With the advent of online fundraising, more and more people are turning to the internet to help raise awareness for their cause and raise money to fund their projects.
One of the most common ways to do that is through crowdfunding! Crowdfunding is a strategy that everyone from large organizations to individuals can use, simply by asking their community and the communities of their friends and families to contribute to a cause.
True fundraising genius comes from combining online fundraising and crowdfunding. Online crowdfunding allows you to reach more people than you ever could before, thanks to easy social sharing. No longer is geographic distance a barrier to sharing.
So how can you make sure that you’re reaching your highest fundraising potential while keeping in mind the strengths and weaknesses of your platform? To get you started, we’ve created a list of our favorite tech-savvy ways to connect with donors and then keep them engaged.
Our top 5 tips are:
- Reach supporters where they are.
- Use email marketing.
- Create a mission statement.
- Hold an online giving day.
- Say thank you.
Online fundraising may seem intimidating—the entire world is your audience!—but with some smart strategies, you can get your campaign up, running, and funded in no time at all. Let’s get started.
1. Reach supporters where they are.
There are two types of online marketing: active and passive. This first tip is all about passive marketing—which may seem boring but is anything but! This just means that you have to put your crowdfunding campaign up for people to see naturally.
The best way to do this is to get the word out on the sites that your potential audience likes to frequent anyway. Not many people are going to be casually surfing crowdfunding websites. Instead, you have to meet them where they are.
And where they are is on social media! Social media is not just for young people, no matter what popular stereotypes are out there—everyone, young and old, likes to use social media to keep up with their friends, hear about current events, and interact with each other.
The easiest way to get the word out about your online fundraising campaign is to put your campaign up where people can read about your mission and share your campaign page among their friends and families.
So where do you need to be, and what do you need to do? Pick out the most popular social media platforms for your target audience, and then consider the specific benefits of using that platform!
- Facebook is a huge social media platform. How many friends do you have that don’t use Facebook? This platform is especially useful for crowdfunding campaigns because of its capacity to display images and videos, as well as collect donations straight through the platform itself!
- Instagram is another important player in the world of social media. The emphasis on images allows you to employ visual storytelling while linking your online donation page in the description!
- Twitter is special among social media platforms because of its content limitations and tendency to produce viral content. Imagine how much impact your campaign could have if a tweet including your text-to-give number went viral and a million people were suddenly exposed to it!
Consider the demographics of your target audience and where they spend their time online. Then, pick a few platforms, create some stand-out content, and you’re off!
2. Use email marketing to share your campaign page or donation platform.
Part two of your marketing campaign for your crowdfunding page should be active marketing, where you send out content to people specifically regarding your crowdfunding campaign!
Email has a higher return on investment than social media does, but it does require having a list of people to send emails to. So how can you create a stand-out email strategy that you can then use to convert into donors to your campaign?
There are a few different ways!
- If you have a blog related to the mission of your fundraising campaign, include a lead capture form on your website. Offer visitors something cheap but valuable, like an ebook, a white paper, or some other research in exchange for their email address.
- Offer ways for followers to send you their email addresses in exchange for more content like the articles and updates you post on social media. This could be educational content, news updates, opinion or advice pieces, or more—just send it over email!
- If you’re crowdfunding for an established organization, they more than likely have a database of supporters, donors, and volunteers. Send the crowdfunding page to those people—they’ve already demonstrated their interest in your cause!
Now that you’ve got your list, you have to focus on what you’ll be sending them. The key is a balance of valuable educational content and fundraising asks. Your subscribers will be frustrated if they signed up for a newsletter and all they get are asks for donations!
Following some email marketing and fundraising letters best practices like ensuring mobile optimization, including images and videos, and employing strong storytelling techniques can all also improve your conversion rates.
3. Create a mission statement.
Scientific papers have abstracts, movies have taglines, and novels have back-cover blurbs. While these smaller explanations don’t demonstrate the complexity or entirety of something, they do get people interested and curious to know more.
This is exactly why any fundraising cause needs a mission statement! If you have and actively use a mission statement, you’ll be prepared to give anyone who asks an elevator pitch about your fundraising mission and answer any questions.
But what goes into your mission statement?
- Who: Who are you? Who are you helping?
- What: What is the problem you’re trying to solve?
- Where: Where is this issue happening? Where will this fundraising campaign take you?
- When: When did the issue begin, and when will it end?
- Why: Why does this cause matter to you, and why should it matter to your supporters?
These questions will help you get to the real heart of your cause and then communicate it to others. A common mistake is to let it get too long, though! Your mission statement should be powerful and concise.
Once you’ve nailed down a serious statement, use it everywhere! Include it prominently on your fundraising page. Post it on all of your social media accounts. Your mission statement can take casual followers, intrigue them, and then convince them to become full-blown supporters!
4. Hold an online giving day.
One of the primary reasons that crowdfunding campaigns don’t do as well as they should is because there isn’t a sense of urgency behind them. If your supporters don’t feel like there’s a pressing reason for them to give right then at that moment, they might decide to do it later.
Unfortunately, we all know how that turns out. “I’ll do it later” turns into “Whoops, I forgot” turns into “Oh, is that still happening?” And you don’t want that to happen to your crowdfunding campaign!
So how can you build urgency and importance into your fundraising asks so that people feel inspired to give as soon as they see your campaign page?
Try holding an online giving day! This idea is styled after the success of #GivingTuesday: set a 24-hour period during which donors help you reach either a percentage or all of your fundraising goal. You need three things to plan an online giving day:
- A day important or meaningful to your cause on which to hold the giving day.
- A marketing campaign including email information, a set goal, and a fun hashtag or slogan.
- Gamification tools like a fundraising thermometer so that donors can see how close or far you are from your goal.
In the weeks leading up to your goal, make sure you reach out to your supporters or followers and encourage them to give to your cause.
This strategy is great for re-engaging donors who have already given, because holding a mini-fundraising campaign inside of your bigger, main fundraising campaign makes them feel like they’re contributing to a different project.
A project like this can be helpful when you’re coming to the end of your fundraising campaign timeline, or are trying to make a big push during end-of-year giving rushes.
5. Say thank you.
The number one way to retain your donors after they make a contribution, whether online or in-person, is to make sure they know how grateful you are for their support.
Donors want to feel as though their actions are appreciated and that their gifts will really make a difference for your cause, so make sure you keep up with them after they donate and include them in the community that you’re building around your cause.
While any donor interaction is valuable to your campaign, here are some easy ways to incorporate your donors into your mission and make them feel appreciated:
- Send them a thank-you message as soon as they make their contribution. Address them with their preferred name in the greeting, instead of generic greetings like “dear friend” or “dear donor.”
- Give them a shoutout on your social media, in your email newsletter, and in your annual report, if you publish one. Everyone likes to be publicly appreciated.
- Consider giving thank-you gifts to different levels of donors, like water bottles, coffee mugs, or t-shirts customized to your cause or organization.
Creating a culture of gratitude is an important part of building a sustainable donor relationship, and retaining donors is just as important (or more!) than finding new ones. When you demonstrate your appreciation for your donors as part of the donation cycle, your supporters are more likely to support you in the future because they know their gifts have an impact.
Attracting and retaining donors online might seem more difficult than building in-person relationships, but that doesn’t have to be true. With these 5 tech-savvy tips, you’ll create an online community in no time.
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