In part 1, we discussed the importance of funds in fundraising. Key issues in meeting funding goals are transparency and getting everyone on board working toward a common goal. Also realizing that fundraising needs to cover overhead expenses just as importantly as on-the-ground expenses.
In this article, I want to address the importance of tools for fundraising—especially technological tools. An online presence extends your reach. Proper forms make it easy for interested parties to reach out to you. Call-to-action buttons streamline donation processes. And admin tools make everything more efficient.
My Quick Probe
Before starting, I wanted to find out what nonprofits are in my local area. I’m still pretty new here, so I googled nonprofits in Pensacola. At the top of the page, I saw the top three nonprofits featured with maps and links to their websites. Big names like Habitat for Humanity and Ronald McDonald House. I expanded the list to view another 20 names, found about 60 listed on the local Chamber of Commerce site, and 61 in the online yellow pages. So there’s no lack of places to give to!
Here’s what some of my first impressions were.
As you can probably guess, some of the websites were quite informative. A number of organizations had no website. Some websites were just a jumble of information in tiny print. Others were larger type but still cluttered. And then there were those few that were clean, attractive, and oh-so-easy to “get” at a glance.
The big ones had the advantage of being well-known. Like Ronald McDonald House. The Pensacola Ronald McDonald House chapter’s site is a little cluttered, but they have that advantage of worldwide recognition. Also, their call-to-action buttons are accessible and their menu clear.
Then there was an organization that helps with housing for homeless people. Their site was particularly attractive and easy to navigate. Even though I didn’t know who they were, and their site didn’t make it immediately obvious, there was an attractiveness that made me curious enough to find out more.
Of course, I could mention a lot of sites and talk about what makes a good impression or a bad one, but I’ll just mention one more here—Habitat for Humanity. Their homepage is simple and functional, which is representative of who they are as an organization. Notice (1) the logo, purpose statement, and social sharing icons right at the top of the page; (2) the easy-to-read menu; (3) super obvious call-to-action buttons that take in to account all the reasons people will be visiting their site; and (4) intro video clip visible just above the fold.
As far as those nonprofits in the list that didn’t have websites? Well, I doubt I’ll try to find out the mission statement for each of them. (Does that make me part of a lazy generation that wants everything at their fingertips?) However, I did reach out to one that offered a way to email them. That was a few weeks ago, and I haven’t heard anything from them.
My takeaway from all this is that I expect to be able to find nonprofits online, and I am partial to websites that are simple, attractive, intuitive, and appropriately informative.
In order to have that sort of online presence, you need a variety of tools. If you already have a website, you are familiar with the prerequisites. (By the way, check out what you’ve spent on technology this year, and we’ll see if we can’t outdo the competition.)
For instance, you probably already have a domain name and hosting that offers updates, backups, and reliable security. You have a CMS and probably hired someone to develop and design your site.
In the best-case scenario, everything is exactly how you want it and is attracting your target audience. And you have just the right person on board to keep your site looking clean and attractive.
And if that’s not the case, the Nonprofit 360 Platform was built with you in mind.
Social media is becoming more and more important in the nonprofit space. But that means it’s harder and harder to gain your audience’s attention there now, as well. So you definitely need the tools for creating unique content and putting it out there. NP360 includes the Social Warfare tool to make content social-friendly. We also recommend Hootsuite for scheduling content ahead of time.
The hard part remains: creating the content. But just tell stories about what’s happening for good because of your ministry. Don’t worry if it’s not all written material. In fact, many people prefer video clips and chats. You can also try photo collages.
Email marketing remains a critical channel of communication for nonprofits. NP360 integrates with the MailChimp tool for effective email campaigning. But there are also many other great email campaign tools. Once again, the grunt work is yours—coming up with the emails to be sent. But here are 11 worthwhile tips for effective emails.
Data Management Tools
Whether you have created your own spreadsheets for all your data or use prefab software, you really want your data management tools to integrate well with your front-end site. Integrated tools automatically capture contact information when a website visitor signs up for information or makes a donation. They capture donation amounts, chalk up the money to the right donor, and add it to the correct fund. And they track all your actions and interactions with members, donors, volunteers, board members, prospective leads and opportunities, financials, events, attendees, tasks, mailings, phone calls, meetings, agreements.
Also, all this information should be available to all administrative personnel from any location. Anything less cohesive than this is costing you time and money. Your event creator, calendar, CRM, website, donation records, blog posts, and news items need to all be accessible in one spot on the back-end of your site to be most efficient.