Pick the Right Online Tools
You’ve got your social media campaign in place, your website is sleek and ultimately user-friendly for those looking to donate money, time and talent. Now it’s time to focus your energies with a powerful online fundraising tool to help back up the previous initiatives.
Since the advent of software built atop non-profit management platforms, Blackbaud Inc.’s Raiser’s Edge has been the go-to source for not only raising funds but keeping detailed data and charting on where exactly those funds are coming from; keeping in touch with major and minor donors alike; and infinitely simplifying and streamlining market efforts across myriad campaigns. The downside? It’s a complicated system that requires a good deal of training in order to become fully versed in all it offers. But if a non-profit has committed individuals willing and able to spend the time learning Raiser’s Edge, it’s a can’t-miss platform that manage all your needs in one place.
However, what if Raiser’s Edge is really a more powerful tool than you actually need? Here are six choices that are a bit easier to tackle, all with an intuitive nature that won’t leave you grappling for help.
- A widget that you can add to your Facebook page, website or blog, ChipIn.com is an online fundraising target that you can use to track a specific goal. It’s ideal for converting web traffic into donors, takes 30 minutes to install, and is free. The only drawback is that it needs high traffic volumes in order to convert users to donors.
- If you’re looking to put a little “fun” into “fundraising,” Help Attack is designed to integrate with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and features interactive elements such as collecting “coins” that translate to dollars. You can easily add your non-profit to the online platform for a minimal fee, and it’s simply to chart progress.
- Boasting three million online donors, 8,000 non-profits and more than one billion in donations raised, Firstgiving.com has some serious clout in the industry. Your organization has to put at least a modest amount of time and energy into it of course—it’s $300 to use their software and the site takes a 5% commission—but the fact that it’s such an well-established network non-profits often see donations arriving in less than two days from launch.
- One of the key events in the non-profit sector is the charity auction, and GoBidCharities.com makes them a vastly more effective fundraising tool. Your organization can collect donated items and sell them, all online. And rather than a physical auction that lasts only one night, you can leave your auction up and running for three months. There’s no registration fee but the site does charge a 15% commission and requires you to upload pictures and set prices. And, you can actually run the online auction at the same time you’re running a live, in-person auction, which helps vastly extend the outreach of the event.
- Most people don’t realize it but YouTube actually has a special channel devoted to raising awareness of charitable causes. Call the YouTube Non-Profit Program, organization’s can post their videos and add a “donate now” button. It’s a great way to get maximum exposure, but also has a downside: the nature of YouTube means your message may be confused with entertainment, so you should test its effectiveness with smaller videos first and wait for results, rather than investing lots of time for a campaign that may or may not generate interest and dollars.
- Chances are your non-profit—or at least key players involved in it—are already members of LinkedIn. So why not use that connection to your organization’s advantage? LinkedIn for Good is easy and effective, allowing users to tag you profile with a “non-profit badge,” signaling that you’re involved in that particular cause or charity. It’s free and a snap to set up, but most of the effectiveness lies in whether or not you’re willing to engage people in your network with quick responses that maintain their interest.