The internet has a vast, global reach, and it can be challenging to make your non-profit stand out from the others in effectively getting your message across to donors, volunteers and a wider audience. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million non-profits in the United States!
Digital marketing is a wise path to follow when reaching out, both to your existing supporter base and to potential new donors. Most notably, it’s a cost-efficient way to cast a wide net. Also, social media is an increasingly important venue for non-profit fundraising – it’s likely that your prospects are already engaged there, so it’s essential to develop tools for those platforms.
Here are some digital marketing strategy tips that will help your non-profit when contacting existing backers and new donor possibilities.
Emails perform a variety of important functions for non-profits, including keeping subscribers up to date on your organization’s mission and accomplishments, promoting volunteer opportunities and events, and, of course, fundraising.
Make every word count when you send out emails–starting with the subject line, which should be strong and clear. The body content needs to be concise, with a well-defined call to action (CTA). Images should relate directly to the message, and whatever the reason for the email, your “donate” button should be easy to find.
Determining the frequency of your emails can be tricky. You don’t want to overwhelm people with too many emails, but you do want to keep them frequent enough so that you don’t fall off their radar. Try testing just one portion of your mailing list to see if greater frequency results in higher engagement.
One of the most potent tools of social media is the “share” button, which can be an especially valuable marketing strategy for non-profits, as it allows others to do some of the work for you. When your website and emails feature a Share button, supporters can click on it to share your message with others, spreading your information on various social media platforms. This can make them feel more directly involved in helping your non-profit, and it also will raise awareness across a wider audience. This can help to build a larger subscriber base. Make sure also that your “donate” button appears on every social media platform you use.
Unique Giving Platforms
Including a link to your donation page is crucial in all online communications, and there are other online tools that can be helpful in increasing donations.
Crowdfunding campaigns can be targeted for a specific project and are a dynamic way to attract one-time donations from your subscribers, along with attracting new donors.
In peer-to-peer fundraising, your supporters raise money on your behalf by reaching out to their own personal and professional networks. One popular way to do this is to sponsor people in a run/walk event, where the funds raised are directed to a specific cause. This approach is gaining in popularity; a 2015 donor engagement study by Abila, Inc. found that peer-to-peer fundraising accounted for nearly one-third of online donations.
Online pop-ups might not get you a lot of donations right away, but they’re an effective lead capture tool and good method of increasing your subscriber base. When someone clicks on a pop-up and is directed to your website, you obtain their name and email address for future contact. Since they’ve chosen to visit your site, that implies a certain level of interest, which invites future engagement – and potential fundraising outreach.
Donation Page Optimization
One of the most important components of your email marketing campaign is a clean and simple donation page. The design of your donation page should be straightforward, with as few data fields as possible. This is called “optimizing” your page so that it doesn’t take long to complete. Less is certainly more here. The “checkout” process should be quick and streamlined, and should have no bugs, delays or extra fields that might keep someone from completing their donation.
Make it Mobile-Friendly
As more and more people use mobile devices for more and more tasks, it’s essential to make your website mobile-friendly. Remember to optimize your content, images and video for mobile use.
Content needs to be as short and succinct as possible, in order to keep people’s attention. Whenever you can, use a single column layout. Always include a strategically-placed and actionable CTA.
Content, Content, Content
Your content should incorporate storytelling as a way to foster an emotional connection with readers. This narrative approach often results in more solid engagement, which can then lead to increased donations. Tell your stories in a personal “voice” that draws in readers and makes them invested in the outcome, and always keep the focus on issues and individuals relevant to your mission.
The content you put in emails and on other platforms can establish your non-profit as a thought leader and establish trust with your contributors. Share important and unique information, articles and images that have purpose and will strengthen the connection between you and your donors.
Use Images to Elicit Emotion
In partnership with persuasive words, images can be particularly effective in bringing your message to vivid life. Share photos and videos that illustrate what your non-profit is doing and where it’s being done. If you’re building homes in disadvantaged areas, share pictures of some of the finished ones. Don’t use slick or stock images that look overly packaged and impersonal. Photos of people who have been directly affected by your group’s work should be featured, especially shots of individuals looking directly into the camera. With the continued growth of social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram, the use of compelling images will be an even more vital tool in telling your story.
Pay Attention to the Calendar
If there’s a notable event or specific date during the year that has a direct link to your organization, be sure to let your supporters know about it. You can take advantage of this time as a “bonus” opportunity to increase donations. Also stay on top of your annual end-of-year holiday fundraising campaign, along with other calendar events like Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving which has been highlighted as an international day of giving since 2012.
Acknowledge and Engage with Your Donors
Keeping an eye on the calendar is also important in other ways–send birthday greetings or other timely messages to your donors to let them know they are recognized for their important role they play in your non-profit. Always send out a personalized “thank you” for each donation and keep donors in the loop about developments and achievements. Make them feel included and they will be more likely to remain active participants in your non-profit.
It may seem these days that nearly everything changes overnight, but one thing remains constant: an engaged audience is an involved audience. These marketing strategies are easy to incorporate into your non-profit’s fundraising practices. Try these approaches to increasing your online donations, or reach out to us to learn more about what a partnership with DuBose Web looks like. We’re passionate about community-focused organizations, and we’d love to help your’s!