Online Fundraising – Tips For Online Marketing On A Tight Budget

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Good Nonprofit Website Design Principle #4 of 5 (Part 1)

Have you ever gone out with someone who was a knockout in appearance, but 15 minutes later you discovered his or her vocabulary was limited to grunts or giggles? Many non profit website designs are like that too – they look great, but they have no non profit marketing substance. And that’s a major headache!

Principle #4: Develop a hard-working site to avoid the problems of a website that’s all looks and no brains.

Here are some practical suggestions for creating a hard-working website that facilitates online fundraising, non profit marketing, asset accumulation and more:

Practical Tip #1: Develop an incentive-based opt-in landing page to encourage people to sign up for your ministry e-newsletter. For example, a well-crafted non profit website design will take into account the critical functionality needed in order to achieve your original objectives.  It’s not just about looks, but about smarts as well.

When I say smarts, I’m referring in part to how well your site converts your visitors into usable assets, such as lists, leads, gifts, or sales.  These are the names and addresses, both email and snail mail, of people who want to hear from you, buy your products, or support your ministry through gifts, both today and tomorrow.

Believe me, if you send email fundraising letters to people who don’t want to hear from you, you’ve got big headaches in store.  So ideally, everyone you deal with is someone who has opted in to receive something from you online: your e-newsletter, free information, non profit marketing re: your products, etc. 

Practical Tip #2: Develop an electronic welcome series via an auto-responder email system that immediately sends your leads the information they requested.

If your site is intended to generate leads, does it fully function in that capacity? If so, it should allow people to interact with you by signing up for an offer—a newsletter or something else of value to them (not to you, to them). Your well-crafted non profit website design will have easy-to-use and convincing pages that persuade people to give you their contact information and allow them to do it easily. 

Follow up your email reply with a Welcome Kit offer – a packet of information about your ministry sent through snail mail. Typical Pathmaker Marketing clients experience a 63% conversion rate of enrollment into the Welcome Kit offer after just prior having signed up for email offers. Once your welcome Kits are sent out, have someone follow up with a telephone call as the last step of an efficient lead follow-up system.

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How Important is Grammar in Online Fundraising?

Whether or not proper grammar matters in online fundraising depends upon to whom you are talking. If the reader of your email fundraising letter doesn’t know that it’s “commitment” and not “committment” or that commas always go inside the quotation marks, then it probably doesn’t matter to that person. But some people, espeically those who write for a living, have a hard time getting past those little blunders, and that could hurt response. So here are some grammar basics to use in your online fundraising.

  1. Try to write to the 6th to 8th grade level. It’s harder than you might think, and it requires you to clearly explain yourself.
  2. Use active voice. “I went to the store” is more interesting to read than “I have gone to the store.” It also uses fewer words, which is a good goal.
  3. Compose your non profit websites and emails in an application that checks your grammar, spelling and punctuation as you write (such as Microsoft Word), and then carefully proof it yourself. These programs won’t warn you when you’ve used the wrong form of a word: “fare” vs. “fair,” for example, so you need to be sure nothing is amiss.
  4. Americans don’t usually care if you use formal writing, but you need to decide what form you’re going to use … and then stick with it. For casual writing, which is appropriate for non profit website design and email fundraising, you can easily get away with using casual writing techniques such as contractions (“don’t” instead  of “do not,” for example). Just be consistent.
  5. Another form of casual writing is the use of the word “one” rather than the word “you” (“One should know” rather than “You should know” for example). If you’re like me, you prefer to be referred to as you, not one.The word “you” is much more personal and will get more responses in email fundraising as well as non-profit websites.
  6. Pick a style for your use of dashes and elipses … and stick with it.
    Do you put one long dash between words (commonly called an M Dash)? Do you put spaces before and after the dash? Do you use elipses (three periods strung together)? If so, do you include spaces before and after them? I typically include no spaces between M Dashes and the words they separate, but I do use spaces before and after elipses. Different people will have different ideas on what is correct, but the important thing is to be consistent.
  7. Stay away from run-on sentences and fragments. Run-on sentences are too long and complex. Fragments are fine occasionally, especially when you’re trying to make a case, but don’t over do it.
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