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5 Tips for Modern Fundraising

Say no to cheesecakeLike many adults my age, my earliest experiences of fundraising involved going door-to-door and half-heartedly hawking cheesecakes to support my swim team and magazine subscriptions to raise money for new softball uniforms. To the delight of middle school students, their neighbors, and nonprofit organizations across the U.S, the rise of the internet has transformed the face of fundraising. Online fundraising is currently the fastest growing channel for nonprofits, and it is also incredibly effective. In 2010, nonprofits raised 1.3 billion dollars online. While it’s possible to simply harness the power of the internet to give old-school strategies more reach (like by selling those magazine subscriptions online instead of door-to-door), there are even more effective ways of fundraising online for nonprofit organizations.

1.    Text-to-give campaigns:  Ah, the power of mobile marketing.  Evocative, spontaneous, social, and effective- a good text-to-give campaign brings out the best in all of us. In 2010 during the Haiti disaster, the American Red Cross raised over $32M from 3 million individuals who made a $10 mobile donation. Even more impressive, 43% of these donors encouraged their friends or family members to give to the campaign as well. Text-to-give campaigns work best when they’re served for true emergencies or special circumstances. Save them for when it counts.

2.    Facebook: Causes, a Facebook application, is the world’s largest platform for online advocacy and fundraising.  Since 2007, 170 million people have joined Causes, and members have created 500,000 causes. 27,000 nonprofits have raised a total of $40M dollars. Starting your own cause is as simple as filling out an online form and sharing the link. Causes isn’t the only way to fundraise on Facebook. Facebook’s page for nonprofits  is full of great ideas. Some organizations have had success partnering with sponsors who agree to donate a $1 for every “Like” the organization receives during a set time period. Which brings us to…

3.    Online Corporate Partnerships: Making it easy for your members to raise money on your behalf when they shop online can result in a healthy passive income stream for your organization. Team up with your existing corporate sponsors and SheerID to give your members unique coupon codes that will generate revenue for your nonprofit every time your members shop at your corporate partners’ websites. ( Need help getting buy in from your corporate partners?  Tell them SheerID can verify every customer’s membership status to prevent fraud. You’re welcome. )

4.    Blogs: According to BlogPulse, there are over 156 million public blogs in existence. I can practically guarantee that at least one of your current supporters has a blog. Why should you care? If you can identify any influential bloggers who are already passionate supporters and build relationships with them, they may rally their readers to join your cause and send you cash. They may even already be fundraising on your behalf. Take for instance, the Yarn Harlot, a popular blogger among knitters who believes in the good work a medical relief organization called Doctors Without Borders is doing. The Yarn Harlot and her readers have donated over $1M dollars to Doctors Without Borders, and have created their own fundraising spin off (pun intended), Knitters Without Borders. The time you take to identify any super fans in your network and either support them or thank them for their contribution is always time well spent.

5.    Email marketing: Email marketing is still the most effective tool in every nonprofit’s fundraising tool box. Not only have studies shown that 33% of donors come from your email marketing;  supporters who donate by email give twice as much per donation than supporters who came from YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms.  Don’t neglect your e-newsletter!

Now that you’re know about all of the amazing online fundraising opportunities available these days for nonprofits groups, no kid will ever have to peddle candy bars, cheesecakes, or subscriptions on your behalf again. I’m going to consider that my good deed for the day.

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