Donating to charity has changed for the better over the last few years. These days, pretty much everything takes place online, and giving to charity or supporting a good cause is no different. Which is why charities and nonprofits hoping to stand out had better have a robust online presence.
There are lots of ways to do that, but here are a few basics your organization should be thinking about:
1. Email marketing. Email is one of the best ways to reach supporters and potential donors. Whether your goal is to boost the number of subscribers to your newsletter, keep supporters and volunteers up to date on recent developments, or kick off a fundraising campaign, email is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to do it.
But it's important that your email content and presentation be engaging. Emails that consist of big chunks of dry text and cliched images are more likely to hurt than help. Try to send two but no more than four emails a month — and don't forget to include a CTA (call to action)! (You’d be surprised how many organizations don't.)
One good solution for those just getting into email marketing is MailChimp, an email marketing platform/service that makes it easy to format and structure your email newsletters for maximum impact.
2. Social media presence. Social media has changed the world — mostly for the better. It's a great tool for charities and nonprofits, not least because platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest make it easy to share all sorts of campaign materials. With a few lines of code, you can also add social sharing buttons to your website and emails. Why is that important? The more people who follow you, the more donations you're going to receive!
3. Donation pages. Your organization's donation pages should be clear and to the point. People just don't have the time to comb through paragraphs of information and instructions — you want to make it as easy for them to donate to your organization online as it is to purchase a book or a buy pair of socks.
Make sure you also provide a recurring donation option for people who are willing to commit smaller amounts on a monthly basis. They're not likely to notice the extra $5 or $10 out of their budget every month, but over time your charity or nonprofit will. Making it easy for supporters to donate to your organization on a recurring basis also helps keep supporters connected to your organization and cause over the longer term.
Lastly, don't forget to make it easy for others to share your donation page with friends, family members, and their social networks.
4. Content. The more content you put out, the more you'll be seen as an organization with something to say. That means creating informative articles, fact sheets, and other digital resources on a regular basis. If your organization can demonstrate that it knows what it's doing, is a great source of information about its particular cause, and gets results, donors with an interest in that cause are going to want to support you.
The quality of your content also is important. Make sure your copy is concise and professionally edited — and try to break it up with powerful images. Images that highlight your organization's activities are great, as are those that depict the people and places you're having a positive impact on. )
Your goal is to tell the story of how your organization does good in the world. When told well, others will want to be a part of that story. And don't forget to optimize your content for mobile.
5. Regular engagement with supporters. Rule No. 1: Don't forget to say thank you. Nonprofits and charities that acknowledge every donation are much more likely to receive follow-up donations from their supporters than nonprofits and charities that don't. And when you thank your supporters, ask them to share the fact they supported you via their social networks. Believe it or not, most people will be happy to do so. You can even create automated email responses that reduce the amount of work required on your part.
6. Your website. I probably don't need to remind you that your website should be as clear and easy to navigate as your email and other marketing materials.
That said, there are a few things you can do on a website to maximize lead generation and gift revenue that you can't do with email. For example, adding pop ups to your site is a good way to get people to sign up for your newsletters and to collect the contact information of folks who may become donors down the road.
By paying attention to all of the above, your organization will improve its chances of securing new and recurring gifts from supporters and potential supporters. Those same supporters will be more receptive to hearing about your recent activities and successes. And when you acknowledge their support, they'll be more likely to share your content via their social media channels and to remember you the next time you ask them to make a gift or donation.
Daniel Ross is part of the marketing team at Roubler, a scheduling and payroll software platform whose mission is to change the way the world manages its workforce.