Online Fundraising for Beginners

cc_logo_full_horiz_color_600Guest post from Alessandra Madrid, Content Marketing Manager at CommitChange. CommitChange is an innovative fundraising and donor management tool, and  trusted Technology Partner of 501cTECH.

Welcome to the Online Fundraising for Beginners blog series! Over the next couple of weeks we will be covering the most important aspects of creating online fundraising campaigns for your nonprofit. Although today’s tools for fundraising should be making everything easier for nonprofit professionals, there is plenty of planning that needs to happen before you start an online campaign; from defining your fundraising goals, to picking a platform and creating the right messaging. Let’s get started!

Define Your Fundraising Goals

In the nonprofit world, anything that we ever do begins with a purpose.

  • Why do you want to launch an online charity fundraising effort for your nonprofit?
  • Do you want to support an existing fundraiser or do you want to create an entirely new campaign?

Determining your goals not only gives you the clarity you need for launching an online fundraising campaign, but it also gives your potential and existing donors a greater understanding of why you need their support. Your goals will also be determining much of your campaign’s messaging, so it is important you lay out these purposes beforehand.

Determine How You Will Raise Funds

Once you have defined your online campaign’s goals, it is also important that you determine how you will be raising these funds. This, again will help you create your campaign’s messaging but most importantly it will help you determine the type of platform you will need to fundraise online.

  • Will you be crowd funding to fund a specific project for your nonprofit?
  • Do you want donors to be able to create recurring donations to fund a yearly goal or project?
  • Will you be selling tickets for an event or raffle?

Once this has been determined it is time to pick our online fundraising platform. The beauty of online fundraising in 2015 is that you don’t need to be a technological wizard to create great campaigns! There are many fundraising tools out there and they all have their pros and cons. We will get into the nitty-gritty of this later in this blog series.

However, don’t be intimidated by any of these, even as a small nonprofit that doesn't have a big IT department, online fundraising tools are easy to set up, implement and even gather data to further understand your donors.

Establish a Web Presence

Like we said before, you don’t have to be an expert in coding or website design to be able to fundraise online. That being said, it is important that time and resources are allocated into building a solid web presence for your nonprofit, these include a website, social media profiles and email marketing campaigns (we will also be getting into the details of each further in the series).

Building a website used to be a very costly thing to do, however with the variety of content management systems out there, as well as with the many website freelancers in the market, it shouldn’t be too expensive to get a website. “Why is this all worth the time and resources?” you might ask. Well, in the age we live in, people are constantly searching for information and content on the things they care about, therefore it is important they are able to find your nonprofit and information around your cause.

Getting Others to Believe in Your Cause

This is certainly hard to do. In an ideal world, everyone would be a potential donor. However, as an organization you must know who will be most likely to identify with your cause. Your nonprofit and your campaigns need a clear voice and consistent message. Your voice is your nonprofit’s personality and it is the best way to identify with your supporters. Consistency in your nonprofit’s voice will allow you to stay genuine in the eyes of your donors. Any type of communication your organization distributes must maintain a certain tone and personality. If you opt for a more formal tone for your website content, then you certainly shouldn't use a casual vocabulary for thank you letters and emails.

They say the more you give, the more you receive. The same principle applies with content for an online fundraising campaign. Tell your potential donors what exactly they will help achieve with their donation. Aside from the written content in your online fundraiser and social media, use photographs and videos. The more time you keep them engaged with your content, the more likely they will begin identifying with your cause.

Starting an online fundraising campaign for your nonprofit may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but with a bit of coaching and the right tools you will be on your way to creating successful crowdfunding campaigns.


Alessandra Madrid is the Content Marketing Manager at CommitChange. She is passionate about teaching nonprofits content creation best practices and the implementation of new technologies. Follow @CommitChange and @alessbarcenola on Twitter!

Topics: Fundraising, nonprofit technology, Technology Tips

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