In the midst of all the Christmas noise, dozens of emails requesting a donation begin to flood my inbox. Suddenly I find myself sifting through the requests and deciding which ones I have the most affinity with. Many end up in the delete folder. Some because they point only to my wallet and never established a relationship with me, others because they extend in endless litanies, others because they do not clearly show how those who serve the organization benefit, and the vast majority because there is no evidence to understand that the online channel implies visual, participatory, and emotional components that separate them from a letter in the mail.
I know many organizations that want to expand their reach to the online channel. But not many have understood that a donate button is by far the thrill of touching any human being. If a nonprofit wants to cultivate a new audience it should not involve a request for money, but rather first start a relationship with the prospect. In this search, many nonprofits have chosen to chase “likes” across every social media platform. However, many might agree with me that social media is primarily for entertainment and communication. Let’s face it, people do not look in social media for organizations they want to donate to; it simply is not entertaining. Proof of this is the amount of “likes” that nonprofits convert into donations.
To start conquering the online channel, nonprofits should remember that the main hub for their digital marketing efforts should be their own website. Why? Because it is in the digital home where organizations can initiate a relationship with their audience without mercantile shades. It is where they can share their vision and mission, and enrich the visitor experience with visual content, testimonials, videos & text, and show the impact of their work. Though it is hard to engage people with dull web pages, poor visual content, and no chances for the visitors to participate online and somehow become part of the cause.
There are 7 core principles to captivate an online audience: easy, short, fun, visual, modest contributions, participatory, and togetherness. Few nonprofits have implemented them. Everything that screams fun and puts a smile on someone’s face drives us to share it. Any easy process motivates us to take action. Everything that makes us participate in togetherness gives us a sense of belonging. And everything that is visual contributes to our memories.
It’s time for nonprofits to change the input to get a different output. It’s time to start creating online events that help build a relationship with supporters. It’s time to consider that online fundraising takes as much, if not more, effort than face-to-face initiatives and that today’s efforts might not bear fruits immediately but they will in a short time when the online channel will become the main stream of income.
During the year-end campaign, I suggest nonprofits to use two pledge themes: one for advocacy, one for advocacy and donation. And if you are looking to rise above the noise, put your website to work by cultivating an audience and making donating online fun!