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Photo: Mariposa DP Foundation

5 digital fundraising tips for small NGOs

22 January 2018
Author: Catrin Cooper

26% of people made a donation online in 2016 (CAF’s UK Giving report), including nearly a third of those aged 25-44. The 2017 numbers aren’t out yet, but this is only likely to grow over the coming years.

If you treat digital fundraising as an afterthought then you’ll miss out on donations. Don’t be put off by a lack of fancy tools or technical skills. Here are some top tips to help small NGOs build an effective digital fundraising strategy.

1. Set realistic goals

Review your budget, staff/volunteer time and resources and set realistic goals for how you might be able to expand your digital fundraising. Engage all parties in the planning stage, so that they’re aware of the overall goals as well as how these tie in with their individual roles. This Digital Fundraising Strategy Worksheet can help you set goals for the year and allocate tasks and responsibilities between staff and volunteers.

2. Make it easy for donors to donate

Research different ways in which donors can make a donation to your cause, including website donation buttons and fundraising platforms. Choose a solution that matches your available resources and annual budget. 

You should also consider the quality of the donor journey: what does the donor see and how many clicks does it take for someone to donate? The shorter and more intuitive the user experience, the more likely your donor is to donate. At GlobalGiving, we’ve done a lot of testing on the donor journey - check out some of our findings relating to donation options and features and language on a donation page. On average, a donor on GlobalGiving will spend four seconds on a project page before they decide whether or not to donate, so it’s paramount that you provide a smooth journey.

3. Be strategic with your communications

Make sure to communicate with supporters via the right digital channels. This could be social media, with Facebook being the main channel for most charities, but if you don’t have a large following you might want to concentrate on using channels like email newsletters for donation asks while building up your social media audience.

It’s also important to include a clear call to action in all your communications. If you want to ask someone to donate, include a link to your donations page in your message or if you want someone to share your campaign, create interesting content that is easy to share. Check out some of these great social media posts which showcase clear calls to action.

4. Coordinate your 2018 calendar

Aim to mobilise online donors around certain times of the year to increase engagement and reduce donor fatigue. For inspiration, check out GlobalGiving’s annual calendar, which includes popular holidays and observances that might make good fundraising opportunities. 

Why not complement an offline fundraising event with a digital fundraising campaign? You could include an online donation link in email correspondences to attendees, or in the footer of a video you share, or in content you post on your website. Supporters may surprise you with their willingness to donate before and after your fundraiser, so make sure to give them ample opportunity. Finally, it’s also important to have a start and end date for your campaigns to communicate a sense of urgency and enable supporters to follow the campaign’s story and distinguish it from others.

5. Listen, act, learn, repeat!

Take note of what does and doesn’t work and repeat what was most effective. This will help you to focus your time and resources in the areas that are having the most impact. See how Sally Duncan iterated her communications strategy during a GlobalGiving Accelerator, helping her to raise £7,803 for equine therapy.

Apply by 1 February to be part of the next GlobalGiving Accelerator

The Bond Conference, 26-27 February, will feature a strand on funding and alternative financing.

About the author

Catrin Cooper
Global Giving

Catrin Cooper is the training and engagement coordinator at GlobalGiving, a charity that partners with charities to help them grow and thrive: providing access to fundraising tools, funding, support and training.