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Ten Tactics to Raise Money Online: Without Spending too Much of It

Each No Load Online Tactic requires a different level of effort and skill. Some will immediately drive traffic to your site, other’s over time. ALL will get them there to push your fancy little button that says: 

1. BUILDING YOUR WEBSITE: This is the obvious place to start. I hope you’re there. The best advice EVER is…..if your website looks shoddy, donors will perceive it as a direct reflection of your organization. Your website doesn’t have to be a “do-it-yourself” project. If you’re anything like me, my talent is not “Webmaster”.  I raise money; but I do know where to find many philanthropic organizations that are set up to create a classy and reputable website in order for you to promote your mission, but also RAISE MONEY. Check these FREE resources out: http://non-profit.webs.com/ and www.homestead.com. Along with those sites, solicit your board of directors (and staff, no matter what department); there should be someone who has a connection to a volunteer willing to create or clean up your site and make it a fundraising website. Heck, it could be someone’s teenager requiring community service hours. Or contact community colleges who may be looking for internships – a website to add to their portfolio.

2. PROMOTE YOUR SITE OFFLINE: It’s free because you are already promoting your organization offline – simply keep all your links and social networks on the first page of any offline document. Think about your newsletters, event invitations, press releases, posters, billboards, business cards, note cards, sign in sheet at the front desk, and direct mail. This is traditionally called a “mixed-media” tactic to expand your on-line giving opportunities. The sample here is a billboard. Take a close look, the main “call to action” is the website address.

3. USE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO): It’s easier than it sounds, and it’s free. When writing copy for your site use keywords that people type into Google for their search. For example, don’t use “kids books to donate” when searchers are more likely to type “where to donate kids books”. You are also able to pick keywords specifically for your website which will then be linked to google in order to find you – now, this doesn’t mean you automatically appear on page one of google when your keyword is used, that’s takes tenacity and hard work. Let’s say your keyword is homeless shelters, you may appear on page 101. However, this is the very reason you need to work on SEO in order to increase your google ranking, and you can use some fairly simple steps, but time consuming. Here are some recommended free or affordable keyword research tools, they will show you what keywords leading competitors in your industry are using (among many other tools to increase searchability); they include: Google’s Keyword Tool, SpyFu.com, and SEM Rush. HINT: Do not type in your website, type in the website of one of the websites that shows up on the first page of google, then find the keywords they use.

4. FIND AFFILIATE ORGANIZATIONS FOR MUTUAL PROMOTION: Affiliates could and should be your current corporate donors – send your logo and ask if they would consider adding a link from their site to yours and visa versa. How can they say no, you are their philanthropic partner. Here’s a great sample.

Other examples of affiliates would be collaborative partners who help you with your work. Let’s say the Visiting Nurse Association has member nurses who volunteer their time to visit your homeless shelter and provide free checkups to residence once a week. You will want to ask them to exchange in a mutual website promotion.  Another classic example for FREE promotion is making sure you are registered and affiliated with the following sites: www.networkforgood.org, www.idealist.org, and www.nonprofitmatrix.com, to name a very few.

5. MEDIA RELATIONS: If you receive publicity from a fundraising event, a current event (using the homeless shelter as an example: it’s below zero and the news media is looking for a story where the homeless are able to stay), you always want to make sure the media includes your website both in the story and on their site the day the story airs. If possible, ask if they will include a link to your social networking sites. An example for an Ovarian Cancer benefit included both a link to the organization and links to share with their social sites.

6. SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES: This is time-consuming because there are so many, but I am sharing a link to the best of them. Also consider all the blogs dedicated to working the social sites; they are detailed and user friendly for a novice. Bottom-line, social networking increases your google ranking, drives traffic, raises money and it’s FREE! http://www.selfgrowth.com/socialnetworkingwebsites.html. This site is worthy of your attention.

7. GROW THAT EMAIL LIST! Here are listed five whys to grow your list:  a) Conference, trade show, special event: use a desirable giveaway, maybe tickets to a sporting event. How does it work? Your guests need to register for the drawing with their name, phone AND email. Make certain you let them know that you DO NOT trade or give away email addresses or bombard them daily, and there is always an option to opt-out. b) Your website: Create a call out box sign-up form requesting more information; make sure it appears on every page.

c) e-Newsletter (see Number 9 on my list!). d) Collect business cards at presentations. If you make presentations, tell your audience that you will add them to your e-newsletter list if they leave their card and then add a drawing at the end of the presentation. e) Ask for email addresses on all of your forms. Let supporter’s sign up for your email newsletter on your membership forms, volunteer forms, event registration forms, and donation forms, anywhere you require a street address, ask for an email address FIRST.

8. ENSURE YOUR SITE IS SECURE: When a donor makes a donation it should clearly indicate that the transaction is secure, through a secure server. You will also need a privacy policy that is easily found. The easiest way to secure your on-line donations is by setting up a merchant account with Pay Pal, www.paypal.com.  You can lead donors to Network for Good, http://www1.networkforgood.org/for-donors to make a secure donation. All free to use and easily implemented. Take a look at my examples.

9. START AN e-NEWSLETTER: Not only is this FREE, it will save you money. Once you offer your donors the option within your direct-mail newsletter to have it delivered via e-mail; you not only save money (printing/postage, labor), you have another option to collect even more email addresses by asking subscribers to forward to friends, you can post onto your social networking sites driving traffic and money, and you help save our precious environment. Go Green! There are also handy and user friendly services to manage the entire process of sending the electronic e-newletter and manage the emails as well, some of my favorites include: www.constantcontact.com and www.patronmail.com.

10. RAISE MONEY = GO ONLINE! According to a 2010 analysis by the Non Profit Times, Donors who give “offline only” have an average gift of $314. Those who give offline, but have a strong relationship with the organization over time has an average gift of $694, and those who have an Online & Offline relationship has an average gift of $877. Keep in mind that this is a “process not an event”. Research shows you need to appear in front of prospects at least three times before they make a move. And before you do this, you need to figure out where to find your supporters. Take the time to target your audience and what social network groups they belong to. A perfect example is  www.linkedin.com. Here is an example of linkedIn groups I belong and contribute to.

Once you have implemented one, five OR all of my No Load Online Fundraising Tactics, track them with FREE Google analytics; which details statistics about the visitors to your site, specifically where they live and how they got there. Make sure you use the data to better determine where to spend your time. If you are getting ZERO results from specific social networking sites – don’t update those sites on a regular basis. http://www.google.com/analytics/.

If you believe you don’t have time to work on your website, making it easy for people to find you, well, imagine yourself on a dock waving goodbye to the ship full of future donors.  For more information on this topic or others, email me at marcie@wagnerfundraising.com. Thank You!

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