2 min Read
October 22, 2014

Four steps to getting started with online fundraising

I got a call last week from a reporter looking for some basic tips to share with nonprofits who are just getting started with online fundraising. As my brain has been full of efforts to boost donor retention or coordinate successful multichannel campaigns, it was refreshing to take a step back.

The great people at Guidestar and Network for Good have compiled some excellent resources for beginners. You should take a look at those, you know, after reading my tips.

1. Make the case to give to your nonprofit compelling. There are a lot of nonprofits out there, many of whom share a similar mission. Why should a donor give to your organization? What makes you different or better? What will you do with that donation and what results can you offer and share? Bonus: Not sure where to start? See what Sarah has to say about this book by Tom Ahern.

2. Make online giving easy. Finding your donate button should be obvious, and it should be located in the same place throughout your site. Once the donor gets to the donation page, it should be simple and easy. Bonus: Get inspired by this wonderful example of a donation page from Grist and try these donation page optimization tips from Donordigital.

3. Make online giving a trustworthy experience. Use a reputable donation processing tool or Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) system and make sure that what the donor sees on the donation page is similar to what she might see on the thank you screen, email acknowledgment, and even her receipt. If possible, have trust and verification seals on the page. Bonus: Compare options for donor management systems in this handy report by Idealware or read more about online fundraising tools over on the NTEN blog.

4. Make online giving enjoyable. Say thank you right away and follow-up. Some organizations send two emails after a gift—the immediate receipt and one that comes a little later with a more personal message of thanks. Others call the donor or send a handwritten note. People give because it feels good. Keep them feeling good beyond the first ask and you’ll have a much better chance at getting them to give again. (See, retention is still on my mind!) Bonus: Follow these rules for thanking donors by Claire Axelrad. You might also try making a $10 donation to a few of your nonprofit peers; their donors may be your donors—are they doing it better? You can also compare your nonprofit against these recent benchmarks and this lovely infographic from Blackbaud.

Have you been raising money online like a pro and have some other tips to share? Are you just getting started and have a quick question? Comment away!