Online Fundraising Fundamentals: Eight Tips to Running a Successful Online Fundraising Program

Posted by Rory Michaels on April 1, 2019

For many non-profits the idea of launching an online fundraising program can seem intimidating. That’s why starting today, we’re launching a series here on the Arreva blog in the hopes that we can pull back the curtain on some tips-and-tricks we’ve picked up through years of enabling thousands of nonprofits to raise money online.

Through this series, hopefully we can make this process a little less scary, and help some of you grow your donor-base while engaging with them in a whole new way online.

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Over the next few weeks we’ll be covering many of these quick tips, and more, in a more in depth way. But to kick off our Online Fundraising Fundamentals series, we wanted to walk through eight things you can do today in order to launch a successful first online fundraising campaign quickly and effectively:

  1. Feature a donation link prominently on your homepage.
    The homepage of your website is a lot like the lobby to your office. You want to be able to quickly communicate where you want people to go, and how you want them to get there. When you’re launching an online fundraising campaign for the first time you will want to make sure your donation link is featured prominently on your homepage. If you look at most non-profits website today, you’ll probably see a bright red or yellow button asking you to donate. Don’t be afraid to let your donate button stand out.

  2. Make sure your donation page or form is mobile responsive.
    47.2% of all online traffic last quarter was mobile. That means that if your donation page or form is not responsive to a mobile screen you could be losing out on almost half of your website visitors. Make sure that whatever provider you use offers you the option to have your donation page or form adapt to the users display size.

  3. Give your donors something specific to donate to.
    Online donors tend to prefer small, specific projects versus the traditional broadly general ask. When you think about it, it kind of makes sense. It’s easier for a donor to feel like they’re making an impact when you ask them for a $20 dollar contribution to a $1,000 dollar campaign than it is to ask for a donation of any size to a multi-million dollar capital campaign.

  4. Focus on small-dollar asks online.
    This one ties in to the tip above. When you ask donors for small amounts towards a larger but still moderate goal, it makes it easier to go back to them again over time. When donors can see real or apparent impact from the money they are donating, they are more apt to give repeatedly.

  5. Make sure to share your donation page.
    This one might seem basic, but it isn’t. I wish I could tell you how many online fundraising campaigns fail because people just don’t share their donation page. Even if you aren’t running a specific fundraising campaign at the moment, make sure to include links to your donation page on your social media profiles and in your online newsletter. I’ve even seen some non-profits include a donation link in staff communications. You know your audience better than I do, but make sure you’re sharing your donation page where they will see it.

  6. Email isn’t dead.
    Every year I see some hot-take about how email fundraising is dead. Every year I tell people not to believe those hot takes. A study done by Dunham & Company revealed that email accounts for 26% of online revenue and that the number is estimated to rise in the near future. While only 6% of donors were willing to donate through email in 2012, that number rose to 28% in 2018. Make sure that whatever online fundraising plan you build includes a robust email component.

  7. It’s all about community. Don’t underestimate the power of peer-to-peer fundraising
    Just like online donors prefer to donate to something specific, they also prefer to donate to organizations they feel personally connected to. We also know that online consumers trust their friends and family more than they trust brands and organizations. One of the best ways to expand your donor base in a rapid way, while allowing your existing supporters to leverage their own social network is by launching peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.

  8. Use your thank you communications to prompt recurring donations.
    Even the novice fundraiser knows the power of a promptly delivered thank you note. Most online donation platforms allow you to automate this process, and if you aren’t using it to prompt donors to become monthly sustaining supporters you might be missing out on a pretty large revenue stream. Make sure that whatever online donation platform you select has the ability to process recurring donations, and then make sure that your thank you email includes a link donors can use to turn their one time contribution into a monthly one. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you pay attention to these 8 things when you’re launching an online fundraising campaign, it will go a long way to ensuring its success. Stay tuned here on the Arreva blog, this Wednesday we'll be giving you some of our favorite tips and tricks for setting up and running successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns using our online fundraising software.

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Topics: Peer to Peer Fundraising, Online Donation, Fundraising Basics

Written by Rory Michaels

Rory Michaels is the Digital Marketing Manager for Arreva. He's spent his career helping non-profits and brands find and tell their story.

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