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Small to medium size nonprofits, however, are lagging behind the curve when it comes to online Just installing a Donate or Volunteer Now button does not create success in raising funds or involving volunteers. You need a strategy to support the buttons. fundraising and volunteer recruitment. They have good reason. Just installing a Donate or Volunteer Now button does not create success in raising funds or involving volunteers. You need a strategy to support the buttons. Without this strategy, your efforts may actually cost you more than you bring in.

You can avoid this by taking two planning steps before you decide if online fundraising and volunteer recruitment are right for you:

  1. Assess the costs, both in time and money, of online fundraising and volunteer recruitment
  2. Analyze your donor base to see if they are a good match for online interactions

This article will give you some pointers on the tasks involved in the first point, that is to assess the costs in time and money of online fundraising. Part 2, next month, will help you with the second point.

Online Fundraising Success

You will need to invest time and money in your online development work. While this isn’t any different than conventional development work, the things that you need to do are different. First, you’ll need to drive traffic to your website. Secondly, once potential donors have arrived at your website, you’ll need to be sure that it’s clear how they can donate or volunteer. Thirdly, you’ll need to implement new systems to make sure that you follow-up on donations and volunteers who contact your organization through your website.

Driving Traffic to your Website

To drive traffic to your website, it’s especially important to

You will use the lists of email addresses to contact prospects online. Look for opportunities to collect email addresses. One good way is to offer an online newsletter and to make it easy for people to subscribe by giving you their email address. Put ‘subscribe now’ fields on your home page, and other frequently visited pages on your website. Some organizations have the ‘subscribe now’ field on all their website pages.

Tying your Donate and Volunteer Now pages to other places in the Web will take an investment of time. Someone needs to actively work at online networking. Linking with other sites and creating a presence at online networking sites like MySpace and Facebook can help. Many organizations have found that a web-savvy intern can do this kind of work.

Clear Calls to Action: Donate Now! Volunteer Now!

To make it clear to prospects how they can donate or volunteer, it’s important

  • to have donate and volunteer now links in strategic places throughout your website
  • to satisfy security concerns of donors about providing sensitive information to you through your website

Are your Donate and Volunteer Now buttons, or links to those buttons, easy for website visitors to find? You may need to look at the patterns of people who visit your website. Which pages do they visit most often? How many visitors end up on your Donate and Volunteer Now pages?

This kind of information is available by collecting and analyzing website visit statistics. The practice of using these statistics to help with reaching online goals is called web analytics. There are many sources of information about web analytics. A good place to start, and to ask questions, is in the Website forum on TechSoup . Knowledgeable people there can answer your questions and point you toward sources of further information.

Security concerns are still the largest obstacle to online giving. To satisfy this concern, you’ll need to put good safeguards in place on your website. You will also need to make it clear to website visitors, in words they understand, that excellent security is in place. To learn more about online security check out Securing Online Donations, or visit the TechSoup website forum

Efficient Systems for recording online donor contacts

You can approach new systems in several ways. The most efficient options are

  • web based donor management software
  • locally installed desktop software, such as FundRaiser, which is linked directly to the web

Donate and Volunteer Now buttons are intended to increase donors and donor loyalty. However, the information that is submitted online must be properly recorded in order to maximize the benefits. You can approach this in several ways, but the most efficient options are web-based donor management software or creating a direct link between your website and your locally installed donor management program, such as FundRaiser. Both of these methods offer secure transfer of the data, ensuring the privacy of personal and financial information.

Growth Path

FundRaiser Software has several options for connecting to the web, both with web based software as well as allowing your locally installed softare to link directly to the web. Also being developed starting in 2010, is an online verson of Basic. For more information on any of these options, please email us at

Sasha Daucus is Newsletter and Web Content Editor for FundRaiser Software. Through her work at FundRaiser, she volunteers as forum host and facilitator for TechSoup, a nonprofit technology help site. Outside of work, she volunteers for the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. In her free time she enjoys nature photography and listening to world music from the Mediterranean region.