In your quest for online fundraising supremacy you may fall into "The Field of Dreams" syndrome: "If you build it, they will come." That sentiment is completely false when it comes to online fundraising. Believing it will result in the failure of getting your message out to enough people and into the right places. Those suffering from this syndrome may have symptoms including: not driving enough traffic to their site; not converting visitors into donors; ineffective email campaigns; and more.
Don't worry -- even Kevin Costner could pull off the following quick fixes.
Improve Your Emails and Correspondence
Email is a great way to communicate with donors and build loyalty, with much higher response rates than direct mail, low costs and immediate turnaround.
- Build a permission-based email list. Buying a list and sending information to people who don't want it is ineffective. Gather emails from your website and from events. Promote across channels by requesting email signups in direct mail campaigns.
- The number one reason donors say they stopped giving is how they were treated. Thank your donors constantly. Tell them what you have accomplished and how their money has made a difference.
- Communicate with your audience with updates, stories and successes. Do this three to four times as often as you fundraise and send targeted appeals.
Make it Easy
Once people can find your site, it's important to engage them, motivate them to come back and make their experience easy and fulfilling. Three groups of people will visit your site:
- People with a plan to take action immediately. For them you need to have prominent DonateNow buttons, especially in the top portion of your page.
- Other people have an interest but aren't ready to donate yet. For them you need to have accessible, interesting information and compelling imagery that draw them in. Have email signups offering things that will entice them, such as tips and updates.
- The third group of people will be using you as an information resource. For them, remember that your navigation should not be departments within your organization but rather the top things people will come to your site to see.
- Always remember to super-size your donations. As in, "Do you want fries with that?" Any time a donation is made, ask if they want it to be a monthly donation. This can dramatically increase your fundraising results.
- Find the passionate constituencies concerning your issue that already exist. Set up a Google Alert to let you know when your cause is mentioned online and visit technorati.com to find which blogs are covering your issue.
Adapted from Mark Rovner and Katya Andresen's Nonprofit 911 Presentation "Cultivating Donors Online"