The online world is vast. It can be daunting as a nonprofit organization to figure out how best to engage with your online community. But, there are ways to effectively reach out to the greater fundraising world and build up awareness around your group.
In order to inspire your current supporters (and new supporters!) to interact with your organization and raise funds for your cause, there are several avenues you can take. All can prove effective if done well, so exploring each option is a great move.
When looking to engage with your online fundraising community, you should:
- Tell a story
- Use peer-to-peer fundraising
- Try crowdfunding
- Engage with donors on social media
- Send emails
- Run product campaigns
- Run contests
- Create a sense of urgency
Are you ready to learn some amazing techniques to get your nonprofit some much-deserved attention? Check out these strategies below!
1. Tell a story
The first step in engaging with your online community is telling your story. Every nonprofit has a vision, and you want to communicate yours in the best way possible. Whether this is through your website or social media pages, you should tell a compelling story using high-quality content.
Things to keep in mind as you tell your story include:
- Who you’re impacting. Talk about the group of people you’re impacting and how you’ve made a difference, such as the animals for an animal charity or patients for breast cancer research.
- Different types of media. Use a variety of media to convey your message, such as videos that explain the good your organization does and photos that highlight the impact you’ve made.
- Your goals. Talk about where you want to go from here. What are your ultimate goals and how can you get there with your community’s help? Be ambitious but as specific as possible, too.
Telling a meaningful story that accurately portrays your mission is key to evoking empathy from others. Without offering a compelling reason to care about a cause, you’re less likely to receive contributions.
2. Use peer-to-peer fundraising
An effective method of engaging your fundraising community is via peer-to-peer fundraising. So, what is peer-to-peer fundraising? It’s when your organization recruits volunteer fundraisers to raise money on your behalf. It’s a great social method that gets your supporters involved and makes donors feel more compelled to contribute.
Basically, peer-to-peer fundraising steps include:
- Deciding on your campaign goals
- Choosing your platform
- Setting up a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign page
- Calling on your supporters to create individual campaign pages to support your goal
- Educating your supporters and supplying them with templates they can use to share the campaign information
- Keeping track of your goals and the campaign overall
Peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the most results-driven methods you can use to raise money for your cause. When you put a face and a personal story to a campaign, the impact is even bigger. It’s a great way to get your community involved and to reach individuals who might not have learned about it otherwise.
Looking for some of the best peer-to-peer fundraising platforms? Check out this helpful list.
3. Try crowdfunding
Another great way to raise money and engage with the community is through crowdfunding. What is crowdfunding? Simply put, it’s when projects or other ventures are funded by raising small sums of money from a large number of people online.
In order to successfully crowdfund your cause, it’s important that you choose the right platform. Look out for donation features, such as:
- Customization, so you can build a form that meets your needs and reflects your brand.
- Embedding options, so you can embed your form into your website and donors don’t have to leave to contribute.
- Payment processing options, so that your donors can donate using their preferred payment method.
If you’re not sure where to start with your campaign, Donately offers great customizable donation forms that you can use for all your crowdfunding needs.
Crowdfunding is an effective and meaningful tool that can not only help you raise money, but also encourage a sense of community among your donors and the individuals who share your campaign page. Definitely keep this tool in mind as you explore ways to further engage your supporters.
4. Engage with donors on social media
Social media is an awesome method of engagement that offers you many ways to interact with your fundraising community. There are several social media tools you can take advantage of, and if used correctly, the outreach can be significant.
Using social media allows you to do things like:
- Play with different types of content. Use videos, calls-to-action, and other types of content that engage individuals with your cause.
- Update your supporters in real-time. Live-tweet a fundraising event or go live on Facebook to share videos of what your organization is up to.
- Thank individuals for their contributions. Give shout-outs to individuals and show your appreciation on social media, which will make your supporters feel valued and also help heighten the sense of community surrounding your cause.
- Leverage your network to reach more donors. All of the volunteers and donors you’ve found through social media can help spread the word and share your cause with their friends and family. Call on your supporters to make your community even larger.
Social media allows you to make connections that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Use these resources to your advantage and connect with supporters on a deeper level.
5. Send emails
Everyone has an email address these days, so email outreach is a great way to continue your engagement and pass along information about your organization’s cause. If you’re not sure how to phrase your emails, there are templates for donation request letters that you can use as a guide.
If you’re also looking for general tips on how to reach out to supporters via email marketing, here are some common types of email messages you can incorporate into your strategies:
- Monthly or weekly newsletters
- Information about donation campaigns
- Personalized thank-you letters
By providing accessible information and proactively reaching out to current supporters and potential donors alike, you can pave the way for a growing community of fundraisers. You can’t win if you don’t play!
6. Run product campaigns
In order to successfully engage with your community online, there are a few extra steps you can look into. One of these is product campaigns, which can offer your community something tangible that’s related to your organization.
For instance, product campaigns can include branded merchandise. With branded merchandise, you can:
- Promote your group’s image. When you establish a visual presence online, you’re boosting your organization’s overall brand. For example, when people walk around wearing your branded apparel, this alerts people to your cause.
- Raise money. Look for vendors that allow you to create well-designed and high-quality products, such as Bonfire’s t-shirt fundraising platform. Design a logo for your organization or simply print your organization’s name and slogan on the products. Then, hold a campaign selling t-shirts or other products that can help you raise money.
Product campaigns are a great way to raise money, but they are also a great way to expand your community and engage people who otherwise wouldn’t have known about your organization. Think about ways to transform your image into tangible products and help raise more awareness about your cause.
7. Run contests
Another effective way to solicit your community is through a little friendly competition. Run contests on your social media pages and/or website and blog, and draw attention to your organization in the process. Such contests can include:
- Photo contests
- Essay contests
- Video contests
As an example, run a video contest where individuals can explain what your cause means to them and how they would help you reach your goal. Feature the winner on your website or social media pages, and reward the winner with a free ticket to one of your fundraising events.
People want their content to be seen, so encourage them to post their media on your Facebook page or tag you on Instagram (or any other platforms you use). User-generated content is a powerful tool, so use this to gain exposure to the greater fundraising communities out there.
8. Create a sense of urgency
The last takeaway item that can help engage your community is creating a sense of urgency. Urgency is the ultimate call-to-action. By showing your community that they only have a limited amount of time to act, that registers with them and encourages them to make a decision quickly.
Examples of urgency include:
- Limited-time t-shirts (or other branded products)
- 24-hour fundraising campaigns or special matching gift periods from sponsors
- Posting online that you’re only a small amount away from meeting your fundraising goal
All of these above examples can inspire an individual to decide to donate, purchase a t-shirt, or take part in another action that gets you over your threshold. Creating urgency is a great motivator and can help you reach your goals fast while engaging with your community along the way.
Clearly, there are several ways you can successfully engage with your online fundraising community. It’s important to break each one down and determine how it can directly benefit your organization and then go from there.
While it can seem overwhelming at first, once you’ve identified the options you have, and the ones that meet your needs, you’ll be ready to navigate the online community and make the most of your fundraising.
About the author
Andrew is the head of marketing and customer success for Donately. After getting involved with nonprofits at a young age, he discovered a passion for helping the organizations that are making the world a better place. Knowing how vital online fundraising has become, his goal is to help nonprofits raise more money online each year! In his spare time, you will find him cooking up dinner, playing with his dog or cheering on Boston sports teams.
Over to you
Share your thoughts about fundraising for your nonprofit in the comment section below. I’m really looking forward to reading your comments.