A Complete Guide to Online Fundraising

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Whether you’re a seasoned charity or just starting out, it’s vital you know how to fundraise online. From 2019 to 2020, online giving increased by 17% and grew three times more than all other types of donations. Clearly, charitable giving is moving online, meaning that as a nonprofit, you need to build a strategy for raising money virtually. This guide and blog will help you do it! The following will cover:

  • Communicating your vision and mission
  • Locating your supporters online
  • Creating a donation page and how to ask for donations
  • Organizing fundraising events, including unique ideas
  • Segmenting your donor data
  • Tracking your fundraising efforts
  • And how to say thank you!

Communicate your vision and your mission

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

Like in all fundraising, people won’t support your cause if they don’t know about it. What is your organization’s goal? How are you trying to achieve it? If your organization has been around for a while, you already know how to answer these questions. You also know how to transmit your message and promote your cause. Now you just need to transfer this messaging online.

Start by deeply understanding what your charity is about by defining, or if this has already been done, reminding yourself of your mission and vision.

The vision is your long term goal, the thing you want to achieve that would allow you to say “I can close my charity now.” 

For example, at Simplyk our vision is to empower all charities to change the word. Once it is done, we have no reason to keep working. 

Then elaborate on your mission. This is where you explain how you are going to do this:

Simplyk’s mission is to allow nonprofits to maximize their resources through technology.

Locate your supporters online

Your donors will only learn about you if they know how to find you, whether it is through your website or social media. Make your online presence known! 

Be sure to link your online presence in all communications with your community. This could be by having a social media footer at the bottom of your newsletter.

Then, encourage your supporters to interact with you on these platforms. This could be by asking them to like or follow your accounts, subscribe to your newsletter and comment or share content you publish. 

Better yet, instead of having your supporters find you, go to them! You don’t need to be everywhere, but you do need to be where your donors are. Make an effort to find where they spend their time online. You can do this by asking them. Make a survey easily using Google Forms with questions like:

  • What site do you use to get your information on ________ ? (insert a topic related to your organization)
  • What social media sites do you use?
  • What other reasons do you go online for?
  • Where do you go for entertainment online?
  • Do you follow personalities online? If so, for what reason? What kind of personalities?

Use credible sources that can give you a clear breakdown of what your target group uses and where you should be putting your focus. You want to have a strong presence in a few places, instead of doing it poorly on every platform. It is ok to not be on Instagram or Tiktok if your donors are over 30, but if they are, get on Instagram!

Ask for support

Now that supporters know what you are all about, you need to let them know how they can get involved. Create call-to-actions – meaning you are asking your donors to do something., using buttons on all your platforms. They could be to donate, volunteer, get involved and more. Be clear about what you’re asking by:

  • Stating your mission and vision
  • Explaining how they can help you (through donating, fundraising, volunteering and more)
  • Explaining what the impact of their support will be 
  • Using a lot of examples: by donating $100 you allow us to provide healthy meals to 100 more homeless people.
  • Using images and videos

Create an online donation page & ask for donations

A common way to ask for support is by having a great donation page on your site. When creating or adjusting yours, keep one concept in mind: simplicity. Your donor’s time is precious, so they need to be able to donate as quickly as possible. Your form should help them do that. There are many Canadian donation platforms that will provide different types of donation forms. Choose the one that best fits your needs. Consider these aspects to choose:

  • Cost
  • Technology offered
  • Leadership within the industry
  • Set up time and maintenance

Simplyk charges no fees on donations forms because we want all charities to be able to afford to have the best forms.

online fundraising - Simplyk form
Centraide Duplessis’ donation form powered by Simplyk.

When your form is up and embedded into your website, make sure you have a visible call-to-action on all pages of your website. This means making a ‘donate’ button that is easily visible on your home page. Even more importantly, when you click on it, it needs to bring you directly to your donation form. Don’t let a potential donor get lost on your site by having to click four times. If you already have a donation form, test how many clicks you need to reach the donation page. It should be one click. 

These are some of the many ways you can test how well your form works and how many people actually donate after visiting it. You definitely don’t want to miss out on donors just because your form isn’t the best it can be! Make sure you have optimized your form by improving your donor conversion rate.

Having a powerful donation form is great, but if you want large and more immediate fundraising revenue for your mission, you need to organize your fundraising around events.

Organizing fundraising events

Big events are often the backbone of nonprofits’ fundraising strategies. They are also a perfect option to celebrate your organization, raise awareness about your cause and bring your community together. Although most events often occur in person, a lot of the work promoting and organizing it is done online. Therefore, you need to know the 9 steps to hosting an event in order to properly fundraise online.

Host virtual fundraising events

Virtual events are a great alternative to fundraising in person. With large gatherings not possible at the moment, virtual events need to embody the spirit of your organization and raise the money you need for your mission. They are also a great way to reach people internationally, like those who wouldn’t normally be able to attend in person. Read our guide for hosting events online. 

Then, start setting up your own. Keep in mind that many people are fed up with long Zoom meetings and do not want to attend your event just to feel like they are working. The event needs to be a unique experience, and take your guests outside of their daily routine. People often attend charitable events to interact with others who share an interest in their community. Take the time to have your participants interact with each other, whether it’s through breakout rooms or by commenting on each other’s activities.

Start a peer-to-peer campaign

The next way to raise money is to create a peer-to-peer campaign. This type of fundraising allows individuals to raise money for your cause, by creating their own campaign either individually or in groups. Your fundraisers become champions for your cause! This then contributes to your organization’s total campaign. It’s an awesome way to raise money online, because people are four times more likely to donate if they have been encouraged to do so by someone they know (Sanders & Smith). Your fundraisers reach out to their own networks for support, which amplifies the number of donations to the total campaign. Learn more about how to create a successful peer-to-peer campaign and then begin adding this tool to your online fundraising strategy.

Other online activities

There are so many more options to interact, share and fundraise with your online community. One of which is hosting a “Day of Giving”. Choose a date and ask your supporters to donate on that day. This creates a sense of urgency which convinces those who want to donate but can’t find time to actually do it. To encourage donors, find a sponsor that will double all the donations made on this day, or give a gift or perk to those who make a contribution that day.

Another idea is to make an online lottery. This fun fundraiser will attract the gamers within your community and will bring some new supporters. Choose from different types of games and have fun prizes. Learn more about how to throw a raffle in your province by reading our tips.

online fundraising - Simplyk raffle
Online Raffle Ticketing powered by Simplyk.

There are so many more ways to fundraise online. Get creative! Your donors will be excited about giving from the comfort of their home.

Segment your data

Moving your fundraising online also allows you to collect and manage your donor’s data. This is a huge advantage to help you get to know your donors better!

You have a lot of different individuals visiting your content, but you can’t understand them and their behaviour if you consider them to all be the same. This is why you need to separate them based on their similarities. This means breaking down the information you get from your website or other platforms into different groups. From there, you can analyze the behaviour better, because you understand the groups and their intentions. The groups could be:

  • Volunteers
  • Large donors
  • Smaller donors
  • Users of the resources and services you offer
  • Those looking for jobs opportunities

Once you start looking at these different groups’ behaviour separately, you will better understand how they are using your platform. For example, you can focus your marketing strategy towards large donors when you have an expensive gala coming up. If you want to organize a raffle, you can focus more on your younger audience, they’ll have less resources but an appetite for fun lotteries! There are so many adjustments you can make by looking at the information you get through your site data. Use Google Analytics to get and segment your site’s data.

Analyzing your data on the Google Analytics Dashboard.

Track your fundraising efforts

Similar to data segmenting, you can use services like Google Analytics to track how your online fundraising strategy is working. Track and analyze the:

  • Number of donations received
  • Average gift amount
  • Donor conversion rate
  • And much more!

These results will demonstrate how your fundraising methods are doing over time. Analyze how many donations you receive, how many people visiting your site actually donate and more. Improve your donation form by calculating your conversion rate. This will allow you to improve your donor engagement overall!

Thank your donors

One of the most important parts of fundraising is making sure you thank your donors. The best ‘thank yous’ really illustrate how much you value your donors’ support. Craft a well thought out thank you message for each of your different online campaigns. You can automate some of them based on the donation software you use. Make sure it includes:

  • An actual “Thank you.” Say it!
  • Personalization. It should come from a member of your team and be addressed directly to the donor.
  • The impact the donation is having. Demonstrate where the donation is going by using images or numbers.
  • Mention the next steps they can take, but don’t ask for more money right away. For now, ask them to like your Facebook page, or to sign up to be a volunteer in the future! 
  • Another Thank you!

Adapt your thank you based on the size of the donor’s impact. For example, if someone gives $1,000, you should go the extra mile and write them a personal email, call or thank them in person.

online fundraising Simplyk
At Simplyk, our goal is to give you all the tools you need to maximize your impact through online fundraising. We use the best technology to make your work simple.  We provide services for donation, peer-to-peer, ticketing, memberships and more. Plus, all of our services are free, because we want you to be able to focus 100 % on your mission.
Visit simplyk.io or contact us at contact@simplyk.io to get started.