Published by Andrew Noll at March 10, 2016
Working at a non-profit, you experience the struggle to obtain additional funding and grow with limited means. When I used to work as an intern at social media and marketing intern for a non-profit, one of our many efforts to obtain funding and create a strong sense of community was an online fundraising campaign. Fundraising can be a challenging experience but when you work at a non-profit, it’s a necessity. Below you’ll find several useful takeaways from my first non-profit fundraiser. Use them to improve your own fundraising campaign and create something that people will flock to.
1. You Have To Target Your AudienceWe created our campaign with a specific audience in mind. Knowing our target market allowed us to create a better fundraiser that appealed to the right kind of person.
Who do you want to donate in your fundraiser?
Identify exactly who your audience is.
What (if anything) is my audience receiving for donations? This can include giveaways such as tickets, merchandise and memberships. You may be able to get a partnered, for-profit business to provide complimentary services in exchange for increased sales. Evaluate your options and consider the cost. You don’t want to spend a lot of money, when the money coming in is from donations. It may be easier to offer no incentive and create a strong message to inspire support.
Note: even if your audience could be anyone, still be sure to pick your ideal target. This will allow you to tailor your content to the average user and appease more site visitors.
2. Crowdfunding Sites Are An Investment To Reach A Limited AudienceWhen you create a crowdfunding account, many sites will charge you a fee. This depends on which site you choose. Different sites attract a different audience and have different stipulations for the type of business they are willing to host.
Make sure to weigh the benefits against the cost. Larger sites like KickStarter or IndieGogo may charge more per user, but they have a larger audience that could donate to you. Alternatively, if you fundraise through your own website, you will earn deduction-free donations.
3. Your Web Design Affects Your MessageThis is true with any form of website and the design of your site will impact whether or not you receive donations. You want to have a clean layout that is easy for any user to navigate. It must be optimized for mobile, contain the right amount of white space, along with relevant images that show your services. In addition you must have a clear call-to-action so that users know how to donate. In the case of a fundraiser, you want to send them to a donation page or obtain a donation via a call-to-action button.
It is imperative that you prioritize design. Good design makes your non-profit look more credible. Most of us have limited means, but we are still compared to others in our fields. Do the best you can. You don’t have to hire a professional to create a basic fundraiser, but it is highly advisable that you follow the best practices for basic web design listed here.
4. WordPress Plugins Can Limit YouWhen I started designing our fundraiser page, I added the main message and images initially and then created donation buttons. I elected to add donation buttons as a sidebar through JetPack so that the main message could be read with the donation buttons visible on the side of the page.
JetPack gave me limited options for fonts and donate buttons, which required me to use a different approach. I wanted my buttons to appear differently than the Paypal default, so I created images that I then connected to Paypal via links.
When you have issues with plugin limitations, consider other options. You don’t need to be a coder to use WordPress and your plugin may not be the right one for what you want. Plugins like JetPack have multiple functionalities and I was able to find a work-around by using the plugin differently (linked image rather than pre-set button). Consider a new plugin or different options for using your plugin if you want to overcome a limitation.
5. Engage The Viewer With ContentYour site visitor came to your website and they made it to your fundraiser – Great! Now how do you draw them in?
There are a lot of ways to drive engagement, but one of the best is through your content. This extends to virtually everything on your site, but I am primarily concerned with visuals and text. Your text needs to be interesting and engaging, so as to draw in your reader. Don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard and tell a story. Remember to target the audience you identified earlier.
Visuals are also vital to drawing in the reader and can be more important than content. You want them to understand who you are the second they land on your site, strictly based on visuals. If you can create a video, it will be even easier for the average user to understand your message. For all visuals, be sure to use something engaging and relevant. Try to include emotional appeals in your writing and visuals.
6. The Internet Isn’t EverythingAlthough you will expect to see most of your traffic from inbound links and social media, the internet is not the only source for most non-profit fundraisers. You want to utilize any and all resources you have to promote your fundraiser and website. If you are a non-profit that works through connecting with people or businesses directly, try calling your contacts.
At our non-profit, we created brochures and displayed them at local coffee shops to attract a local crowd to our fundraising site and increase awareness of our message. This was a great way to bring more people into our community and expand our local awareness
7. Prioritize Your MessageNo matter what methods you implement to achieve your fundraising goals, always be sure that your message is extremely clear. You should be able to summarize it in brief and make it clear on all donation pages.
You don’t ever want someone to be on a page and be unsure of what to do. Be sure that the goal of each page on your site is clear and includes a call-to-action for the reader. This is especially important for receiving donations.
8. Learn!Regardless of any difficulties you experience in your first fundraiser, you have to keep your progress in mind. Always keep learning and growing because that is the only way to create the best campaign possible. There is no one-size fits all in fundraising, but as a general rule the better your content quality the more engaging it is. If you are clear in your goals and able to communicate your goal effectively to your target audience, then the last step is to share your site with them. Consider that you may have a sizable audience outside of the virtual world. The key is to experiment and find ways to best reach this audience.
Need help reaching your target audience? Get a quote here.
Browse our other articles for more information on promoting yourself and how to look great online.
Note: Posts have been copied onto this page to show Andrew's writing skills in perpetuity.
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