Online Fundraising: Three Golden Rules

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were thousands of people surfing the internet right now, wanting to give their money away?

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen. Online fundraising has many benefits, but even the best crowdfunding platform doesn’t can’t make money appear magically out of nowhere. Just as in traditional fundraising, online fundraising requires a certain degree of planning, a strong communications capacity, and an enthusiastic team.

If you think you have what it takes, here are three Golden Rules of online fundraising. Think about them, share them with your team, implement them and go back to them every time you’re not quite sure what to do in a given situation.

1. Make your campaign donor-centric

Put simply, this means setting aside your own agenda of your organization needs and wants, and prioritizing what your donors need and want.  

For example, you want donors to give money to your organization. But donors? They don’t want to give TO you, they want to give THROUGH you, right to the people who need help. You want to carry out an important investigation. Or buy a new piece of equipment because the old one broke. Or keep paying the overheads. But donors? Donors want to help PEOPLE and they want to MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN, even if they don’t understand all the steps that are necessary along the way.  

Here’s what you can do:

  • Be realistic! Out of all the possible projects you want to see funded, choose the one that is most attractive to an individual donor.
  • Be friendly. If you normally fundraise via grant writing, please understand that this won’t work on a crowdfunding campaign. Avoid technical descriptions and instead imagine you’re talking to your best friend in a café or a bar—how would you explain the importance of what you’re doing and ask him or her to give if you were face to face?
  • Jump to the impact. Avoid talking about what the organization needs and how much it will cost, but focus on the positive impact of how lives will be changed for the better.

2. Craft a great pitch or story

As more and more nonprofits vie for the attention – and donations – of potential donors, it’s vital to create a really strong pitch that grabs people’s attention from the get-go. Once you have them, use an engaging story to help raise their level of connection to your cause. Some people are rational givers and will be swayed by the “what” of what you’re doing. An increasingly larger group of people are emotional givers and will be moved by the “why” of your project. 

Storytelling is one of the best ways to incorporate both types of content. For example, you can start by sharing the testimony or experience of a person affected by the problem you’re setting out to solve, using descriptive words to create empathy (for the emotional givers). Then, link that person’s individual experience to the wider situation and use some statistics or facts to explain the scale of the problem (for the rational givers.) 

3. Share your story with the widest possible audience

No matter how wonderful your project, or the pitch, or the story, if you don’t have an audience, it will be impossible to reach your crowdfunding goal. No one will know! 

It's really a numbers game: the more people who you can contact, the more likely you are to raise the funds you need. And remember, not everyone donates, so you need to contact a lot of people to get even a few donations! If you want to do the math, check out the We Did It Crowdfunding Calculator to see specifically how much traffic you need to reach your goal.

What’s the key to online fundraising? Put your donors at the center of your communications, grab their attention with a great pitch or engaging story, and make sure you’re communicating with enough people to have a realistic shot at enough of them clicking through to “donate now.”

Ready to put this into practice? Start working on your project today!

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