In the nonprofit sector, there are many options for marketing to your donors both online and offline. You can do database segmentation to target high impact donors through various contact methods such as phone and e-mail as well as personal visits or events via hand-written letters or postcards. You may choose to boost fundraising with workshops, guest speakers, auctions or incentives. But as online fundraising continues to grow, you need to manage your time, staff, volunteers and resources efficiently.
Based on my experience in the non-profit arena, and talking to others in the fundraising world, there are truly three consistent winning strategies for marketing online. But just to manage expectations, if you are hoping to go viral with the next Ice Bucket Challenge that made ALS famous, well good luck. You are more likely to get hit by lightning… twice. So if you do nothing else online, I suggest just doing these three things;
Your E-mail List
Any online marketing guru will tell you this… “The money is in the list.” I’ve been in the e-mail marketing industry for many years, and it’s still true. Your own custom or donor e-mail list is the biggest asset you have. I’m not talking about renting lists either, I’m talking about the e-mails you collected at your last fundraising event or through a silent auction or even door to door canvassing. You need to nurture and maintain those sweat-earned e-mails since there’s gold in them there… e-mails.
Short concise e-mails sent at predictable and regular intervals inspire the most giving. For every 1,000 e-mails sent by non-profits, $40 to $50 is raised. E-mail is profitable and timing and frequency is also everything. Be sure to add value and build trust in your e-mails. Also, acknowledging past donors and demonstrating the value of their donation is key. Don’t ask too much or too often, it’s a balance to maintain and earn your donors trust. If you do ask, be specific on the goal you are trying to achieve. Crowdfunding campaigns are perfect for this.
At Circle Fund, we integrate e-mail list management with MailChimp who has been in the e-mail delivery and list business for years. They let you build “drip campaigns” which are e-mails sent out based on triggers, such as a free trial or sign-up for a newsletter. Then at timed intervals, e-mails can be sent recognizing the activity of those donors. They allow custom HTML content, RSS feed driven e-mails and much more.
Facebook continues to be the dominant player in social media. If you don’t have a page on Facebook, then you are missing your single easiest win for your nonprofit. 95% of NGOs have a page. I’ll assume you already do have a page, but how to make money then? It is critical to regularly publish content that speaks to your cause. Ideally, at least 20% of content should be your own, and the rest curated (other peoples). Publish as often as you can, ideally twice a week and during noon to 3pm or 6pm to 9pm your time as those are the peak content reading times.
No longer just a buzz-word, crowdfunding is a highly effective way to drive funds towards a specific funding need. By keeping your donors focused on a single specific project or story, they are much more likely to give. Sharing a crowdfunding campaign on Facebook has been show to result in over three times the donations. Often the best appeals tell a personal story to create an emotional connection to the cause. Highlighting this story with photos and/or videos always help increase conversion rates and funding. Twitter is also very important for driving another 5% to 10% of social traffic. Offering rewards for donations over a certain limit (say $100) has also been proven to increase net funding.