Five Huge Mistakes in Online Fundraising

Photo by ktpupp
09.28.2011By

If you’re launching an online campaign, you’ve been tasked to get a few hundred things right in order to pull it off. So you’ve started many little projects that all add up towards your goal. But sometimes, it’s easier to recognize the few things you should stop doing:

  1. Shooting from the hip – It’s amazing how many organizations think they can start raising money with a Facebook page that’s two weeks old. The only way that could possibly work is with a natural disaster, which you obviously don’t want to bank on. I’ll never forget working with Stacey Monk on Tweetsgiving 2009. Through extensive planning that started in May, Stacey was able to map out a plan, budget resources, and to nurture relationships with her course of porters involved in the plan.
  2. Treating it like direct mail – Direct mail is fundamentally different from all online media in one way: you have to fit all the information in a single piece of media that costs money. Every direct mail piece needs a story, pictures, contact information, and a call to action. With online fundraising all of these various parts need to be included in the overall campaign, but not in a single e-mail or on a Facebook custom tab.
  3. Not understanding how people use the web – The most important thing to understand about how people use the Internet is this: if they don’t know what to do (where to click) within two seconds, they’ll go away. Rather than presenting reams of text on a single page with a call to action below the fold, think about breaking up that information into several pages. This way, the user can easily understand what the campaign is about, and also feel like they’re using the internet correctly.
  4. Focusing on cultivating dollars instead of donors – The first goal you should have with any online media is to cultivate a relationship with current and future donors. This relationship is cultivated with your blog posts, tweets, YouTube videos, and e-mails. Putting a call to action in every single piece of content misses this important point.
  5. Trying to get it perfect – Perfect doesn’t raise money, action does. Even if you are an expert in online fundraising, it’s best if you can think about every campaign as a “beta.” And remember, everyone is learning to use social media–not just you.

What can you add here?