What is Digital Fundraising?
Simply put, digital fundraising is fundraising using digital technology, such as email, social media, and mobile platforms. Rapid technological growth has transformed the way non-profits and other organizations fundraise and connect with their supporters.
There are many different methods and platforms that can make digital fundraising easier. When used in combination with good communication strategy, digital fundraising is a great way to help your group raise the money it needs to make an even bigger impact.
How to Legally Fundraise in Digital Communications
Please remember that receipt of funds raised through your group's community page is contingent on signed agreement to and adherence to the policies outlined in the Grant Agreement that Indivisible shared with you.
A federal court decision in August 2018 has expanded the scope of donor disclosure for 501(c)(4) organizations spending money on federal elections. Now, a 501(c)(4) is required to disclose any donors who give more than $200 in a calendar year to influence federal elections, regardless of whether their contribution is earmarked for a specific federal candidate. What this means for you: we recommend that your group not tie your distributed fundraising asks to federal elections. The safest fundraising ask is one that doesn’t mention elections at all, but if you are going to mention electoral activity, we highly recommend that you avoid using language that ties the the ask to any federal election or federal elections in general. If you would like more information about the ruling and implications, please feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following text is required to be included at the bottom of your fundraising emails: Your contribution will benefit Indivisible Project, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. Donations are not deductible for federal income tax purposes as charitable contributions.
Types of Digital Fundraising
Email is an effective fundraising tool because it is a cost-effective way to keep people involved and up to date. It is a good way to spread your story and ask for donations. When creating an email campaign, be sure to:
Tell your story and WHY it is important for people to support your work.
Keep it simple, straightforward, and easy to follow.
Be sure to include a firm ask.
Monitor your results. If you use a vendor to send emails, you can track open rates and clickthroughs of your emails.
We’ve put together a sample fundraising email that you can use here. Additionally, ActBlue has put together a great resource for creating and running successful email campaigns from scratch, which can be found here.
Social Media Campaigns
Social media sites-such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube-may be the biggest ally you have when it comes to digital fundraising. Developing a social media presence will go a long way in fundraising. Use social media to raise awareness of your cause, and encourage people to support your work with a contribution. Give your supporters messages that are easy to share, whether they’re tweets, videos, or stories. The more people that share and repost your message, the more successful your campaign will be!
Adding a donate button to your webpage is also a successful way to fundraise. Don’t be fooled into thinking this will automatically result in donations, though. You need to drive traffic to your website with the right message to encourage them to donate.
Create Your Campaign
Why are you trying to raise money? Is there a specific piece of legislation or deadline that you are fighting against? Your campaign will be more successful if you tie it to a specific issues, or “call-to-action.” Name the campaign and include the story to let donors know what it is, why you are doing it, who you are helping, and what they can do to join in the efforts.
You will also want to develop goals for your digital campaign. Try to make your goals “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. For example, you could set the goals:
Raise $500 from 25 new donors over a 2-week span;
Capture 5 new monthly donors and increase overall social media followers by 100.
Finally, you will want to create a communications plan before you start to outline responsibilities and the timeline for each piece of outreach or “touch.” Once you determine the length of the campaign, figure out how often you want to correspond.
For shorter campaigns, it is appropriate to reach out more often. For example, if you campaign is a week long, consider sending emails every day or every other day, and posting on social a few times a day.
For longer campaigns, say a month, you will want to send emails every few days or once a week to not exhaust your subscribers. The frequency of posts on social media can stay daily as this shouldn’t have a negative effect.
Boost Your Success and Reach
The following tools can be implemented through ActBlue and will help to increase the success of your digital fundraising campaign (more information on these features can also be found here):
Social Share: Social Share encourages donors to post about their gift on social media. This further promotes your cause and helps spread the word. More information on this feature can be found here.
Reference Codes: Reference codes are unique identifiers which can be linked to a certain email solicitation or social media post. This will help you distinguish what tools brought you the most donations. More information on this feature can be found here.
Recurring gifts: Encouraging donors to give monthly can really boost the success of your fundraising! More information on setting up a recurring gift options, as well as a nifty pop-up feature, can be found here. You should also know that you can set up reference codes with recurring gifts as well.
Email Alerts: When receive donations above a certain amount, you will want to be sure to thank donors right away! Information on setting up email alerts can be found here.
Analyze and Improve: Like with all fundraising efforts, you will want to take what you’ve learned and put it towards improving future efforts. Consider testing various tactics and keeping track of the results. This can be done through reference codes (mentioned above) as well as other features. You can access the results of this information by navigating to the “Stats” page when logged into your ActBlue account.
Here are a few additional ways to boost your reach and be even more successful:
Promoted Posts: Use promoted posts on social media sites to help get the word out. Note: promoting posts on social media costs money but may be worth considering!
Go Mobile: While ActBlue is already mobile-friendly, make sure your group’s website is as well so visitors can access both when on the go.
Segment Donors: Use segmented email lists to target various donors based on issues that concern them, as well as to test different outreach tactics.
Form Partnerships: Work with other progressive organizations in your area to help promote your digital fundraising campaign. More allies will lead to better fundraising efforts and more followers!
Thank your donors: Finally, be sure to thank all of your supporters! This goes a long way in developing strong relationships, a key component of successful fundraising.