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.

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