Most nonprofits know of Facebook’s tremendous potential as a fundraising tool. Facebook Causes offers some great tools that nonprofits can use to learn more about their constituencies, manage fundraising campaigns, and mobilize their online communities.
Not all nonprofits who have a presence on Facebook have been able to harness its full potential, however. A successful fundraising strategy requires: 1) a cause that people care deeply for and can get passionate about; 2) a legion of highly engaged fans willing to advocate for the cause; 3) a well-coordinated fundraising campaign; and 4) some creativity. It also takes time– time to build a critical mass of fans, and time to build loyalty through regular and genuine communication.
But the justification for nonprofits to invest time and resources in Facebook has just become much more compelling.
JP Morgan Chase recently launched the Chase Community Giving Competition, which relies on Facebook crowdsourcing to choose which charities will receive a portion of the $5 million that Chase is giving away this year. The competition started in December of 2009, with the top 100 charities (voted by Facebook users) winning $25,000 each and advancing to the second round, where another vote will determine which organizationwill receive the $1 million grand prize or $100,000 prizes for the final runners-up. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this competition is that it levels the playing field– some small organizations made it to the top 100 list and may even be awarded $100,000.
With this competition JP Morgan Chase joins the likes of the Case Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation, who have been using Facebook since 2007 to manage America’s Giving Challenge, which awards both daily and end-of-competition cash prizes to the nonprofits who can leverage the most donations from their fans. More more than $2 million from Facebook users was donated through the competition in 2009.
So if you’re still thinking about building a presence on Facebook, it’s time to get started– both the competition and the rewards this fall will likely be better than ever!
Even if you don’t end up bringing in some of the big prizes from Facebook, the time you’ve spent raising awareness of your cause, engaging your constituents and building relationships creates valuable capital that will boost your broader online fundraising and help you reach your longer-term fundraising objectives.
Posted by Elizabeth Beachy, Upleaf Co-Founder
Online fundraising success doesn’t come easily. It requires time and effort, and most importantly—a clear strategy—supported by the right tools.
There are tools available to nonprofits that can turn a small team of three employees into a fundraising powerhouse. The key is to synchronize and automate as many activities as possible, which helps maximize the efficiency of each team member and multiply the impact of every message.
At Upleaf we promote a four-part strategy, where each strategy builds upon the previous one:
1. Constituent Relationship Management System. The foundation of any online strategy is a CRM system—i.e. the technologies and processes that help an organization manage its constituents (donors, members, stakeholders, volunteers, and even beneficiaries). Most CRM tools can help you:
- Segment target audiences for tailored messaging
- Automate thank-you notes, membership renewal reminders, end-of-year IRS letters for donors
- Consolidate contacts across an organization and track interactions with all contacts
- Automatically upload contact info from online donors, Facebook fans, newsletter subscribers, and other constituents your organization interacts with online
- Monitor results with detailed custom reports
2. Build an Online Community. By “Online Community” we mean creating a space where people associated with your cause or your organization can interact with you and also with each other. Creating an open forum helps build long-term loyalty, attract new constituents, increase your impact, and learn more about your supporters and how they feel about your issues. It also builds powerful allies and partners in promotion, who can spread your messages to their own social networks. Some of the most effective ways to build an online community include:
- An interactive website. This means creating space for people to comment on your content, participate in a discussion forum, submit a guest blog post, or share content with friends through social networks at the click of a button.
- Social media applications. Here Facebook, YouTube, Change.org, Twitter, or even custom social media applications can be highly effective ways to build your interactive community quickly.
- Advocacy. Action alerts, petitions, or other online advocacy tools get people involved with your cause. Systems like Democracy in Action make advocacy campaigns easy to manage.
- Online support groups. Many nonprofits serve people who would benefit from being able to interact with each other online. This strategy can increase the number of people reached without increasing staff or overhead.
3. Launch a Targeted Campaign. Once you have established a robust online community and CRM to manage your relationships, you can embark on a targeted campaign. This requires clear and compelling messaging based on best practices of writing for the web, an appropriate mix of fundraising pitches and showcasing of results, and of course, some creativity. You’ll want to launch coordinated messages through a strategic mix of:
- Your website (make sure your campaign messages are front and center)
- Email blasts (one of your most powerful tools to call for quick action)
- Social media (get your online community to join in, and also endorse your cause to their friends)
- Google Ads (free to nonprofits through a Google Grant—can bring in new supporters)
- Public Relations (there are some great online PR agencies that can help reach your audiences)
4. Collect Your Revenue. Now that you’ve done the work to get your message out and convince people to donate to your cause, become a member, or buy a ticket to your big event—you have to make sure that it is as easy as possible for them to do so. A couple of tips can go a long way:
- Put a “Donate Now” or “Become a Member” button on your home page and on every single page of your online presence (website, email blast, Facebook cause, etc)
- Enable one-time and recurrent donations
- Encourage donations to specific programs, and clarify what $ amount can make a difference
- Recognize your donors, members or contributors, to keep them coming back
Finally, you’ll want to capitalize on your reach and get creative with your fundraising—set up contests with prizes for your biggest fundraisers, an online store, online auctions, or a Facebook or Twitter challenge. And most importantly, get your online community involved. Often they have fresh, new, powerful ideas that a development department would never think of!
If you haven’t yet launched your online communication strategy or need some help sharpening it up, Upleaf offers free initial consultations to nonprofit organizations. Contact us to set up your free consultation now!
Posted by Elizabeth Beachy, Upleaf Co-Founder
A lot of non-profits have online donation pages but complain that they still receive very few donations. Why? There are several reasons that could explain the lack of online giving ranging from low traffic to a poorly designed website.
In essence, to be effective your entire online communication strategy must be built around increasing donations, which has implications regarding how your website is designed and what information you offer.
Below are five keys to online fundraising success. While some of them sound intuitive, a recent study of non-profit websites found that a surprising number of them do not meet these criteria. Potential donors were left feeling frustrated and discouraged from donating.
To keep that from happening to your potential donors, take another look at your site:
1. Does your website clearly outline who you are, what your mission is, and who you serve?
The key here is that the answers to these three questions must be readily available. You shouldn’t have to dig for them, they should be apparent on the front page of the website. Site visitors often stay just 1-2 minutes, and want quick answers.
Less than half of all non-profit sites studied in a Non-Profit Donation Usability Survey clearly answered these questions on their homepages, and difficulty navigating a site and finding information was the number one reported “donation killer”. If you need to tweak your site, try to keep your text short and succinct, and use photos to help communicate who your target audience is. Make your impact tangible so visitors can connect immediately with what you do.
2. Does your site appeal to visitors on an emotional level?
Studies have demonstrated that statistics and rational arguments don’t drive online donations– stories of real people do. Visitors need to be able to connect with real people on an emotional level, through a story that highlights their shared values. Donors like to see faces and profiles of the people they will be helping, and they need to know that their donation (no matter how small) will really make a difference. If you’re not sure what the emotional connection is that drives your cause, talk to some of your current donors. Then communicate that “selling point” through stories of the real people you serve.
3. Does your site explain how you will use donated money?
The Donation Usability Survey of non-profit websites found that only 1 of 23 sites surveyed actually explained what they would do with donations on their home page. And many non-profits don’t even explain what they will do with donations on or leading to their donation page. The more transparent and specific you can be about where donations go, the more confidence you will inspire in your donors.
For example if you can cost out your services (“for every $20 donation we receive, one child in X country will receive a year’s worth of school supplies”) you make your impact tangible and your donor knows that they’re making a real difference in someone’s life. That is both compelling and rewarding.
4. Make online giving quick, easy, and secure.
The more time it takes to make a donation, the more discouraged potential donors can become. Make sure your online giving process is quick (don’t add in unnecessary survey questions for example), and consider adding security features (like McAfee or VeriSign) so donors can feel safe giving out their personal information.
5. Reach out.
You can follow all of the previous steps impeccably, but if your site traffic is low then your pool of potential donors will be insignificant. So how to attract new visitors and donors?
You can increase your traffic through online marketing and communication strategies such as e-newsletters or e-mailings with links back to your site, viral campaigns, social networking, directories, strategic online partnerships, online press releases, using well-indexed content management systems, or even paid advertising. And just reworking your site to make sure it is fully search engine optimized can substantially increase your traffic.
By Elizabeth Beachy, Upleaf Co-founder