Online Fundraising On A Shoestring Budget

Full disclosure: I have cried at my desk. Sometimes it was because the nonprofit I was working at had a hard case or a bad day, but a lot of time I was crying big sloppy tears of frustration.

Frustration at how much money we needed to raise. Frustration over the responsibility, lack of support, and lack of resources. And frustration over all the things I “should” be doing. It was just all just too much. I longed for someone to tell me where to start.

This is why I started Good Ways Inc. To give you, no matter what your job is at a nonprofit, a priority list to build a robust online fundraising program.

Can’t We Just Go Viral

Here’s what you and your board members see from other organizations: They have a big huge presence on social media. You see lots of people fundraising on their behalf. You’re seeing them everywhere. And if one more of your friends donates their birthday on Facebook to them you’ll scream. My goodness, how can your small, awesome, unknown nonprofit even keep up?

Then your board member suggests doing an ice bucket challenge, or asking why our organization’s content isn’t “just going viral”?

How can your small but mighty staff be expected to be an expert in all of these online tools? How can you know what to post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and all of the other hundreds of possible places people read things online?

I know there is no shortage of experts that will tell you best practices in digital marketing, sell you cool new tools that claim to increase your fundraising capacity, thousands of social media experts that will create buzz for you online, and hundreds of webinars that you could spend your time watching to learn new techniques. But these solutions are often too focused on learning new tools that might become obsolete.

Build a Strategy Around People, Not Tools

My goal is to show you how to create a strategy that lets you make decisions about which online tools to use and is resilient enough to use over and over and over again, no matter what new awesome tools come on the market.

In a nutshell, the things you need to know are not tools, but people. Raising money on a shoestring budget starts like this:

  • Understanding your donors
  • Understanding why they give to you
  • Utilizing your resources (pictures, stories, personnel) to make the case for support
  • Making a plan and a calendar and sticking to it
  • Using the right tools at the right time

Here’s your first tip: Ignore the best practices. Ignore what everyone else is doing for a second. Ignore what everyone says you “should do.” Focus on your best practices. What works best at your organization? Now use online tools to do more of this. Move fast and don’t be afraid to fail.

Here are some tools to get you started:

It’s A Good Time To Fundraise Online

I’m sure you can think of one million reasons why this is a bad time to tackle online fundraising. You need to recruit board members, you don’t have time or money to revise your website, your donors are older, you think they don’t want to give online, etc, etc, etc.

But every day you put this off is another day you will be left behind. Online giving grows at a faster rate than overall giving every year. Donors want to give online. And they want to give to you. Your corporate partners want to partner with tech-savvy organizations. Foundations are paying attention to organizations that can leverage resources efficiently online. Don’t wait.