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Survival requires adaptation.
For businesses, the process does not aim to sharpen teeth and build up muscle but rather to increase the ability to use and capitalize on the various features of the environment. This is a lesson every business owner knows to pay attention to and it applies to non-profit organizations as well. According to the NGO Online Technology Report released two years ago, 92% of NGOs have a website, 95% have a Facebook page and 72% accept online donations on their website.
Data rules supreme – the days when ‘good old’ radio and TV channels represented the most effective routes an NGO would follow to reach their goals are long gone. Today, the majority of donors are out of sync with the traditional channels which they’ve replaced with online media for a number of reasons, including communicational and time management preferences.
However, when bombarded with hundreds of written and visual messages every day, people tend to hop from one to the other another as quickly as possible, with only brief stops on information points that catch their attention. And here’s how we find ourselves circling back to adaptation; as a result of this transformed environment, marketers have quickly picked up the new skills they needed in order to navigate the most prolific, goal achieving channels.
Being very much aware of their donors’ limited time resources, the nonprofit organization turned to highly structured online tools that convert the donors’ availability to help into concrete support, in a matter of minutes. Enter: the donation platform – sharing is caring, no? Donorbox is a powerful fundraising software that is super simple to setup and attracts more recurring donors, and it’s definitely worth checking out.
Nevertheless, the sole existence of such platforms doesn’t guarantee success; there’re lots of details that NGOs need to keep track of in order to ensure funds inflow and different strategic approaches they should consider for the long run.
Less Friction Equals More Money
Getting donors to your website is but one step of the entire journey, which doesn’t necessarily end with the online payment form.
The first, and maybe most important, thing NGOs need to master is the art of pitching. Having a compelling story and telling it in an impactful manner is half the battle of obtaining donations. When interested, potential donors usually want to understand the core objective: what will their donations help to achieve? Why should they support your particular project? To facilitate a quick answer, keep in mind that presenting stories that require more than 3 scrolls to reveal their purpose will not perform as expected, in most cases.
Remember the time urgency and limited attention span you’re working with and don’t shy away from placing the KISS (Keep It Short & Simple) principle at the heart of your communications and online/offline mission actions. Use images in moderation and, if appropriate, testimonials or endorsements offered by project relevant individuals.
Never forget that the emotional, empathy-nurturing sides of the story you’re presenting are not an objective in itself but a significant part of your pitch’s main goal – converting as many leads as possible. Effective CTAs (call to action), a clearly stated average/ optimum donation amount and easy to follow donation links are instrumental in reaching charity targets, so make sure to include them in the blueprint of all your online strategies.
The Value of Follow Up
Winning a supporter for your cause is hard work but, when a connection is created and trust appears, chances are they might be willing to consider other projects you may present them with in the future. So, You stay present! Do not assume that They will periodically visit your site to check for updates – they will not. Research the marketing automation tools available out there and select the one that best fits your communication needs.
Make use of your email database and definitely deploy email automation tools to prop your staying-in-touch efforts – the repeat business concept applies to NGOs as well, no doubt about it.
Since they’ve already contributed to a cause once, expect a different interaction with ulterior projects. It’s pointless (and counterproductive) to go through all the first-contact steps with these donors; instead ensure that they are kept in the loop through weekly or monthly email updates and, if you want to stay ahead of unexpected changes and reactions, regularly check the email opening rates.
One Toolbox – Many Options
Staying up to date with donors’ preferences is vital to your mission’s success. As mentioned in the Online Technology Report mentioned earlier, 95% of ONGs have a Facebook page and 30% of them actively build and rely on communities or groups. And that’s good (business) planning considering that 62% of the active donors stated that Facebook is one of the channels they respond to the most, proving once more that engagement delivers results.
Data based decisions are recommended for any type of endeavor, be it commercial or non-profit but that means getting everything right: data collection, organization and processing alike. That’s where CRM (Client Relationship Management) technologies will prove extremely helpful. Don’t treat them as an optional tool, your relationship with donors is what feeds cash flow and reputation – can you do without either?
We currently live the heyday of the ‘technology-for-better-living’ era; the very best time for true-blood NGOs to ensure that humane ideas are put to work so as to actually benefit humans.
Ryan Yarbrough is a small business consultant, speaker, and the manager at Davis Financial Services, a small business consulting firm.