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Small Charity eFundraising

Online Fundraising – Things for smaller charities to think about

There is no doubt that the internet has changed many aspects of our lives, even influencing how we spend our money.  Spending money or more precisely, giving money away, is something that charities think a lot about, especially in a recession and with governments cutting funds.  

Online fundraising might seem an easy way to reach out to a wide online and international audience.  However, as many charities have found out, online fundraising is not as easy as it seems. With a large variety of web tools and applications available, charities, and particularly smaller charities, can easily feel overwhelmed.    

According to a study co-sponsored by nfpSynergy and MissionFish, larger organisations, such as Amnesty International, have a lot more success with online fundraising than smaller charities.  This is partly due to larger charities being able to devote a lot more time to campaigning online.   

There are however enormous opportunities for smaller charities but there are some important considerations to take into account:

You must be dynamic

These days we are constantly presented with opportunities to interact online:  through social networks, games, mobile phone apps and more.

Any website needs to therefore be a platform for interaction.  This doesn’t mean your website has to have a game or animation, but it does require knowing your visitors’ wants, needs, and interests.    Make sure your website is engaging, easy to understand, informative, relevant, and most importantly, up to date.  No one wants to come back to a website that hasn’t changed in 3 years.

Freedom to choose

We already discussed the importance of online interaction - this is also true for donations.  Visitors to your website and potential donors need the ability to choose from a variety of donation options.

A large “Donate Now” button on your website might work for someone who already knows your organisation, but might be a turnoff for a new visitor.  

Again, internet users are today given “choice”…and often a lot of it!  So successful campaigns must provide options that cater for how donors want to give.  Maybe they can buy a t-shirt, sponsor an animal, or send their friends a birthday card:  all options allow them to donate money, but in unique ways.  

Cool, clear, and transparent

One of the benefits to charities that the web provides is the ability to show transparency.  Even with traditional fundraising methods, trust is paramount.  

People generally won’t make a donation if they don’t understand or know where their money is going.  Worse still, donors who feel that their money hasn’t been used correctly may never come back.

With the internet there is now enormous potential – to see, for example, that your money has gone to build a school because you’re sent a video of the building.   The internet also allows you to show what happens at every step of the donation process.  Transparency encourages donations:  the more someone trusts an organisation the more willing he or she is likely to be to help again.

Social media needs investment

With the advent of social media, many charities got excited about its potential to draw in new donors to support their cause.  The reality is, however, not so simple.  

Social media is a great community building tool.  It can be a great tool for raising awareness of campaigns or getting a new charity talked about.  But in order to generate donors or loyal supporters, a great deal of time is needed to build relationships:  online presence requires work.  So keep posting updates, build a strong presence, and you will build your supporter base.

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