The popularity of online fundraising was already on the rise before COVID; Blackbaud reports that online fundraising has grown 17% in the U.S. since 2016. Now COVID lockdowns have shattered fundraising expectations for nonprofits who rely heavily on special events, admissions, and fees for service to fill out their budgets. As a result, nonprofits are being challenged to quickly and effectively pivot fundraising efforts to the online space. Here are some of our best tips for success.
Choose your platform wisely.
Simplicity and security are key when it comes to choosing the right online giving platform or payment processor. Donors want to feel secure in making their online transactions. Your selected donation platform should have robust encryption technology and your organization’s systems should be secured with firewalls and relevant technology to ensure that donor lists remain secure.
Simplicity is also critical. Your donate button should feature prominently on your website and in online communications; the online giving process should require the least steps possible so your donors don’t get frustrated and throw in the towel. Finally, since many givers use their phones rather than a desktop (24% in 2018, reports Blackbaud), make sure your website and online giving portals are optimized for mobile. And, don’t forget to factor processing fees into your overall consideration of which platform works best for you.
Get your Charitable Solicitation Registrations in order.
It goes without saying that in any endeavor, you should make sure you are above-board and compliant with all legal and regulatory requirements. Many nonprofits don’t know that to engage in fundraising activities, it’s not simply enough to be registered as a nonprofit. Currently, 41 states and the District of Columbia require nonprofits engaged in fundraising to file a charitable solicitation registration. This applies to any form of solicitation, whether online or in-person. However, charitable solicitation registration filings can be avoided in some states based on certain exemptions and exceptions.
Tell a story.
We all are in the nonprofit business because we are passionate about our respective missions. But sometimes we get so focused on what we are doing to forward that mission that we forget about what matters most to our donors. Your donors want to know that their contributions are making a difference, changing lives, and doing good.
Every good fundraising campaign is accompanied by the stories of those whose lives are being transformed by your work. Tell your donors about more than what you are doing; how is your nonprofit making an impact, doing good, changing lives? Photos and graphic illustrations of quantitative data are also powerful and can enhance the readability of your fundraising campaign content.
Make your donors feel appreciated.
Donor stewardship doesn’t end with shaking hands at your annual gala. You don’t know which $100 online contributor may become your next major donor. With careful and caring stewardship of your online donors, you are building a treasure chest for long-term stability. This includes sending timely thank yous and delivering regular updates and reporting on your progress to build trust with your donors and ensure that your organization remains front-of-mind.
Ellis Carter is a nonprofit lawyer with Caritas Law Group, P.C. licensed to practice in Washington and Arizona. Ellis advises nonprofit and socially responsible businesses on corporate, tax, and fundraising regulations nationwide. Ellis also advises donors with regard to major gifts. To schedule a consultation with Ellis, call 602-456-0071 or email us through our contact form.