How to Ask for Donations Online: 6 Best Strategies

How to ask for donations online has become a crucial skill in today’s digital age. In the pre-digital age, everyone asked the same way: with either a letter or in person. However, the internet has changed everything. Online donors now represent a significant and growing segment of a nonprofit’s fundraising strategy.

Technology has introduced new considerations to fundraising, and adopting online strategies has proven to be highly successful. Some of the best practices when considering your online ask are as follows

  1. Determine your prospects.
  2. Consider hiring a fundraising consultant.
  3. Use your online giving tool.
  4. Utilize social media.
  5. Send an email.
  6. Organize donor information.

1. Determine prospects

Determining donor prospects can seem complicated. How do you know who to ask for donations with so many people out there?

Prospect research is a key tool to find these potential donors. By using prospect research, you can determine who to ask based on giving history profiles for each person.

Use prospect research based on philanthropic and wealth indicators to determine who to ask for donations.

Philanthropic indicators show how likely a person would be to give to your nonprofit. These indicators include historical information such as:

  • Previous donations made to your nonprofit.
  • Past donations made to other nonprofits.
  • Nonprofit involvement.

For instance, if someone has donated and volunteered frequently with a nonprofit whose mission is similar to yours, that person would be more likely to also donate to yours.

Meanwhile, wealth indicators can tell you how much to ask for from different prospects. These indicators include information such as:

  • Real estate ownership.
  • Stock transactions.
  • Business affiliations.
  • Political giving.

For instance, when someone has lots of real estate and has given large amounts to political parties, it may be more appropriate to ask that person for larger gifts.

Prospect research is a great way to maximize potential donations from major donors. This tool also helps with budgeting because you can better plan estimated fundraising amounts.

2. Consider hiring a fundraising consultant

If all the prospect research details overwhelm you, you may consider hiring a fundraising consultant to help walk you through the process.

Fundraising consultants can help with any elements of your fundraising campaign. Be sure to pick one that caters to your organization’s specific needs.

Fundraising consultants may help with campaign aspects such as:

  • Fundraising planning. Consultants can help you decide if you need a large or small fundraiser, what type of fundraising will work well for you, and how best to budget for your campaign.
  • Prospect research. Consultants may help interpret all the prospect research, drawing actionable insights from all the data to help create a collection strategy.
  • Training. Fundraising consultants may help train employees for various fundraisers and even some executive positions.

You may consider a fundraising consultant if your organization needs help with any of these aspects of your fundraiser.

Hiring a fundraising consultant can help you make the best possible budget so your online ask goes even further and your fundraising asks are used to their maximum potential.

3. Use your online giving tool

After deciding who to ask and talking to a consultant, you will be ready to ask your prospective donors for their support!

When you ask for donations online, make it as easy as possible for your donor to give.

Have you ever sent a letter to potential donors and included a pre-stamped envelope for them to return the response? This is done to make donating easy. Employ this same concept online by engaging your online giving tool.

Online giving tools have functions that will help you make donating easier than ever for your donors. For instance:

  • Donation form creation. Create donation forms that will appeal to prospective donors. Then attach this form as a link to your ask so it is easy to access.
  • Donation form display. Donation forms can either be embedded on web pages or included as a lightbox.
  • Communication templates. Some tools offer template options for communicating with donors, such as appealing for donations or saying thank you.

Different online giving tools offer an array of these options and even more.

Research online giving tools to decide which tool will be best for your organization’s needs.

4. Utilize social media

A powerful tool at your organization’s disposal for communicating with donors is social media. Social media is a perfect platform to ask for smaller donations.

In addition to your specific recognition of prospective donors, use social media tools to complement your online ask with additional fundraisers.

You may choose to use your social media accounts in a variety of ways to help complement your fundraiser:

  • Use your followers as a part of prospect research. Your prospect research includes factors such as nonprofit engagement, so social media followers are a great place to start to see who is the most engaged with your work.
  • Promote more fundraisers such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. Promote them on social media and ask for donations from more supporters. This can be used in addition to your major donors for budgeting.
  • Market your organization on social media to get the word out about your cause. This may provide more leads for major donors in months and years to come as more people follow or like your profile.

Social media opens up all sorts of opportunities for organizations! The marketing and name recognition that accompany successful social media engagements brings growth and success to organizations every day.

5. Send an email

One of the most common methods to communicate with potential donors online is through their email inbox.

Emails are a great tool for organizations to use for communication because the message goes straight to the inbox of potential donors.

However, in reality, emails can be either very effective or very ineffective depending on how they are written. Be sure your email is effective by avoiding common mistakes.

Some of the most common mistakes to avoid in your emails to potential donors are:

  • Don’t use generic titles. Your first goal when sending an email is to convince someone to open it. Grab the reader’s attention with catchy titles to increase your email’s chance of being opened.
  • Remember you are both human. Try to use first and last names when addressing the prospective donor, and remember to sign with your name as well as opposed to your organization’s name. Personal touches remind them you are not just a robot, and you really care.
  • Keep it relatable. Use the word you to relate to the donors. In addition, use storytelling techniques with plenty of descriptions to help your donors see what difference their donation can make.

Emails are such valuable tools, so it is important to remember how to use them most effectively. This is especially true when asking for donations.

Effectively asking for donations provides a more powerful online fundraising strategy for your organization.

6. Organize donor information

After people have donated to your cause, keep portfolios on each of them to stay organized.

This means that you should not only keep their name and contact information on file, but also any other information you have gathered.

You may consider keeping a database with donor information in it to keep track of everything and to make it easy to get in touch with donors in the future.

Information on donors can help you cater directly to them for future donations. This information can help you form relationships with your past donors.

For instance, you may choose to organize donors by:

  • Geography. When donors are close to certain events or regional locations, you can appeal to their lack of a need to travel to attend your organization.
  • Age. You may appeal better to younger generations on social media than older generations.
  • Gender. Celebrate different holidays like Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day by sorting your communications by gender.

With this information, segment your email list to better reach out to demographics personally and appeal to them.

Try segmenting your email list by those who are eligible to receive matching gifts! Matching gifts are a part of corporate philanthropy programs in which businesses will match the donations made by their employees for various types of organizations.

When you reach out to the people eligible for these gifts, and provide a database where they can find the parameters for their company, you can double many of the donations you already receive!

Improve your online ask to maximize your fundraisers. These 6 practices will help you get the most out of your next ask.

What you should do now

Below are three ways we can help you begin your journey to building more personalized fundraising with responsive technology.

See the Virtuous platform in action.  Schedule a call with our team for personalized answers and expert advice on transforming your nonprofit with donor management software.

Download our free Responsive Maturity Model and learn the 5 steps to more personalized donor experiences.

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