The Three Golden Rules of Online Fundraising Campaigns

If your campaign just launched, then you’re on your way to raising awareness and funds for your work in Latino communities.

Yet while you may be convinced of the importance of your work, don’t presume that everyone else is. As you start out on your campaign, remember the three golden rules of online fundraising. If you get these right, you’ll be off to a great start!

1. Make your campaign donor-centric

Maybe you’ve heard of this concept, but you’re not sure what it means? Put simply, it’s about setting aside what you think the campaign should be about and prioritizing what your potential donors will want to get involved in.

You might want to hire a new lawyer, refurbish a classroom or simply keep paying the bills. But donors? Donors want to help real people solve real problems and they want to see change happen now, even if they don’t understand all the steps that are necessary along the way.

Here’s a few ways you can put your donors front and center of your campaign:

  1. Out of all the possible projects you want to see funded, choose the one that is most attractive to an individual donor. They probably have limited resources and want to know that even a small donation will make a difference in the short term.
  2. Jump to the impact. Avoid talking about what the organization needs or how much it will cost, but focus on the positive impact of how somebody’s life will be changed for the better.
  3. Make your potential donors feel valued by using their name. The Abila Donor Loyalty study shows that 71% of donors feel more engaged with a nonprofit when they receive content that’s personalized.

2. Craft a great pitch or story

With so many causes fighting for attention in people’s inboxes and social media feeds, it’s vital that you create a really strong pitch that grabs people’s attention. Some people will be swayed by a logical presentation of the facts: what you want to do, why it matters and how you know it will work. Others are emotional givers: to encourage their donation you must encourage them to feel something and relate it to their own experiences.

Storytelling is one of the best ways to incorporate both types of content. It’s easy to start by presenting the project from the point of view of a beneficiary, using descriptive words to share their feelings, hopes and dreams and create empathy. Then, link that person’s individual experience to the wider situation to explain the scale of the problem and why we must act now.

Don’t rush the process of writing; it’s worth getting right and you can even try it out on a group of “test” donors to get feedback. Once you have the basic text (or image, or video) it’s easy to share across multiple communications channels and to drive of your fundraising success. Want to see this in practice? Check out the project “Beat Cervical Cancer in Guatemala,” a great example of a pitch based around the real life story.

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!

Checklist for increasing your audience:

  • Update your email database. Make sure all members of staff include their contacts.
  • Start paying for promotion on Facebook to increase your number of followers.
  • Identify which people within your organization, or among your key supporters, are the most influential in terms of their messaging ability. Then recruit them to spread the word about your campaign.
  • Use offline media too—newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. The launch of a new campaign can be newsworthy and attract great coverage if you get the right angle on your pitch or story.

What’s the key to online fundraising? At the end of the day, it’s still about “friend-raising.” Put your donors at the center of your communications, grab their attention with a great pitch, or reel them in with an engaging story. Make sure you’re communicating with enough people to have a realistic shot at enough of them clicking through to “donate now.”