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Four Cornerstones of Online Fundraising

October 18, 2014

Headshot_john_kenyonMany tactics contribute to successful online fundraising, but there are four elements that I consider to be essential cornerstones of success. Whether you are just getting started with online fundraising or are an old hand at it, they bear reviewing:

1. User-Centric Donation Process. Make your online donation process simple and easy for donors to use ― one click to the donation page from anywhere on your organization's website. If you have recently revised your donation page or are switching vendors, make sure to have actual donors test it out to identify any issues. Do the same if you suspect there is something off-putting or confusing about your existing online donation process. Ideally, your donation page should provide options for giving via mail, phone, and online. Also provide options for monthly giving and memorial/tribute gifts, as well as links to information on planned giving, stock transfer options, and even volunteering.

2. Ongoing Engagement. Provide interesting, useful content in a steady stream throughout the year, not just in your year-end appeal. Offer a variety of content that increases knowledge and awareness about your programs, results, contributors (staff, volunteers, board members, donors), and the communities you serve. Be thoughtful about the way you move prospects along your ladder of engagement, from not knowing anything about your organization to becoming a friend, donor, and more.

3. Easy Sharing. Make it easy for your fans to spread the word by providing simple ways to share content from your website with tools like AddThis or ShareThis. Also, make it easy for folks to share the fact that they took an action (signed a petition, made a donation, commented on your blog, etc.). For those who are concerned about privacy, be sure to include clear options for how they can remain anonymous.

4. Ongoing Appreciation. Don't only thank people once for a contribution or action on behalf of your organization ― find ways to show your appreciation throughout the year. Thank them when they make a donation, then send them an email with an update on the program or initiative they supported that includes a thank-you message. Consider creating videos of staff, program participants, or other community members expressing gratitude for their support. Look for ways to spotlight heroes of all types in your community ― volunteers, board members, donors, even other organizations ― on a regular basis.

There are many other pieces of the online fundraising puzzle that can support success. To learn more about them, join me for a three-part webinar series, "Excellent Practices in Online Fundraising and Engagement," on November 5, 12, and 19. Learn more and register.

John Kenyon, a nationally recognized expert in online strategies, has worked exclusively with nonprofits for over twenty-five years.

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