4 Steps to Building a Killer Online Fundraising Plan

Shakespeare wrote it best—a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. And fundraising by any other name would achieve the same results.

So why is it that when we throw “online” in front of the word “fundraising” we think that it changes the entire fundraising game?

Maybe it’s because we operate under the theory that if we build it (or put it out there online), they will come. But the truth is, online fundraising requires the same amount of planning, attention and care as traditional fundraising—only with a unique spin.

It will take time and effort to develop an online fundraising plan for your nonprofit. But in the end, the effort and time will have been spent. And simply figuring out how to tackle the project of fundraising online is half the battle.

Follow these three steps for a well-executed online fundraising plan:

1. Create Deadlines, Goals and Tasks

Every strong house starts with a solid foundation. Likewise, a solid structure is the foundation of your online campaign.

What’s the driving purpose behind your campaign? Obviously, you want to raise money. But what are you going to use the money for? Who are you going to help? Your constituents want to know.

So storyboard it out. Sit down with your crew (whether it be the board, a group of top volunteers and staffers or whoever you want to be involved) and map out the process.

  • You’ve determined the driving purpose. Write it out in bold letters somewhere that everybody can see it. That way, everybody will have it in mind while you’re mapping it out.
  • Determine the channels that you’re going to use to reach constituents. What supplemental materials will accompany the online campaign (e.g. direct mail, other marketing materials)
  • Who will do what to ensure these actions happen? What is the job of the volunteers, who will make sure they know, who is developing the marketing campaigns?
  • Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Too often, we put things off until the last minute. And with your online fundraising campaign, knowing when all of these things will happen is a must. So set out a calendar and stick to it.

2. Promote Your Campaign

Like we said, if you build it—you still have to make sure that donors come. This isn’t a magical baseball field in the cornfields of Iowa (Field of Dreams, people). Promoting your nonprofit’s online fundraising campaign is the only way to get people in the door. And good retention tactics are the only way to keep them there.

So how are you going to make sure donors know about what’s on your horizon? That’s where other online tactics come in.

Channeling social media and email marketing are smart ways to ensure your constituents know about the campaign. (See steps above)

3. Make a Human Connection

If the extent of your online fundraising is a glaring “Donate Now” button that stands alone on your page, we have a bit of a problem.

Our first response: Why? Why should they ‘donate now?’

In the world of all things online, it takes a lot for somebody to develop trust through just a keyboard and computer screen. You wouldn’t just hand over your credit card information to anybody who asked. You’ve got to earn their trust. That’s where storytelling through your website comes into the equation.

4. Be Realistic About Your Budget

Alas, nothing in life is free—this much we know. So how much is your organization willing to spend online?

You’ll need to factor in the cost of a website and maintenance, email marketing campaigns and any other advertisements or campaigns.

Make a budget and make sure you stick to it. After you’ve been going with a campaign for awhile your online fundraising plan it may be time to reevaluate. Keep track of analytics and figure out what works for your organization.

Now that you’ve got a set plan and purpose for your next online campaign, you’re ready to go out into the world and execute.

What’s been the biggest challenge in planning your online fundraising? Let me know on Twitter—tweet at @Nphub and we can troubleshoot it together!


Lyndsey Hrabik

Lyndsey is a former editor for Nonprofit Hub and Nonprofit Hub Magazine. She now serves as a guest contributor, writing on topics such as social media, technology, marketing and starting a nonprofit.

August 29, 2013

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