5 Tips for Optimizing Online Fundraising

Online fundraising campaigns are great ways for associations to finance new programs and initiatives. Here are a few tips from fundraising pros on how to get the most out of an online campaign.

It’s been a big week for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Over the weekend, the group received $24 million from more than 350,000 online donors.

Now, it’s granted that this is a unique moment in history for the ACLU, but I wondered if the group’s fundraising team had anything to do with aiding users to donate. Sure enough, the first time I went to the site, a pop-up with different dollar amounts and a bright red “donate now” button greeted me. The whole transaction probably takes users less than a minute.

ACLU’s donation process is amazingly easy and efficient, and it got me wondering about ways associations can optimize their online fundraising. I talked to two nonprofit fundraisers about just that, and they shared these five tips:

Create a compelling story around your strategy. Perhaps your association needs a hefty amount of money for a website redesign. That might be a worthy endeavor, but it might not be something that donors will be excited to put their dollars behind, said Nadine Gabai-Botero, CFRE, principal and founder of Focus Fundraising, LLC. It’s important to create a compelling narrative that brings donors into the story.

Design an easy-to-use, branded giving page. According to the Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index, a branded giving page yields a larger average gift and gets more users giving than a generic one. David Tinker, VP of advancement at ACHIEVA, a nonprofit for people with disabilities and their families, as well as a distinguished fellow at the Association of Fundraising Professionals, said that organizations should make donation pages and donation buttons clear. He also suggested that you minimize the number of clicks a user has to make to donate—more clicks equals fewer donors.

Make it mobile-friendly. Americans check their phones more than 9 billion times a day, according to a recent Deloitte study. To catch the eyes of those constantly scrolling, your online fundraiser should be optimized for mobile platforms. “You want to make sure it’s easy for someone sitting at home at their laptop or their desktop at the office, but also when they’re out—increasingly on their cell phones—to make that donation,” Tinker said.

Think about the dates. Studies like this one prove that those year-end holidays—Thanksgiving, Hannukah, and Christmas—are traditionally times when people are more apt to give. Scheduling an online fundraiser during Giving Tuesday—the international day of giving that debuted in 2012—is almost a no-brainer. In 2016, nonprofits raised nearly $168 million on Giving Tuesday, according to Whole Whale. Tinker also added: “For those, who are interested in the tax-deductible portion of online giving –or just gift-giving in general—obviously December 31 is an important date.”

Don’t forget the periodic thank you. With online fundraisers, it’s easy to set up an automatic reply with a thank you message that shows up in the donor’s inbox. In addition to that initial thank you message, Tinker said that you want to also send donors messages throughout the year—letting them know how their donations were used and the impact that those donations had. “Make sure that your donor knows that you’ve stewarded the gift well,” Tinker said. “It’s an opportunity to continue to engage the donors, so that they’ll be more inclined to give the next go-around.”

What have you found successful in your online fundraising campaigns? Please leave your comments below.





Emily Bratcher

By Emily Bratcher

Emily Bratcher is a Contributing Editor for Associations Now. MORE

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