Improve Online Fundraising With 4 Marketing Tips

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As a nonprofit leader, you are always looking for ways to improve your fundraising efforts, especially when it comes to increase online donations. While you can promote online giving via social media, email, or on your website, have you thought about expanding online giving using traditional methods?

It might seem counterintuitive to reach out to donors offline and ask them to donate online, but some supporters prefer to learn about your mission via a phone call or letter rather than a social media post.

Plus, by directing donors or prospective donors through an offline appeal to an online donation form, you are giving them a convenient way to donate to your organization.

By using offline (as well as online) marketing strategies, you will reach a much wider audience, which can increase the amount of money you raise for your mission.

Here are four ways you can use offline marketing strategies to improve your nonprofit’s online fundraising:

  1. Promote mobile giving during fundraising events.
  2. Send out direct mail with ways to give online.
  3. Create marketing materials that supporters can take with them.
  4. Launch a checkout charity campaign to raise awareness.

Each tip has been expanded to cover not only why it is useful but also how you can incorporate it into your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy. What are you waiting for? Let’s jump right into the first tip.

1. Promote Mobile Giving During Fundraising Events

Why It Works

Fundraising events are an essential element of nonprofit fundraising. And for good reason. They can raise money and awareness for an organization’s mission. Events also present a face-to-face opportunity to explain to supporters why a charity’s mission is so critical.

Guests get to attend a fun event while also supporting a cause they are passionate about or interested in learning more.

The sheer excitement of an event often motivates people to take action like volunteering or donating to your campaign.

While it is common for fundraising events to provide activities like a charity auction or raffle to encourage guests to give during the event, organizations can also use events to promote their online giving.

The truth is that people do not carry cash anymore, but they do carry their phones, making fundraising events the perfect place to promote mobile giving.

Since mobile giving quick and easy, guests can get right back to enjoying your event.

How to Get Started

We cannot stress it enough: encouraging donors to give via mobile devices is about showing them how simple the process can be.

Your organization can do this in many ways, such as:

  • Showing a video of your mobile giving method during your event.
  • Having an event speaker walk guests through the donation process.
  • Engaging with donors using text messages during the event.

You can also get donors interested in your mobile giving methods by talking up its ease and convenience before the event.

Let’s say that you are using a text-to-give service with passwordless login technology, which means donors who have already given via text message will not have to enter their payment information again. You can mention this feature when promoting your event to let donors know how easy it will be to contribute during your fundraiser.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways you can promote giving during your event. The best way to encourage people to give is to show them how your organization can make life better for the people and communities you serve.

2. Send Direct Mail With Ways to Give Online

Why It Works

While email has become a favorite way to reach out to supporters, direct mail is still a powerful communication tool. Letters easily grab your donors’ attention, making them more open to hearing your message.

The time-honored way to ask for donations through direct mail has been a self-addressed envelope that donors can return with their check donation (not cash!).

The reply envelope method worked, but a recent study by MobileCause revealed that 35 percent of donors are more likely to respond to a direct mail request by donating online.

Organizations that also promote online giving methods in their direct mail are more likely to receive donations. That is because many donors (especially younger ones) never write checks. They much prefer online giving just like they pay their bills online.

How to Get Started

Your organization can promote online giving using two approaches: direct mail appeals or through a newsletter.

When direct mail, you do not have to send every donor or prospect a letter. Use direct mail to reach out to significant supporters, businesses, and other donors who prefer traditional communications.

In your appeal, you can promote online giving by:

  • Including the URL to your website or online donation page.
  • Providing instruction on how to give via text message.
  • Placing a QR code that directs donors to your mobile donation form.

You can also promote online fundraising through a newsletter. Of course, you can use all the strategies mentioned above, plus you can support matching gifts to supporters who’ve already contributed to your cause.

Many corporations have matching gift programs that require donors to submit a request online. Let donors know about the possibility of having their donations matched and provide the URL to a matching gift database where they can search for their employer’s program. Make it easy for donors to understand and follow through with their matching gifts.

3. Create Marketing Materials That Supporters Can Take With Them

Why It Works

One of the biggest pitfalls of online marketing is that donors do not have anything tangible they can take away from an event, a meeting, or a visit (unless, of course, they print out your blog article or social media post).

Whether you are hosting an event, meeting with a major donor for coffee, or just want something donors can take with them when visiting your office, have a pamphlet or brochure for them. It is a great way to give donors more information, direct them to more ways to donate and to spread the word about your charity.

With a brochure, you can give donors information about your nonprofit’s mission in a compelling way as well as include online resources where they can learn more if they are not ready to donate. They may also pass that brochure on to their friends or relatives.

Moreover, having something tangible is a great reminder of your cause as a donor can easily post it on her fridge or place it on a desk.

How to Get Started

The design will be the most crucial part of creating print marketing material. Use care in the formatting and presentation of your information. Make your materials look professional and easy to read.

The Balance has an excellent article on to create senior-friendly marketing materials with tips that can apply to all donors—not just baby boomers!

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your marketing materials:

  • Maintain a consistent brand. Just like you would with your nonprofit website and social media accounts, keep your brand consistent. That way, when supporters see your brochure or postcard, they instantly know it belongs to your nonprofit.
  • Break the text into short paragraphs. When reading an article with large blocks of text, people are more likely to skim the content rather than read it all the way through. The same goes for your fundraising materials.
  • Use visuals to enhance your message. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Best of all, photographs and graphics convey emotion and show donors your mission’s impact, which can lead to more donations.
  • Include a “Ways to Support” section. Include ways supporters can contribute. This can be anything from the URL of your donation page to upcoming events that require volunteers.

Whether creating a brochure for a capital campaign, a welcome packet for first-time donors, or a postcard for your peer-to-peer fundraiser, marketing materials are versatile enough to work for any situation.

Plus, there are so many affordable tools nonprofits can use to help design their print promotions.

4. Launch a Checkout Charity Campaign to Raise Awareness

Why It Works

Checkout charities are cause marketing campaigns that pair charities with retailers. During the checkout process, customers can choose to support your organization. Here are a couple of articles that explain the checkout concept in more detail: Checkout Charity Campaigns Succeed Because Most Consumers Say Yes and 5 Slam Dunk Cause Marketing Programs for Local Nonprofits.

Traditionally, checkout charities work in two ways:

  1. The customer adds the donation amount to his or her purchase.
  2. The customer contributes a cash donation into a branded donation jar.

While these campaigns can be useful on their own, nonprofits can boost their fundraising potential by promoting online giving methods as well.

Think about it this way: customers might be interested in donating to your campaign but might be in a rush or don’t have the cash to contribute. If they see a sign beside your donation jar with instructions on how to give via text-to-give or your website’s URL, donors might give later when they have more time.

How to Get Started

Promoting online fundraising during a checkout charity can be useful for encouraging donors to learn more about your organization and make donations outside the checkout process.

Here are few ways to promote online giving during your next checkout charity:

  • Place a sign beside your donation jar with instructions on how to give online.
  • Ask donors to sign up for your e-newsletter when they make a contribution.
  • Hand out marketing materials with information on more ways to contribute.
  • Brand your donation jar with your nonprofit’s website and social media accounts.

Most important, create a memorable impression on customers. Make sure patrons know your nonprofit's cause as well as some of your accomplishments.

If people can connect to your mission in that short period, they are much more likely to explore your online profiles and potentially make a donation.

Now that you have read through these four tips to increase online donations with offline marketing strategies, you are ready to put these tips to the test.

With even more ways to encourage donations, you will be well on your way to reaching your fundraising goals and realizing your nonprofit’s mission. 

John Killoran is the CEO of @Pay, a mobile giving platform.