Welcome to the 21st century, a time when you can do almost anything online. Thanks to the Internet, you can now shop, study, and yes, you guessed it, fundraise online. Online fundraising always seems as the preserve of large charity organisations, but individuals and small organisations can also leverage the power of the Internet to raise funds.
Easy at it may sound, raising money online is not as simple as building a beautiful website with a large “donate now” button. It requires considerable effort and strategy to raise a dime online. So, how do you raise funds online? There are several approaches to online fundraising, but the most effective are:
Just as the name suggests, crowdfunding is the practice of getting funding from a crowd by using the Internet. Crowdfunding platforms are websites that give individuals and organisations an avenue to ask for funds from other online users. It is commonly used by entrepreneurs to fund new ventures and products, but its dynamics make it a powerful tool for fundraising as well.
Traditional fundraising requires the organisers to physically sift through potential donors then start the outreach process by physically contacting the donors. Planning and executing such a fundraiser would take several months, making it an inefficient fundraising strategy. With crowdfunding platforms, you already have access to thousands of potential donors, and no physical meetings are required. All you have to do is compellingly present your cause to potential donors and start engaging them.
Success in crowdfunding stems from visibility and optimisation. Traditional fundraising allows the fundraiser to develop relationships with the donors through physical meetings; crowdfunding does not. Crowdfunding is quite competitive, so you need to stand out to get noticed by potential donors. You can do so by:
- Creating a visually appealing crowdfunding page and increasing its visibility. The campaign title is the first thing that potential donors see on your page. A clear and concise title ensures that your audience doesn’t get deterred.
- Using great visuals that evoke the desired emotions in your potential donors. Let’s say you’re doing an animal fundraising. It would require the use of pictures that portray the cruelty of animal abuse (just don’t make them too graphic). Your crowdfunding page description also needs to communicate the same message as your visuals.
- Optimising the page for conversions by making the mission easy to understand. Your page needs to contain all the information about your cause, from the exact amount you need to how you will use it. The more questions the donors have after reading your crowdfunding page, the less they are likely to contribute.
Social media has revolutionised the way people interact and connect online, but that is not all that it has done. Apart from providing a fun way to communicate with friends, it is also a powerful marketing tool. Social media has the potential to help charities find and connect with potential donors. The versatility offered by social media makes it suitable for both offline and online fundraisers.
You can leverage your social media audience to create awareness about a local fundraising event. You can also use the same platform to reach potential donors across the globe for an online fundraiser. As if that’s not enough, you can combine social media with other forms of online fundraising efforts such as crowdfunding to boost your reach and visibility.
So how does social media fit into online fundraising? As mentioned earlier, you can use social media together with crowdfunding to increase your visibility. Create a crowdfunding page on a crowdfunding platform, and then share that on your social media pages. Ask your followers and friends to share it. Eventually, your crowdfunding page will be viewed by thousands of social media users, and you can bet you will find a decent number of donors in that audience.
Alternatively, you can create a page about the cause that requires funding. For example, if you are planning an animal fundraiser, you can create a social media page for animal welfare. You can create engaging content to acquire a following, then ask for funds. In case you want to expedite the process of growing an audience, there is the option of using ads to have your page pop up on people’s timelines. You can also pay an influencer in your field of interest to promote your page in their posts.
Creating viral content
Almost every avid Internet user has heard the term “going viral.” Viral content is highly shareable material that quickly spreads online through social sharing and website links. Its rapid spreading and wide visibility makes viral content a powerful marketing tool. As a fundraiser organiser, you can leverage the power of viral content to reach thousands and possibly millions of potential donors. Viral content, when done correctly, has the potential to raise large amounts of funds for any cause.
How do you create viral content? There isn’t a clear-cut method, but you can replicate the qualities of most viral content to create your own.
For starters, you need to know the social media platform you’re using and the general behaviour of the audience in it. Instagram users are mostly interested in photo and video content, while Twitter audience is more inclined towards written material.
Once you have determined your audience, it’s time to create your content. The content needs to be short, useful, and practical. People love sharing useful information especially if it’s unknown to many. The material also needs to evoke some emotion in the audience, preferably positive emotions such as joy, awe, or love.
Lastly, put it in front of your target audience. You can get some influencers to share it to give it some traction. Alternatively, you can use paid ads to make it show up on people’s timelines. Creating viral content is a delicate art and getting it right the first time around is no guarantee. It would be advisable to hire a viral content marketer if you have the budget for it.
Furkids Animal Rescue & Shelter‘s low-budget spoof ad encouraging cat adoption gained over 5.5 million views since it was first posted on YouTube in December 2016. Aside from showcasing all the lovable cats up for adoption, the video was also able to effectively promote the shelter’s official merchandise through humor.
Making use of the uplifting song by artist Marshmello, Hope for Paws created a compelling video compilation of all the homeless animals that they have rescued over the last few months. All the furry creatures are definitely in “happier” conditions than ever before thanks to the donations given by kind-hearted people who have watched the video. Since its release, the video has already garnered 6.5 million views and $186,020 in donations.
Thanks to the heartwarming video shared by animal-friendly website The Dodo on their YouTube page, more people (over 70,000+ of them) have learned about Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue and their efforts to help canines such as Merrick who was bit by a rattlesnake.
All things considered
Raising funds online opens up numerous possibilities to generate and even surpass the target amount, but only if it’s done right. No matter what your fundraiser requirements are, you can use any of the approaches mentioned above and scale them to match your fundraiser’s needs. You can even get creative and combine the different methods in a way that they leverage off of each other to help you reach your goals. With the right approach, you can turn online fundraisers into your sole source of funding.