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4 Tips for Building a Microsite for Your Event

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Microsites are small, often temporary, websites with limited content centered around one topic.  This structure makes them perfect for promoting and hosting events for many organizations. Rather than cluttering your main website with event details, a microsite can host everything your guests need to know about your event in one place. 

When executed right, your event microsite is your central hub for driving ticket sales, boosting event registration and a platform place where you can build a following. While several design elements will overlap for many event websites, you can still get creative and be original while building your own microsite. 

Whether you’re a nonprofit engaging in virtual fundraising for the first time, or a larger business accustomed to presenting to crowds of thousands, you should create your microsite with these four tips in mind:

  1. Invest in engagement tools. 
  2. Apply SEO best practices. 
  3. Set up analytics tools. 
  4. Follow accessibility guidelines. 

Before launching a microsite, make sure a microsite makes sense for your goals. Some organizations can greatly benefit from the increased exposure and data gathering potential inherent to microsites, while other, smaller organizations, may find more success in keeping traffic on their main website by hosting events there. 

1. Invest in engagement tools.

Your event’s microsite should be solely focused on your event to create a consistent, informative experience for your guests. However, this doesn’t mean you need to make a cookie-cutter microsite to run a successful event. Consider how you want to display information about your event and position your organization’s brand. 

Your microsite’s features and content pages will depend on whether your event is in-person, virtual, or hybrid. Here are a few features you should consider including and notes about how to adapt them for different event types:

  • Live-streaming tools. Live-streaming tools are a necessity for virtual and hybrid events as they allow remote guests to participate in your event through chat features. For in-person events, live-streaming is optional, but recording parts of your event to create promotional materials for future events is recommended. 
  • Real-time updates and measurement tools. If your event is raising money, counting down to something, or encouraging online participation from visitors, make sure you have tools that keep your supporters updated and engaged. Many of the best nonprofit websites invest in fundraising thermometers and similar tools to provide guests with a visual indicator of their funds raised. These tools make hybrid and virtual events feel like “an event” since the audience gets to watch something be accomplished in real time. You can also display your real-time measurement tools on a presenter during your in-person events to create excitement and increase participation. 
  • Event registration forms. Before your event starts, guests need to sign-up online. Your registration page should contain all relevant logistic details such as when and where the event is. For hybrid events, make sure you ask guests whether they will be attending in-person or online, so your event team can make the appropriate accommodations. 

While microsites represent your organization, they are a step removed from your main website, making them a perfect opportunity to show off a different side of your brand or experiment with new brand identities. If you’re interested in expanding your brand, consider how you can tie your new core values into your engagement tools, so guests can get firsthand experience with this new side of your organization. 

2. Apply SEO best practices. 

If you’re familiar with SEO best practices, you likely know that building a backlink profile is a necessary part of establishing a strong online presence. Your organization should strive to create quality content and accumulate natural links from external, trustworthy websites. Your microsite should also contain high-quality content since it can help your organization expand your main website’s link profile. 

When adding links between your microsite and your main website, make sure to do so deliberately and judiciously, as link-stuffing can decrease your websites’ search engine performance. However, a few well placed links will help guide traffic back and forth between your main website and your microsite, making it far easier for donors to stay updated on what’s going on with your nonprofit.

As an external website, your microsite will also have its own SEO ranking and can help new visitors discover your organization. Consider how you can attract new visitors by optimizing your microsite with keywords that are related to your organization without competing for keywords with your main website. The rankings of both of your websites could be harmed by too much of this competition. 

3. Set up analytics tools. 

Microsites have limited content and a more narrow purpose than your main website. This means microsites provide an opportunity to collect precise analytical data about your event. Set up your analytics tools before launching your website to collect data that’s relevant to your event. 

Dataro’s fundraising analytics guide offers several metrics nonprofits should consider tracking on their microsite: 

  • Donation volume. How often do donors give? The best nonprofit websites will see an increase in donation volume around the time of their event. 
  • Demographic data. Learn who your guests are by collecting basic demographic data like age and location. 
  • Conversion rate. Establish a few target actions such as registering for the event or donating, and measure how many people complete that action. 
  • Cost-per-dollar rate. How much did you spend on your event and how does it compare to the revenue your event generated? This metric is important for all organizations looking to measure their events’ success. 
  • Churn rate. For nonprofits, churn rate applies to donors who lapse out of a giving program. This can also apply to previous guests not attending subsequent events.

While you don’t need to be a tech expert to set up analytics tools and measure their results, some nonprofits might need extra help identifying what metrics they should prioritize for their microsite and implementing the tools to measure them. If your organization fits this description, you may benefit from seeking out a consultant. 

Consultants specialize in a variety of fields and topics. For example, as Cornershop Creative’s guide to nonprofit consultants demonstrates, the nonprofit sector alone has an extensive range of consulting services, including fundraising consultants, website consultants, marketing consultants, internal organizational consultants, and more. For your nonprofit, this means you’ll need to take the time to assess your specific needs to ensure you reach out to the right kind of consultant. 

4. Follow accessibility guidelines. 

Your event microsite can only reach its full potential if it’s accessible to all of your attendees. Every website you launch, including microsites, should follow basic web accessibility guidelines to welcome all visitors. 

Many of the best nonprofit websites follow accessibility guidelines, and it’s likely your organization has implemented a few already to improve users’ experience. Here is a list of just a few web accessibility best practices you might already be familiar with and should be sure to implement on your event’s microsite:

  • Add alt text and video transcripts to visual content. Alternative text and video transcripts allow all guests to engage with visual content such as images and videos. Make sure your alt text provides useful descriptions of the image rather than generic text. For example, the alt text “a group of people” isn’t as helpful as “guests at our organization’s previous event listening to a presentation.” 
  • Provide comprehensive directions on your registration forms. Make sure your registration forms have detailed instructions outside information fields. Directions inside information fields disappear once a guest starts typing, which can make them difficult to use for some guests. Plus, guests who step away from their registration and return to fill it out later will also appreciate the external directions. 
  • Use headings in hierarchical order. Headings group content together and let your microsite’s visitors know what to expect from each section of text. Make sure your headers have meaning by placing them in chronological order (H5s under H4s, H4s under H3s, and so on). Doing so will allow guests to navigate your content easily and find what they are looking for with minimal confusion. 

If you’re concerned about accessibility, consider reaching out to a web design consultant for advice. Web accessibility guidelines can be found online, and a professional web design consultant will be more than familiar with how to implement them on your microsite. 

Microsites are a tool, and when built and leveraged correctly, they can elevate your event and drive more traffic to your organization’s main website. Make sure you have the right tech tools backing your microsite, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a consultant to learn how you can take your microsite to the next level. 

Author: De’Yonté Wilkinson’s a late-80s baby who found his passion for web design and development during MySpace’s heyday, when he helped his friends create awesome profiles. He’s spent the last three years specializing in WordPress and conversion optimization, and is an active proponent of coding guidelines. In his off time he enjoys cooking, Rugby, and hanging out with his wife.

5 Benefits of a Continuous Improvement Web Design Approach

Think about a time when you learned a new skill, like how to ride a bike. Most likely, you weren’t an expert the first time you hopped on. It took a few tries to get going, but each time you got back up, you improved a little bit more. 

Designing your nonprofit’s website is a lot like learning to ride a bike. The first iteration of your website probably wasn’t exactly what you were hoping for, or you’ve since adjusted your nonprofit’s strategy and need to implement new features. That’s why a continuous improvement approach can be so beneficial for your website. 

Continuous improvement is the ongoing process of enhancing your website with small, incremental changes rather than major overhauls. Using this approach, you can improve your website’s design, structure, and other features a little bit at a time, leading to a stronger website overall. 

In this guide, we’ll explore the top benefits of a continuous improvement approach to nonprofit website design, as well as a few tips and best practices to make your approach successful. Let’s get started. 

Benefits of a Continuous Improvement Web Design Approach

There are plenty of ways to approach a nonprofit digital transformation. If your nonprofit is new or you’re looking for a major revamp, a complete and immediate website redesign and rebuild could be the right path. 

However, most organizations already have an established digital presence, complete with a comprehensive website, and they aren’t interested in radically changing their digital strategy. A continuous improvement approach allows nonprofits to take a slow and steady approach to website development, enabling organizations like yours to implement small, deliberate changes over time. 

A continuous digital improvement approach provides multiple benefits, allowing your nonprofit to: 

1. Avoid major overhauls.

A complete website rebuild or overhaul costs time and resources. Your marketing team will have to devote a significant amount of time to carrying out the overhaul, and it can be expensive to launch a new website from scratch. 

In contrast, a continuous improvement approach allows you to spread out the cost and time requirements over a longer period. This can greatly reduce your team’s stress and allow them to focus most of their time on other critical marketing and outreach tasks while your website receives continual updates. 

2. Maintain a consistent look and feel for visitors.

Put yourself in your nonprofit’s supporters’ shoes. Many of your supporters have stuck by your organization since the beginning, contributing donations, volunteer time, and advocacy work to support your mission. 

Imagine one day, these loyal supporters head to your nonprofit’s website, only to find that it’s unrecognizable. The structure, page navigation, branding, and other elements are completely different. This could serve as a major shock to your visitors and even cause them to doubt whether they’ve clicked on the right website!

The last thing you want to do is alienate your supporters or cause them to distrust your nonprofit. This is especially important if you’re using your website to collect donations online. If your supporters don’t trust you, they won’t feel comfortable giving you their personal financial information.

With a continuous improvement approach, you can maintain your website’s look and feel while making small changes that enhance your site piece by piece. This helps retain your supporters’ trust and ensures they don’t rethink their decision to donate or volunteer because of a confusing or unfamiliar website. 

3. Use A/B testing to make data-informed design decisions. 

A/B testing is the process of creating two different versions of a web page and determining which is more effective for engaging visitors or driving conversions. By taking a continuous improvement web design approach, your nonprofit will have time to conduct a thorough A/B testing process and determine which versions of your website are the most effective. 

To conduct A/B website testing, follow these steps:

  1. Assess a specific webpage’s engagement metrics, such as your fundraising landing page for your current campaign. You can use your Google Analytics profile to conduct this overview. Look at metrics such as average time spent on the page, most clicked links on the page, and bounce rate. 
  2. Download a report for the page and store the analytics in your organization’s database. 
  3. Choose just one element to change on the page. For instance, you might adjust the wording on your call to action button that leads to your online donation form. Or, you might switch the header image from a photo of an individual volunteer to a group. 
  4. After a set period of time, such as a month, run another analytics report for the page. Determine if the change made a difference in visitors’ engagement with the page. 

A/B testing allows you to enhance your website’s user experience based on direct feedback from those who use it the most: your nonprofit’s supporters!

With a continuous improvement approach, you can test your most important website pages, such as your online donation page, ‘About’ page, and volunteer sign-up page. Choose a page to focus on and start making changes until each page is optimized for engagement.

4. Keep your site updated and secure.

Regular website maintenance is crucial for your website’s continued health. Maintenance activities include:

  • Updating your website’s core framework to keep up with new version releases and retain access to the best security features available.
  • Updating your plugins and modules to ensure your important fundraising-related tools continue working. 
  • Maintaining search engine optimization (SEO) best practices such as fixing broken links and finding ways to decrease load times. 

Kanopi’s website maintenance guide explains that a continuous improvement approach involves more than just conducting security, module, and plugin updates. A continuous improvement approach sets your website up to grow sustainably over time. This approach takes website maintenance to the next level by not just plugging leaks or applying quick fixes but creating a long-term growth strategy. 

5. Improve your SEO rankings.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of enhancing your website so that it appears higher on search engine results pages. Among many factors, search engines like Google look favorably on pages that are updated and recent.

You can regularly update your site’s content with a continuous improvement mindset. For example, you can routinely create blog posts and informational pages to add new content to your website. This shows search engines that your content is relevant and useful for people searching for topics related to your organization. 

For example, perhaps your nonprofit is focused on protecting dusky dolphins, a unique dolphin species that lives off the New Zealand coast. You have a page on your website dedicated to describing this dolphin species and the threats it faces in its natural habitat. You keep this page up to date with the latest statistics and progress reports about the species’ health. Doing so shows search engines that your page is an authoritative, useful resource for people searching for the term “dusky dolphins,” causing it to appear higher on search results pages and driving more traffic to your website. 

Best Practices for Taking a Continuous Improvement Approach

Before you can reap the aforementioned benefits, your organization needs a solid strategy for launching your continuous improvement approach. Here are a few best practices for incorporating continuous improvement into your organization’s digital strategy: 

  • Launch updates as soon as you can. Initiate site updates as soon as they’re available. This ensures that your site won’t suffer from security gaps or outdated technology. Place at least one staff member in charge of tracking and implementing site updates to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. 
  • Create a branding guide. Whenever you implement a site improvement, you’ll want to make sure it’s consistent with the rest of your digital branding, from the design of your online donation page to your social media marketing materials. This gives your supporters a uniform, cohesive experience no matter what digital platform they’re using. Create a digital style guide that your staff and volunteers can use whenever they create new website content. 
  • Work with a web design partner. If you need a helping hand launching your continuous improvement strategy, working with a web design agency might be the right move. Kanopi’s guide to nonprofit tech consulting explains that these professionals offer services such as: 
    • Assessing your website’s current state.
    • Offering high-level recommendations for improving your website’s design, user experience, SEO performance, and other aspects.
    • Implementing recommendations and staying in touch to keep your site continuously updated.

These best practices will allow you to start integrating a continuous improvement mindset into your website approach.

Website design and improvement can be a major undertaking, but the process is critical for ensuring your nonprofit’s website remains engaging and useful for visitors. A continuous improvement approach is the most helpful strategy for maintaining an updated, modern website. Remember, a nonprofit web agency can provide a framework for introducing your organization to this web design approach.  

Author: As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne Stefanyk helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.

Payment Processing: Meet Your Marketing Secret Weapon

When most fundraising professionals describe their payment processing systems, they likely give a quick, technical definition of how these systems transfer payments from donors to organizations through an online donation page. But sophisticated payment processors are much more than a simple go-between to move revenue.

For one thing, payment processing systems aren’t exclusive to your donation page—they can integrate with event registration forms, online store checkout pages, and various other transaction platforms. Plus, you can leverage your payment processing system to reduce human error, save labor and time costs, and even strengthen marketing and communication strategies

From enhancing the donor experience with navigable widgets to increasing the efficiency of your fundraising appeals, here are a few of the lesser-known marketing benefits of a robust payment processing system: 

While the main function of your payment processor is to facilitate gifts and accept online payments, a powerful payment processor can do far more to optimize operations across your organization. Ready to explore how payment processing can revamp your marketing and communication methods? Let’s begin. 

Improve the online giving experience

In the grand scheme of the digital donor journey, the payment process may seem like a formality—an obligatory last step in a longer campaign of trying to convince donors to give. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Your donation form and the greater online giving process are some of the most important marketing materials at your disposal. 

They are one of the last impressions that a donor has of your website before their next visit, and a poor experience can lower their likelihood of completing current payments or giving future contributions. Luckily, the right payment processing system can help to ensure that donors not only go through with their gifts, but walk away with a better opinion of your organization.

Advanced payment processors help improve the online giving experience in several aspects, including user-friendliness and navigability as well as securing your assets. 

Enhanced user-friendliness and navigability

When it comes to creating an optimal donation page experience, ease-of-use should be one of your organization’s top priorities. After all, if a donor is held up for more than a few minutes trying to figure out your form, then they might give up altogether and abandon their payment. 

This is where a strong payment processing system can save your donors’ the precious time and energy required to successfully submit their online gifts. These essential payment processing features make the online giving process faster, easier, and more accommodating than ever with features such as:

  • Custom fields. Use custom fields to only collect what you need from donors. Ask them for simple answers to necessary questions, while still customizing your donation process to capture the unique data your organization is looking for.  
  • Different payment methods. Donors should pay how and where they want to. Find a processor that accommodates credit and debit cards, ACH, and international transfers.
  • Integration capabilities. Integrated payment processors are embedded directly into your donation form, incorporating seamlessly into your form’s design and eliminating redirects off of your website to complete the payment process. 

The giving process should be a smooth experience with as few headaches as possible. To accomplish this, there are many aesthetic and technical tweaks you’ll have to consider, but these streamlined payment processing tools are one of the easiest and most effective first steps that you can take.

Heightened security for your assets 

From a marketing perspective, a lackluster security system reflects poorly on your organization, potentially frightening donors away and deterring online donations. Additionally, poor security measures could even put your organization and your donors at risk of falling victim to fraud and malicious cyber attacks. 

While measures such as password security and SSL certificates can help to strengthen your website from data breaches, a secure payment processor can act as your first and most important line of defense in the donation process itself. These systems use sophisticated anti-fraud tools to protect sensitive donor information from the many dangers of a data leak.

In particular, the iATS Payments guide to nonprofit payment processing details a number of specific security features that boost the strength of your organization’s payment processor:

  • Tokenization and encryption. These features encode your donors’ data as it passes through your payment gateway, rendering it unreadable in the case of a security breach.
  • PCI compliance. This official security standard is set forth by credit card companies to distinguish payment systems of particular merit and strength. 
  • Additional anti-fraud tools. Dedicated tools to verify donor data, such as BIN or CVV2 identification, add an extra layer of security and safety to the online giving process. 

In the wrong hands, the online donation process can be a frustrating experience that creates a rift between public perception of your organization and how you wish to be perceived. But with powerful security features and robust UX capabilities, payment processing can make the online giving process as quick, navigable, and secure as possible for your online donors. 

Optimize your donor communications 

Your donor communications are a major component of your organization’s marketing efforts and overall fundraising success. These conversations are a driving force in donor engagement and retention, allowing you to more effectively encourage individual donors to give. 

Using donor data strategically allows you to personalize communications with supporters and appeal to their preferences and expectations. 

And what better tool is there to collect donor data than your payment processor? From their capacity to give to their preferred giving methods, your payment processor captures critical information in the giving process. This data can improve your donor communications in the following key ways: 

Better fundraising appeals

Whether you’re sending out an email or a handwritten letter to your donors, fundraising appeals are a cornerstone of your organization’s communication and fundraising strategies. And to make these messages as effective as possible, there are a few essential techniques and pieces of information that should be included. 

Fundraising Letters’ guide to creating an effective outreach letter sheds some light on the five must-have elements for a successful fundraising appeal: 

  • Address donors by name
  • Employ emotional storytelling to draw donors into your organization’s narrative
  • Share your organization’s history and mission
  • Explain your current fundraising campaign
  • Give options to donate or help

Efforts like personally addressing your donors and offering special donation options can be directly aided by the data that your payment processor gathers. 

For example, aside from names and addresses, your payment processor should be able to collect and log gift sizes directly into your donor database. This data can then be used to personalize each appeal and maximize donors’ likelihood of giving by asking for specific gift amounts based on each donors’ unique capacity to give.

Providing additional forms of giving

When creating your donation page, give more than just the option to submit a single, lump sum. Increase and diversify your giving programs by including additional forms of giving, such as corporate matching gifts, recurring gifts, and volunteer opportunities. 

However, if donors don’t take advantage of these additional opportunities on your donation page, your post-gift messaging is another great opportunity for you to encourage participation.

For example, let’s say that a donor chose not to explore matching gift programs, but used their work email address in the donation process. Thanks to your payment processor, as well as your matching gift database, that email address will be loaded into your records, allowing you to promote this giving type to donors whose employers offer a matching gift program.

This is just one way that the data collection capabilities from your payment processor can enhance post-gift messaging, enabling you to strategically market your giving programs.

More effective thank-you messaging 

Expressing appreciation is another great way for you to leverage your payment processor’s data to improve your donor communications

Like fundraising appeals, these messages should be intimate, sincere, and personalized to the donor. Information such as donors’ names, their past giving amounts, their frequency of giving, and the campaign or program to which they gave are all essential to making each thank-you letter feel as earnest and as genuine as possible. 

Of course, this is also exactly the kind of data that a dedicated, integrated processor will collect and organize for you. Poor payment processing systems, some larger aggregators, and other processing tools without integration capabilities require you to export donor data from their records and tediously load them into your donor database. 

But an integrated payment processor cuts out these bothersome steps, automatically funneling everything you need to know directly into your records. This gives your team more time and energy to devote to optimizing your donor communications. 

Even seasoned fundraising professionals tend to underestimate or forget about the powerful “behind-the-scenes” tool that is their payment processor. Unlike your constituent relationship management system or your social media marketing tools, your payment processing system works quietly in the background, ironing out issues you might not have been aware of and fending off threats before you had even taken notice of them. 

Whether it’s protecting you from potential hackers or offering up critical data to strengthen your marketing and communications, your payment processing system is an invaluable tool in your organization’s outreach toolkit. 

Author: Peggah Azarvash is a passionate Sales Executive at iATS Payments with 10 years’ experience providing payment solution support and guidance to nonprofits.

Maintaining Confidentiality: Better Cybersecurity for Boards

Good cybersecurity practices start at the top and trickle down throughout the organization, which means your board members should lead by example. This powerful group is responsible for knowing everything about your organization, including its strategic direction, fundraising strategies, and any risks that threaten those plans. 

As a board leader myself, I understand the temptation of skimping on your cybersecurity practices — especially if you lead a small organization. Aren’t there much more important things that your team should be focusing on? Well, of course your team has a lot on its agenda, but you can’t push those initiatives forward with confidence if your security practices are lackluster.

Technology can be a powerful resource, but with it comes the threat of cyberattacks. Taking the time to educate your team on security issues and implement measures to counteract any challenges now can prevent some major problems later on.

There’s no better time to reassess your board security practices than now, as we enter the new year. To help, we’ll explore the following core strategies:

You don’t want poor cybersecurity protocol to get in the way of your board members’ responsibilities. Start devoting some time in your meetings to discussing different strategies. Your board will spend a lot less time worrying and a lot more time leading!

Implement password requirements.

It can be tempting to reuse the same passwords over and over so we don’t forget. After all, what’s more frustrating than trying to log into a platform in a time-sensitive situation just to realize you’ve forgotten your password? Well, I’d say that someone hacking into your account is even more frustrating than that!

Implementing password requirements, particularly on your board of directors, is a very simple step that any organization can (and should) take!

Between email, their board management solution, and any other platforms, your board of directors has access to a lot of platforms with sensitive information. Protect their accounts and implement password requirements like:

  • Minimum password length. Longer passwords are often harder to crack than shorter ones. Set a rule that passwords should be at least eight characters long (or even longer than that!). 
  • A mix of character types. This might mean requiring at least one of each of the following: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters (like punctuation).
  • No commonly used passwords. You’d be surprised how many people use the same exact passwords. Provide everyone with a list of the most commonly used passwords, and ask that they don’t use those.
  • Frequent updates. The more often people update their passwords, the less likely it is that hackers will be able to crack them. Consider having people update their passwords every 180 days or so.

Simplify this step by using platforms that automatically enforce secure password requirements. That way, you don’t have to worry about anyone using a poor password and slipping under the radar. You’ll also want to mention that board members shouldn’t write down their passwords where anyone else can access them.

Offer scalable and protected solutions for remote workers.

There has been a massive shift to remote operations since the start of the pandemic. Like many others, I’ve enjoyed the flexibility of remote work. But we must recognize that going virtual presents major security risks that we haven’t had to face before — at least not to this degree.

While working from home, more data is being exchanged digitally than ever before. Not to mention, more people are using personal devices and home networks, making it easier for cybercriminals to attack.

Your board of directors in particular needs scalable security solutions to continue fulfilling responsibilities remotely without worrying that their work will be compromised in some way. Here are some steps you’ll want to take into account to make remote operations more viable and trustworthy:

  • Run secure virtual meetings. Meetings are a crucial time for your board members to discuss strategies and make important decisions. They need the option to continue meeting while physically apart. Boardable’s guide to hybrid board meetings explains that one of the primary concerns with virtual and hybrid meetings is cybersecurity. Whether your meetings are entirely or only partially virtual, the solution you use should prevent uninvited guests from joining. Just like for your virtual and hybrid events, select a protected solution that uses SSL certification to encrypt data and allows you to require a password to join.
  • Provide them with devices. While it’s likely not doable on a slim budget, some organizations provide their board members with devices that they should use strictly for board work. Doing this makes it incredibly easy to wipe the device if it’s lost or somehow falls into the wrong hands.

Cybersecurity oversight has now become a hot topic for boards everywhere because of remote work. Offering scalable solutions for members who engage in board activities remotely should be on the top of your priority list if it isn’t already.

Invest in secure board software.

A good bit of the work your board completes will be done within your board management platform. Between managing documents, deciding on important matters, and anything else they tackle, a lot goes on within this type of platform. 

Many resources point to secure software solutions as one of an organization’s first lines of defense. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at developing a website for the organization, collecting donations, or governing the entire organization. You should double-check that your solution implements the appropriate security measures.

In regard to board management, here are a few considerations to bear in mind when assessing the security of your solutions:

  • Secure Document Storage. Your board handles a lot of private documents between strategic plans, budgets, and governing documents. Make sure documents are encrypted when uploaded to your board platform. You should also be able to limit the audience for each document or folder. That way, users only have access to the resources they actually need.
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certification. SSL is the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure and protecting any sensitive data that’s being shared between two systems. A board management platform that has SSL certification, which may also be referred to as its successor Transport Layer Security (TLS) certification, will safeguard any data shared between two online board users.
  • Customer Data Encryption. Make sure any data you share is protected, particularly payment information. You’ll need to pay for your board management solution, and the last thing you want is for your credit card information or any personal details attached to the account to be compromised. Ensure your credit card information is protected at every point in the payment process by making sure your board management provider uses a PCI-compliant payment processor. No need to worry about your organization’s funds this way.

Your board management platform provider should take security seriously. So when you’re looking for a new system, ask about their security policy and what measures they take to protect your information. It’ll be apparent if they take it as seriously as they should. This really goes for any software your team invests in.

You’ll also want to check that they assess their cybersecurity protocol on a regular basis. Trusted providers may regularly simulate a cyberattack on their system to check for potential vulnerabilities — often annually. This helps ensure that their platform is doing everything it can to protect your organization’s data.

Have a plan in place in case a cybersecurity breach occurs.

So you put all of this security protocol in place, yet a breach still occurs. What’s next? Well, you should have an emergency response plan in place and should always be prepared for the worst, even if it’s unlikely to happen. 

Bloomerang’s guide to nonprofit cybersecurity mentions that 68% of nonprofits don’t have documented policies to implement in case of a cyberattack. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of that statistic!

In the event that a breach happens, here are a few steps your team should take to reduce the chaos and get everything back in line:

  • Assign specific roles and define the chain of command. Clarify the roles of different team members. Some boards establish a specific committee devoted to managing cybersecurity. Within this committee, you might have someone who will organize internal communications, another person who will manage external communications, and someone else who will take mitigation steps.
  • Make sure everyone is on the same page internally. First thing’s first, make sure to communicate with your board and other internal leaders about what will be said externally. There needs to be a single version of truth regarding what happened and what the game plan is for moving forward, so everyone outside of the organization still has some trust in the organization during an inherently tense time.
  • Be transparent about what information was compromised. Defining reporting requirements is crucial before an attack ever occurs. While storing stakeholder data can be incredibly useful for campaigns, that also means security incidents often involve people who aren’t a part of the organization. Identify any legal reporting requirements and be intentional about communicating what information was compromised both internally and externally.
  • Define different mitigation strategies. There are different types of cybersecurity incidents that can happen. Do your best to plan for different kinds. For example, if there’s a data breach, would you shut the compromised system completely down? Who makes the call to do so? What steps will you take to strengthen uncompromised systems? 

Especially if your organization is large and well-known, you need to accept that there’s a chance your information will be breached despite your best efforts. Having an emergency response plan and updating it to account for new potential incidents will be immensely helpful if a breach does happen. 

Be sure to set aside some time on the agenda to revisit your response protocol with your board members every so often. That way, everyone will be fully aware of what they need to do in these cases. You’ll also want to share a report of all cybersecurity incidents with your board — at least annually. Any incidents that pass a certain severity threshold should be brought to the board immediately, allowing them to take the appropriate actions.

Final Thoughts on Cybersecurity for Boards

Especially with the shift to remote work, more boards and their organizations are talking about cybersecurity. It’s worthwhile to do your research and take extra precautions. Wouldn’t you rather do too much than too little and risk compromising sensitive information? What was just covered will give you a solid starting point.

If you need more ways to improve your cybersecurity protocol, brainstorm ideas with your board. Avoid group-think and put effort into thinking creatively about different cybersecurity issues. After all, two heads (or multiple in this case) are better than one!

Author: Jeb Banner is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a board management software provider for mission-driven boards. He is also the founder of two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree, as well as a board member of United Way of Central Indiana and ProAct. Jeb is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Using Digital Tools and Resources for Your Nonprofit: 3 Tips

Have you ever felt like your nonprofit was juggling a million different goals at once? From raising awareness about your cause to increasing donor retention to identifying major donors to fulfilling your mission, and more, it can all start to feel like a bit of a circus at times!

Fortunately, there’s a wide range of digital tools and resources to help keep you organized as you help your nonprofit thrive. But sometimes, incorporating more digital tools into your already impressive juggling act might seem like more trouble than it’s worth! How can you cut through the noise and identify which tools will actually be helpful and which ones will just eat up more of your time?

We’ve put together this guide to help everyone from tech wizards to newbies make the most of all the digital resources available to nonprofits. Here are our top three tips for using your digital tools and resources to their fullest potential: 

  1. Go the extra mile with an optimized website.
  2. Build connections with donors using digital marketing.
  3. Maintain consistent branding. 

Whether you want to build the best nonprofit website, a fantastic social media presence, or a brand that your supporters will remember, digital tools can help.

And remember: you don’t have to be a coding genius or expert online marketer to make the most out of these tools. All you need is the idea, and many digital tools can do the rest. Adapting these tools to fit your skill level and goals is the best way to maximize their benefits. Let’s get started!

1. Go the extra mile with an optimized website.

The days of supporters sending checks to your nonprofit’s mailbox are long gone — online fundraising is the way of the present and the future. Online giving is crucial for nonprofits, and that’s why you need the right tools to make donating as easy as possible for your supporters.

For this reason, investing in fundraising software is a must today. Fundraising software can help you keep track of donors, manage data, segment your donors, and more. Overall, it can save your staff time and energy by automating important administrative tasks. 

But once you have the fundraising software, how can you get your money’s worth? Well, that comes down to driving donations to your nonprofit, which is where other online fundraising tools can come in. And the best tool for attracting new donors to your fundraising forms might surprise you — your website.

You might not think of your website as an online fundraising tool, but it’s one of the most effective ways you can encourage your supporters to donate.

Here are a few adjustments you can make to ensure your website drives donations: 

  • Focus on the donate button: What’s one easy improvement that can make all the difference? Make your donation button easy to find! Ensuring that your donors can easily find and click donate helps you avoid donor abandonment, or when a supporter gets frustrated by the donation process and gives up.
  • Brand your donation form: Donors want to know that their contributions are going to the right place. By branding your donation form with your logo, color scheme, and other brand elements, you reassure your donors that their funds are going to your organization.
  • Automate matching gifts: According to this 360MatchPro resource on matching gifts, an estimated $4-7 billion in matching gift funds goes unclaimed every year. Encourage your donors to verify their matching gift program eligibility by prompting donors to share their employer information when they make their donation.
  • Prompt donors to sign up for a recurring donation: Donors might not realize that a smaller recurring donation would be even more helpful to your nonprofit than a large, one-time contribution. When your donors fill out your donation form, ask if they’d like to sign up for a recurring donation and briefly explain the impact it would make.

Optimizing your website for fundraising can make a huge difference in the number of supporters who donate. Even seemingly minor details affect the likelihood of donors contributing to your cause.

2. Build connections with donors using digital marketing.

These days, nearly everyone is plugged in. Whether we scroll through social media to look at cute cat pictures, surf the internet in search of great memes, or use messaging apps to stay connected with friends, everybody is doing something online.

And that’s great news for you! Digital tools can not only help you increase your revenue, but they can also help you connect with more donors. How? Through the power of digital marketing. Because most people use the internet everyday, you have a reliable platform where you can reach more potential supporters than ever before. 

However, navigating the world of digital marketing isn’t so simple, especially because you aren’t the only organization trying to take advantage of the opportunities offered by online marketing. To truly connect with your donors online, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. That’s where your donor communications strategy comes in.

Your nonprofit already has an advantage — according to this study on consumer behavior, 84% of customers consider company ethics and values before making a purchase. Since your nonprofit is already doing amazing work to make the world a better place, you’re more likely to convince potential supporters that their money will go to a good cause.

So, your awesome work gives you an advantage over some organizations, but how can you stand out alongside other inspiring nonprofits? Here are a few ways that you can more effectively build connections through digital marketing: 

  • Personalize communications: How many times have you received a marketing message that says, “Dear Valued Customer”? It probably doesn’t make you feel very valued, since the company didn’t even bother to use your name. Instead of addressing your donors with a generic title in your digital communications, be sure to use their actual name, which can make outreach feel more personal.
  • Segment your donors: You can make your communications even more personal by segmenting your donors based on their shared characteristics and interests. For example, young donors and older donors likely have different motivations for contributing as well as different interests and perspectives. Develop unique marketing materials for younger and older donors so that your messaging aligns better with your respective groups. Your donor data management software can help you do this.
  • Share your annual report: Your annual report is a great way to keep donors updated on what your nonprofit is doing, how you’re using donations, and the impact that supporters can make. And, with the right tools, you can create a digital annual report that can arrive right in your donors’ inboxes. Sharing your annual report digitally can give your donors a glimpse into your accomplishments, which might inspire them to donate again! This Cornershop Creative guide on nonprofit annual reports can help you get started with creating your own digital report to share with supporters.
  • Express appreciation: Your donors are the backbone of your nonprofit, so they deserve some thanks. Many nonprofits only send thank you notes as an afterthought, which often means gratitude comes too late. Stand out from other nonprofits by sending thank you notes to your donors as quickly as possible. Using digital email marketing tools, you can even automate these thank you messages so they arrive as soon as the donor submits their contribution. But don’t forget to personalize your thank you note!

Using digital marketing tools, such as dedicated platforms for your social media and email marketing, tools to track your engagement metrics, or graphic design resources, you can cultivate meaningful relationships with your donors — all from your computer or phone.

3. Maintain consistent branding

Building your online presence and effectively using your digital tools requires a method that will help donors remember your nonprofit. What’s the secret sauce that nonprofits use to stay at the forefront of their supporters’ minds? It’s a simple recipe: an effective branding strategy.

Successful branding means that your donors and supporters will recognize your work, connect an event with your organization, or associate certain causes with your nonprofit. For instance, if you’re marketing an upcoming fundraiser, putting your logo on your marketing materials will help your supporters immediately understand that the fundraiser is your event. 

Here are the elements you should make sure you consider when building your brand: 

  • Logo 
  • Color scheme
  • Typography
  • Tone or Voice 

When building or updating your brand, be sure that it’s easy for you to make changes if needed. For example, let’s say you want to rebrand your website, but you quickly realize that your website builder won’t allow you to make any changes. In order to maintain your website and align your site’s aesthetic with your updated brand, you need to make sure you’re using digital tools that have flexible design options. 

For this reason, be sure that your digital tools offer the capabilities that you need now and that you might need in the future. You never know when your nonprofit will be ready for a rebrand, and your technology should help you, not hold you back!

There are so many incredible digital tools out there that can help your nonprofit. However, picking the right ones and using them effectively can be challenging. By identifying your fundraising and marketing needs, you can select the right tools to help you generate revenue and connect with donors. Plus, by following some digital best practices, such as consistent branding, your nonprofit can better develop a renowned digital presence. Good luck! 

Author: De’Yonté’s a late-80s baby who found his passion for web design and development during MySpace’s heyday, when he helped his friends create awesome profiles. He’s spent the last three years specializing in WordPress and conversion optimization, and is an active proponent of coding guidelines. In his off time he enjoys cooking, Rugby, and hanging out with his wife.

Boosting Donor Engagement: What Your Nonprofit Can Do Better

Imagine you’re in an incredibly important meeting, but the person you’re meeting with suddenly drifts off to sleep. This might make for a hilarious sitcom scene, but in reality, it’s demoralizing and upsetting. You weren’t able to keep the person with whom you’re meeting engaged in conversation. Worse, you’re probably not going to get what you’re looking for out of the meeting. 

The same idea applies to your supporters! Keeping them engaged and on the edge of their seat is essential to actively building your relationships over time, which will result in an increase in donations. As such, engagement is tied tightly to the success of your overall fundraising campaign strategies. After all, keeping donors engaged is what keeps them coming back to your organization over and over again. 

In this guide, we’ll cover strategies that your nonprofit can leverage to keep your supporters engaged, including: 

  1. Segmenting your supporters
  2. Personalizing communications
  3. Identifying major prospects
  4. Identifying partnership opportunities
  5. Heading off potential lapses
  6. Thanking your donors
  7. Measuring your progress

When you keep your donors engaged, you’ll retain them for the long haul, meaning you can focus on building those relationships and spend less time and money on acquiring new donors. Plus, as donors become more committed to your cause, they tend to give more over time, helping you raise additional funds. 

Now let’s dive into the strategies!

1. Segmenting your supporters

The first step to engaging your supporters is ensuring that you’re sending them the right communications. When you send out mass messages to every supporter in your database, most of them likely won’t read your messages. And if they do read the messages, they might not support your mission because your appeal is too generic to stir up the urgency and emotions that motivate supporters to give. 

Instead of sending the same messages to every supporter, create specific segments in your nonprofit CRM or donor database using the data you have about your supporters to effectively reach them based on their history with your nonprofit. 

For example, you wouldn’t reach out to a brand new donor right after they’ve given their first gift and solicit a donation of $100,000. You likely haven’t built a strong enough relationship with the donor to ask them to contribute a gift of this size. Plus, they just made a donation, so you could seem greedy for asking for a second gift so soon after they made the first one. Instead, you might send a new donor an information packet about your mission and a welcome letter, greeting them and telling them more about your organization. 

Bloomerang’s guide to donor segmentation provides the following examples of segments your nonprofit might decide to create in your CRM. 

  • First-time donors
  • Monthly donors
  • Potential lapses
  • Lapsed supporters
  • Volunteers who have never given
  • Donors who shared feedback
  • Long-term donors

By splitting these groups of supporters into segments, you can reach out with exactly the message they need to hear to motivate them to stay involved with your mission. For instance, you could reach out to lapsed supporters for feedback, asking how your organization could do better. Then, you could use that reopened channel of communication to engage with them further and hopefully encourage them to support your mission like they did in the past. Or, you might reach out to your volunteers who never gave and inform them about how your latest campaign will make a difference for your mission, encouraging them to make a donation. 

2. Personalizing communications

Once you’ve created the segments in your CRM, you can start using them to personalize your outreach to your supporters. Write messages that will appeal to the specific segment of your audience. Then, use data from your CRM to further personalize each appeal, letter of appreciation, and more. 

Consider, for example, if you’re writing a letter to brand new donors. You might customize this welcome letter to say something like: 

Dear [donor’s name],

Thank you for your generous contribution of [donation amount] for the [campaign name]. Your gift helps provide boys and girls in the community with access to the educational materials they need to be successful students. 

We’d like to take this opportunity to officially welcome you to the School Survivor’s community. We work to provide school materials, lunches, educational opportunities, and more for K-12 students who otherwise wouldn’t have access to these resources. Our mission is to make sure every child has a chance to succeed. 

Thank you again for your support. Learn more about our mission and how you can get involved at

In this example, the data pulled into the letter directly from your CRM includes the donor’s name, the donation amount, and the name of the campaign they supported. For printed letters, don’t be afraid to add a handwritten signature or PS message. These personal touches show supporters that you’re not just sending the same message to everyone in your contact list. This makes them feel like you actually care about them and their support. 

Draft communications templates for each segment of your supporters. Then, use data from your CRM to add personalized elements that will capture their attention and keep them engaged with your mission. This should be done for all communications, from fundraising letters to thank you messages to event invitations. 

At the end of the message, include the next step the recipients can take to continue their engagement. In the example above, it’s an invitation to learn more about the organization, but you can also direct supporters to your volunteer page, next fundraising event, or advocacy campaign to keep them involved. Your communications aren’t only about engaging them at the moment, but they’re also about encouraging that engagement in the future.

3. Identifying major prospects

In terms of lifetime value, your major donors are undoubtedly the most important supporters to identify and steward over time. 

With that in mind, your engagement plan for your major supporters should be robust because they’re the ones who provide the most funding to your organization. 

But before you can build out an engagement plan to cultivate major gifts, you’ll need to determine who your major supporters are. There are two main aspects to this form of prospect research. You’ll need to determine: 

  • Your prospect’s capacity to give. Not everyone has the ability to make a major donation. However, there are certain shared characteristics that indicate an individual might be able to do so. By analyzing wealth data such as a supporter’s real estate ownership, SEC holdings, and past donations, you can estimate the amount they might be able to contribute to your nonprofit. 
  • Their current level of engagement. It’s rare that a brand new supporter will walk into a nonprofit and contribute a surprise major gift. Usually, your organization has to build a relationship with them and eventually ask for the gift you need. Analyze your major donor prospect’s current level of engagement with your organization. If they just attended an event last week, that’s a good sign that they want to continue building a relationship and support your mission!

Your CRM should make it easy to find these metrics. For example, Bloomerang provides a Generosity Score and Engagement Meter for an at-a-glance view of who could be a major prospect. These scores are featured directly on each supporter’s profile. Bloomerang users can also use tools like DonorSearch to further their research and learn more about these key supporters. 

Once you know who your major prospects are, build a specialized engagement plan for them. This might include asking for one-on-one meetings, hosting intimate events, and writing letters for specific individuals. 

4. Identifying partnership opportunities

Another opportunity to further engage both your current and potential supporters lies in partnerships. When you partner with other organizations and corporations, you have access to a whole new pool of potential supporters. 

Here’s generally what the process looks like for nonprofits reaching out to small community businesses:

  • Research or ask your supporters who they work for and save the data to your nonprofit’s donor database. This way, you can discover the supporters who are owners or stakeholders at the small businesses in your community.
  • Engage with these supporters. Reach out to them and make sure they’re aware of everything you’re doing to support your mission and the community.
  • Finally, ask the supporters if they’re open to a partnership between their company and your organization. They may be able to provide sponsorships or auction items for your future campaigns. 

If you find out that many of your supporters work for the same organization, you might reach out to corporate social responsibility professionals at that company and point out their employees’ shared passion for your mission. 

Partnerships allow the company to build on a corporate philanthropy program, which, according to Double the Donation, can provide a positive work environment and public image. Your nonprofit can benefit from these partnerships by gaining access to key resources like sponsorships, volunteer days, and matching gift program funding.

5. Heading off potential lapses

Those supporters who haven’t engaged with you in a while or are failing to open or read your emails may be at risk of lapsing. By building an effective stewardship program, your nonprofit has the opportunity to head off potential lapses. 

Pay attention to the supporters who aren’t actively engaging with your nonprofit, then reach out to them to put your mission back on their minds. This strategy helps boost your donor retention rate and prevents them from leaving to support a different organization or, worse, simply forgetting about the importance of your cause altogether. 

Some strategies you may use to re-engage donors include: 

  • Sending an invitation to get coffee. A personal invitation to get coffee or to attend a luncheon can make a huge difference in whether or not a supporter will continue contributing to your organization. This is especially important when it comes to high-value and mid-tier donors. 
  • Making phone calls. Personalization is key. Be sure you’re reaching out to supporters in the most personal ways possible, which includes making phone calls. Get them on the phone and have a one-on-one conversation. 

When talking with your supporters, always ask supporters how they’d like to be involved in the future. Then, engage with them based on what they say. 

6. Thanking your donors

A little appreciation can go a long way. Thanking your donors is the backbone of an effective stewardship strategy and the key to building meaningful relationships with your supporters. Donors don’t just want to give, give, give. They also want something in return, and that includes  your support and appreciation for everything they do for your organization. 

Take your appreciation strategy further than a single email. Show your supporters that they matter by also incorporating other methods of appreciation such as: 

  • Sending handwritten letters
  • Writing multiple personalized emails
  • Making phone calls
  • Hosting appreciation events
  • Sending them free merchandise

No matter how you choose to say thank you, work to ensure your supporters feel valued by your organization before soliciting additional gifts. 

7. Measuring your progress

As you start to incorporate more engagement strategies into your overall fundraising strategy, track key metrics to see if these efforts are succeeding or if they need to be adjusted. For example, if you provide free merchandise to say thank you to several donors, but they all end up lapsing, you might need to rethink your strategy and show your appreciation in a different way. 

You should track metrics such as the following before and after you’ve incorporated these engagement strategies: 

  • Donor retention rate
  • Revenue raised 
  • Matching gift rate
  • Landing page conversion rate
  • Recurring gift percentage

Determine what your goals are in terms of these metrics and don’t be afraid to get specific! Just saying “I want to increase my retention rate” doesn’t define success very well. Instead, set a  goal like “I want to increase the retention rate by 15%.” This will provide a motivating metric for your team to strive for. 

Engagement is key to fundraising success. It’s how you build relationships with supporters and encourage them to stay with your nonprofit for the long haul. Set your nonprofit up for success by incorporating these strategies into your regular fundraising outreach and communications strategy. Then, track your success. Happy fundraising! 

Author: Jay Love

Co-Founder and current Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang

He has served this sector for 33 years and is considered the most well-known senior statesman whose advice is sought constantly.

Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth.

He is a graduate of Butler University with a B.S. in Business Administration. Over the years, he has given more than 2,500 speeches around the world for the charity sector and is often the voice of new technology for fundraisers.

6 Creative Volunteer Engagement Ideas for Nonprofits

As a volunteer coordinator, one of your most important ongoing responsibilities is to engage your volunteers. This is because it’s much more time and cost-effective to engage and retain current volunteers rather than constantly expend energy on recruiting new volunteers. 

However, if your volunteer program has been in operation for a while, you might feel like your volunteer engagement strategies are getting a little stale. You’ve tried all of the traditional advice, from segmenting your volunteers to creating personalized outreach, but you’re looking for something new to inspire and excite your supporters. 

If this sounds familiar, it’s time to change things up and explore some creative ways you can interact with your volunteers and keep them engaged in what you have to offer. Here are six ideas for better volunteer engagement: 

  1. Use your social media pages to interact with volunteers. 
  2. Offer a reward for your volunteer of the month.
  3. Inspire friendly competition with gamification.
  4. Give your volunteer opportunities a creative theme.
  5. Encourage volunteers to bring along family and friends. 
  6. Help volunteers cultivate new skills. 

Keep in mind that effective volunteer engagement isn’t a one-and-done task. It requires an ongoing process that combines multiple engagement strategies to keep volunteers in the loop and offer them compelling reasons to stay involved. Let’s dive in to learn more!

1. Use your social media pages to interact with volunteers. 

Social media is more than just a tool for accumulating followers. It’s also a great place to show off your volunteers’ achievements, update them on upcoming events, and express appreciation. There are approximately 3.78 billion social media users worldwide, and with this rise in popularity, you should leverage multiple social pages to inform and interact with your volunteers.

Post volunteer shoutouts highlighting certain volunteer projects or specific volunteers who went above and beyond during a recent opportunity. Take photos during your volunteer opportunities and events and post those photos on your social media pages such as Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to tag each individual and encourage them to share the posts to help spread awareness of your opportunities.

Social media is also a great medium to communicate important information to your volunteers all at once. Let’s say you’re hosting a fundraising gala, and you want to attract as many potential attendees and donors as possible. You can encourage volunteers to be ambassadors and share your posts and event page on their social media accounts to get the word out. This way, you can attract a larger pool of audience members and encourage them to participate in your event.

2. Offer a reward for your volunteer of the month.

Acknowledging and rewarding your volunteers is a crucial component in keeping them engaged and motivated. Your volunteers donate many hours to help your cause, so it’s necessary to recognize the positive impact they have on your organization. 

To reward volunteers who make a sizable impact on your mission, consider offering a volunteer of the month program. Make the designation extra-special by offering winners a special prize or award. Examples of rewards can be:

  • A gift card to a local business or restaurant – Everybody loves free food! Rewarding your outstanding volunteer with a gift card to a popular restaurant nearby will generate excitement and motivate your volunteer to continue giving their best efforts. This is a fun way to encourage your volunteers while also supporting a local business.
  • Free merchandise – Consider offering your volunteer of the month free merchandise such as a t-shirt, mug, hat, or water bottle. Customize your merchandise with your nonprofit’s logo as well as a short message such as “Volunteer of the Month, April 2022.” This is a memorable gift and will make your organization stand out! 
  • A special gala/certificate – Host a volunteer appreciation gala where attendees dress up and celebrate each other’s achievements. During this event, you can offer a certificate to your hard-working volunteer of the year. You can also highlight their accomplishments and what exactly they did that made them the volunteer of the year. This will make your volunteer feel special and encourage them to stay involved in your cause.
  • A trophy – This is a great tangible reward that your volunteer can take home and place on a shelf. This symbol of their achievement will remind your volunteers of the general positive feeling that your organization promotes, which will make them want to continue volunteering with your nonprofit longer.

Rewarding your volunteers contributes to keeping them engaged and feeling appreciated for their accomplishments. Even a simple gesture of appreciation, such as a handwritten note, can go a long way.

3. Inspire friendly competition with gamification.

Gamification involves adding game mechanics to non-gaming environments and features elements such as points, leaderboards, and badges. This concept can be used to motivate and engage your volunteers in a fun way.

Use your volunteer management tools to keep track of each volunteers’ progress. For instance, keep track of volunteers’ total number of hours or statistics related to fundraising initiatives, such as how many peer-to-peer donations volunteers raised. Then, inspire a little friendly competition by incorporating gamification into your volunteer tracking system.

Award volunteers with badges or points once they hit certain milestones, such as a specific number of hours worked or donations raised. Then, volunteers can continue earning points until they hit a certain benchmark, where they can receive a prize.

Gamification is very effective in inspiring volunteers to reach a goal because it encourages them to push themselves. People love to participate in activities with a slight edge of competition because it inspires a drive to succeed and makes accomplishing tasks fun. Plus, elements like points and badges provide instant feedback on your volunteers’ performance, which will satisfy the need for recognition and will push them to do even better.

4. Give your volunteer opportunities a creative theme.

Giving your volunteer opportunities and events a theme makes them more fun and exciting for everyone. With the right planning and strategies in place, a themed event can boost engagement and attract more participants. 

For example, if you’re hosting a canned food drive near Halloween, consider making it more than just a canned food drive— make it a Halloween-costume-themed canned food drive! Or, if you’re hosting a 5K event, encourage participants and volunteers to come wearing their favorite Disney-themed outfit. This changes things up a bit and adds an extra flavor of excitement. It also allows your volunteers to socialize with others, making their volunteering experience less work-intensive and more fun.

Making your volunteer and fundraising opportunities themed also helps market them to community members. It will catch the attention of anyone who passes by, offering a great opportunity to talk about what your event and organization as a whole is all about. This can encourage community members to donate to your cause or even sign up to volunteer at a future opportunity. 

5. Encourage volunteers to bring along family and friends. 

When your volunteers include their family and friends in your events and activities, they’ll feel much more comfortable participating and likely have more fun since they already have one or two people they know. It also helps promote awareness of your volunteer program to a larger audience.

However, the first step is to offer a memorable experience for your volunteers first before they bring their family and friends along. Proper volunteer engagement and management involves giving your current volunteers a positive experience so that they promote your program to family and friends via word-of-mouth advertising. 

From there, you can encourage them to create social media posts to share information about any upcoming activities, conferences, and fundraising events to attract the interest of potential participants. Remember to offer proper training and tools to help them feel confident in getting the word across. 

Once they’ve caught the interest of new volunteers from their audience of family and friends, add the names and contact information for these new volunteers to your volunteer management database to help grow your audience. 

6. Help volunteers cultivate new skills. 

Every volunteer offers their own unique set of skills and strengths. By providing training opportunities, you can enhance their skill set and offer an added benefit to your volunteer program! 

Learning never stops, and by offering new roles, you will help your volunteers step out of their comfort zone and grow their knowledge base. As a volunteer coordinator, you will have a much easier time engaging with volunteers if your program is just as beneficial for them as it is for you. 

There are plenty of ways you can help volunteers earn new skills, such as:

  • Offering volunteers eLearning training – This allows your volunteers to learn at their own pace, in the comfort of their homes. You can create several modules for your volunteers to work through and provide a certificate for completion. Offering an eLearning training experience also allows you to monitor volunteers’ progress and provides an ongoing resource if volunteers have any questions or concerns.
  • Providing unique virtual experiences – If you’re hosting a virtual event, you can offer your volunteers valuable virtual experiences. Your virtual volunteers can help manage your nonprofit’s digital efforts, such as website maintenance or hybrid event management. This is an excellent opportunity for them to learn independently as they will be in charge of different areas of your online event. Most in-person volunteering experiences don’t offer as much independence since there is typically a volunteer coordinator on site to oversee everything. However, virtual volunteer opportunities can offer greater leadership opportunities, allowing volunteers to gain confidence and learn new technical skills.
  • Giving them leadership opportunities – If you have any experienced or long-time volunteers, you can upgrade their role by offering leadership opportunities. This can include taking charge of training new volunteers, leading a volunteer opportunity, or even being a mentor! This can provide volunteers with a resume booster and offer the experience they may need for any future job opportunities.

Helping your volunteers grow by offering opportunities to learn new skills can foster an enjoyable, unique experience for participants. Remember to celebrate all their achievements and offer ongoing support to help answer questions or address concerns!

There you have it! Now that you’ve learned six different volunteer engagement ideas, it’s time to plan how you will go about putting these plans into action! Shaking up your current engagement strategies will bring some excitement to both your staff and volunteers. Your volunteers are the backbone of your organization and help you reach your goals, so it’s important to focus on how to increase their satisfaction and plan accordingly.

Remember to request feedback from your volunteers as it will help you measure the success of your program. Good luck!

Author: Shreya Tragad is a creative content creator focusing on delivering information about the importance of volunteerism for nonprofit organizations. She is passionate about creating engaging content, writing, and graphic design to help viewers easily retain information. You can find her work at or on Linkedin and Twitter.

The Role of Facebook in Your Peer-to-Peer Strategy

How has your nonprofit’s peer-to-peer fundraising programming fared in the past year and a half?

There’s no shame in admitting that your P2P revenue may be down. In fact, if you’re like many nonprofits, your P2P fundraising may have taken quite a hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Even the largest programs across the country reported major declines in revenue and participation— with revenue declines ranging from 16.1% to 58.9% in the top 10 programs.

For organizations that rely on peer-to-peer fundraising to bring in the bulk of their revenue, declines such as these can be devastating. That’s why so many nonprofits focused on diversifying their revenue streams over the past year, seeking out new grant, major gift, and donor-advised fund-related opportunities.

But, what if you could diversify your peer-to-peer fundraising revenue stream itself? And, with that, insulate your nonprofit’s funding (and mission!) from future crises?

If the past year taught us anything, it’s that nonprofits need to do their due diligence to de-risk their missions. So, let’s discuss Facebook and the role it can play in diversifying your P2P strategy. We’ll cover the following points:

  • What is the role of Facebook in peer-to-peer fundraising?
  • What are Facebook Challenges?
  • How can you incorporate Facebook Challenges into your P2P strategy?

Before we dive into de-risking your mission with social fundraising, let’s first discuss the connection between Facebook fundraisers and the peer-to-peer fundraising ecosystem overall

What is the role of Facebook in peer-to-peer fundraising?

Inspired by the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Facebook released its first fundraising tools in 2015. Not long after, in 2016, the platform released functionality that allows individuals to create standalone fundraisers on behalf of their favorite charities.

In 2019, the platform celebrated $2 billion raised for nonprofit and personal causes; in 2021, that number has risen to over $5 billion. And now, according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, “Of the donors who are inspired to give by social media outreach, 56% of them say Facebook has the biggest impact on them.” 

Functionally, Facebook fundraisers are social-media-based peer-to-peer fundraisers. When a user creates a fundraiser on behalf of your nonprofit, they share it with their friends, family members, and colleagues and ask those individuals to donate to the campaign.

However, where there would be dedicated peer-to-peer fundraising software in a traditional campaign, there is instead a dedicated Facebook fundraiser. Also unlike traditional peer-to-peer fundraisers, your nonprofit’s supporters can start fundraisers on your behalf whenever they want, independently of any fundraising campaigns your organization is hosting overall.

All of that said, while social fundraising has been a clear force for good, some nonprofits are hesitant to embrace Facebook in their peer-to-peer fundraising strategies. These organizations worry that:

However, these worries are hardly reason enough to forego the benefits of social fundraising as a tool to de-risk your mission— especially because Facebook Challenges defy each one.

What are Facebook Challenges?

Facebook Challenges are time-bound peer-to-peer fundraisers that take place entirely on the social network.

During a Challenge, participants complete a specific task or activity, such as walking a specified number of miles or completing an exercise for a certain number of repetitions. Participants complete this activity on each day of the Challenge, reporting back on their progress in a shared Facebook group to which all participants are added. At the same time, participants use a Facebook fundraiser to raise funds for your nonprofit from their networks. These gifts may be made due to an interest in your cause, or simply to support the participant in their pursuits!

To help you visualize, consider this example Facebook Challenge:

Participants are tasked with walking 10k steps each day, for a total of 30 days. During this time, participants “check-in” with their fellow participants in the Facebook group, encouraging one another toward their goals. Throughout the Challenge, each participant has the goal of raising at least $250 for your nonprofit through a Facebook fundraiser. 

How can Facebook Challenges de-risk peer-to-peer fundraising?

We started this article by discussing the idea of using Facebook to de-risk your overall peer-to-peer fundraising strategy. Then, we discussed a quick history of social fundraising and an innovative new way to use Facebook fundraising— Facebook Challenges. Now, let’s combine the two ideas.

Research has shown that Facebook Challenges are an additive fundraising method.

This essentially means that, rather than pulling resources and support from your other fundraising campaigns, Facebook Challenges enhance your strategy overall.

For example, consider if you chose to host a traditional fundraising event. You’d be marketing the event to existing and new supporters alike, but your existing donors and volunteers would be the most likely to attend and give. You’d need to schedule carefully to ensure the event doesn’t fall too closely to your other fundraising efforts, because your supporters could experience donation fatigue after being asked to give to your organization twice in a short period of time.

On the other hand, Facebook Challenges reach an entirely new audience that your nonprofit likely hasn’t engaged with previously. Just consider the results in this GoodUnited resource. During its Facebook Challenges, American Cancer Society:

  • Added 443,078 leads to its database at a $3.12 cost per lead.
  • Saw 61,000 new fundraisers started in conjunction with the Challenges.

Most interesting, however, was that over 95% of the Facebook Challenge participants were new to the American Cancer Society. Rather than diverting supporters from other ACS campaigns, Facebook Challenges brought new supporters into the nonprofit’s audience.

Because Challenges take place online, they have unlimited reach. As of January 2021, the total number of active internet users in the world was 4.66 billion— so your digital campaign can really make an impact when it comes to bolstering your donations and audience. In a year where both fundraising and participation were down, this is invaluable.

Even further, we know that both in-person and hybrid events can be complicated and expensive to plan and coordinate. But, that’s not the case for Facebook Challenges. So, you can de-risk your P2P strategy without much disruption to your current fundraising calendar.

Let’s walk through the Facebook Challenge planning process so you can see this for yourself.

How can you incorporate Facebook Challenges into your P2P strategy?

If you’re ready to embrace Facebook Challenges as a way to de-risk your peer-to-peer fundraising strategy and mission overall, start planning your first campaign with the following steps:

  1. Outline the parameters of your Challenge. Consider the task or activity you’ll want participants to complete, the dates of the campaign itself, and your fundraising goals both for the overall fundraiser and individual participants.
  2. Create the tech infrastructure to support the campaign. This is essentially the Facebook group that participants will join when they sign up for the Challenge. Write a clear description of what the Challenge will entail and ensure the cover photo is branded to your organization, both of which will build trust in your new supporters that the campaign is legitimate.
  3. Use Facebook Ads to spread the word. With your paid Ads campaign, target both known supporters of your nonprofit (i.e. those who have “liked” you on Facebook) and lookalike audiences that have similar characteristics and interests as your known supporters. This is how you’ll engage with a new audience of support.
  4. Engage with participants for the duration of the campaign. Once users follow the ads, sign up for your Challenge, and join the corresponding group, the fundraiser is underway. Interact with participants in the group to ensure it’s an engaging experience, such as sharing discussion posts, updates about the progress of the campaign, and fundraising tips to help them reach their goals.

Last but not least, consider ways that you can continue engaging with your new supporters long after the campaign ends.

For example, you can use Facebook Messenger to hold one-on-one conversations with new supporters throughout the year. Simply post thank-you comments on each Facebook fundraiser, thanking the participant for their efforts in your Challenge. In that message, invite the participant to begin chatting with your nonprofit in Messenger. Then, you can keep the conversation going!

Facebook Challenges are the ideal tool to de-risk your peer-to-peer fundraising revenue, providing an additive fundraising channel for times when P2P revenue is down. This means that regardless of future crises, your mission is funded.

However, if you’ve read through this guide and are worried about your team’s capacity and ability to manage yet another fundraising channel— don’t fret! There are now social fundraising solutions providers that can manage the process for you from start to finish, from planning the initial Challenges to communicating with participants long after the fundraisers are complete. This means that even if your team is busy, you can still experience all of the benefits of Facebook Challenges in your peer-to-peer strategy.

Author: Maria Clark is a nonprofit executive and technology evangelist with 30+ years of industry experience. Today she serves as Executive Vice President of Partnerships and Chief Evangelist for GoodUnited, the social fundraising solution. Maria is a champion of the new and has fearlessly led change management efforts throughout her career. 

Previously, Maria spent 33 years at the American Cancer Society, a top #20 US nonprofit and the leading cancer research nonprofit with an annual $800+M budget, in roles spanning all aspects of nonprofit communication, operations and fundraising. Most recently, as Senior Vice President for Peer to Peer Development, Maria led strategy development, planning and implementation for name brand ACS events like Relay for Life, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, a robust gala and golf portfolio and the Raise Your Way DIY platform, as well as championing new digital strategies that support community fundraising. 

Maria lives with her husband Derek in Dallas, Texas, where she has a deep history with the nonprofit community. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Notre Dame School, a special needs Kindergarten through post high school in Dallas, and remains active in the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association. Maria is mom to two adult daughters, Devin and Corrie, and her fur baby, Ozzy. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: 3 Eco-Friendly Ways to Boost Revenue

Ten or fifteen years ago, promoting your organization as “eco-friendly” might’ve simply seemed like a good way to increase donor loyalty while remaining mindful of your local community. But in this day and age, individuals and organizations alike are expected to mind their effect on the environment and actively fight for a healthier, more sustainable world. 

Clearly, installing a few recycling bins in your office will no longer be enough to meet these expectations. Instead, consider the following ways you can make your operations greener than ever, all while maximizing donations, boosting donor retention, and increasing ROI for your organization: 

  • Reduce: Go Paperless with Online Fundraising
  • Reuse: In-Kind Donation Drives 
  • Recycle: Green Challenges & Volunteer Events

Whether you’re a ministry leader looking for greener fundraising ideas or the director of a nonprofit trying to reduce your carbon footprint without jeopardizing revenue, we have a solution for you. These simple, forward-thinking strategies will help future-proof your organization, setting you up for long-term success and cementing you as a force for good in your community. 

Are you ready to go green and optimize your operations? Let’s dive in! 

Reduce: Go Paperless with Online Fundraising

When people think of reducing their waste, they usually imagine shopping for LED bulbs and separating their paper and plastic. True, these are both critical first steps to becoming more environmentally conscious. But online fundraising is another, potentially far greater way that you can increase revenue while reducing your effect on the environment. 

For example, virtual fundraisers eliminate the physical waste and cost associated with planning and creating in-person events. On top of that, online fundraising campaigns can be easily automated and optimized with software solutions to take the strain off of your team. 

Hopefully, our pandemic era of virtual engagement has prepared you to launch an online fundraiser, but here are a few additional tips to improve your online campaigns: 

  • Optimize your website. From providing a portal for your online event to hosting your donation page, your website is your greatest virtual fundraising tool, so making a good impression is a major concern. Navigation menus, mobile optimization, and a simplified frontend design are just a few ways you can improve your website. Additionally, you might even find a website builder to streamline the entire process. 
  • Roll out digital marketing strategies. Most fundraising teams already utilize email marketing, and it’s no wonder why—studies show that email has the highest ROI of any other marketing channel. But pairing your email marketing with social media, email blasts, and SMS or text invitations can create an even more powerful, paperless multichannel marketing approach. Market your upcoming fundraiser with a sophisticated online promotional campaign that reaches your supporters on the platforms they use the most. 
  • Invest in fundraising event software. Successfully managing an online fundraising campaign can be a challenging task. Luckily, event management software can help you plan, host, and track the entire event, even if you opt for an in-person or hybrid fundraiser rather than an entirely virtual one. From Facebook peer-to-peer campaigns to online auctions, there are dozens of dedicated or all-in-one event management solutions to help you facilitate your next event. 

With social distancing policies rolling back and in-person engagement once again becoming a possibility, you may get tempted to leave behind your virtual and hybrid event techniques. Instead, we urge you to use these effective online fundraising strategies to maximize your incoming revenue while minimizing environmental waste.

Reuse: In-Kind Donation Drives

DonationMatch’s guide to in-kind donations defines this type of giving program as non-cash contributions that typically include products, supplies, and equipment.  Businesses, major organizations, and even individuals can participate in these types of fundraising campaigns. Additionally, these events allow your organization to directly get a hold of lucrative goods and services for auctions, internal use, or even sales to a third-party seller. 

On top of all of these benefits, in-kind fundraising is also a great way to repurpose items that your donors no longer need. To keep valuable, reusable items from ending up in a landfill, consider the following easy and accessible in-kind donation drives: 

  • Shoe drive fundraisers. Who doesn’t have an extra pair of shoes in their closet that’s simply taking up space? Do your donors, the planet, and your organization a favor by opening up a donation drive for gently worn, new, and used shoes. A shoe drive fundraising coordinator can help plan and manage the entire event, allowing your team to collect contributions from across your community and rehome them for a profit to a third-party organization. 
  • Food drive fundraisers. Food waste is a rising crisis among developed countries, producing and disposing of food products in massive quantities. Fight this growing issue, increase revenue, and reduce food insecurity in your community by collecting canned and non-perishable food items and redistributing them to reputable sellers in your local area.
  • Denim drive fundraisers. Like shoes, jeans, and other denim clothing are often overflowing within your supporters’ closets. Partner with a clothing seller to make the most of these excess clothing items, reduce product waste, and make a profit, all without asking donors for a dollar. 

You don’t always have to ask your supporters for money. Instead, alternative giving campaigns such as in-kind donation drives give you the chance to make an immediate, direct change to product waste in your area and significantly raise your incoming revenue while doing so. 

Recycle: Green Challenges & Volunteer Events

In the previous section, we examined how you could turn unwanted and even used goods into revenue for your organization and fulfilling engagement opportunities for your supporters. We will now explore how your team can use garbage and waste to launch creative, engaging recycling campaigns to take things a step further!

Green Challenges 

Who doesn’t love a challenge? By initiating short-term, competitive fundraising initiatives among your supporters, such as who can donate the most recycled goods, you can bring out a bit of healthy competition and further encourage donors to work towards the success of your event. 

For example, some eco-friendly initiatives could include:

  • Mud run shoe drive fundraisers. Similar to regular shoe drive fundraisers, mud run shoe drive fundraisers transform this event into an opportunity to recycle less well-maintained items by collecting gently used but dirty shoes. These goods can then be recycled and remade into new footwear. Again, a shoe drive fundraising coordinator can manage this simple yet surprisingly lucrative event. 
  • Aluminum runs. Dare your donors to clean up your local area by collecting all of the discarded aluminum in their homes and around their communities. Then measure their hauls and announce winners for the clean-up run, distributing prizes for participants who collected the most recyclables. These campaigns can also get repurposed for other types of recyclable waste, like plastic bottles. Additionally, your team can contact a local grocery store to process these recyclables and establish a valuable partnership opportunity with a local business. 
  • Peer-to-peer recycling challenges. Social media is a great place to launch a viral challenge for your supporters. Facebook Groups, in particular, are well-suited to host peer-to-peer recycling challenges. For instance, people could collect one bag of recyclable waste and share a photo, which will allow your donors to publicly show their support and expose your campaign to a broader audience. 

These are just the beginning of the wacky, wonderful, and surprisingly lucrative fundraising initiatives that your organization can launch for its green campaign. For example, this Funds2Orgs 100+ unique fundraising ideas guide names dozens of other eco-friendly fundraising initiatives, such as themed fun runs or virtual 5Ks, to engage supporters in your green campaigns! 

Volunteer Events

If your organization doesn’t already have a volunteer program, then now is the time to begin rolling one out. These engaging programs can boost long-term donor retention and support for your organization, as well as qualify your organization for lucrative volunteer grant funds

Additionally, volunteers give your most passionate supporters the opportunity to freely, charitably complete major projects for your organization. 

For your green campaigns, be sure to create volunteer events that encourage local community members to clean up their parks, public spaces, and towns. These campaigns can be themed and adjusted seasonally for maximum engagement. 

For example, a school fundraising version of this event could call for students and parents to gather together around particularly dirty parts of your local area, such as a badly littered park. You can give these volunteers garbage bags and gloves to collect as much waste as possible, then be shuttle them back to your school to reconvene and celebrate your collective efforts. 

These “clean parties” not only increase engagement for your supporters, but they expose your brand to the larger community, boosting the possibility of future revenue streams and donor acquisition. 

Our collective idea of what it means to be “eco-conscious” has gone through radical changes as we have learned more about the environment, the impact of our actions, and what we can do to promote a sustainable future. 

With these straightforward but powerful strategies, you can begin making a stand for ethical and environmental responsibility without draining your resources. In fact, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by investing in green solutions that will significantly improve your rates of donor engagement, retention, acquisition, and incoming revenue. 

Author: Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises (EE) and a member of the Forbes Business Development Council. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, which is a social enterprise that helps schools, churches, nonprofits, individuals and other organizations raise funds while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations. 

Optimize Your Donation Process for Recurring Gifts

Donations are the lifeblood of your nonprofit. Every donation, big or small, adds up to keep your nonprofit running. However, converting support into donations is often expensive, and sometimes the acquisition of one-time donations fail to cover the costs spent on marketing. 

Of course, there’s no question that your nonprofit should continue reaching out to supporters for contributions. However, instead of asking for any kind of donation, you should emphasize the cultivation of recurring gifts. Recurring gifts are a reliable source of monthly revenue that adds up over time and helps your nonprofit form a core support base of regular donors.

Make sure that when supporters reach your donation page, making a recurring gift is as easy as possible. A well-optimized donation process builds on your marketing efforts, helping you earn more recurring gifts and gain long-term support. To help improve your recurring donors’ experience, this article will explore four donation process best practices:

Keep in mind that earning and maintaining recurring gifts is a continuous process that requires regular upkeep. Think of donations not as a one time event but as a cycle. While the beginning of a supporters’ donor journey certainly deserves attention, also considering the other stages will help you retain donors, acquire more recurring gifts, and prevent donor lapse. Let’s get started. 

Add a checkbox or button to your donation page.

Supporters who visit your donation page are at a key point in their engagement. They have found your cause through marketing materials, navigated through your website, and decided to make a gift. Make sure what they find on your donation page can persuade them to not just make a donation, but make a recurring one. 

While many supporters will need to learn more about your nonprofit before deciding whether or not to become a recurring donor, others will make the decision the first time they visit your donation page. It’s a well-known fact that you have to ask in order to receive, and sometimes something as simple as adding a checkbox or button to opt-in to your recurring gift program can be enough to sway supporters. 

When designing your donation page and recurring gift button or checkbox, make sure to consider:

  • Your brand identity. Your recurring donation options should be branded to create a consistent experience for supporters. You can further emphasize your brand by adding details about what a recurring donation will accomplish. If you leverage suggested giving amounts (more on those soon), you might emphasize your mission by sharing the impact of a monthly gift over a one-time donation. For example, a nonprofit that provides school supplies might share that $25 per month pays for a class’s textbooks for a year, while a one-time gift can help buy a textbook for one or two students.
  • Billing options. In order to accept recurring donations, you’ll need to have a payment processor that can handle recurring billing. Your recurring billing software is what allows your donors to set their recurring gift preferences and reliably transfer the gift to your nonprofit. Before creating a checkbox or opt-in method, make sure it’s connected to your recurring billing software. 
  • Page length. Donation forms should be kept short to prevent page abandonment where a donor exits the page before completing their gift. This means you’ll need to be thoughtful about how you format your donation form when adding extra elements such as your recurring gift buttons so that they don’t push the page to be too long.

Some nonprofits go the extra mile and provide supporters with multiple prompts to become recurring donors in case they missed the first chance. For some nonprofits, this may take the form of a pop-up that appears after a donor submits their gift, while others may prefer to offer the option in a follow-up thank you email confirming the initial donation. 

Provide suggested giving amounts.

Many donors, especially first-time donors, are unsure about how much to give. By providing suggested giving amounts, you can help donors get a sense of what an appropriate donation amount is. In addition to streamlining the donation process, this can also increase your average donation size by setting an approximate donation floor. 

Suggested giving amounts can also be used to persuade donors into joining your recurring giving program. Consider the following images:

Comparatively, the monthly giving option is much lower, though it adds up over time. To some donors, $7 a month might feel like less of an investment than a one-time $50 donation due to the initial cost difference. However, over the course of a year, the monthly donation will add up to be quite a bit more. 

CharityEngine’s guide to monthly giving also explains how to make appropriate increase suggestions among your current donors. For example, if a donor gives $100 annually, it would be quite a jump in fundraising to ask them to give $100 monthly. Additionally, the donor may not have the spending capacity to make such an adjustment, even if they wanted to. 

Instead, consider the amount the donor is already giving and suggest incremental increases. In the case of the $100 annual donor, you might instead ask them to consider giving $10 monthly, which isn’t a significantly increased financial burden, but also earns your nonprofit an extra $20 a year. 

Prompt donors to upgrade their gift to a recurring donation.

Your donation form isn’t your only opportunity to encourage donors to join your recurring gift program. As mentioned, many donors need to establish a long-standing relationship with your nonprofit before they’ll be comfortable becoming a recurring donor. 

For these supporters, you’ll need to identify who is a potential recurring donor and make your ask at an appropriate moment in their donor journey. Before asking someone to become a recurring donor, consider:

  • How you can make the upgrade process as convenient as possible. Upgrading one-time donations to recurring gifts should be an easy process for your supporter. Consider giving donors control over their monthly giving amounts. Doing so allows them to update their financial information and upgrade their donations without needing to get in touch with a member of your staff. 
  • When you ask. There are a few times where asking donors to upgrade to a recurring gift will be more appropriate than others. For example, it makes sense to prompt a donor to consider giving a recurring gift the first time they give. However, if they continue to browse your website, you might want to delay asking for a recurring gift a second time through a pop-up in such quick succession. 
  • If it makes sense to ask this specific donor. There may be times where it’s inappropriate to ask for a recurring donation, specifically when it comes to your major donors. Instead, use wealth screening tools and look into giving trends to identify supporters who give in larger amounts repeatedly but irregularly. These supporters could be better candidates for your monthly giving program. 

Additionally, avoid sending out automated mass emails asking all of your donors to upgrade to recurring gifts. Instead, segment your donors so these messages reach supporters who are the most likely to consider joining your recurring giving program, and avoid sending them to supporters who already give recurring donations. 

Follow up to prevent donor lapse.

Recurring donations are ultimately more cost-effective than one-time gifts. Nearly every report on donor retention shows that it’s far cheaper to invest in the donors you currently have than to replace them with new ones. 

In order to keep your recurring giving program going strong, you’ll need to continue cultivating donor relationships after they sign-up for your recurring giving program. Neglecting donor relationships can churn donors, losing previously reliable revenue and stifling your nonprofit’s potential growth.

Donor lapse can happen for all sorts of reasons, and Dataro’s guide to donor retention outlines a few ways you can prevent donors from lapsing:

  • Identify at-risk donors. Before you can prevent donor lapse, you need to know which of your donors are at-risk. There are a few signs to look for, such as donors who have not opened any recent messages from your nonprofit and those who cancelled a scheduled payment. You can also survey your donors to get a general sense of how they feel about your nonprofit, which might also point to potential areas of improvement. 
  • Personalize messages. You should personalize your messages to each donor, especially those at risk-of leaving your recurring gift program. Consider making a segment of at-risk donors and send them messages that express gratitude and demonstrate their impact. In this personalized email stream, avoid asking at-risk donors to make additional gifts or increase their donation amount. 
  • Follow up on failed payments. Sometimes donors lapse not because they aren’t interested in donating, but because they experience a failed credit card payment. In these cases, follow up with your donor to resolve the issue so a change in credit cards doesn’t remove them from your recurring gift program. Some nonprofits even take the extra initiative to reach out to donors with cards that are about to expire to catch the problem early. 

Your CRM or donation management software should help you track these data points. The right CRM should have reporting tools that allow you to identify trends in both individual supporters’ donation history and in overall donation trends. Plus, a CRM with communication tools can also allow you to segment your recurring donors and follow up with them as needed to help them continue their donor journey. 

Recurring gifts are donations you can count on. To make the most of your recurring gift program, ensure that signing up is as easy as possible for donors and give them multiple opportunities to do so. Then, focus on cultivating relationships, both for those who are considering joining your recurring giving program and those who might be considering leaving it. 

Author: Leigh Kessler is VP of Marketing and Communications at donor management software platform CharityEngine and a frequent speaker on branding, fundraising, data and technology.  He is a former nationally touring headline comedian and has appeared on numerous TV shows including VH1’s “Best Week Ever”, CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight”, Discovery Channel & Sirius Radio.​ He has overseen and informed research and branding strategies for some of the most well known brands in America.