Enhance your online fundrais­ing abil­i­ties in four steps

In an online and inter­con­nect­ed world these four steps can help your organisation’s online donor recruit­ment soar.

Written by
Sarah Daren
August 08, 2018
There’s a new, interconnected world of fundraising out there.

Like many aspects of life, the world of fundraising has changed dramatically since the dawn of the internet. One of the biggest changes has been the popularity of crowdfunding, which allows a huge group of people to chip in small contributions to reach a fundraising goal.

Crowdfunding, which is a relatively new concept, has become one of the most popular ways to raise money for specific projects. The industry as a whole grew 167 per cent and raised $16.2 billion dollars globally in 2017. The benefits of crowdfunding are undeniable. 

Unfortunately, in my experience, many organisations just aren’t using this tool properly and have no idea how to stand out from the crowd. We come across a lot of organisations that are struggling to navigate the new world of fundraising.

Although new opportunities have exploded in this space thanks to the internet, many organisations don’t know the best approaches for leveraging these fundraising tools. They’re not getting the results they want out of crowdfunding and are feeling frustrated by their lack of success.

After working on numerous successful crowdfunding campaigns, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and come up with a formula that works for almost any type of organisation, using four key steps. 

By following these steps, you can enhance your online fundraising abilities and put your organisation in a great position. 

1. Run a referral contest

Asking people to spread the word is all well and good, but people are busy. They need incentives to share your campaign or they might forget or put it off. A referral contest is a great way to provide that incentive. The prizes don’t have to be big, but they do need to be audience-specific, something your core base really wants.

Timing is everything when it comes to referral contests. It’s not the best idea to launch your contest at the same time as your campaign. Why? Referral contests have been shown to perform better once 60 per cent of the funding goal has been reached, or 30 days into the campaign. Your loyal backers are already on board and that little push when the end is in sight spurs potential backers into action. 

Referral contests are a popular way of raising brand awareness and donations.

2. Boost interest with statistics

As humans, we love statistics. They’re memorable, specific and, in some cases, alarming. We often use statistics in crowdfunding campaigns to boost interest and appeal to the audience’s emotions.

This was extremely effective in one campaign in particular. I helped a nonprofit organisation fundraise to improve living standards across third world countries. Instead of making broad statements, we used the following statistic to get attention: ‘71 per cent of adults around the globe own less than $10,000 USD in wealth.’ 

Once that campaign wrapped up, we had surpassed expectations and gone way past our goal of $15,000, raising a total of $27,850.  

3. Tap into data analytics

Harnessing your data can be crucial to fundraising success.

Lots of people want to fund interesting or humanitarian projects, but many of the organisations don’t know how to spread the word or stand out. Dig into the data to better understand your potential backers. When are they online? Which sites are their favourite?

These kinds of insights will help you make strategic decisions about where to focus your time and energy on marketing. Data analytics have never been easier to set up and they’re not a luxury anymore: they’re a necessity. One organisation I worked with actually boosted their traffic by a huge percentage just by changing the time of day they ran the majority of their ads.

4. Develop a PR campaign

PR is in no way dead and organisations need to really develop a solid PR strategy to spread the word about their crowdfunding campaigns. If you’re not sure where to start, HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a great way to get early inside scoops and connect with journalists who might be interested in featuring your campaign.

Once you’re ready to reach out, how can you stand out? Creating pitch templates that feel personal will help you to create a positive impression and get featured. Lazy PR is worse than no PR, because it just wastes everyone’s time. Do your research and only contact journalists who are working on pieces that are actually relevant to your campaign. 

Time well spent

You can’t just create a crowdfunding campaign with an exciting premise and expect it to succeed. Take the time to optimise your campaign and spread the word. It’s time well-spent and will result in greater success. 

About the author: Sarah Daren

Sarah Daren has been a consultant for startups in the nonprofit sector, fintech and health & wellness. When she's not watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach. 

Related case studies or articles

Eight lessons for online fundraising

Fundraising consultant, Corinne Bekker tackles the ongoing debate about online fundraising. Using the example of Wikimedia’s recent success – success to the tune of $16 million – she argues that clearly online fundraising can work, if you know how to get it right.

Read more

What kind of experience does your donor encounter when making an online gift?

Pamela Grow shares some easy lessons you can steal and pitfalls you can avoid from the best, and worst, of donor experiences.

Read more

Ten easy fixes for the design of your donation form

Beate Sorum shares digital how-tos, things to do and not to do and 10 tips to make your online donation form work much better.

Read more

Nine tips for effective e-mails

E-mail may seem boring, what with Google Earth, Web 2.0, Twitter, widgets, and badges, but it’s still the workhorse of online fundraising and communications.

Read more

‘Transcending space’ with Innophoria's social sector clients

In Lucy’s sixth blog for SOFII, she transports us to the future, a future where we can give the donor a virtual experience of our work which shows exactly what their money has achieved.

Read more