easy to send email updates to your supporters.

What Are Digital Fundraising Best Practices?

Digital fundraising is not new and you’re not the first to embark on a campaign. In fact, given the effectiveness of using online tools to raise money, it has become a top choice for all kinds of nonprofits. That means there are best practices you can learn and use when it comes to raising donations online. 

Using good digital fundraising tactics will help you collect donations for your campaign. They will also help you:

  • Connect and build strong relationships with donors
  • Grow your cause
  • Capitalize on fundraising technology
  • Set the stage for improved campaigns into the future
  • Ultimately raise money more easily and effectively

Here are just a few best practices for nonprofits that will help enhance your digital fundraising efforts:

1. Reach Donors With A Compelling Story

You’re more likely to gain donors if people can relate to your vision and connect with your goals. There are specific steps to take to describe your mission, such as stating the problem you’re trying to solve, presenting the solution to the problem, and describing how the donor will help close the gap between the problem and solution. Being authentic and connecting with potential donors on a personal level will also help break down the barriers of anonymous online requests. Finally, end your story with an easy call to action that will inspire donors to help. 

2. Focus on Units of Impact

It’s been shown that people who donate to a cause are interested in the impact they are having. Therefore, your story and campaign will be more effective if it includes Units of Impact. Units of Impact are small, tangible, and specific outcomes, focused on your mission and serving as a building block to your larger goal. 

Here’s an example.

The Black Girls Global Exchange raises money to send girls from barriered communities on cultural learning trips to destinations like South Africa. A large goal like this is broken down for donors into achievable units: $50 pays for a program participant to visit a museum; $125 covers a passport application.

These units of impact help donors see a real difference that was made by their donation. Donors will connect to your cause because of the joy they feel from understanding the impact they’ve had.

3. Build a Relationship with Donors

Once you’ve received a donation, the relationship should not end. Start by thanking donors promptly when you receive a donation. 

One example is crowdfunding perks, a variety of physical or digital items. You can give perks in the form of T-shirts, merchandise or something digital like recipes, as a thank you or a token of gratitude.

Another thank you item is a wishlist, which demonstrates the clear value of a donation. Break down your fundraising goal into tangible wishlist items and give your donor a choice of what they prefer to fund. Our example is that the donor gave $50, and they also fed a whole family in a shelter for a day.

Then continue to regularly check-in with them, explaining the impact of online donations to the cause. Update donors on the efforts of your nonprofit, the status of your fundraising goals, and other news to keep them engaged in your cause.  

4. Experiment with Different Types of Campaigns and Smaller Campaigns

Particularly if you take advantage of a fundraising platform, you can try a variety of fundraising tools, including peer-to-peer campaigns, wishlist campaigns, recurring donations, virtual events and more. 

You can also take the opportunity to run smaller campaigns, rather than try to raise all your funds immediately in one shot.

What Are Digital Fundraising Trends? 

Digital Fundraising is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay current and learn fresh ideas.

digital fundraising trends

Here are just a few digital fundraising trends for you to follow: 

1. Fundraising technology is on the rise, helping nonprofits raise money more easily. For instance, donors no longer mail cheques; people are prepared to pay online. 

That means your process for accepting donations must be simple and seamless, increasing your conversion rate:

  • Donation forms should be no more than one page.
  • Forms must be easily viewed and functional on both desktops and mobile devices. 
  • Donors should only have to enter the most pertinent information, such as name, billing address, email address and payment method. 

You should also make it easy for donations by adding QR codes, and offering options such as PayPal, Stripe and Venmo. 

2. As we’ve mentioned, storytelling is vital to fundraising. Luckily, technology has helped make storytelling easier than ever. Those who work with nonprofits can shoot videos and create images, and edit and produce them, right on their mobile device, into quality products to use across different platforms.  

3. Pre-campaign marketing is important, so be sure to build momentum before you launch your crowdfunding campaign. If you were throwing a party, you would let

people know in advance. Your digital fundraising campaign is no different. Think of it as an event to which you would sell tickets. Create some excitement and buy-in before the launch date. 

2 Great Digital Fundraising Examples

All this talk about compelling stories and connecting with donors can seem overwhelming. Perhaps a few examples of successful campaigns can inspire you to create a drive that will engage donors and help you reach your goals.

Here are two inspirational stories: 

1. The Ring Of Fire Fundraiser

A regular at an Edmonton brewery was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, Canada’s third most commonly diagnosed cancer and one of the country’s most common cancer killers. 

digital fundraising campaign

Since the individual loved to eat spicy food, the “Ring of Fire” fundraiser was a peer-to-peer event at which participants ate the spiciest chicken wings they could. Proceeds were donated to the Alberta Cancer Foundation. 

Why it worked: This creative campaign brought humour and positivity to a sad situation. By thinking outside the box, and not being afraid to have fun with a serious subject, the campaign was highly successful, raising $18,000, although there was only a $10,000 goal.

2. The Worry Monster Campaign

Pathstone Mental Health, noting that the pandemic increased the number of children and youth struggling with anxiety, created a way to help deal with it: fuzzy Worry Monster toys. Kids or their parents write down their worries, put them in the Worry Monster’s mouth, and zip it shut. Pathstone also used the toys at therapy appointments as a safe, fun way for therapists to engage with kids. 

digital fundraising success

Pathstone reached their initial goal in 24 hours, then raised the target and reached it two more times. The campaign ended when they sold out of Worry Monsters, and raised $10,775 for kids’ mental health.

Why it worked: The fundraising campaign used a wishlist, providing clear Units of Impact to raise money. For increasing different levels of support, donors could provide money to purchase a Worry Monster, a Monster plus a counselling session, or a Monster and a counselling session and a parenting workshop.

Here are the takeaways that were key to how these campaigns found such success:

  • Planning
  • Creativity 
  • Customization
  • Donor and participant engagement 
  • Storytelling

How To Track Success With Benchmarks & KPIs 

You’ll put in a lot of work on your fundraising campaign, so it’s important to measure success. You need to know what works and what doesn’t.

digital fundraising metrics

Gathering information on the results of your campaign is done through fundraising metrics, or nonprofit Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These benchmarks of success will guide the strategy for your fundraising and measure the performance as it progresses and finishes. You’ll be able to use the KPIs to gauge what went well and where you can make improvements for the next campaign.

That doesn’t mean it’s easy to understand and choose KPIs. Here’s a sampling of some key digital fundraising metrics you can track to improve your campaign and raise more money:

Email KPIs

If emails are a cornerstone of your fundraising campaigns, then you need to measure whether they’re doing what you want. Here are some KPIs for your email campaign:

  • Email Open Rate: Usually reported as a percentage, this is the rate of recipients who actually open the emails you send. Using this information, you can make changes such as sending emails at different times and/or different days. You could even try modifying the subject line. After making changes, you can again measure your open rate. Tinker with changes until you’re successful.
  • Click Through Rate: This measures whether those who open your email do what you ask, such as clicking on the call-to-action (CTA) links. This is calculated by dividing the number of subscribers who click on a link by the total number of emails sent. Adjust your emails to improve this statistic, perhaps by changing where the CTA is located in the email, or making it bolder or larger.
  • Email Conversion Rate: This is calculated by dividing the number of times an email was acted upon by the number of emails sent. Once again, a simple and effective call-to-action will help this number improve. 
  • Opt-Out Rate: This measures the number of email recipients who hit the “unsubscribe” button. If it’s increasing, you need to evaluate the quality and quantity of your emails. 

Website KPIs

Your website is the key location for interested donors to learn about your cause and contribute to a campaign. It’s vital that you measure whether your website is effective. 

There are a number of ways to measure website traffic and analyze how traffic is getting to your website, whether visitors are staying on the site, and more. One simple way is the Google Analytics tool. It’s simple and user-friendly. Alternatively, you can find experts to help you on platforms such as Fiverr and Upwork.

Once your nonprofit’s website is linked to an Analytics account, you can track information and analyze performance, including:

  • Number of visitors
  • Number of new users
  • Sources of traffic
  • Top pages
  • Whether visitors are “bouncing” or leaving your site as soon as they land

When you know how visitors find and engage with your site, you can make changes and improvements where they’re needed.

Social Media KPIs

It is important to measure KPIs of your social media efforts to make sure they’re effective. 

Here are a couple of metrics to watch: 
Conversion Rate: This is a straightforward KPI that measures whether followers do what you “ask” in a post. Calculate this by dividing the number of times an “ask” on social media is done by the number of people it reached.

  • Engagement Rate: We mean the number of social media approvals, such as likes, that are generated by a post. This information is a guide to what kind of content resonates with your audience. To calculate, divide the shares, for instance, by the number of followers of your page, then convert into a percentage. 

The Best Digital Fundraising Platforms

There are several different digital fundraising platforms that your nonprofit can access to run campaigns. 

Before you choose, here are several factors to consider:

1. Your nonprofit’s priorities:

Since every organization has different needs, start your search with a clear idea of what matters to your nonprofit. This will help guide your decision. Watch for these common features:

  • A great campaign page appearance
  • An easy setup your team can handle, with no need for a developer or special coding
  • Optimization for mobile devices and search engines (SEO)
  • Engaging features like wish-lists or perks

2. Versatile and adaptable 

If it works, you won’t be using the platform for just one campaign. Consider how you may use it as part of your total digital fundraising strategy. Pick a platform that lets you grow, with extended features and capability that you can use in future campaigns. By experimenting with different types of campaigns, you may find the winning combination, and keep your donors engaged and interested. 

3. Low or no cost

Don’t think you need to pay hefty fees or give up a portion of what you raise in order to use a fundraising platform. Look for powerful solutions that are also free

The Importance Of Using Social Media Platforms To Support Digital Fundraising Efforts 

We all know that social media is time-consuming, but it supports your nonprofit’s online presence and therefore needs to be a priority. 

social media fundraising

If you want to improve your social presence, or you’re just getting started, we have a snapshot of the best practices to follow to help maximize your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts on social media.

1. Tell your story

To effectively promote your nonprofit on social media, you need to make your brand recognized among the many causes out there. 

Here are the most important content angles: 

  • Success
  • Urgency
  • Statistics
  • Quotes
  • Humor

As a rule of thumb, 4 out of every 5 of your posts should include some form of storytelling. That can include videos, photos, blog posts, news articles, statistics, and quotes. It means you should dedicate only 1 out of 5 posts to a marketing angle. 

Here’s an important angle: Use emotion to tell your story. Persuasion through emotion draws on people’s empathy in order to convince them about a certain cause. 

2. Add visual content

Your story should include visual content like photos or videos, which have been shown to drive higher engagement rates with followers. Photos get more interaction and engagement than links on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, and we know that Pinterest and Instagram are focused on images. Your written content needs to be engaging, but image and video based visual content is becoming the primary source for social media engagement. 

Here’s an example:

Lift the Children, which supports orphanages in Africa, made a video of orphans re-enacting the 1987 NBA Eastern Conference Finals game. It went viral and raised over $10,000 in just a few days.

3. Be mobile friendly

Most of your social media content will likely be viewed on a smartphone or tablet, so make sure that your content is mobile device-friendly. Take time to ensure that what you’re posting will look good on both computers and mobile devices. This will support the remainder of your social media content strategy. While we’re talking mobile friendly, the same holds for your website. Assume that people are clicking through to your website on a mobile device.

4. Stay active 

Your engagement numbers will increase if you’re active on social media. That’s an easy one to understand. The nonprofits who have the capacity to be active on social media will likely have more followers, better engagement rates and higher awareness among followers. The keys to success are quality, consistency and frequency.

Here’s one way to do it.

Posting a question is a great feature because it helps get people more involved with your cause. You can ask anything you want, but people enjoy being heard and giving their feedback – no matter the question.

How A Digital Fundraising Strategist Can Help You Succeed 

You can’t be expected to know everything about digital fundraising. That’s why working with an expert, a digital fundraising strategist, is an ideal way to ensure online fundraising success. 

What is a digital fundraising strategist? It is someone who has an in-depth knowledge of online campaigns and the tools they require to succeed. A digital fundraising strategist will help you develop and implement a long-term strategy that is best for your nonprofit’s needs. Such a strategy will help you raise money online faster and with more reliability.

Here are a few reasons why the expertise of a digital fundraising strategist can help you design an ideal fundraising strategy and make your campaign as successful as possible: 

  1. Good digital fundraising is not a one-time event. It includes many campaigns that work together in a sustainable long-term strategy. A strategist will help you plan ahead to build a fundraising action plan. 
  2. A strategist can help you determine what type of campaign best serves your purpose. Should you run a peer-to-peer campaign, or hold a virtual event? Every campaign comes with challenges, advantages, and best practices, and a strategist has the background to help you pick what’s best.
  3. A strategist can teach you how to tell your story effectively
  4. A strategist will also show you how to boost your campaign’s reach, for instance by growing your community on social media.
  5. A strategist can provide guidance, troubleshooting, and support during your campaign. 
  6. Once the campaign is over, a strategist can coach you on ways to keep your new donors and turn them into advocates.

Be a Success With Digital Fundraising

One way to succeed with your nonprofit campaign is by using a proven platform like Fundrazr. Fundrazr provides digital strategy services free of charge for nonprofits, charities and social enterprises. These services help ensure that our clients reach their goals. We provide the tips, tricks, and education you need to make the most of the platform’s features. That means a bigger audience, greater awareness, and of course, more donations. 
FundRazr works with just about every type of organization in the nonprofit sector. The platform is continually being fine-tuned to ensure it offers the best possible online fundraising tools. Get started for free now!

Crowdfunding Advisors

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