Raising money online is something that all of us will probably have to do at some stage. The days of knocking on doors looking for sponsorship are slowly coming to a end, with the web offering one of the easiest ways of sending money, and rallying around a particular cause. Once you’ve rounded up friends and family, the next stop is often online, and your social circle. I’ve seen a couple of great examples of internet fundraising, and I’ve seen people that don’t really know where to start having a go – achieving moderate success. So here are some common sense tips on fundraising that I’d recommend to help achieve your goals that bit quicker.
If you know in advance that you are going to be raising money for a particular cause or charity that is time sensitive, start raising awareness from day one, prior to you having the methods in place to collect funds. Tease and Reveal if you will.. You can also start to attract Twitter followers, without the need for any fancy website, and inform your audience of the work that you are doing. When you are ready to take donations, you’ll have already built up a decent sized audience from the beginning, making things that bit easier to get off the ground.
Get Friends and Family in first
A very simple little tip is to get your friends and family to donate to your cause online first. Assuming that you are showing (see Update Progress) your audience who has donated, and the amount that they’ve pledged, this will prevent people from being intimidated by your page, and scared off. The sheep effect most definitely comes into play here. As people will generally match the previous amount which has been donated, it makes sense to get your big spenders in at the ground level.
Give people a goal
Human rational behaviour is naturally goal driven (Douglas T. Kenrick. et al. Social Psychology: Goals and Interactions) , and one of the easiest ways to garner a response in your audience is to give them a goal. Whilst in many cases, there isn’t an upper limit to the amount of money you are hoping to achieve from sponsors, not providing one actually negatively impacts progress of the fundraising campaign – as the participants have no focus. One of the easiest ways to improve your response is to set a goal for you audience, and if you manage to exceed it, so much the better.
The progress of your fundraising should continually be communicated to your audience. Assuming you’ve set a goal, a visual indication of the progress that has currently been made further encourages people to respond. It also plays a big part in getting the people who have already donated to spread the message further.
For example, if they know that their donation accounts for a small amount of the total, they will tell their friends about the campaign so their own donation isn’t ‘a lost cause’, and help to keep the ball rolling. You can also employ Twitter to great effect here, with regular status updates reflecting the distance to goal, and encouraging retweets of the cause. It’s also a great way to rally the troops behind you. Knowing that others have donated money also serves as a form of social proof, and increases the likelihood that others will also donate.
Provide Incentive / Reward
Incentives are often forgotten when trying to encourage people to react. These don’t always have to be financial – something as simple as a badge, a website link, or a twibbon can be more than enough to get people behind you. In particular a badge that the pledger puts on their website and / or twibbon (showing on Twitter for example) helps to provide a viral element to the campaign and raise awareness of your cause.
There should be some part of your campaign that uses the web to its full advantage, and encourages a viral effect as an important step in the fundraising process. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use the social media tools which are already out there. Adding a Twitter / Facebook sharing option with friends, or even a status update letting people know that a pledge has been made can be enough to increase the reach of the campaign exponentially. Add to that an incentive, and you’ve got a real reason for others to publicise your fundraising efforts – and it doesn’t cost you a thing. Widgets that people can embed on their own website or on their social profile also help to give additional reach to a campaign.
Listing donations can have a positive impact on the response. Take care though. Some people are comfortable putting their name beside a donation, others are not. On the whole, selfless acts are hard to come by, and many businesses are quite happy to receive an extra bit of publicity for taking part in a fundraising event, so providing a form of advertising for the pledger is never a bad idea. You may (as I’ve mentioned) want to link to their website alongside listing their name.
Have any of you guys ran any internet fundraising before? What sort of things have you done to aid with responses? Let me know in the comments.