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5 Ways to Reach New Donors Online

Donald Cowper  16 May 2017  1 comments

donors online nonprofit webinarThis is a guest post from nonprofit expert Jasmine Marrow from GuideStar, the presenter of our free webinar on how to create an online presence to attract donors, which you can watch here.  

Online giving: it’s not just a fad. In fact, every year, it plays a larger part in overall giving. In 2016, online giving grew 7.9 percent, whereas overall giving only grew 1.0 percent, and online donations were 7.2 percent of all fundraising, according to the 2016 Charitable Giving Report. These numbers are impressive, but what they don’t express is the many other ways that donors and nonprofits interact online. Donors use the internet not only to give but also to discover organizations they would like to support. A strong online presence is essential to attract donors to your cause, and it’s easier to accomplish than you might think. Here are five tips to help you reach donors online.


1. Make your website work harder for you

Your website is one of the first places donors will go to get more information about your organization, so make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Try to think of how a first-time visitor would view your website. Is it easy for them to find your mission statement? Is your most compelling content the first thing they see? Most important, make sure your website presents the best version of your organization, no matter where donors are viewing it. Research shows that nearly half of mobile users have “ditched a brand” after a poor mobile experience. A mobile-friendly website and putting your organization’s mission front and center make it easier for donors to learn about and donate to your organization.


2. Reach donors on social media

I’m sure you’ve heard the famous advice: “Meet your audience where they are.” It rings especially true for donors on social media. More than 450 million people are connected to nonprofit pages on Facebook, and even more through sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Just as you would with your website, make your mission clear and your content compelling across all social media platforms.

Additionally, utilize the fundraising tools that social media offers. Facebook recently announced that you can add a “Donate” button to your page and posts. These new fundraising tools also allow people to create a fundraiser for your organization. By keeping your social media engaging and providing necessary information through it, you can encourage donors to learn and give to your organization.

Donors guide to recurring banner

3. Ensure your information is up to date and accurate

Many fundraising tools verify nonprofits through aggregation websites. For example, Facebook fundraisers use information from GuideStar Nonprofit Profiles to let donors learn more about the organizations they are donating to. GuideStar allows you to update your organization’s profile in one place. You can check the status of your profile online and update it to make sure that donors are getting the most accurate information from any website that uses this data.


4. Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a way to engage with the community for one common goal. Nonprofits are able to harness the power of many individuals  to increase awareness, gain new donors or volunteers, or gather information on a much larger scale than relying on a few contributors. Change.org, for example uses crowdsourcing to gather petition signatures and raise awareness around social issues. As online audiences have increased with social media and new technologies, the power and popularity of crowdsourcing has also grown. Whether your organization intends to use crowdsourcing to pool knowledge or to raise money (“crowdfunding”), there are many online resources you can take advantage of to utilize the power and influence of a crowd or community.


5. Find your unique online voice

The vast amount of information on the internet gives donors a new kind of freedom in choosing organizations to support. Never before has it been so easy for donors to find so much information about an organization in such a short amount of time. With one simple search and in a matter of seconds, donors can find your website, your social media page, news coverage, and multiple third-party aggregation websites with information about your organization.

With so much online material about your organization, it might seem futile to contribute your organization’s own voice to the conversation. In reality, it’s essential that your organization find its unique online voice and share it across all platforms with all potential donors — particularly if you're focusing on major donor outreach.

This unique voice, whether it’s expressed in blog posts or social media pages, adds a personal touch to everything your organization says and does and allows potential donors to get a better idea of your culture, work, and mission of your organization. 

These are just a few of the many ways your organization can reach donors online. To learn more, including 12 surprising concerns preventing people from donating, you can watch my free webinar "Leverage Your Online Presence to Connect With Current and New Donors." 


Additional Resources:

Jasmine Marrow, GuideStarJasmine Marrow is the Director of Nonprofit Strategy at GuideStar. She has her Master of Public Policy from Mills College in Oakland, CA where she also earned her Bachelor’s degree. Prior to her work at GuideStar, Jasmine spent time as Communications and Operations Coordinator at Great Oakland Public Schools, an education advocacy nonprofit. At the San Francisco Parks Trust, an urban greening nonprofit, she recruited volunteers, developed membership strategies, and connected with community members building community gardens. She is a board member at California Food Policy Advocates.

Donald Cowper

Posted by Donald Cowper

Published Tuesday, 16 May 2017 at 1:06 PM


  • Eric Bryant said:

    Thursday, 18 May 2017 at 12:51 PM
    One thing we've learned is that retention is more important than acquisition. In fact, a recent study by one of Facebook's chief of business development showed that the key to Facebook exceeding the 1BB user mark was not in acquiring new users, but in getting the current users to come back to the site more often. I think the same principle applies here. You want to incentivize donors to stay on, and you want to make it less appealing for them to cease donating.
    One way our organization helps retain donors is through our Donor Collection Assistance Program. Learn more about donor retention at our blog: https://www.gmg.cm/blog/getting-donors-is-good-but-retaining-donors-is-even-better
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