Build it and they will come, right? Well, maybe. But chances are, no.
How can you expect donors to find your organization and contribute if you don’t make them aware of your campaigns? You need to promote. That’s fundraising 101.
Since it’s a relatively new medium, the standards and best practices are still shifting and solidifying. Nonprofit professionals simply just don’t have the historical data and knowledge they have for say, direct mail campaigns.
If you’re one of those professionals, stop right here.
Below, you’ll find three ideas for promoting online fundraising campaigns to donors.
Rather than focusing on solely the beginning of the process, these ideas each address a phase of campaign communications: choosing and organizing your prospects, reaching out, and retaining the donors.
#1: Choosing and Organizing Your Prospects
Online fundraising is a great asset and tool for fundraisers. With the ever growing importance of millennial donors especially, nonprofits are constantly trying to think up ways to reach prospects on their home turf.
However, your online community is vast and more diverse than you might think. Ideally, you’ll want more than your most statistically active internet users contributing to your online campaigns. That’s where donor segmentation comes in.
We all know better than to treat our donors like an amorphous blob. Donor segmentation can help you personalize communications without sacrificing large chunks of time and funding that your organization doesn’t have.
Segmenting your online campaign targets will help diversify who you’re reaching and your varied success in securing those you reach.
Let me explain why.
Even if a supporter’s first choice isn’t donating online, that doesn’t mean that donor is incapable of doing so. If you have your donors segmented by, say, preferred communication method, you can adjust for preferences like that.
Take your segment of donors that opt for direct mail and include a call-to-action for your online fundraising campaign within a package you send out.
Although it might be more work for a prospect to become a donor after learning about your online campaign via direct mail versus email, a supporter can’t contribute to something he doesn’t know about. When history says he doesn’t read email, that means he’s not going to read email. One plus one always equals two. Never three.
Embrace a cross-platform approach to marketing.
More fundraising outlets should mean more opportunities, they shouldn’t be limiting you in new and unexciting ways.
#2: Reaching Out
What’s a universal benefit of the internet? Ease.
Donating online is easier for the average donor. Likewise, fundraising online should be easier for the people running campaigns. And it can be.
Make sure you are getting the most out of your CRM. Donor database software can help you run a campaign from start to finish, down to automating communications, like emails and online newsletters.
There’s a fluidity to using a CRM as your campaign central. In theory, if you have a well-run database, the process should go as follows:
- Segment your donors within your database
- Automate mailings to selected donors
- Track responses
- Send out acknowledgments to participating donors
- Generate reports on campaign results to review and improve upon
By using a database for support, you’re eliminating human error and helping ensure that prospects and donors don’t fall through the cracks. From tracking employer details so you can promote matching gifts during the campaign to storing correct addresses for each contact, every detail is equally important and easy to overlook without the right support systems in place, like a database.
Guarantee that your communications will be more targeted and efficient.
#3: Retaining the Donors
When talking about getting the word out about online fundraising campaigns, it seems a bit counterintuitive to include a discussion of donor retention, but it should not.
The way you approach donor retention in the larger scheme of things is going to affect your ability to promote current and impending online campaigns.
Strong stewardship is at the core of any donor retention program.
Top-notch donor retention efforts are important to have in your corner for the promotion of any campaign, certainly including online ones.
You inherently lose some of the personal touch of fundraising when a campaign goes online, so if you can impress donors with your stewardship, even through a layer of internet disconnect, you’ll be in good shape to keep those donors around.
Your post-campaign acknowledgements are going to be crucial. It’s also a good idea to survey the donors who participated and, in general, learn all you can about them. With that knowledge stored in your CRM, you’ll be better situated for your next campaign.
A donor network is a growing entity. With online campaigns in particular, it is crucial that you ground your results and begin to form bonds with supporters.
Looking forward to how all this work in the present will play out in the future, think back to items one and two on this list.
As good a predictor as additional donor data can be, consider how much more accurate your solicitations to donors you’ve worked with in the past can be. It’s the difference between classroom and real world experience. Classroom learning is a vital component to education, but it isn’t until you starting implementing your knowledge in the real world that you become functionally proficient with the subject matter.
Your real world knowledge of retained donors is going to be your guidepost for future campaign communications. It will help you segment in the best way possible and make communication dissemination that much easier.
Imagine that your online fundraising campaign promotional process is a revolving door.
Choosing and organizing your prospects is likened to the way people shuffle into the door’s pie-shaped compartments, reaching out is the physical act of walking through the half circle, and retention is timing the exit perfectly. Each phase relies on the one that came before it to keep the cycle going smoothly.
We’ve all had the awkward moment where we had to eke out of the circle a little too late or had the person in the next compartment walk way too fast. Regulate the cycle with proper communication so your donors don’t experience that.
Gretchen Barry, Director of Marketing at NonProfitEasy, has been a leader in corporate communications and marketing for 20+ years. Gretchen has published numerous articles related to charitable giving and is a passionate advocate for public schools. Gretchen has donated her time to numerous causes including Relay for Life, Girls on the Run, Rebuilding Together, and just recently became involved with the local land trust. Gretchen graduated from the University of Nevada with a degree in English literature.
Do you need a step-by-step guide to creating digital storytelling campaigns?
You are in luck!
Sign up and get a free chapter of my new book, Storytelling in the Digital Age: A Guide for Nonprofits. This book is designed to be a step-by-step how-to guide for small and mid-size nonprofits that want to learn how to set goals, measure results, and carry out amazingly successful digital storytelling campaigns!
When you sign up, you will also receive my free weekly bulletin with tips, tricks, and advice for savvy nonprofits on how to kick butt at online marketing and fundraising.