Helpful Online Fundraising Tips for Any Cause

Online fundraising is booming but how do you do it right?

Here is a 7-step approach to effective online fundraising

Stop me if you have heard this one before.

A parent is going through a high conflict divorce case and needs money for attorney's fees.

Borrowing from family or friends is not an option so the parent starts an online fundraising campaign that pleads his or her cause and needs.

The parent then raises thousands of dollars to help her pay for her fees.

If 10 years ago you told me this would become a thing, I would not have believed you.

However, fundraising has gone far beyond our traditional definitions and notions.

Today there are as many ways to fundraise money offline and online as there are causes to support.

You will need a game plan, whether you use a lemonade stand in your neighborhood or post a persuasive blog on LinkedIn. Read more to learn fundraising strategies that could maximize donations for your cause.

Forgive us for sounding like lawyers, but this article is not legal or financial advice…okay, now to the interesting stuff.

Traditionally, fundraising relied heavily on peer-to-peer contact, such as events, door-to-door solicitations, or phone calls.

Now, there are numerous ways to collect donations from strangers - and we mean total strangers who may live over an ocean away, not just the person up the street you have been meaning to meet - without direct contact, such as:

  1. Publicly sharing a text-to-give service keyword for anyone to contribute.
  2. Creating and promoting a campaign on a crowdfunding platform.
  3. Partnering with an online business to include a donation prompt on their website.
  4. Recruiting a social media influencer to promote your fundraiser.

Regardless of the method they use, smart fundraisers build a rapport with their audience through a compelling (and truthful) narrative.

The key to a persuasive story is language customized for a specific audience and purpose.

Clarity is key to a successful fundraiser.

State the fundraiser's purpose, donation amount, and instructions on how to donate.

A foundational experiment by Harvard University found that using "because" in a request could almost double a request's success rate. Not surprisingly, "because because" did not triple it. But we digress…

Additionally, use the word "today" and "small" to motivate a donor to contribute urgently, assuming you need it urgently.

Research found people are almost twice as likely to donate when you include minimal parameters like "every penny counts…" because it does! Use, "you" to make donors feel valued and responsible for the fundraiser's success.

For example, "With your help, I can make sure my children get to see me and the other parent does not get custody just because he can outspend me."

Expressing gratitude goes a long way in fundraising.

Research found that donors who received a personalized thank you within two days are 400 times more likely to donate again. Besides, it is the polite thing to do.

Although it would be hilarious, it would likely be a waste of your time and energy to include NRA members in an email campaign fundraising for gun control legislation.

Instead, apply smart marketing strategies and define a target audience based on behavior and demographics, including age, gender, and shared experience.

There are several ways you can identify your target audience online and avoid low-value prospects, such as:

  1. Using Google Analytics to evaluate who is visiting your website.
  2. Reviewing social media analytics to identify which demographics engage the most.
  3. Examining Facebook insights to discover your audience's lifestyle.
  4. Adapting techniques from successful campaigns in your niche.

Having a target audience is only helpful if they are meaningfully engaged with your campaign.

Regularly update your audience through thoughtful pictures, videos, and status.

This experience allows your audience to feel part of a legitimate and worthwhile campaign.

Aim to organically grow your audience through engagement. For instance, utilize CTAs (calls to action) and ask your audience to share your fundraiser's content with their networks.

The potential for your fundraiser to gain traffic is limitless when you leverage your relationships effectively.

Research indicates people are more likely to donate to a fundraiser with a single, identifiable victim than one with a group of anonymous victims. This is due to the "identifiable victim effect."

This psychological effect is substantial between people who believe they belong to similar social categories and nationalities.

Use this effect to your fundraiser's benefit by featuring a single person and targeting an audience that will emotionally identify with that featured person.

For instance, an animal shelter's fundraiser could feature one dog and include their name, picture, personality, and rescue story. The shelter should tailor its strategy to local dog lovers, owners, and animal shelter supporters.

Common GoFundMe fundraisers include medical bills, divorce fees, and housing costs.

The subreddit r/DontFundMe features GoFundMe accounts requesting money for…um…interesting purposes (to be kind).

For instance, one person asked for $5,000 to purchase alkaline water to cure her "dehydrated brain."

In some fundraising cases, scammers obtain money by pretense. GoFraudMe tracks suspicious GoFundMe fundraisers and features a Nevada mother who faked her son's terminal illness to raise thousands for his "bucket list." She now faces up to 12.5 years of prison time.

Some people might understandably have reservations about donating to your cause.

A study found that 73% of respondents reported that it is very important to trust a charity before donating.

Take the initiative to ease their anxiety by using professional techniques, being transparent about proceeds, and promptly answering questions and concerns. An attorney experienced in laws related to fundraising could verify that your fundraiser is in legal compliance.

Complicating the donation process could hinder your chances of meeting your fundraising goal.

Adding pain and endurance could increase contributions to a cause due to the martyrdom effect, such as running a 5k or participating in a 24-hour dance-a-thon for domestic violence awareness.

However, painful and challenging should not describe your donation process. Make efficient use of people's short attention span with calls to action (CTAs) and attention-grabbing designs.

The average web user spends 5.59 seconds reading a website's written content.

Therefore, provide a direct link to your donation page that includes a concise CTA like "support a child today," a secure checkout, and a thank you.

And there you have it. Raising money for a cause has never been easier, or more interesting.