Ever since social media became part of everyday life, charities and non-profit organisations (NPOs) have been using these and other online tools to raise funds for their causes. The fact that so many NPOs have been moving more of their fundraising efforts online in recent years is testimony to just how effective digital fundraising can be.
If you’ve played bingo online, you’ll know how your favourite games, including Slingo bingo (a slots and bingo hybrid), can unite individuals around a common interest. Similarly, an online fundraiser uses digital tools and an event, initiative, or a prize to bring people together to support a specific cause. Raising funds in this way can give you far greater reach and rewards, even on the smallest of budgets. But to be successful, you will need to get the fundamentals right. So, let’s find out how to host an effective online fundraiser.
Every fundraising campaign begins with a need, whether you’re raising money for basic playground equipment at a school, or a new hospital wing. Start by gathering as much information about what you need to accomplish with your fundraiser. For example, a school needs new playground equipment. What equipment is needed based on the children’s ages? How much equipment is needed, depending on available space? How many children will use the equipment and how often? This will determine whether you need, say, a jungle gym, seesaw and a swing set, or a tennis court and cricket practice nets. Once you fully understand the costs implications, you’ll be able to set your fundraising goal.
When raising funds online, create a secondary goal, or several. While your primary aim is to raise a specific amount for your project, you could also set out to gather a list of subscribers to a newsletter (read up about data-protection rules if so), encourage individuals to volunteer on a regular basis or pledge to make a monthly donation.
Online fundraising puts a number of exciting tools at your disposal that allow you to do all this on a single laptop or desktop computer. While this does take time and effort, have faith because you can accomplish many things, even with a modest budget.
Part of the goal-setting exercise is to determine who you’ll approach for funds. If it’s a small, community-based project, you may already have/or can obtain a list of names, emails and phone numbers. If you’re raising money for a large project and you’d like to reach as many people as possible both within and outside your immediate community, then start with social media (which we’ll talk about in our next point).
Online marketing tools have revolutionised fundraising. Gone are the days of having expensive leaflets designed, printed and posted to prospective donors at considerable expense. If you’re hosting a smaller online fundraiser with a limited budget or no funds at all, you can use social media to put the word out at no expense (other than the time you put in).
Simply create a group or page for your fundraiser, curate a series of appealing posts and perhaps a prize (this could be as small as a beautifully decorated cake or spa voucher sourced from a friend or donated by a local business), then use hashtags and post to groups and community pages to spread the word.
For larger campaigns that have a budget, use paid social media. This allows you to reach a much wider audience by choosing the potential donor segments you’d like to target, from age groups and geographical areas to specific interest groups. It’s important to create posts that speak to your intended audience in a way that appeals to them, so always include eye-catching imagery and never underestimate the power of video content (cat videos being the perfect example of that power, as we’re sure you already know).
It may also be worth your while setting up a website for your mission. If you’ve ever visited bingo sites, you’ll see they not only offer the usual suspects to play, like bingo, Slingo and slots online, they also have blogs that people can read for advice, information, and (one would hope) sheer entertainment value. This creates a sense of community and makes the online experience fun and enlightening so – in our case, at least – kitties enjoy the experience and are more likely to return to play their favourite games and interact online.
The purpose of an NPO’s fundraising website should essentially be the same. This is effectively your “shop window”, or the face you present to the public. It should be easy to find and, when properly designed, a pleasure to navigate. Use social media tools to reach audiences wherever they are and to draw them in, then give them a “home” to go to – your website – where they can watch the mercury rise in your “fundraising thermometer”, or donations counter, and explore the work of your organisation.
Remember the secondary goals we talked about? Now’s the time to roll these out on your website by creating a pop-up form for visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, or attract volunteers with some great stories about how they can make a difference. You can do this on your social media pages too. The only limit is your imagination!
Now unless you’re incredibly lucky, you’re likely to find that certain aspects of your online fundraiser may be met with a lukewarm reception. Don’t let this worry you too much. Take a step back, look at the project from the outside in, and ask yourself what’s working and what isn’t. Use it as an opportunity to tweak your posts, change up the style of language you’re using, revisit your imagery or try something new. You’re bound to hit the right tone if you listen to your audience and are open to fresh ideas!
Of course, not all challenges of online fundraising can be met solely by using social media or website data and analytics. But there simply are no hard-and-fast formulas that will give you instant success. Even the most experienced fundraisers find that the demands and desires of their audience change to some extent from one campaign to the next. If you look at the analyse-and-adjust phase as an exciting opportunity to get to know your existing and prospective fundraising community better, then it can be a meaningful exercise and one that brings you a step closer to fulfilling, or even exceeding, your online fundraising goals. Good luck!
Now that you’ve read our advice, we hope you’re feeling empowered to host an online fundraiser for your cause! Of course, you’re welcome to get a feel for what it takes to grow an online community by registering at Kitty Bingo to play bingo, slot games, Slingo and connect with other enthusiasts (both bingo and cat enthusiasts, of course).
/ 19 November 2021