Attracting and Keeping Your Online Audience

14 Jun

Whether your nonprofit has been around for decades or if you are just starting out, everyone could use a little advice when it comes to online fundraising. While I can’t give you a magic formula or sure-fire method to have your bank account explode, I CAN give you some helpful ways to maximize your online giving potential.

Creating an Audience

What’s the point of creating an amazing online campaign if your organization’s social network is minimal? The majority of non-profits have a Facebook or Twitter account, but if you are recently established, it may take a little time and effort to build up a list that will make your social media fundraising worthwhile.

One way to attract people to your page is to find a common ground. You obviously don’t want to steal other organization’s donors, but if there is an event or news story that you come across online related to your cause, comment on it and get your organization’s name thrown into the mix. Commenting on posts allows your Facebook profile to be seen by others interested in the topic. Find sites where people have a common passion for your philanthropic goals and let them know where to find you.

Another way to gain attention is to create thoughtful content with intriguing hooks so that current followers are compelled to first read it (which is always the first hurdle) and then share it with their personal networks. An extraordinary story, a captivating picture, or a thought-provoking quote can trigger others to repost your message.

It is also important to keep your supporters engaged so that they continue to read your posts and become a part of your campaigns. Consider creating online polls, asking simple questions, or generating stories that encourage comments. To acquire dedicated supporters, they first need to invest their time and heart before they are willing to donate their dollars.

State Your Goal and Your Strategies

I think one of the fundamental ways that many organizations fail in the fundraising department is their lack of focus. Donors want to know who they are giving to, that their contribution is making a difference, and that the goal has been reached. Without a tangible focal point, there is no way to feasibly share a success story to show your supporters that you are making great progress for your cause. While your umbrella mission statement may be to save the world, create bite-sized projects with measurable outcomes.

There are hundreds of amazing nonprofits using Fundly, and many successful ones have mastered this point. One example is the SF Goodwill Fund (check out their site: http://fundly.com/sfgoodwill). Their purpose is clearly defined: to help those in need and they are making a difference through their job skills program. Furthermore, they clearly explain the cost of the program and the goals they want to achieve. They have a clear, focused, accessible strategy with step-by-step descriptions of how they are planning on fulfilling their mission.

There are several things to take into account on your website for users to have a positive experience: first of all, what is the basic purpose of your nonprofit?  This can be explained in two to three sentences as an overview. Secondly, what are the practical steps that you are doing to have your work come to fruition? Describe the project(s) that you are working on now and how this is helping you to further your cause. Thirdly, what credentials do you have that bring credibility and accountability to your charity? Explain your past experiences, training, and evidence to prove that the donations you receive are an investment that will produce a high return.  Next, use success stories and pictures to to share results of your work. Finally, make donating fast and easy such as creating a Fundly donation page. If donors have to search a site for information or if it takes a while to make a contribution, they’ll probably move on.

These may seem like basic ideas, but when the foundation is strong you will have a stable platform for future growth. Spending your time wisely is something every charity needs to master, and online fundraising can produce incredible results. When you build a strong audience and appeal to potential supporters using social media tools, your potential for growth can be monumental.

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