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12 Effective Ways Nonprofits Can Drive Donations Online

If someone wants to support a cause, they’re likely to donate online. Nonprofits are taking note, and are offering more and more options for ways to digitally donate.

Because of this new focus, revenue from online fundraising grew by 14% in 2016, totaling $28 billion, according to NP Source. That’s a lot of funds to work with.

If you’re a nonprofit looking for creative ways to drive online donations, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled 12 tips to reach donors with engaging content so that you can streamline your giving process:

1. Organize your donation page

How easy is it to donate to your cause online? If the process is complicated, donors won't complete it. That’s why it's important to make the process as simple and quick as possible.

Set up a mini focus group. Ask a few friends to try and make a $1 donation through your site and collect their feedback. What seemed easy to do? How long did the process take? Use their feedback to improve the process.

If you don't have an on-site website designer to help, use an online donation platform like Fundly or Qgiv. These third-party tools can give you the tech-power you need to create an online donation page without a lot of hassle.

2. Leverage social media

By 2019, an estimated 2.77 billion people will use social media. With that kind of audience, you can't afford not to update your social media platforms.

Use your channels to keep donors engaged and informed. Let them know about upcoming events, current needs, donation campaigns, and general news from the industry.

3. Perfect your email

One of the easiest and effective ways to direct donors to your online giving page is through email. Email accounted for 26% of all online revenue in 2016, according to M+R Benchmark 2017 Benchmark Study on Digital Advocacy.

When you create an email, explain your goal and show the human side of your cause. Who do you help? How? Here's a great example from the Red Cross. They not only explain how they help people, but also explains how Lowe's will match donations for a short period of time.

 

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4. Optimize for mobile

As you create and send emails, make sure they look great on every device. People rely on their mobile device, so sending an email that fits the small screen is paramount.

How do you make sure your emails are mobile ready? Turn to an email service provider that has mobile-friendly templates ready for you to use. The templates have a "responsive design," which means they adapt to any device and look great on every screen.

5. Embrace peer-to-peer fundraising

Want some help raising funds? (Who doesn't, right?) Try peer-to-peer fundraising. This method lets your donors fundraise for you.

Let's say a local company wants to challenge its employees to raise money for your cause. Each employee creates a peer-to-peer giving page; similar to the one below, to encourage their friends and family help them reach a personal goal.

 

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It's a digital, grassroots way to reach more donors and give your donations a boost at the same time.

6. Use high-quality, compelling images

Images tell a story. Consider using images of those you help. Get permission first, of course, but pictures of real people can inspire donors to act.

Use images that work for your organization. If you can't show pictures of clients, take pictures of employees helping or scour stock photo galleries for photos that are compelling.

Take a look at this impactful email from UNICEF that relies on images. The pictures are so powerful you don't even have to read the text to know that this nonprofit is trying to help children in need.

 

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7. Use website pop-ups

Pop-ups get a bad rep. Contrary to popular belief, pop-ups are effective and don't scare donors away. A tasteful pop-up that appears before a website visitors leaves the site, for example, is a great way to encourage a donation. Here's how The Humane Society incorporates a pop-up on its website:

 

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8. Share valuable content

Keep donors engaged by sharing valuable content. Research suggests short videos, blog posts, and emails are preferred. The idea is to offer donors the information they need in bite-sized pieces that are quick and easy to read.

If you're putting together a video, stick with videos that are two minutes or less. For blog posts, you can use your best judgment, but 300-500 words is a good target to hit. Emails should be concise and compelling.

9. Follow trends

Keep an eye on trends and join the conversation when it's appropriate.

For instance, in October 2017 when headlines were covering the alleged sexual misconduct of Hollywood producer, Harvey Weinstein, women all over shared their stories of abuse on social media using the hashtag, #MeToo.

During that time, UNICEF, an organization that helps girls who are victims of sexual violence, joined the conversation. Here's an email that was sent out: 

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10. Create a recurring giving campaign

Rather than rely on one-time donations, encourage a more steady flow of donations with recurring giving campaigns. Let donors give on a monthly basis, for example. Donors could have $5 a month drawn out of their account on the first of every month, for example.

Recurring donations aren't for everyone, so you'll want to segment your donors and offer different donation opportunities to each group. Invite donors to participate via email, and mention the program on your website and social channels as well.

11. Recognize your supporters quickly and often

When people volunteer, donate, or support for your cause, show your appreciation. It's important for supporters to feel valued.

When a donation drive ends, let people know if you met or exceeded your goal on social media and via email. If a supporter says something positive about your organization on Facebook, say thanks, and send handwritten thank you notes to your big supporters.

12. Update donors and prospects

It's important to reach out to supporters on a regular basis, not just when you're in need of funds. Keep supporters in the loop by creating a regular newsletter that's full of interesting articles, fun facts, and success stories. Here's a great newsletter from the Red Cross that has a great variety of content, including articles and videos:

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Armed with these 12 tips, you'll be able to drive more online donations. To stay on track this year, check out Campaign Monitor's infographic of the information above so you can access the tips at a glance.