For most nonprofit organizations, fundraising is something that touches almost every area of their organization. NPO's and NGO's often use the term development because there is a continuous system that cultivates engagement for each area of the organization. Ultimately, all of those avenues of impact engage people toward a goal that ends with financial support. This is why whole teams of staff and volunteers are dedicated to development, keeping the organization focused on working toward its mission.
For many nonprofits, this has meant planning their events year-round to promote their mission and vision. A silent (or not-so-silent) auction, a black-tie gala, a race for a cure, an art exhibition, baked goods sale, gift matching campaign — you name it — it has been used in development practices. Unfortunately, when the COVID-19 pandemic came to a head in March of 2020, many nonprofits had to cancel, reschedule, or find a virtual alternative for their most lucrative events, devastating their funding projections for the year.
The Digital Landscape
According to a study on "The Impact of COVID-19 on Large and Mid-Sized Nonprofits," 53% of nonprofits reported a reduction in annual giving since the pandemic began. For nonprofits to keep up, they've had to adapt to a primarily digital world of fundraising. In recent years, the growth of social media and the expansion of low-threshold campaigns have quietly lived in digital fundraising efforts. Many nonprofits had already begun to implement digital marketing strategies as an asset to their fundraising efforts. Sadly, the pandemic is leaving those unable to quickly adapt in the dust.
Just like digital marketing, digital fundraising is about reaching the right person, at the right time, with the right message. Think about the reality of a Kickstarter campaign. Once, products needed a deep-pocketed investor and many programs required government support to go forward. Now, through digital fundraising platforms like Kickstarter or GoFundMe, you can get a larger number of smaller donations that add up to big bucks. That's why the right message, at the right time, to the right person, makes such a difference.
The Time is Ripe to Reach People
That's why, especially now, there is so much power in reaching the individual through digital engagement in our society. In addition to propelling you through this time of social distancing and limited capacities, digital marketing can make your organization more efficient. In a time where staffs are lean, time is short, and finances are tight, you can build a campaign with multiple opportunities for your donors can give.
Digital marketing for nonprofits requires building an online community through nurturing your audience toward actions they can take from wherever they're at. By exhibiting compelling content, you'll be able to influence new people to become a part of that community. Here are five of the most helpful digital marketing strategies to implement into your development plan for 2021.
Create a User-Friendly Online Development Platform
Individual donations are essential to fundraising, and you'll want to make it as easy as possible for people to give. Provide an easy-to-use online donation platform that reduces any barriers to giving. Whether you're using a third-party fundraising site like GoFundMe or you have a more sophisticated e-commerce-style set-up on your website, make sure it's intuitive and simple. Your donation page should be easy to navigate to from several pages on your website and should allow you to capture donors' information in the process so that you can continue to nurture them.
The best donation pages include several options of standard amounts to donate, as well as an option to donate an amount of your choosing. It should also allow the opportunity to contribute once or on a recurring basis. You also will need to designate a notes section or the opportunity to give to a specific need. People today are very interested in where and how their donation is being used; ensuring that transparency is an essential part of your campaign. Successful platforms also request an email for their receipt and offer the option to opt in to future email updates from your organization.
Develop a Social Media Strategy
Social media is a great way to build awareness for your organization and reach new audiences. The real kicker? It allows you to spread your message even on a small budget. Using social media begins with identifying your goals – what you're hoping to get out of using it.
Are you looking to quickly boost immediate donations or build relationships with potential long-term donors? Your goal will set the tone for your target audience, the social channels you use, and how you craft your messaging and graphics. Social media works best when you've developed a strategy and a consistent posting schedule.
You can also use paid social media aids to target specific audiences who are already interested in the cause you serve, or those who have searched for nonprofits on the internet in the past. It's also great for helping you engage with your online community, as you're able to quickly and immediately have conversations with your followers.
Utilize Email Marketing
Email is an effective way to nurture your online community and convert leads into donors. A successful email marketing strategy begins with building a healthy email list. More than likely, you already have some emails of people who've donated, businesses that have sponsored your events, volunteers, and so forth. Start there, then seek to add new, potential leads to your list.
One of the most effective strategies is called information capture. This allows new people to be added to your email list by clicking a subscribe CTA (call-to-action). This may mean subscribing to your newsletter, blog, or providing their email in exchange for something of value to them (commonly called a content offer), such as a white paper, toolkit, or infographic. From your overall list, you can create groups you want to target with specific messaging.
Pro Tip: Your message to someone who's been regularly donating for ten years will be different from your message to someone who's just been introduced to your organization.
Make your emails personal when possible, addressing the recipient by name and sending from a return email address that belongs to a real person. Most importantly, create clear CTAs that lead people to take action with your organization, whether that means donating or signing up for something.
Leverage Your Networks
You already know how to do this in person, and you can do it online, too! You can use other websites and people you know to help you get the word out. First, get listed on online databases such as Great Nonprofits, Volunteer Match, Guidestar, and more. Make sure you can be found when people are searching online for nonprofits like yours.
You can also ask your donors and volunteers to help spread the word by sharing their support on social media. Your supporters are connected with other like-minded people who could become future donors as well. Remember the amplification factors of platforms like social media. When your community posts and the people in your community share those messages, it has a ripple effect. Your message can be targeted to specific demographics through paid efforts as well, so make sure your content is engaging and on-point. These are just a few ways to use your network to amplify your organization's presence in the digital world; you might need to try out a few methods to see which one has the best return on your effort.
Attract New Donors with Compelling Content
You've likely heard of content marketing, but maybe you haven't heard of it in the context of nonprofit development. The idea is that you provide people with content they find valuable, leading them to trust you, align with your values and eventually support you. Maybe it's a heart-tugging video that speaks to your mission, a blog that eloquently describes a trend in your industry or a brochure that explores an issue in-depth. These types of content pieces draw in people who are interested in the impact you're making but may not know the specifics about how your organization fulfills its mission.
Rather than showing people an ad that immediately implores them to donate, give them entertainment, new knowledge, or helpful tips. This will help you build relationships with audiences who are most likely to want to contribute to your organization in the future. Remember that digital development still takes the wooing period that traditional development does. It will be a longer and more productive relationship if you court your donor base rather than go the one-and-done route.
Need more resources to design and implement your digital fundraising strategy? PRIME has the tools and expertise to help you. Contact us to see how we can help you adapt and move forward.
If you enjoyed this edition of PRIME Pulse, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- 4 Steps Toward a Better Content Marketing Strategy
- 5 Reasons Your Website is Never Really Done
- 10 Ways to Communicate Empathy and Authority Amidst Crisis
- 4 Reasons Your Messaging is Falling Flat
- The How-To on Facebook Marketing Campaigns