The following article by Fundraising Authority founder Joe Garecht first appeared as a guest post on The Guidestar Blog:
Gone are the days when non-profits wonder if they really can raise money online. Case studies, news reports and personal experiences have shown that organizations can raise significant amounts of money through websites, e-mail, crowdfunding campaigns and other online strategies.
For many non-profits, though, significant online revenue has remained out of reach. Often, these organizations have placed a “donate now” button on their website and gotten involved with social media, but still aren’t seeing the returns they had hoped for from their online fundraising activities. Developing the right strategy can help non-profits of all sizes raise more money online with less stress and hassle.
Here are things you can do to significantly boost your online fundraising starting today:
#1: Focus on E-Mail
The “sexiest” online fundraising strategies today are crowdfunding and social media. But the true workhorse of online fundraising has always been – and continues to be – e-mail. E-mail remains the only truly active online fundraising strategy for non-profit organizations.
People come and go on your website, and you never know who they are. You send out Facebook updates and Tweet every hour on the hour, but 90% of your followers never see your messages. But almost everyone checks their e-mail inbox every day. E-mail offers your non-profit the best way to engage with your donors and prospects online.
For this reason, everything you do online should be geared towards collecting e-mail addresses. Your website should include an e-mail newsletter sign-up box front and center on every page. Your social media updates should constantly drive people back to your website, where they can sign-up for your e-mail newsletter. Collect e-mail addresses relentless, and use them to stay in touch and raise money from your donors on a regular basis.
#2: Make Your Website a Living, Breathing Hub for Your Donors
Do your donors have any real reason to visit your website on a regular basis? For most organizations, the answer is no. If you want to make the most out of your non-profit’s web presence, you need to create a website that keeps donors and prospects coming back week after week and month after month.
The best way to accomplish this goal is to keep your website constantly updated with information your donors want to see. You can include updates on your work, stories from the field, staff, client and donor profiles, videos and pictures, event information… anything and everything a donor or prospect might be interested in seeing.
Then, remind your donors about the wealth of information on your site. Refer them there constantly in your newsletters, e-mails, on social media, and at events. Make your website a place donors want to visit, because they know they will find something new and interesting every time they come by.
#3: Spend 15 Minutes per Day, per Social Media Network
One of the top reasons why non-profits get disillusioned with social media is because they feel like they don’t get a lot from it in return for the many hours they spend updating, posting, following and liking. Here’s the thing… you don’t need to spend a ton of time on social media to reap relatively significant benefits for your fundraising activities.
My advice to non-profits is to spend exactly 15 minutes on each social media site they are involved with, every day from Monday through Friday. Thus, if your non-profit is on Facebook and Twitter, you should be spending a total of 30 minutes on social media each day. If you are also on Google+ and Pinterest, that investment of time would jump to 60 minutes per day.
Why 15 minutes per day, per social media network? Because 15 minutes is enough time to post a couple of updates and engage with your followers, without being so long that you are wasting time doing things that don’t provide any rewards. When coupled with my advice above to focus much of your social media activity on driving people to your website to hand over their e-mail address, 15 minutes is the perfect amount of time to provide maximum return on your social media investment.
Wise non-profits know that there are amazing opportunities to meet, cultivate, solicit and steward donors online. Use the three strategies outlined above to make sure your organization is reaping the greatest possible rewards from your online activities.
Photo Credit: Sascha