social distancing

Nonprofit Fundraising: What To Do When Public Gatherings are Limited

By Ivan Boychuk on October 27, 2020
    
	Like any organization, nonprofits need to be agile. They need to keep a close watch on what’s going on in the public and how current events affect their prospective donors.

And right now, this is more important than ever. People are no longer attending public events or meetups in their city.

So how do you raise money for your nonprofit when public gatherings are limited?

In this post, we’ll share a few strategies!

1. Double Down on Direct Mail

Direct mail is one of the most effective strategies nonprofits can use to generate donations. In fact, on average, direct mail brings in 78% of donations! Based on this, it’s worthwhile to consider funnelling the money you would have spent on in-person events and fundraisers to ramp up your direct mail efforts. In order to have success with direct mail, you need to make sure every element of your campaign is set up to increase conversion rates. You can learn more about creating effective direct mail campaigns by checking out this article: How to Increase Direct Mail Response Rate: 9 Clever Strategies.

2. Optimize Your Website for Conversions

With fewer opportunities for in-person donations, your website needs to be set up to entice visitors to donate. How do you do this?

Create compelling landing pages

Although your goal is to attract donations rather than sell a product, you still need to apply proven online marketing principles that inspire visitors to act. Here’s how: Write copy that elicits an emotional response - prospective donors are more likely to respond to your ask if you’re able to choose words that make them feel emotions, rather than just simply bombarding them with facts. A great way to do this is to incorporate storytelling into your webpages. Do you have an example of how a previous campaign changed people's lives? Share it on your website! Create a sleek design - along with the right words, a visually-appealing design is a must if you want to hold the reader's attention and get them to respond to your request. Include a compelling call to action - It doesn’t matter how well-written your webpages are or how beautiful your design is if you forget to include a strong call to action. Tell readers exactly what they need to do to donate to your nonprofit.

Focus on speed

We’ve all felt the frustration that comes from waiting too long for a web page to load. Slow loading speeds make your site content irrelevant. If your page takes longer than three seconds to load, more than a quarter of your users will navigate away from it. This is why it’s always a good idea to check in with your web developer and inquire about your page loading speeds. Or, you can use this free tool from Google to check for yourself - just enter your URL and the tool will provide you with a page speed score.

Create great content

Engaging content keeps prospective donors on your webpage longer, making them more likely to donate to your cause. Blog posts, videos, and podcasts are all great content forms to use to keep your audience engaged and connected.

3. Maintain Personal Connections

A strong emotional connection with your existing donor base is one of the biggest drivers of donations for nonprofit organizations. And to create a strong personal connection, most nonprofits would previously host in-person events and fundraising drives where they could meet face-to-face with the community and share their story. With social distancing protocols in place, this is no longer an option. Nonprofits now need to explore new ways to establish an emotional connection with their audience to drive donations. Here are a few ways to do so:

Hand-written letters

Gold, fine art, diamonds - it’s the rarity of these items that create their value. And in the digital world we now live in, handwritten letters are also rare, and therefore, more valuable. Taking just a few minutes to craft a hand-written thankyou note to send out to your donors will significantly increase the chances that they’ll donate again in the near future. You can take this one step further and develop an even deeper connection by sending out hand-written well wishes on their birthday, anniversary, or other important dates.

Personal phone calls

In addition to hand-written letters, personal phone calls can add a nice touch to your fundraising campaign. Most people receive dozens of emails every day. But how often do you receive a personal phone call? Simply hearing a friendly voice on the other end of the line can strengthen the relationship between donors and nonprofits. When using this strategy, make sure that you’re not asking for money every time you call. Instead, ask them how their family is doing and show real interest in their lives. You can even give them an update about your organization and explain the results their previous donation helped create.

Thoughtful gifts

Finally, a small, thoughtful gift can go a long way. You don’t have to go to any extremes - a bouquet of flowers on Valentine's day, a box of Christmas cookies during the holiday season. These kind gestures will not go unnoticed by donors. In the end, the best way to maintain a personal relationship with your donors - even when you can’t meet them in person - is to treat them like the other special people in your life. Check in with them. Ask how they’re doing. Let them know you’re thinking about them and that they’re appreciated.

4. Organize a Mask Drive

People are more likely to part with their hard-earned money if they’re getting something they need in return. And right now, masks used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are in high demand. Consider getting in touch with a print company to bulk-order masks with a special design printed on them. For example, you could choose a phrase or quote that’s relevant to your organization and have it printed on the masks. You can send out these masks to people in exchange for a donation to your nonprofit organization. Not only will this generate donations while providing people with masks to help keep them safe, but it will also create awareness for your organization. People will be curious about the design on the mask and ask where you got it from.

5. Approach Previous Donors

It’s much easier to convince someone who already knows and trusts your organization to donate money than it is to attract cold prospects. There’s a simple reason for this which can be explained by looking at a fundraising funnel. Every successful donation campaign requires you to do three main things:
  1. Generate awareness for your organization
  2. Explain the importance of your cause
  3. Establish trust that money will be properly allocated
  4. Collect donations
nonprofit fundraising funnel By approaching previous donors, you can skip the first three steps of this funnel - the fact that they have donated before means they already know about your organization, understand the importance of your cause, and trust you to put their money to good use. So, if a lack of in-person gatherings is preventing you from generating new donations, consider looking to previous donors for help.

6. Solidify Your Presence on Social Media

If you can’t meet face to face with your prospective donors, you can still engage with them through social media. Here are some tips for creating effective social media campaigns.

Set a Goal 

To be successful on social media, it’s important to set clear goals. Many organizations skip this crucial step. They start posting on social media because they feel like they should, however, they have no end goal for their efforts. When setting a goal for your social media campaign, think about the results you want to achieve. Are you looking to generate more awareness for your organization? Attract direct donations? Recruit volunteers? Make sure you choose a specific outcome with measurable results. For example, a nonprofit using social media to generate direct donations might say they want to generate $10,000 over the next three months. When those three months are up, they’ll know whether they achieve their goal or not. From there, they can assess what worked, what didn’t work, and decide how to proceed.

Define Your Target Audience

Before creating any content for social media, you need to decide who is most likely to respond to your message and become a donor. To do this, take a look at all the people who have given money to your organization in the past. What was their average income level? What profession were they in? Where do they live? Once you have a clear idea of the demographics of your target audience, you can begin creating content tailor-made for them. This will help significantly increase conversion rates and boost your social media ROI. Also, most social media platforms allow you to purchase paid ads. These ads can target users based on demographic data collected by the platform. If you don’t have any existing data to go on, this might be a good place to start.

Choose the Right Platforms

Ten years ago, Facebook had a stronghold on the social media market. Today, there are multiple platforms that exist, and more are being created every year. Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Tiktok - the list goes on... While it might seem like a good idea to have an active presence on all of them, you’ll see better results by focusing on the two or three platforms that are most relevant to your audience. For example, if the majority of your donors are business professionals, LinkedIn is the best option. If families are more receptive to your cause, then you might put more energy into Facebook. Take a look at your target audience and ask yourself, where do they spend their time online?

Assess Results and Make Changes

People and platforms are always changing. What might have worked before may no longer generate the same results. That’s why testing is so important. There are countless analytics software that can help you do this. However, when testing, make sure you only test one thing at a time. Any more than that and it becomes difficult to know which of the changes you made actually worked.

7. Plan Virtual Events

Just because you can’t meet in person doesn’t mean you have to put a stop to all your fundraising events. Instead, consider shifting them online. Here are a few great ideas for virtual fundraising events for nonprofits, courtesy of GiveForms: Virtual concerts - bring together local musicians and charge admission for those who would like to listen to live music from the comfort of their own homes. Online gala dinners - send a party box to a few select guests. This box could include wine, baked goods, food and drink mixes, or anything else you can think of. Then, set a time for a video call where everyone can get together and enjoy great conversation. You could even ask a few prominent members in the community to attend and make a virtual speech! Online auctions - set up a web page where items can be reviewed and bid on and specify that a portion of the proceeds will be used to help fund your nonprofit. Walkathon - with all the new fitness devices out there, it’s easy to track data like steps and exercise. Consider arranging a walkathon where people pay to compete to see who can walk the most steps over a certain period of time. To attract more interest, offer a prize for first, second, and third place. Virtual movie nights - schedule a time where people can get together and watch a movie. Be sure to start an online chat before it begins so people can discuss what’s going on. You can also use this chat to answer questions people have about your organization. Virtual classes and workshops - hire an expert to teach an online class or workshop and then open it up to the public in exchange for a donation. Peer to peer fundraising drives - encourage supporters to set up personal fundraising pages to generate donations for your organization from their friends and family. Just choose one of the many crowdfunding apps and get started!

Struggling to Attract Donations Without In-Person Contact? ION Can Help

The team at ION understands that it can be difficult to find donors to support your nonprofit organization, especially when gatherings are limited. We can help solve this problem by...
  • Designing marketing funnels to attract donations.
  • Establishing an online presence to create awareness for your organization.
  • Using direct mail, email, blog posts, and other marketing strategies to generate more donations. 
  • Creating personalized communications to help retain donors. 
If you would like to learn more, please get in touch with us here.