I love great websites. To me, they’re like their own art form.
And it kinda hurts when you see amazing arts organizations with amazing missions missing out on opportunities to engage with patrons and donors through their website.
Luckily, a lot of these missed opportunities are easy fixes.
With just a little knowledge and legwork, you can improve your nonprofit’s online strategy without spending any (or much) money. Read on to find out more….
Online Marketing & Fundraising Strategy #1 – User-Friendly Donations on Your Website
If you aren’t creating a way for donors to easily and quickly donate to your development campaigns, events, or general operating via your website then fixing this should be a top priority. Make sure you find a method for collecting, confirming, and tracking donations on your website and regularly test it to ensure it’s functioning properly. Part of this process should include finding a system that makes thanking donors and sending receipts easy and effortless also.
Another critical thing to consider is where you place donation buttons, forms, and calls to action on your website. They should be available in various places throughout the site, prominently placed, brightly colored, and include compelling call-to-action wording.
Some nonprofits use PayPal (Click here to read more about registering to accept donations with PayPal) and if you’re already signed up for a PayPal account there’s certainly nothing wrong with using it. It’s easy for donors to use and trusted by much of the public, which is certainly a plus. However, it’s not my favorite donation acceptance method because it wasn’t built with nonprofits in mind, their support sometimes leaves something to be desired, and there are better systems out there which make it easier to track donations and thank donors.
So if not PayPal, what are your other options? Here are some of my favorites for you to check out:
Stripe – This one will work with pretty much any platform your website may be built on, allows you to accept donations on the site, on a mobile device, gives quick payouts, and has special pricing for nonprofits. While the overall platform was not built specifically for nonprofits, it’s so useful and multi-faceted that I still love it and recommend it. You can also get various plugins to integrate it with WordPress sites in just a few clicks.
Give – This one is a free WordPress plugin. You can customize a variety of donation campaigns, forms, and buttons, automate donor receipts and electronic thank you’s, and track everything right from your website’s dashboard. This is suuuuuper easy to set up and implement throughout the website, it’s user-friendly for website visitors, visually appealing, and it’s probably my favorite.
Charitable – This is another WordPress plugin that I love. I tend to use it when the Give plugin conflicts with another necessary plugin on a nonprofit website (not typical, but it happens). This one also makes tracking donations, thank you’s, campaign goals, and more super duper easy. And, like Give, setting it up on your website is free and only takes a few minutes.
Bonus Tip: If you accept donations or payments of any kind on your website, you need to have an SSL Certificate set up to safeguard your donor’s privacy and payment information. If you aren’t sure how to do this, contact your hosting provider or web developer.
Online Marketing & Fundraising Strategy #2 – Build a List
Email Marketing is an incredibly effective strategy that you just can’t afford to ignore. Not convinced? Think it’s nothing but annoying spam mail that people delete and would be a waste of time for your nonprofit? Let’s take a look at the stats…..
- Email marketing has a median Return on Investment (ROI) of 122%. That’s over 4x higher than other marketing mediums, including social media, direct mail, and paid search. (Source)
- 89% of professional marketers say that email is their primary marketing channel. If the pros say that with such frequency, you can bet there’s a good reason. (Source)
- Every $1 spent on email marketing produces $44 in revenue/donations/etc. (Source)
- Welcome emails sent to new subscribers increase engagement by roughly 33% (Source)
- Email is 40x better at convincing people to buy or donate than Facebook and Twitter (Source)
- The average open rate for email is 6%, but nonprofits enjoy a whopping 25.96% open rate so they absolutely should be taking advantage of email marketing (Source)
Hopefully, I have your attention now. There is gold in the email list.
If you aren’t already doing it, get set up with a good Email Service Provider (MailChimp has free plans. I personally love ConvertKit. Or InfusionSoft is a good choice for those with bigger budgets), set up a consistent schedule for emails, and start integrating ways for people to sign up for your emails into your website, marketing materials, and in-person events. Your emails should include compelling content that your patrons and donors want and periodically should include calls to action for them to donate, purchase tickets, sign up for a class, register for an event, or make a purchase. I promise you will increase your revenue this way.
Bonus Insight: I hear arts orgs tell me they are looking for ways to engage younger audiences allll the time. Well, younger audiences live on their phones and computers. Meet them where they’re at, in their email, with fun content and easy, techy ways to give and engage. How’s that for killing 2 birds with 1 stone?
Online Marketing & Fundraising Strategy #3 – Give them a reason to keep coming back for more
If your website is boring and static then you should expect website visitors to come once, and never again. If you want them to keep checking in with you then you need to give them a reason to do that. My recommendation is to start a blog.
Yes, you will have to put in some time to do this, but it pays worthwhile dividends. Write a post 2-4x per month. Not sure what to write? You could easily fill up a whole year’s worth of blog posts by crafting interviews with artists/dancers/musicians, student spotlights, behind-the-scenes peeks at events and happenings (people especially love these), guest posts by industry experts or community members, and anything else your little heart can dream up. Link to interesting articles and showcase upcoming events or fundraisers. Give people something fascinating to read with compelling or funny photos to go with it. You can include calls-to-action in your posts to get them to donate, purchase tickets, or invest in a membership.
Some added benefits to blogging are that it helps immensely with Search Engine Optimization (SEO – making sure people can find you in search engine results) and it gives you something easy to link to in social media posts. Also, did you know that on average, it takes someone seeing something 7 times before they will take action on it? It’s true. That means that if someone comes to your website once and sees nothing interesting enough to bring them back, you’re sunk. But if they keep coming to read your blog and every time they come they see a donation button or information on an upcoming event series, then I can guarantee you that a portion of those people will eventually buy or donate.
Bonus Tip: Not sure what to write in your emails to your list? Give them a teaser of your newest blog, let them know about upcoming events, and voila! You have a source of content for regular emails with very little extra effort needed. Occasionally include a donation link or button and you’re all set.
I hope you find these tips useful! If you have any other favorite tips for drumming up engagement and/or donations online, please share in the comments! If you highlight a successful, uncommon strategy I just might showcase you in an upcoming blog post!