2011 is history. (image from Jalopnik)
Okay, so the holidays are over. Officially. You probably won’t be seeing the type of donation volume you had over November and December again until next year’s holiday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t turn your organization’s website into a lean, mean fundraising machine. Give your organization a fresh start for 2012 with these simple tips for increasing your fundraising power in the new year:
1.) Mind Your Manners.
By this I mean, be sure you send a Thank You to everyone who donated this year. I’ve discussedhow best to do this at length in previous posts here, but it’s different for every organization. Be sure you send out an acknowledgement to everyone who supported your organization this season (yes, it’s different than a donation receipt!); it’s just about the best and easiest way you can motivate your donors to contribute year round.
2.) And Your Metrics.
Hopefully, you’ll have lots of data from the holiday season this year, so you can see what worked and what didn’t. Doing some social networking campaigns that didn’t pan out as lucratively as you’d planned? Pull ‘em. Donors getting hung up on one of the steps on your donation form? Change it up. Do a review to begin 2012 strong and start making changes to your donation page, your site’s funnel, and anything else that’s seems to be in any way impeding the online donation process. If you haven’t been tracking your donors behavior on your website this year, put some energy into getting it set up immediately. The results will be enlightening and provide invaluable information how to further optimize your site’s fundraising functionality. Our service can easily integrate with your analytics program, so if you haven’t yet taken steps to collect measurable data (outside of dollars raised) about your donation page as it functions in concert with your site, do it now!
So, the idea is that your organization has been building, through a series of interactions (online and otherwise), a relationship with a donor base that believes in your organizational mission enough to put their donation dollars behind you. But even your wonderful, generous, saintlike donors like free stuff (everyone does). Figure out something awesome (and cost effective) to give away to your donors in a planned fundraising drive- if you’re a water-conservation group, give away eco-friendly water bottles in your summer fundraising push; it doesn’t need to be something big or valuable and ideally it will also act as a guerilla marketing tool for your organization. Bumper stickers, mugs, bandanas, those crazy LiveStrong-style plastic bracelets, packets of flower seeds with your organization’s logo (I think these are an awesome giveaway item for environmentally-oriented organzations). . . all these options can be made fairly inexpensively and are a little added perk for donors, especially at non-peak times of year.
4.) Get Some Fresh Perspective
Have a meeting early in 2012 and put your head’s together- get everyone on board with the fundraising plan for the year. You might find that folks from different departments can shed some light or bring new ideas to the table and even if not, this meeting is a good time to reiterate to everyone (yourself, too!) that online fundraising is an organizational priority. Online fundraising doesn’t just take a good donation page and good marketing, it takes a dedicated, organized team that manages and enhances donor relationships and has a collective sense of excitement and dedication. Have a post-holiday re-group session to increase your chances for year-round fundraising success.
5.) Think About Your Ideal Donor.
To borrow a concept from Maureen Carruthers (whose work I love!), you ‘perfect supporter’ is that ideal donor you’re writing and appealing to. Figure out who he or she is- Maureen offers a fabulous worksheet on the topic and while this exercise may seem simplistic, it’s a perfect tool to help guide your marketing and fundraising asks, as well as a way to shift your perceptions of your donor base.
6.) Best Laid Plans.
image from Design*Sponge
A lot of your fundraising success this year will come from careful planning and forethought; no getting around or out of it. The beginning of the year is a crazy time for everyone (we’ve barely taken a breath here at DonationPay since, like, September!), but to get your head wrapped around your fundraising goals for the year, you’ll probably need to set aside some fairly substantial time to plan out your online fundraising appeals and programs and how they fit into the landscape of your year. Know the exact days in your email calendar when your asks will go out, when your online presence should support specific fundraising events, when you’ll be doing ‘maintenance asks’ (a soft ask reminding your donors that your mission is ongoing), and most of all, who and how this will be executed. It’s helpful to have an overall picture of your year’s fundraising arc and to consider the how your fundraising methodology will be perceived and received by your donor base, as a whole, not as individual asks.
Knowing how everything will go, to the last detail, is of course not going to be totally possible and much of the reason that everyone involved with the non-profit sector (yours truly included) are closet adrenaline junkies, is that the wild deviations and pivots and improvisations necessary to stay current, are actually kind of fun or at least invigorating. So, even knowing that much of it may fly out the window at a moments notice, do yourself and your organization a favor and set up a comprehensive online fundraising workplan. Even if it only ends up acting as the vaguest blueprint for how you’d like things to go, it will help, I promise.
6.) Get Help. Online.
I’ve been browsing the internet quite a bit these days, and lest you think I’m shirking my work duties to do some Ebay shopping, let me clarify: I’ve been surfing the web with purpose. I’ve been impressed with the Biz Ladies posts at Design*Sponge lately (brief aside: I’ve been obsessed with D*S forever and most recently made an awesome version of this amazing herringbone-painted dresser for my house and I love it!)- they provide a lot of advice that’s not too lecture-y about planning, stress-management and how to integrate your creative life and goals into your day-to-day. I’m trying to be better organized, better tempered and more connected to the community here in the Bay Area in 2012 and I’m reading everything I can about how other people go about doing what I want to do. For fundraising advice, do the same: check out the blogs of organization’s you support or are impressed with, read all the expert advice you can find, and think of the web as a gigantic support group for your fundraising efforts. Because, if you look in the right places, it kinda is. Obviously, our readers are already on top of this (pat yourselves on the back, y’all), but try to freshen up your online reading list by seeking out some specific information about particular fundraising or organizational goals for the coming year. My favorite news aggregators for non-profit info are AllTop and Mashable, and there are so many good blogs out there, so many good books. . . find time to do some productive web research about how to freshen up your fundraising approach in 2012 and it will pay off!
Got some good ideas to share? How is your organization going to effectively fundraise in 2012?