Donation Marketing Tips NTEN - April 2010


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A nonprofit organization asked us about ways to market their new online donation system. We surveyed the field and compiled a short presentation of ideas.

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  • Atthe 2010 NTC, Green Moon volunteered to help an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization assess online donation tools. As part of our assessment, we looked at ways to market the new donation system. This presentation summarizes techniques we found the NP community has been implementing for donation system marketing.
  • We lead off with the question we were asked, “How do we market our donation system to our supporters?” The points on this page are to increase the organization’s visibility, to improve their SEO optimization using links, and to drive traffic to their website (where there “Donate Now” button will be prominently placed). Our initial points are fairly low-tech, but require a lot of traditional work – making phone calls, writing letters (or email messages), and basic communication. Try to get mentioned in newsletters. The NP we were working with was a community environmental group, so we suggested they talk to organizations they work with: schools, scouts, garden clubs, local chapters of large enviro groups, churches, etc., and when conducting an event or activity that might interest the group, ask for a mention. For example, ask the local scouting group to help with clearing a trail –the ask that group to mention the NP in their newsletter (and provide links). We have also see testimonials being used effectively. Ask a local leader or organization that you’ve effectively worked with to provide a testimonial – and get their permission to use it. A testimonial can be one or two sentences: “We were amazed how much XYZ Group was able to accomplish for our community during just one weekend.” Link to the person or organization providing the testimonial. It’s all about links – because we want you to be found you need other to link to you. We see many, many organizations building a Facebook presence. So, first the organization needs to set up a Facebook page. Then, it needs to set up a FB Causes page. We recommend using Causes as limited-duration promotions. Instead of having one large, umbrella Cause, set them up for specific goals: “Help us raise enough money to fund a rain garden” is an example of one – you can explain the need for the rain garden, what it will cost, and set goals. People like contributing to tangible goals. Events are also simple yet effective tools to keep people interested, get them involved, and bring them to your website. You could have an event to celebrate meeting the goal of one of your causes – “Join us for an ice cream social to celebrate our new rain garden”. (Then get testimonials at the celebration from people who see the benefit of the rain garden – and get the local ice cream parlor to pony up some ice cream – and have them link to you and mention the event on their Twitter feed.)We found Network for Good’s 2008 Online Fundraising Survival Guide and Groundspring’s 2004 Online Fundraising Handbook to be valuable resources for marketing ideas.
  • An organization’s website is often the main source of information for their constituents. Since people will be visiting your site, you should use this opportunity to engage your user and provide them the opportunity to motivate them to take the next step for you cause and become an active member of your nonprofit, such as volunteer, donate, etc. The more people you that you reach that will spread the word about your cause, the better. Visitors should be able to sign up for membership in your organization, to receive your newsletter, to receive updates on your events and fundraising efforts. Your “Donate Now” button should be “Big, Bold and Above the Fold” on your website. Offer a give away or a take away for the donation. Change the give away periodically, so that it’s an incentive for people to donate frequently, and it’s also a reason for them to return to your website. Why has PBS been offering giveaways for donations and membership for years? Because it works. Collect emails address whenever you can. Use the email address to invite people to subscribe to your email newsletters. Use a Broadcast Email Software, such as VeriticalReponse, Network for Good’s Email Now or Mailchimp. Do not use Outlook or Gmail, because they do not handle mass emails well. You need the ability to set up templates and customize the email with your organization’s colors and logo. Use “Tell A Friend” or “Share This” link to further spread information about your organization. People are more likely to open an email or visit a website if it’s recommend by a friend, because there is a trust factor among friends.Every page on your site should have a link to a Contact Us page. This not only make it easy for your members to contact you with any questions or information requests, but it also gives you the opportunity to gather email addresses quickly and easy. You can use these emails to reach out to people who have shown an interest in your organization.Prominently provide links on your website’s homepage to your Facebook and Twitter pages. Also include “Share This” links as another way for your visitors to forward your organization’s information to their friends.Engage your website visitors through a comment sections on your blog, discussions and wikis. Be sure to monitor these comments, and have a policy posted on your site about what actions will not be tolerated. Delete posts that violate your policy.Search Engine Optimization – follow the 10 steps provided to ensure that your website listed high on search engine results.
  • External Marketing Ideas – the ideas we have listed are easy and economical for a nonprofit to implement.Charity shopping malls provide a simple way for your constituents to donate to your cause by online searching and shopping. “When you use iSearchiGive to search the web, your favorite cause receives exactly $0.01 per qualified search. The money comes from advertisers, so it costs you nothing, and it's completely free for you and the cause you support. Donation checks are mailed every month.” – “GBA is an online shopping mall that was created to raise money for charities. Retailers, such as &, pay GBA a commission to refer customers to their site. GBA takes the commission from the retailer and shares it with the charity of your choice. What a great concept! Giving money to charity while doing your everyday shopping. There are no additional costs to the shopper for using our service.” – “Just visit the Online Mall, use a coupon or a link to a merchant's site, and shop on their site as you normally would — a percentage is automatically donated to your cause. Better yet, install the We-Care Reminder for Internet Explorer or Firefox. With the Reminder, your donations will count (even if you forget to visit the Online Mall).”Portal sites like,,,, etc. List your nonprofit with all the charity portal sites on the web. Most of the time your listing is free, and the portal site will accept credit card donations that will go to your organization. Search for portals frequently, because new portals are always being created.Push your nonprofit’s information out through newsfeeds and listservs.We also suggest that nonprofits print their website address on any material that they giveaway at events, such as, pens, stickers, buttons, etc.Be a constant presence in your community. Attend local fairs, parades, community days, farmers markets, school fundraisers or activity fairs. Sign up people for your newsletter during those events, and then hand them a sticker or pen with your website printed on it.Keep the local community up to date on your events and your cause, by writing a column for your local newspaper or local magazine. Inform the public about the latest news surrounding your cause, invite them to your events, write about tips and techniques that they can use, always post your email list and list more ways that they can get involved in your organization.Invite the local press to cover your events. Create a checklist and template of all the local publications and news stations and their contact personnel. Submit pictures and video to your communities website, local TV stations and news publications. If your local school district or cable company has their own TV station, make sure that your events are posted their as well. Everyone in your community should know who you are and what you do. If you don’t know this information, take a informal poll at your next community event. Please make sure that you have information on hand to distribute to those individuals that do not know about your organization.
  • Network for Good’s Online Fundraising Survival Guide: 12 Winning Strategies to Survive and Thrive in a Down Economy is a 45 page ebook that contains concise and easy steps to follow. 9 – Clean up your email list - “This is a healthy part of the email-marketing process, to weed out people who aren’t there – or aren’t at all interested in hearing from you – and let you focus you efforts on those who are.”“Start by cleaning up your list. Before you import your list of names and addresses into your email outreach tool, spend a little time cleaning it up. Be on the lookout for generics (,, etc.), which are not worth trying and can often result in spam complaints, as well as any addresses you know shouldn't be there (one-time donors who opted out of your emails, etc.). Here are a few tips to keep that list tidy once it's set up:”- Clearly ID your organization – “People are quick to delete or opt out of emails from senders they don't immediately recognize. So use an obvious "from" name and address, both of which should ideally include your organization name.”- Remind your Supports they are Supporters – “People have short-term memories. Some of your supporters may not remember they donated to your animal shelter over the one in Neighbortown. So connect the dots for them, either in the greeting ("Dear Bob, As a past donor to Organization X...") or at the bottom of the campaign ("You're receiving this newsletter because you're a recent supporter of Organization X...") or both. If your organization name happens to be Organization X, then this example worked out really well.”-Make it personal, conversational – Tell stories and make it real. “Instead of throwing an indiscriminate pitch at them, give things a more personal, conversational touch. These are your people, and if you treat them as such, we think you'll be pleasantly surprised with your results for this campaign and the many that follow.”Step 10 – Build Your Email ListDrive people to your website and capture them – As stated earlier, put your email address on everything and include links back to your site on your Facebook Causes page and your Twitter page. You also want to tell people why they should sign up for your newsletter, volunteer, etc. “Don't just ask them to sign up for your emails; instead, ask them to sign up for your emails to get exclusive, email-only information (or whatever the reward might be). - Make the sign up process short and easy. Put you donate button where they are likely to be – Every year at NTC we hear that your Donate Now button’s size matters. The bigger the better. And as stated on slide three, “Big Bold and Above the Fold.” The button should be colorful and near the top of the web page. Use Google Analytics to know where viewers are spending time on your website, and if don’t have a Donate Now button on your most popular pages, be sure to add one.-Incentivize them to sign up – Let users know that when they sign up they will be getting something in return. Offer coupons, provide content rich “member only” areas on your site, or run contest or giveaways. Google Grants – “In-kind advertising for non-profit organizations -Google Grants is a unique in-kind donation program awarding free AdWords advertising to select charitable organizations. We support organizations sharing our philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy, and the arts.”- How it Works – “With Google AdWords, you only reach people interested in your organization's information and services. When Google users search on keywords related to your organization, your ad appears next to relevant Google search results under the Sponsored Links sections. A click on your ad takes users directly to your website. So instead of looking for an audience, you've got an audience looking for you!”Step 11 – Make your emails sparkle - The Subject line matters. Make it clear, short and intriguing, because it is the determining factor in whether or not the people open your email. Studies have shown that people decide in three seconds if they are going to open the email or delete it. Who is sending the email? It’s best for it to be sent by the most well known person in your organization. Set up a time frame, once a week, twice a month, once a month, etc.Set the tone as warm and friendly. Tell a compelling story, to engage your recipients. Do not send out too many emails, you don’t want to overload your audience. Keep it conversational in nature. Formatting: Personalize your emails, because it does increase the likelihood that the email will get opened. If someone recently attend one of your events, thank and ask for feedback in a them in a personalized follow up email. Keep in mind that emails are using delivered in plaintext and html. Be aware that your images may not be seen in the receivers email. Test different email subjects lines and content. By following an A/B testing pattern you will be able to tell which email has had the best response.
  • A bare bones approach should be taken only if you don’t have the resources for a more well developed and costly system. PayPal and Network for Good are good tools for the organization that is just starting out, or for one that is strapped for funding. Additionally, a bare-bones system can be set up in a short amount of timeAt the minimum, you should have at least a donation button displayed prominently on your website. A cost effective route is to link your button to a free PayPal account (no monthly fee, but PayPal takes a percentage of each transaction), which would require you to download the data from PayPal to a spreadsheet. Or you could set up a simple database to capture transaction responses.For $30 a month, you could set up a service, such as, Network For Good’s donation system. Their features include recurring donations, tell a friend, demographic questions, the ability to track donors from multiple sources, and it also includes minimal reporting features.
  • Marketing is a constant effort – you always have to focus on building your organization, whether you are primarily focused on social issues or on raising money for you cause, you have to be in touch with your constituents. You have to be where they are online and offline. With the focus on social media, marketing trends are always changing. It’s good to try a few new techniques, but if you don’t have the time and/or resources it’s best to pick one new trend and develop it. You cannot forget about traditional marketing techniques still have a place in your marketing strategy. You have to design a plan and build a balance between what works for your organization, while keeping in mind your monetary resources and your manpower.
  • We also compiled a list of resources in a PDF. During our research, we found the websites listed above as helpful guides. Idealware and TechSoup are constantly adding new and valuable resources to their websites, so it’s a good idea to check those sites often.
  • Email tracking software is a good resource to implement in your organization. There are several free services for non profits with a 501c3 status. The first step to take before you decide on a provider is set up a realistic plan on how many emails that you will be sending each month. You want to take into consideration your annual campaign and any other annual events. Although, some of the systems look inexpensive on the surface, once you see how their fee schedules are setup, you may to reconsider your options before you sign a contract. For example, Vertical Response looks great at 10,000 free emails a month, but if you are a large organization, or if you have a big email list, you can easily exceed that amount during your campaign or for event notifications and frequent reminders. Research the email tracking software, such as Network for Good’s Email Now, MailChimp, and Constant Contact.
  • Please feel free to contact either John or Lisa by email or phone. You can also reach us at via the Contact Us page. We’d be happy to address any questions.
  • Donation Marketing Tips NTEN - April 2010

    1. 1. Observations of Marketing Trendsfor Donation Systems2010 Nonprofit Technology Conference<br />April 15, 2010<br />Green Moon Solutions<br />
    2. 2. Marketing<br />Q: How do we market our donation system to our supporters?<br />Get mentioned in more newsletters – online and traditional<br />Work with schools, scouts, other local organizations and reciprocate links<br />Facebook – set up a Causes page; become parts of giving programs like ChaseCommunityGiving<br />After some people have used it, ask for testimonials and post them on your website (example)<br />See steps 9, 10, and 11 in the Survival Guide; see chapters 2-6 in the Online Fundraising Handbook (includes case studies).<br />2<br />
    3. 3. Marketing Ideas - Website<br />Set up online sign-up for membership. <br />Tailor the donation message – e.g., on your 10 Things to Recycle page include a button labeled “Donate to improve Roswell recycling!”. <br />Gather email address on your site even for those who don’t donate right away. Newsletters (sign-up on your site), polls, events, letter-writing campaigns all provide opportunities.<br />For Newsletters, use email broadcasting software (see resources slide). <br />Use “tell a friend” features to help spread the word.<br />Use a “contact us” form for questions and capture email addresses.<br />Add a “Find us on Facebook” button. Use AddThis or ShareThis links.<br />Interaction ideas: comments, discussions, wikis.<br />Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – tweak your website so that you are easily found by search engines – 10 steps. <br />3<br />
    4. 4. Marketing Ideas - External<br />Charity shopping malls, such as,,<br />Portal sites like,, and<br />Newsfeeds, such as and<br />Join and contribute to newsgroups and listservs.<br />Print your web address on giveaways, stickers. <br />Attend local events and set up a table: farmers markets, fairs, parades. Sign people up on the spot. <br />Write a periodic column for the local newspapers. <br />Get your events covered by the local news. <br />4<br />
    5. 5. Marketing – Survival Guide<br />Network for Good’s Online Fundraising Survival Guide<br />Step 9 – Dust off your email list<br />Clean up your list<br />Clearly ID your organization<br />Remind your supporters they are supporters<br />Make it personal, conversational<br />Step 10 – Build your email list<br />Drive people to your website and capture them<br />Put your donate button where they are likely to be<br />Incentivize them to sign up<br />Google Grants – free promotion<br />Step 11 – Make your emails sparkle<br />5<br />
    6. 6. Bare Bones Approach<br />By comparison, a bare bones system can be set up with a donation button on your site<br />The button would be linked to an inexpensive processor such as PayPal (website payments standard)<br />You would have to download the data from PayPal to a spreadsheet. Alternatively, a simple database could be set up to capture transaction responses. <br />One step up is a service like Network For Good’s donation system. The cost is $30 per month. It includes recurring donations, tell a friend, demographic questions, track donors from multiple sources, and minimal reporting.<br />6<br />
    7. 7. Summary<br />Marketing is a constant effort<br />It involves the traditional and the latest social media trends<br />There are many approaches – some will cost money, others will just require time<br />7<br />
    8. 8. Resources<br />We have PDF and other resources we can provide (soon to be posted on our website)<br />The following websites are quite helpful:<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />8<br />
    9. 9. EmailResources<br />Email Tracking Software<br />Vertical Response -- 10,000 emails per month free for 501c3 ( > 10K can be expensive)<br />Network for Good Email Now -- strong features and templates $30 for up to 20,000 emails and $2/thousand after<br />Mail chimp -- free up to 500 subscribers up to 3000 emails a month<br />Constant Contact -- $10-$12 per month<br />9<br />
    10. 10. Contact Us<br />Feel free to contact us at any time <br />John Dukovich, john -AT-, 703.827.2687<br />Lisa Patrick, lisa -AT-, 412.585.2521<br /><br />10<br />