Fundraising on the Internet – Are we doing it right?

Fundraising on the Internet – Are we doing it right?

Many organizations have the misguided notion that if they just make that “donate now!” button bigger, or if they just hit on the secret formula that no one will tell them, they can raise millions of dollars on the Internet and stop worrying about grants, events, and other traditional fundraising methods.  Bzzzzt!  Wrong answer… Fundraising on the Internet should be a part of your fundraising mix, but for most non-profits, the web will never become your dominant form of fundraising.  So… what are the best ways to use the Internet in your development efforts?
<h3>Complementing Your Activities</h3>
For most organizations, the primary development function of your website will be complement your other fundraising activities.  Your website provides a great opportunity to offer lots of information to your donors, including reports, white papers, stats, and news.  Likewise, every school, church, and charity should be using e-mail newsletters and blasts to keep their donors in the loop.

Your website also provides a landing pad where you can send people to make donations when they can’t make donations on the spot.  For example, when you are giving a speech or working the room at a Chamber of Commerce mixer, and someone says they want to help or make a donation, pull out your card and tell them they can go to your website to donate.  Announce your web address from the podium during seminars, and invite people to go there to learn more or to donate.

The web can also compliment your non-Internet fundraising activities in more direct ways.  For example, if you are <a title=”10 Steps to a Successful Fundraising Event” href=””>holding an event,</a> you can set up an event page to give information about the event, invite people to buy tickets online, do an early preview for your silent auction, and more.  Many groups that hold walk-a-thons and other <a title=”Getting the Crowd Involved with Participatory Fundraising” href=””>participatory fundraising events</a> have had great success with setting up a separate page for each person who is raising money as part of the event that shows progress, with a special message from the participant, and which the participant can e-mail out to their friends as part of their fundraising pitch.
<h3>Building a List</h3>
One of the best ways to use the Internet to build your fundraising base and complement your development efforts is by building an e-mail update list.  Successful online businesses have been doing this for a long time, but most non-profits have not latched on to this great strategy.

The basic concept is to set up a sign-up form on your website for your e-mail newsletter (much like the sign-up boxes you see here on The Fundraising Authority).  Encourage people who come to your website to sign up for your newsletter to stay in the loop.  Then, stay in touch with these folks by providing relevant and interesting news and tidbits on your work, mission, and vision.

As you build your e-mail list of supporters, you will be able to incorporate fundraising into your e-mail blasts.  You can invite people to events and sell tickets, ask for donations, find event sponsors, and more.
<h3>Raising Money Directly Over the Internet</h3>
Of course, while you are likely to find that the best uses of the Internet in your fundraising operation are for complementing your other activities and building a list, you don’t want to neglect direct fundraising through your website.  Every school, church, and charity should have a “Donate Now!’ button on their website, and be set up to accept one-time and recurring donations over the web.

Many non-profits have also found great success in running web-only campaigns, once their websites started to reach a significant number of visitors per day.  Often, the best type of campaign to run via the Internet is one that asks for relatively small donations ($10-$100) and is for a specific purpose, like asking visitors to contribute $10 to buy meals for a family for one day, or $25 to send a child to school for a week, etc.
<h3>Market Your Site</h3>
Once you’ve set up your organization’s website, don’t forget to market it aggressively.  Include your web address (URL) on all of your marketing materials, submit your site to the main search engines, optimize your site to be found by the search engines, and ask for links from complementary sites.
<h3>Internet Fundraising Best Practices</h3>
<li><strong>Build Your List</strong> – have sign-up forms on your website and encourage your visitors to sign up for your newsletter.</li>
<li><strong>Use the Web as a Complement to Your Other Activities</strong> – Try to include your website as a complementary tactic for your other fundraising activities.</li>
<li><strong>Have a “Donate Now!” Button</strong> – Accept credit card donations directly from your website.</li>
<li><strong>Market Your Website </strong>– Spread the word.  Without visitors to your site, you won’t receive any donations through the web.</li>

Stupid yet successful fundraising campaigns

Stupid yet successful fundraising campaigns

Quite obviously we think our fundraising goals only make sense because the projects we want to fund have considerable merit. That and the fact that we are only asking for a single dollar from anyone. Mexico is a wonderful country, but it is also one of the poorest. We believe that our projects could truly make a difference. Please just compare our causes to those shown below and we know that you will make the right decision.

Spend money to prove the Earth is flat

It turns out that the rapper B.o. B is part of that entertaining crew that thinks the Earth is flat. In fact, he is so sure that the government is lying to us about the true shape of our planet that he is challenging people to prove him wrong. How you may ask? By raising $1 million ($A1.32m) to send multiple satellites into space in order to “show B.o. B the curve”. B.o. B is so certain that his expedition will prove him right that he kicked off the campaign by personally donating $1,000 to the cause. Since starting the campaign in September 2017 he has raised $6,899, which is still nowhere near his goal but it’s depressing to think anyone would actually donate to that.

Help me purchase Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl’s self-confessed “biggest fan” decided to that if he could get a bit of money together he could hang out with his idol every day. o Frank Pain asked the internet to send him some money so he could purchase Grohl. Yep you read that right. He wanted $35,000 U46,300) so he could buy the dude from Foo Fighters and Nirvana. “I’m his biggest fan and figured I can round up enough scratch to purchase him so we can hang out and high five and s**t. Heck, I may give him a bro-hug or two as well,” he wrote. But fear not, Frank is a realistic guy and he has a backup plan if it turns out buying a human is more difficult than expected. “If it is indeed illegal to purchase another human (or if Mr. Grohl isn’t a willing seller) then I’ll spend the money on beer because Dave seems like the kind of person that would want me to drink beer.” It seems that there are a bunch of people that like the way Frank thinks because he has raised $1,854.

Pay for my kids trip to Disney World

A mum who was lashed by critics for making a crowd-funding appeal to send her children on a trip to Disney World hit back at people who called her out. Nikki Smith set up a crowd-funding page, asking for £5,000 ($A8,000) to be able to get her daughters to the theme park, but was slammed online for using the site to raise the money. She ended up taking the page down but later relaunched it, saying “I never meant to upset anyone”. “I am not a bad person,” she wrote on the new campaign. “I also am not asking people for their hard earned money, people have a choice.” She upped the goal for the new campaign to £10,000 and has raised a hefty $9,330. Even if you don’t agree with asking for handouts for a family holiday, you have to admire her determination.

Giant Lionel Richie head

Taking the iconic video for Lionel Richie’s Hello to the next level, Barcelona-based art collective Hungry Castle launched a campaign to build a super-sized version of the Motown legend’s head in 2013. Over $8000 was donated to the project, with two Australian backers even spending the night in the giant inflatable structure following its unveiling at Bestival.

A better potato salad?

What started as a joke between friends became a worldwide phenomenon just days later when Zack Brown’s offer of a simple potato salad attracted donations of over $55,000. But instead of personally benefitting from this half-baked idea, Zack used the money to fund Potatostock, a festival in his native Ohio whose proceeds went to a charity fighting hunger and homelessness.

Knitted facial hair

Struggling to grow enough facial hair to fit in with the hipster crowd? Then let this woolly, and presumably very itchy, strap-on five o’clock shadow give your face a hug instead. It was produced by Tessa Rushton at a goal of $3000. He raised $3,119.