Episode 165 | What You Need to Do to Shift Your Fundraising Online

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Today I’m talking about moving to online fundraising. How do we still build relationships and still communicate and engage donors in the online space? First of all, I just want to share a few statistics with you. Only 3% of charities rated their board and executive leadership as being digitally savvy. This means that we are used to communicating face-to-face; this is very common and very normal in the fundraising and nonprofit sector. We pride ourselves on relationships. We pride ourselves on face-to-face communication, on building relationships with people in person or over the phone, making sure that we are part of their lives. A lot of times our donors are coming into our offices, volunteering their services, and their time. We’re used to that kind of communication with our donor base. So, this doesn’t surprise me that 3% of charities feel like their board and executives are not digitally savvy. They haven’t had to be in the past. Well, we are in a new time. This is a new day. And we are now in a season where we have to be digitally savvy. I’m going to share five different things for you to be thinking about, and how we can make sure that this happens.

I know many organizations I talk to really do want to shift their donors over from event fundraising.  Your donors should never get burned out from giving to your cause. Right? We want to be consistently a part of our donors’ lives. We are where they are. And you know that our donors are hanging out on social media. Our donors are online, they’re shifting all of their business to online. Many brick and mortar stores are shifting online as well.

First, I want you to start thinking about where your people are.  Where are your people hanging out? Are they on social media? And if they are on social media, which I guarantee you that they are, which platforms are they hanging out on? Which social media platform do we need to hang out on more? I went to a conference a year ago called Social Media Marketing World in San Diego, California and one of the sessions I sat through was so profound because I know that it’s really easy to want to be in all places. There are so many different social media platforms. So we think we need to be on everything. We need to have a social media presence everywhere. Now, I agree that you need to have a presence and you need to be found online, but I don’t believe that you have to be on every single platform. Statistically, the majority of your donors are going to be on Facebook.  It’s an older demographic, it’s a place where you can actually engage donors a little bit further, and they’re actually engaging more in the comments and responding. It’s a little bit slower of a social media platform so it allows you for that conversation.  I’m going to encourage you to pick one. And if you do find that your demographic is a little bit younger, if the people who are funding your organization tend to be younger, then you’re going to shift that over to the younger demographic into the younger social media platforms, which most likely will be Instagram. 

Forty-five percent of worldwide donors are enrolled in a monthly giving program. This is what we want for our donor base. I know that as an organization, you want sustainability, and what would happen if all of your contributions came in, consistently month after month after month without you having to engage them into these large social gatherings of people? It’s amazing! It would transform your fundraising. And that’s the direction that we’re actually all moving toward.

Let’s talk about your email list. It is essential that we grow your email list. Most likely you already have some sort of way that you communicate with your donors, but right now, email is the new phone book.  Email is the best way to get in front of a potential donor. Because they have in some way said yes to receiving communication from you. We want to make sure that we do permission marketing, not interruption marketing. This is a Seth Godin philosophy.  Permission marketing refers to asking for permission to send people communication and information about the work that’s being done. Email is at the very core of online fundraising. And this is where we have the ability to get in front of people and really share our message in a succinct way.  I want to make sure that when you’re thinking about making the shift to online fundraising that you start thinking about how to get more people on your email list.

Next, let’s talk about your social media platform. I’m going to use the example of Facebook for today’s conversation and we’re going to marry those two together. Everything that I’m sending out in my email I’m then giving more information on Facebook, or through my social media platforms. When you’re emailing, I recommend that you communicate once a week. This is what I typically do. I communicate once a week through email and then I follow that up with social media posts and communication that I have in private Facebook groups. Those private Facebook groups allow you an immediate connection to people. Sometimes people ask me if they should have a Facebook page.  Or, should they use their personal page? Or start a private Facebook group?  There’s a benefit to each one of those. I think it’s really important that you do have all three because once you make connections with others, that’s when you take your relationship to the next level. The more we can communicate, the better.

For those of you in the nonprofit sector, I know that you are really sensitive to not bothering people.  That is something that many of us have a problem with, we don’t want to pick up the phone and call people all the time because we don’t want to be a bother. We don’t want to be annoying. We don’t want them to stop receiving our phone calls or stop responding to us. But here’s the problem, if you only communicate with people when you want money, they know that and they don’t like it.  Online communication, our social media, and emails remind people that we’re human, it reminds people that we’re doing business all year round, that we are inviting them in and engaging them in communication all year round. This is why it’s important to communicate more frequently.

This is not easy stuff but we have to make this shift. Based on the 2018 Global Trends in Giving Report, 55% of Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomer donors want to give their gifts online. This is why our websites have to be up and running. This is why we’ve got to be active on social media why we have to be in our email inboxes and make sure that there’s a donor-giving opportunity on every single email that we send out. Now I’m not saying do the big blue donate button at the bottom of your emails. I’m saying do a little line that says, “Looking for giving information, click here.” I just want you to see that that when you look at these statistics, less than 20% of Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomer donors want to give their money by cash or check. So let’s go engage them.  Let’s go build relationships, meet them where they’re at, and invite them to be a part of the work that we’re doing. That’s how we’re going to make the shift.

Resources mentioned:

2018 Global Trends in Giving Report

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Mary Valloni

Fundraising Freedom Academy

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