By Megan Bennett
Fundraising has always been about making a clear case for need, telling a story, and creating a method for saying thank you while growing the relationship with a donor so they give again and, hopefully, with a larger commitment each time.
That’s the basics of fundraising, and while raising money for your organization online has its nuances, the basics are the same. Why then is digital fundraising so mystifying to so many nonprofit professionals? The answer is simple: it’s new and requires a whole new set of technical skills.
The opportunities for communicating with donors has exploded over the last 10 years and there is no sign of them slowing down anytime soon. Your case for need may be made by email one way, on Facebook another, and on Instagram and TikTok in yet another way.
Where once direct mail or email worked best for storytelling and nurturing your donor base, text message marketing and donations through Apple Pay may now be the clear winner in terms of response.
Big technological leaps will keep happening. Consider the fact that the technology already exists for a personal ask or thank you to donors through a VR headset. Can holograms to your donors be far behind?
There’s a lot to digest with this ever-changing and ever-evolving landscape. But it’s worth at least learning the basics. There are simple best practices and strategies that a savvy fundraiser can employ to reach his or her perfect donor more frequently and less expensively than ever before.
For example, while direct mail will always have its place, every development team has longed for a way to measure open rates of their mailed end-of-year letters. Employing digital fundraising tactics paired with direct mail can offer ways to not only measure how well your campaign is going, but allows you to learn a great deal about your donors, too.
Here are some initial tips to get you started with your own digital fundraising journey:
- Identify where your ideal supporters are most likely to “hang out.” Are they on social media and if so, what platform do they spend the most time on? Do they respond to email or are they more likely to pay attention to text messages or direct mail? Having a good idea of who your people are and how they like to communicate will help keep your organization from being too segmented. This is especially important when you have a small staff.
- It’s impossible to be in all places at all times, even for the largest and most well-funded organization. Even if your donor base is spread out evenly on social platforms and communicate well through multiple methods, pick one or two and stick with them. Creating content for social media, email, blogs, direct mail, podcasts, YouTube channel, etc., can become very overwhelming very quickly. Just because you can and your audience is there, doesn’t mean you should be everywhere. Work in the spaces you’re most comfortable and skilled and perfect that first.
- Be consistent. Create a plan and have a strategy in place. Again, start small.
- Keep the conversation going. If you’ve committed to sharing regular updates on a social platform, make sure you’re checking back in on posts to engage with people who have commented on and shared what you’ve posted. There’s nothing worse than being talked to and not with. Your engagement is an opportunity to talk with potential donors and let them learn more about your organization.
- Mix up your content. Not every post or email or text should be an ask for money. Tell your story, share news, give potential donors a chance to see the good you do each day. Your digital strategy should focus heavily on building relationships so that when you do make an ask your followers will be all in and ready to help.
We’ll break down the basics of digital fundraising with the “Intro to Digital Fundraising” course starting on September 30. This course is meant for true beginners with a goal of learning why digital fundraising is important and how a fundraising professional can take the first steps into this exciting new world.
Megan Bennett is the founder and CEO of Socially Acceptable, an Indianapolis-based social media marketing firm. She has a diverse background in nonprofit and for-profit marketing with experience in a wide range of disciplines including copywriting, advertising and donor relations.
In 2013 Megan opened Socially Acceptable to help small businesses and nonprofit organizations tell their stories through social media. Her company also assists clients by creating exciting digital campaigns that are designed to engage customers, donors and supporters.