Digital Marketing: 4 Tips for Engaging Donors Online

May 25, 2021

Nonprofit digital marketing has evolved over the past few years, and tech-savvy nonprofits have been able to leverage new virtual outreach opportunities to engage new donors. Despite the lack of face-to-face interaction, effective online outreach can help nonprofits recruit new donors while also making deeper connections to earn recurring monthly donations, creating a sustainable source of revenue. 

No matter if you’re contacting supporters online or in-person, many of the core reasons why donors give remain the same. However, your methods of communication do need to adapt to your outreach channel. This means that while online donors still value strong, meaningful causes, they also appreciate convenience, inclusivity, and campaigns that stand out from the crowd. 

One of your nonprofit’s most valuable assets for online engagement is your website. Your nonprofit or association’s website design can dramatically impact how donors engage with your organization. To help your nonprofit optimize your website for digital fundraising, this article will explain how your nonprofit can:

  1. Leverage Your Website
  2. Create an Accessible Website 
  3. Connect With Supporters on Social Media
  4. Ensure Your Brand is Consistent 

Your nonprofit should be able to implement these tips into your website yourself with a user-friendly website builder. However, if you find your website needs a rehaul or more intensive redesign, consider seeking out a nonprofit web design consultant to create a website that maximizes your fundraising potential. 

1. Leverage Your Website

Nearly all of your online marketing materials will link to your website, directing supporters to donate. However, your website is more than just a place to host your donation form. While marketing platforms such as email and social media have limitations on how you can communicate with your supporters, your website can be leveraged in unique and innovative ways to build connections with donors.

Through digital marketing, your nonprofit has the opportunity to engage a large number of new supporters and educate them about your nonprofit. You can effectively leverage your website to start these relationships off on the right foot by:

  • Featuring your mission on key forms and pages. Supporters still want to know what cause they are donating to. Streamlining the donation process can be especially useful for campaigns driven by excitement and fast-paced donating like giving day campaigns, making sure donors experience a seamless giving process but still receive enough information to learn about your cause. You can accomplish this by ensuring key outreach materials such as your fundraising appeals and homepage feature information about your nonprofit’s mission. 
  • Using gamification practices. Online fundraising allows donors to interact with your nonprofit in ways they can’t through traditional marketing methods. Gamification tools let visitors engage with your content on a deeper level, letting them learn more about your nonprofit’s mission while also driving increased donations. Consider adding features to your website like fundraising thermometers to help supporters visualize just how meaningful their donations are. 
  • Tracking how supporters use your website. Collecting data helps you understand how supporters interact with your organization online and how successful improvements to your website are. Use analytics tools to monitor how supporters reach your website, what pages they click on, and how long it takes them to donate to your cause. Analytics tools are especially useful for understanding what steps new supporters take to donate and if there are any parts of the process that cause significant drop-off.

Your website gives your nonprofit a higher degree of control over donor engagement than almost any other online platform. Ensure supporters are able to learn about your mission and why it matters, and create a user-friendly donation process that turns potential one-time donors into long-term supporters. 

2. Create an Accessible Website 

While your nonprofit may not fully prioritize proper web accessibility practices, there are regulations in place that require organizations to make their websites usable by individuals with accessibility challenges, like those with hearing or visual impairments. Plus, taking extra steps for better accessibility creates a better experience for all your users and allows your nonprofit to reach the widest possible audience. 

Many websites naturally include accessibility features, but there are some that get overlooked. Take the time to assess your nonprofit’s website; check for and implement the following web accessibility best practices:

  • Image alt-text and video transcripts. Alt text refers to the textual descriptions you can add to your photos and other graphics so visitors using screen readers can engage with all of your content. You can also add transcripts for videos, giving visitors using assistive technology and those with slow internet connections another way to engage with your nonprofit. 
  • Legible text. Text legibility refers to several concepts including text size, text color contrast, text line length, and general text visibility. Make sure users can increase text size up to 200% and that all of your text has a high contrast level with your backgrounds. Some website builders offer a built-in accessibility widget to simplify this process.
  • Multiple required field markers. Donation forms are one of your website’s most important documents and are a common stumbling block for accessibility. For example, visitors who have difficulty discerning colors can struggle with websites that use colored indicators (often the color red) to designate required fields. You can avoid this problem by using multiple visual indicators for required information fields, such as symbols like asterisks or the word “required” in their instructions. 

In addition to these web accessibility practices, make sure it’s also accessible to users that are on different devices, like smartphones and tablets. According to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics report, donation pages that are mobile-friendly earn 34% more donations. Online giving prioritizes convenience, meaning that mobile giving is likely to be a common donation method for your online fundraisers. Ensure your nonprofit isn’t turning away mobile users by checking that all of your pages are mobile friendly, meaning that they can easily view and interact with your content. 

3. Connect With Supporters on Social Media

Social media has a low investment cost and allows your nonprofit to reach a wide audience of potential supporters. However, it takes more than creating a profile to start building connections with supporters. Each social media platform has its own rules for success, and different audiences, some of whom may connect more with your nonprofit than others, prefer different platforms

For most nonprofits, establishing a social media presence on multiple platforms is the most effective marketing strategy as it allows your nonprofit to increase its touchpoints and reach audiences who exclusively use one platform. However, juggling multiple accounts can quickly become a full time job that many nonprofits don’t have the staff to support. As this guide explains, it’s better to use a few social media platforms effectively than all of them to minimal effect. 

Here’s a breakdown of a few of the most popular social media platforms, so your nonprofit can make informed decisions about which of its accounts are worth your marketing team’s time and effort: 

  • Facebook. Facebook lets users post long-form content, which is helpful for nonprofits that benefit from telling stories. Facebook’s nonprofit fundraisers also allow your supporters to fundraise on your nonprofit’s behalf, which can help boost your peer-to-peer campaigns. Consider sharing a how-to guide for your supporters to fundraise on your behalf, like this one. 
  • Twitter. Twitter’s character limits and fast-paced timelines limit your nonprofit’s ability to tell compelling stories. However, Twitter’s platform does lend itself to quick updates, and its model favors interaction. Consider sending tweets that encourage responses from supporters. 
  • Instagram. Instagram favors pictures, making it a great platform to show off photos of your latest initiatives and events. You can also create and share infographics and other visuals that demonstrate your nonprofit’s impact.
  • YouTube. Videos can quickly explain and show why your nonprofit matters in a way different than text and static visuals. Your nonprofit doesn’t need to upload YouTube videos daily, but don’t underestimate the power of creating well-put-together videos.

Social media trends take time to learn, but expanding to these platforms and understanding the best ways to use them lets your nonprofit connect with new supporters. Additionally, many online fundraisers like crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns rely on support from social media to find success. If your nonprofit already has an active account on a social media platform, supporters who fundraise on your behalf will have an easier time getting the word out to friends and family. 

4. Ensure Your Brand is Consistent

Brand recognition is essential for attracting attention and converting supporters online. Brand consistency is a necessity not just for your posts on social media and other external outreach materials, but also for your website. 

As Morweb’s guide to donation page design explains, “Visual consistency maintains the element of trust for your donors as they navigate on your website. Creating a seamless transition using effective brand-oriented visuals is key to keeping this trust.”

Your online supporters are wary of scam sites and unsecure payment processors. You can help assuage these fears by finding a donation form with a payment processor that integrates directly into your website. If your donation form links away from your website, brand all external forms with your nonprofit’s logos, colors, and other significant brand markers. 

While essential for all pages on your site, branding your donation page also allows your marketing team to share the link easily across multiple channels during fundraisers. Supporters who are directed straight to your donation page from an email or social media post will recognize your logo and immediately know what organization they are contributing to. 

The Gist

Digital engagement requires following best practices for each online platform your nonprofit expands to and figuring out how to stand out from the crowd. Effective online marketing and engagement will look different for every nonprofit, but creating accessible content that’s attractive to a wide range of audiences will lead your nonprofit to success as nonprofit marketing continues to evolve.

Murad Bushnaq

Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.

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