The United States is home to hundreds of thousands of charities that represent nearly as many causes, but they all have one thing in common: the need for funding and resources. Whether for facilitating groundbreaking medical research or simply for paying the daily electric bill, funds from donors play a critical role in the operation and ultimate influence of a nonprofit organization. Much like businesses competing in the open market, these groups must develop and harness viable marketing strategies in order to stay afloat and advance their goal of social and environmental change.
For many leaders in the nonprofit sector, the task of sourcing adequate funds easily ranks as the top obstacle they face on an annual basis. Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) published a 2014 study on philanthropic trends in which the author noted, “Nonprofits still don’t have the resources they need to respond to new opportunities, leadership transitions or changes in their environment.” One factor informing this trend includes the reality that many foundations struggle to meet rising demand for their services or resources, and additional pressure mounts as government agencies turn to charities to help address budget gaps.
All told, charity leaders across the country share the weight of the need to fundraise more efficiently. Here are seven suggestions for reaching out to the community and for boosting the amount and frequency of donations in this, the digital age:
Take Advantage of Mobile Platforms
Online donations have generated a solid percentage of income for charities in years past. However, mobile has officially surpassed desktop in the amount of Google searches placed by consumers each month. Incorporating a strong mobile presence with a charity’s advertising strategy will ensure the greatest accessibility to the largest audience, and it will open up a new pipeline for funding.
Outline Specific Donation Options
For online and mobile platforms, many organizations offer a space for people to create a custom amount that they would like to give. The approach will generate income, but according to studies, charities can increase the amount of money they receive by indicating fixed totals. In addition to providing these labels, a companion strategy is to encourage frequent giving and offer programs that will debit money on a monthly or annual basis.
Make Giving Convenient for Supporters
We live in an age where nearly everything online requires a username and password for access. When individuals access a charity’s website, one of the best ways to gain their trust and support is to simplify the process as much as possible. This means not asking for unnecessary information, such as requiring long questionnaires in order to make a donation. Similarly, it also means going with a minimalist approach in the page design by providing simple navigation, transparent information about the organization, etc.
Increase Use of Video Content
In its recently released Visual Networking Index, CISCO projected that video viewing will account for 80 percent of consumer Internet traffic by 2019, a nearly 20 percent increase from polls taken in 2014. Video allows nonprofits to connect with their web visitors by instantly conveying their goals and their impact to viewers. Strategies for this approach include using both amateur clips taken with smartphones or similar devices and professional footage, so as to connect with donors on different levels.
Foster Partnerships with Other Organizations
Partnerships with corporations or celebrities can quickly generate recognition and traffic. For example, the Boys and Girls Club of America has joined forces with Major League Baseball, and as a result, it receives advertising as the Official Charity of MLB. While such a connection may not be feasible for all charities, many local options still exist. Radio stations, for example, may be looking to fill advertisement space for free by mentioning a nonprofit group, benefiting both parties.
In order to effectively reach a targeted audience, charities must proactively diversify the ways in which they distribute their messages. Social media and digital advertising serve as strong complements to the traditional letter and email approaches, and they allow organizations to reach out to their audiences more frequently and at a much lower cost. In addition, digital advertising facilitates creating messages tailored to specific demographics. For instance, one advertisement might go to Millennials in one state, while a different message may go to Baby Boomers in another.
Use Donor Recognition to Return the Favor
Recognition is one of the many reasons that individuals and corporations decide to give to a particular charity. By demonstrating an active system for recognizing donors, a charity can better gain and retain the support of contributors. Some organizations assign a staff member to specifically manage the recognition program, and that person is responsible for developing parameters for recognizing the amount and frequency of donations. For example, at one level of gifting, individuals might have their name or the title of their company printed on a monthly newsletter, while at another level, the name would appear on a building plaque.