Entering the World of Online Fundraising: A few free tools to get you started

By on March 15, 2012 under Marketing/Communications, Resource Development, Technology

One of the great benefits of being on the staff of Greenlights is getting to sit in on some of the workshops we host. Recently, I’ve been trying to expand my knowledge of how social media can be used to enhance fundraising so I took the time to attend two awesome classes: Social Media Bootcamp, taught by David Neff, CEO of Greenlights’ member organization Lights. Camera. Help., and Online Fundraising taught by Richard Dietz founder of Greenlights’ business partner, Nonprofit R + D. Both of these guys did an incredible job imparting vast and valuable information in a short period of time. Since I could not possibly recap all the great information they covered in a blog post, I’ll settle for sharing a few nuggets I learned, namely information on some free resources that can help those of us just moving into the online fundraising arena.

Google’s Nonprofit Program – A great place to start.  Nonprofit organizations can apply to participate in this free program which will give your organization access to all kinds of resources that could be useful in your fundraising efforts.

    • Want to see whether promoting your events or encouraging individual donations through social media venues is driving people to your webpage?  Google Analytics provides detailed statistics about the visitors to your website.
    • Interested in seeing what people are saying online about the event you hosted last week?  Google Alerts lets you enter key words, for instance the name of your event, and then alerts you whenever new related content has been posted on the web.
    • Website Optimizer allows you to test different versions of a webpage to see which generates more traffic or responses.
    • Google Grants provides organizations with in-kind donation of free AdWords advertising.

YouTube’s Nonprofit Program.  Another free program, accessible through the Google Nonprofit Program, that allows eligible organizations to create their own YouTube channel. Some benefits offered through the program include:

    •  The option to drive fundraising through a Google Checkout “Donate” button.
    •  Listing on the Nonprofit videos page.
    •  The ability to place a Call to Action overlay on your videos to raise money or find volunteers.
    •  You can even embed a YouTube video on your own website!

Facebook Causes – Allows your nonprofit to create a community on Facebook that can incorporate fundraising, advocacy, and information sharing. One of the coolest opportunities I learned about through our workshop was the Birthday Wish option on Causes. Once people on Facebook have joined your cause, they can create a birthday wish that encourages all their friends to donate money to your organization in their honor.

The Grinspoon Institute for Jewish Philanthropy has a webpage dedicated to technology tools for fundraising. One tool in particular to check out is their Review of Online Giving Tools. It includes a detailed comparison chart of online giving options that nonprofits can use to collect online donations.

Word Press is web software you can use to create a website or blog.  It’s free and given that I am using it to write this blog, it’s easy to use!

Want more information?  Greenlights has two free resources to check out:

Social Media – Taking the First Step is a document in Greenlights Online Resource Directory that provides lots of good information on how to take advantage of social media opportunities through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Social Media and Donor Engagement, Cultivation is a great blog post by Haila Yates, our Communications & Outreach Manager that gives five tips for engaging with supports via social media.

Of course, there are many more tools out there that you will want to explore as you enter the world of online fundraising.  If you’ve tried some, leave us a comment letting us know what has worked (and what hasn’t)!

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