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Guest blog by John Killoran, an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations.
Virtual fundraisers are excellent ways to drive your mission forward throughout 2021 and beyond.
Over the past year, virtual fundraising events have become popular due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are here to stay.
According to this resource, online fundraising revenue has increased by 23% over the past year, up from 15%. Take advantage of this uptick as it continues to rise!
Virtual fundraising opportunities help your nonprofit raise money and maintain donor relationships. Engaging digital events have the potential to attract new donors from areas of the world where you might not have reached with a physical event. Additionally, they work to keep your existing supporters invested in your cause.
No matter how compelling your idea is for your virtual fundraiser, you won’t be able to entice participants and maintain momentum without a promotional strategy. Once your team sets your goals for your virtual fundraiser, develop an actionable plan. Here are a few best practices:
- Develop an online registration page
- Market on multiple platforms
- Encourage sharing across platforms
Let’s jump into some promotion techniques for your nonprofit’s virtual fundraiser.
Develop an online registration page
According to Snowball’s virtual fundraising guide, an effective online registration form for your fundraiser is a critical component of your marketing strategy. It should be straightforward and easily accessible to help your fundraiser gather the largest possible audience. Mainly because your fundraiser is taking place in the virtual space, you want an excellent online presence, starting with your registration form.
Providing an online registration page rather than collecting signup information one by one can help increase registration and provide your team with succinct attendance data all in one place. This data can be used easily to provide your marketing team with actionable insights about your supporters going forward. Here’s how you can make the best registration page possible:
- Use customized donation pages. Ensure your event registration tool contains customizable forms. This way, you can brand your page to the look and feel of your organization.
- Ask for information to find out more about your attendees. On your form, be sure to ask essential questions that will guide your future outreach tactics and build out your attendees’ profiles. For example, you may want to ask how attendees found out about your virtual event or what kind of device they’ll use to attend.
- Use a secure payment processor. Ensure your registration software includes an integrated payment processor. This way, attendees won’t have to go to multiple websites to register for your virtual event. With a trusted payment processor, you can ensure that all transactions and data are secure.
Building a strong online event registration form is relatively low-effort and provides pertinent data for your marketing team. Now that you have your landing page built out, it’s time to draw users to your site.
Market on multiple platforms
To publicize your virtual event registration form, make use of a multichannel marketing approach. Evaluate your existing supporter audience to determine which channels would be most effective. Then, include an excellent call-to-action in all of your marketing materials. Let’s discuss a few of the most effective outreach channels to promote virtual fundraising events like yours.
Sending out physical invitations via direct mail is a great way to raise awareness about your upcoming event and keep your mission top of mind. Organizations can mistakenly overlook direct mail due to a belief that the channel is out of date. However, this isn’t the case. Sending a physical invitation to your virtual fundraiser stands out amidst the clutter online.
According to Snowball’s guide to online fundraising events, there are some time-tested best practices to abide by in order to maximize the success of a direct mail strategy, including:
- Addressing donor by name, rather than writing “Dear Donor,”
- Combine your direct mail strategy with a digital mail strategy
- Use your mail to show appreciation for donors
With these best practices, you’ll catch your supporter’s eye and leave a lasting impression that will likely lead to another virtual fundraiser attendee!
Sending an email is an excellent communication method with donors due to how streamlined and straightforward it is to send them out. Your team can take the email addresses stored in your CRM and send personalized, automated invitations to hundreds of supporters at once. Plus, you can entice your readers with features such as:
- Eye-catching calls-to-action
- Engaging subject lines
- Personal touches, like using the donors’ names and referencing their engagement history with your organization
With these simple additions, your email invites will be as effective as possible. Maximize personalization in your email communications by segmenting your audience into groups based on shared characteristics.
This strategy allows you to send targeted messages to your supporters based on commonalities like giving history, engagement history, and past event attendance, among others.
Your organization likely runs a few social media profiles. Having a presence on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter makes it easy to inform supporters about future virtual fundraising events.
Again, regardless of platform, make sure to begin marketing your event well in advance. We recommend starting a few months beforehand so supporters can plan ahead. For example, if you’re hosting a virtual auction fundraiser, your team can post a new and exciting item each week leading up to the auction.
Remember, not all social media platforms are the same. Before posting, your team should consider:
- Your audience on the platform
- What native content looks like on each site
- What message you’re communicating across the platforms
For example, your team would not have identical posts for Facebook and Twitter. These can come across as generic and may lead to supporters’ unfollowing your accounts. You want to gain your audience’s attention and trust through your social media presence. Let’s briefly review a few social media platforms that your nonprofit can use to promote your event.
Instagram’s platform is all about posting visual content like images and videos. This is perfect for showing off visuals that will excite your viewers about your upcoming event. You can use Instagram posts to:
- Share photos of your organization’s staff or volunteers wearing your branded gear
- Repost pictures of your supporters wearing your organization’s gear
- Show your community the perks of attending your virtual fundraising event
- Communicate how funds help support your mission via an informational video
Regardless of what you choose to post to Instagram, link to your campaign’s registration page in your Instagram profile so that it’s easy for viewers to click through and make a contribution or RSVP to your event.
Your Facebook audience likely spans a wider age range than some other platforms. Your team can use this platform to post long-form text posts, short announcements, or enticing visuals pertaining to your event.
Furthermore, you can create an event page for your virtual fundraising event that users can like and share with their own followings. When users engage with the Facebook event, their followers are notified, thus promoting your event to an even wider audience.
Twitter primarily uses short-form posts and simple images to communicate with followers. Unlike Facebook, the 140-character limit will prohibit long posts. Your team can effectively use Twitter by:
- Tweeting a link to your virtual fundraising page
- Posting an invitation graphic to draw attention to your event
- Tweet images of your staff and supporters attending previous virtual events
With these tactics, you’ll be able to produce content native to Twitter’s platform and easily market your online event.
Your team can easily create content across physical and digital channels to gain support and attendees for your virtual fundraiser. By leveraging a multichannel strategy and posting enticing content, you’ll be sure to take advantage of all these outlets have to offer.
Encourage sharing across platforms
Ideally, your social media followers would promote and share your virtual fundraising event to their social circles. After all, a virtual fundraiser’s benefit is that supporters can participate from anywhere in the world. Social media makes it easier than ever to share event pages, stories, and invitations to fundraisers with a click of a button.
Here are ways to attract more digital donors and attendees through social media sharing:
- Incentivize sharing with some friendly competition on your social media platform
- Create shareable events on Facebook
- Determine what times are best to post on each platform based on audience engagement metrics
By encouraging your social media audience to share your virtual fundraiser information, you’re able to reach a broader audience of potential supporters than before!
These best marketing practices will help you effectively communicate information about your next virtual fundraiser and attract donors and attendees alike. Using a multichannel marketing strategy and providing a straightforward user experience on your organization’s site, you’ll gain the key information needed to make actionable insights and better understand your supporters throughout your virtual fundraiser. Good luck!
About the author: John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations.
Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.
How to Build Your Nonprofit Email List Using Your Website & Social Media
Your email list is essentially the communicative lifeblood of your nonproﬁt.
Okay, that was a little dramatic, but seriously, your nonproﬁt needs a robust and plentiful email list to continue engaging your community and garnering support.
But how does your nonproﬁt go about building this active email list, you might ask?
Via your nonproﬁt’s website and social media proﬁles of course!
J Campbell Social Marketing has partnered with Elevation to bring you this free guide to building your nonprofit email list, using the tools that you already have!