2 min Read
May 1, 2014

Three questions you should ask your online fundraising team before you commit

Over the past ten years, the internet has given nonprofits a bucket full of new ways to engage existing and potential donors.  Customized content, campaign-specific donation forms, email series, lightening-fast A/B testing, online petitions, crowdfunding… Even more recently, online automation tools like Hubspot, Act-On and others are opening up additional worlds of options.   The possibilities make my heart beat a little faster, I must admit.

Digital experts and traditional fundraisers alike have all been racing to keep up, and some useful online fundraising ‘best practices’ have emerged. (We know, for example, where that ‘donate’ button should go and how it should look, or how many ‘asks’ your email should probably include).  Sometimes the latest digital ‘best practices’ are really just adaptations of old-school fundraising techniques. Matching gifts, a/b testing, segmentation: these are tactics that are as evergreen as a Douglas fir tree.

So given this veritable shmorgasbord of strategies, tactics and tools, how do you know if the team you’ve assembled to ramp up your nonprofit’s online fundraising is up to snuff? Here are three questions that will help you figure out if you’ve got the right team.

What fundraising experience do you have?

Times and technology may change, but the principles of fundraising remain largely the same. Does your team include people with a track record of successfully cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding individual donors online and off? Remember, ‘online’ is a just one channel to reach people. It’s more important that they are, first and foremost, fundraisers- not techies.

Are you in compliance with charitable registration laws?

Charitable registration laws require nonprofits and, often, the consultants they work with to be registered on a state-by-state basis. Your team should be clear what those laws are, and should be maintaining compliance. Many independent fundraising consultants and some nonprofits overlook these laws, but not being compliant can lead to penalties and major headaches. Need to tackle charitable registration? Look to your state attorney general’s office for guidelines.

How do you keep up with trends and tried-and-true techniques in the online fundraising world?

New principles and practices emerge fast. Make sure your team, whether they are staff, consultants, or an agency you hire, embraces a culture of learning and growth.

Trade associations like the Association of Fundraising Professionals or NTEN are a great place to start. Both provide useful publications, excellent conferences, and professional development events all the time. Through them, you’ll hear recent case studies and research findings, and build a network of peers who can make sure you’re benefiting from what others have already learned.

If you’re in New York, check out Fundraising Day New York, which is coming up on June 27. It’s the single largest fundraising conference all year on the east coast. We’ll see you there!