Today's post is part 6 of chapter 5 of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I realize that some of these posts might not be exactly related to "leadership," but I believe they are relevant. Feel free to pass them on to someone you know who works at a nonprofit organization or church.
Online fundraising is where you can really make some progress for a small program. You might need to be computer savvy, but if you have the ability to run a computer once it’s on and the ability to learn, you can use the internet for some effective fundraising for your organization.
I’ve used several online mediums to support our cause with information and fundraising efforts, so I’ll outline what I’ve used successfully and how I used it. Then I’ll share with you other ways you can fundraise online that I know about but have not had personal experience with.
One of the first things I did to start spreading the word outside of talking to people in person was to send out emails to people in my email database asking them if they’d like to help with what we were doing. This later became a monthly email newsletter that we send to over 300 people.
This is a free online platform where anyone can create a single web page about anything. On the web page there are ads and things for sale. If those ads get clicked on or items get purchased, you receive a percentage of the money earned as a donation. Over the past three years, we’ve probably received over $4,000 in donations from Squidoo.com. It’s a great company that is designed to help charities advocate and to empower volunteers to create web pages that donate to local charities.
It took us a long time to figure out how to receive a good response from Facebook. We found that we received donations on Facebook in the month of November when people were in a giving mood for Thanksgiving. And we found that people would donate to someone who created a birthday wish for our cause. A birthday wish is when I ask my friends not give me a gift for my birthday but to make a donation to a charity on my behalf. I did this last year for my birthday, and we raised $225. In two years of using Facebook, we have raised over $1,000 from people who joined our cause and wanted to support our work. People only donate after you’ve spent a considerable amount of time educating them and teaching them about what you do. So every other week I post a bulletin (an update email that is sent to every person who joined your cause). After posting lots of those bulletins to inform people about what we do and how, people started to donate. I found that the more I inform people and the more I teach them about the great work that we do, the more they want to donate.
A Day of Hope has had a website almost from the beginning. It’s a simple website with only five pages on it. You can view it at www.adayofhope.org. We keep the site updated with information on when we started, what our basic mission is, what we’ve done, and what our goal is for the year. Websites don’t have to be fancy. Just focus on sharing information on who you are and what you’re trying to do.
Right now we have over 1,700 people who follow our updates on Twitter. We use Twitter to inform people about who we are and what we do. Every once in a while we’ll ask our followers to donate or volunteer with us.
I have a blog where I write about leadership and share what I’m learning in life. Here’s my shameless plug—you can visit it at www.christopherscottblog.com. If you do a blog dedicated to your project, it would be a great way to keep people up to date and informed on what you’re doing. You can post pictures, share stories from families, have people post their experience volunteering, and share videos from your work. A blog can be a great resource if you use it correctly and post to it often. You’ll need to make blog posts at least twice a week if you expect to have anyone read it regularly. You can set up a free blog with a service offered by Google called Blogger. Just go to www.blogger.com, sign up, design your blog, and start posting content. I use www.typepad.com to host my blog, but I’ve been told www.wordpress.com is one of the best blogging services out there. My suggestion: use Blogger first because it’s free.
We used Paypal for a limited time but stopped because of certain nonprofit laws regarding online fundraising. Using Paypal to fundraise for your cause will be something you have to investigate on your own.
Myspace seems to be popular also. We’ve never gotten too involved with it, but if you have a bunch of friends who are on Myspace, that might be the place to start.
Question: What experience with online fundraising do you have? What has been successful or has been a failure?