Social media and mobile technology have fundamentally changed the way nonprofits communicate with their supporters. It has also changed the way nonprofits fundraise online. Below is a list of Online Fundraising Best Practices for nonprofits to consider and integrate into their webite, social media and mobile technology campaigns.
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From PayPal to Google Checkout, to JustGive and Network for Good, there are a plethora of vendors out there that can process donations for your organization. Processing fees range from 2.9% to 4.75%. Of all the vendors out there, Network for Good is leading the way in adopting Web 2.0 fundraising tools. If someone donates to your nonprofit via Facebook Causes, Change.org or Razoo, the donation is being processed by Network for Good. They are on the high end of processing fees, but the tools they provide through their partners can easily make up for that extra 1-1.5% in just a couple of donations.
Web 2.0 fundraising is built upon and empowered by the GuideStar database. Network for Good is pulling your organization's information directly from GuideStar. If you have old information inside of GuideStar, then you have old information inside of Network for Good, Give a Tweet, Facebook Causes, Change.org and Razoo. This includes your organization's mailing address. Donations made to your organization through most social networking sites are mailed to the address listed in GuideStar. To learn more, please see Nonprofit Tech 2.0's post: What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About GuideStar, Network for Good and Social Media Fundraising.
Online donors respond well to buttons. A Donate Now link is not enough. Your vendor will provide a button or if you have a graphic designer, then you can create a custom button that links directly to your donate page. For an example, see the "Support Our Work" page on the Teachers Without Borders website.
If possible, add a "Donate" [Give/Support Our Work] link to every page of your website. Both the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earthjustice have done so via a navigation bar on their websites. This link should go to a page that lists the numerous ways supporters can donate to your organization.
When supporters visit your website and click on the "Donate Now" button, the link should directly go to the page where the donor enter their contact and credit card information. "Donate Now" buttons should never take a donor to a generic page about giving.
Using the Static FBML App on Facebook, you can add a "Donate Now" button to your Facebook Page. With just a little bit of html know-how, you can easily add a "Donate Now" button to your Facebook Page that links directly to the donate page on your website. See the Facebook Page of Gorilla Doctors for an example.
Have a "Donate" [Give/Support Our Work] page that includes information on the various ways supporters can donate. Keep it simple and text light. Make sure your "Donate Now" button has high priority on the page. Simple text for "Donate Now" can work on this page as long it is has top priority. See Sea Shepherd's donation pitch page for a good example.
Many people still write checks for donations (especially major donors), yet many nonprofits are making the mistake of not including a snail mail address on their "Donate" page. The "Contact Us" page is not enough. Potential donors will still wonder if that is the correct mailing address for donations. For an example, see the "Donate/Why Give?" page of Global Exchange.
This requirement will turn away many online donors. If you want to ask the donor to subscribe to your text alert list, do so as an opt-in or on the “Thank You” landing page, but do not make phone numbers a requirement to make a donation. See the Humane Society's "Donate Now" page as an example.
Both JustGive and Network for Good allow donors to check a box that automatically charges their credit card each month a donation amount of their choosing. Many donors once signed up will continue to donate for years. The Humane Society has a good example of a monthly donation page. Additionally, many nonprofits launch Sustainer Programs and feature this giving opportunity on their website, in their e-newsletters, blogs, etc. Membership in Sustainer Programs grows slowly, especially in the beginning, but can become a consistent source a regular income for your organization.
Again, both JustGive and Network for Good offer the ability for donors to give in someone's name. This functionality is very useful during the holiday season when many would rather donate to a nonprofit in someone's name than buy a $20-made-in China-will-clutter-the-landfill-for-the-next- thousand-years gift. It's also useful for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and graduation gifts. The trick is featuring this ability to give in someone's name on your website, e-newsletters, blog, etc. The power of suggestion works wonders here. You will need gift cards to send to gift recipients. Start small and just go out and buy some nice cards at a stationary store. The Humane Society also has a good example of a giving in someone's name page.
After a donor makes an online donation on your website they usually land on a page that says "Thanks for your donation!" Make sure that page also has links to your social networking communities. Pitch that can easily stay informed on your organization's work and progress by Liking, Following and Friending your organization on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.
13. Get professional training!
Knowing how to use social media in your personal life is quite different from knowing how to use it professionally. Training is essential for launching and maintaining a successful social media fundraising strategy for your nonprofit. Be sure to take DIOSA's Webinar on How Nonprofits Can Successfully Utilize Online Fundraising and e-Newsletters.