If you’re new to the world of digital fundraising, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. We absolutely don't blame you for that icky feeling and, in fact, think you’re the bee’s knees for even taking the first steps to help your nonprofit and its team of unicorns become digitally fluent.
And guess what? You’re not alone! As of 2018, only 3% of charities rated their board and executive team as being “digitally savvy”. It may be 2020 now, but we have our doubts that a mere two years was enough time for the other 97% of nonprofits to transform into digital fundraising heroes.
Digital fundraising, once an afterthought to more traditional forms of fundraising, has become increasingly important as the galas and canvassers of yore have disappeared due to COVID-19.
Which means it's time for digital language lessons! As you become digitally fluent, you’ll want to start exploring tools that’ll make digital fundraising an ever-better, increasingly profitable experience for your nonprofit.
What’s digital fluency, anyhow?
Here at Funraise, we like to think of digital fluency as a sort of familiarity and comfort with the tools that make digital fundraising possible.
Like Jamie McDonald, Chief Strategy Officer for GivingTuesday.org, said on the Nonstop Nonprofit Podcast: the process of becoming digitally fluent is a lot like crash landing in a country where no one speaks your native language. It’s confusing, stressful, and not as easy to pick up the local lingo as it looked on TV. But is it worth learning a new language? Absolutely. Yes. Clearly.
Think of digital fluency as a new understanding of fundraising, interacting, and keeping track of donors, marketing your nonprofit, parsing data—a new method of handling and understanding nonprofit operations.
And like learning a new language, you’ll soon realize that there’s no exact word-to-word translation for the ideas with which you’ve become so familiar. Digital fluency is a new way of thinking, communicating, and interacting with the nonprofit world.
What’s a core digital fundraising tool?
Digital fundraising is the act of raising funds over digital mediums. A core digital fundraising tool is so important to digital fundraising that you and your nonprofit will have a difficult time navigating the world of digital fundraising without such a tool.
Which tools do I need to consider adding to my nonprofit’s toolkit first?
We’ve listed three tools we consider core digital fundraising tools for all nonprofits. How much good a tool can do for your nonprofit depends upon where your nonprofit is in its development and growth. In other words, your mileage may vary—but we think most nonprofits would benefit from all three of these tools.
Let’s start with the most essential of all digital fundraising tools: a website. Your nonprofit needs to have a website.
If your nonprofit doesn’t have a website, the donating public is not going to know where to find even the most basic information about your nonprofit. Unfortunately, the days of looking up a nonprofit in the phone book and giving them a call to see if their mission aligns with your values are long over.
Your website needs to make readily available all the necessary information that a visitor would need to see in order to level-up into a donor. That includes your nonprofit’s mission, information about your programs, information about which communities or populations you serve, your nonprofit’s contact information, and information about upcoming events (whether or not they’re happening over Zoom or in a socially-distanced building.)
There’s a good chance that a donor’s first interaction with your nonprofit will be a visit to your website. First impressions are everything, so make sure your nonprofit’s website is as helpful, informative, and accessible as possible.
Once you have a website—and we hope you already have one!—it's time to embed a donation form on your website.
Donation forms enable website visitors to donate without having to take any additional steps after they find the form on your website.
This is a big deal because it makes the donor journey—the path someone has to travel from the point of learning about your nonprofit to becoming a committed donor and supporter—a lot shorter and easier to travail.
But if it’s hard to donate to your nonprofit—if donating to your nonprofit requires a trip to the post office, an awkward financial transaction, or, really, anything that takes longer than three computer mouse clicks—it’s likely that people will want to donate to your nonprofit, or even intend to donate to your nonprofit, but find themselves without the time or energy to donate to your nonprofit …or perhaps even just forget to donate to your nonprofit.
A donation form makes donating to your nonprofit easy-peasy, so when digital-first fundraising events like Giving Tuesday come around, you and your nonprofit will be ready to go.
A donor CRM allows you to manage all of your donor data and your donation records in one convenient place.
If you’ve been using spreadsheets to keep track of who your donors are, what they’ve donated, and when they’ve donated, or if you’ve ever tried to build an advanced report from data held across eleven different spreadsheets, you’ll know how long manual data entry takes. And just how frustrating/difficult it can be to extract the data you need from multiple files.
Donor CRMs often integrate with donation forms, making it supereasy for your CRM to automatically update every time someone donates to your nonprofit through the donation form we hope you’ve embedded on your website by now. No more forcing interns to go through piles of letters and bank statements—just automation and information where you need it to be, when you need it to be there.
This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every digital fundraising tool your nonprofit will ever need as it grows and develops. Your nonprofit may have already added these three tools to its box; if that’s the case, Funraise is proud of you.
But if you and your nonprofit are just starting to dip your toes into the world of digital fundraising, consider taking a look at these three tools. Think about the ABC’s of digital fluency before you get into past-perfect conjugation.
Funraise can help you on the road to digital fluency—free. So, let the stress of having to figure this out yourself drop; you're not alone. Sign up for Funraise Free and let's get started.