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Building a digital fundraising stream: getting the essentials in place

Many small charities have asked about how to build effective digital income stream and it is one of the FSI’s most popular training courses. Whether you are thinking about fundraising through third party sites, email fundraising, social media, virtual events, textgiving or contactless donations (and the list goes on…!) it’s really important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Here are our top 10 essential things you need to get in place:




1. Make sure your website is up to date: Think about how you can add stories and news in a visible way. It is relatively easy to make your own video without specialist equipment, post it on YouTube or Vimeo and embed it on your site. Unless your cause prevents it, make sure you put beneficiaries centre stage, telling their own stories and explaining your role in their lives. Do the same with funders and volunteers to inspire others to help.


2. Review what the donate button and process is like on your website: What is the journey for your potential donor – is it easy to donate, do you connect them with the impact of their gift, and does your thank you process effectively engage and warm up your supporters?


3. Publicise your site: publicise your site and campaigns as widely as possible, including social media, emails and Google Ad grants which you can use to highlight your 'support us pages' and the magic donate now page. Google Grants give you up to $10,000 worth per month of free advertising in Google searches. It can put your ads prominently in Google's search results, and give a big boost to your website traffic.​


4. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly: Localgiving found that 59% of all visits to a charity page during the coronavirus lockdown were on mobile and Covid was the first time over 50% of traffic was via mobile. It was the first time over 50% of donations made via mobile too (53%). This is only going to grow so you must make sure your website is mobile-friendly.​ Not having a mobile friendly site has wider implications as they will not appear as high as possible on Google searches as Google prioritises mobile optimised sites. ​


5. Consider how you manage donor records: The smallest charities may not need a database, a simple excel spreadsheet might do, but you need to have one ‘source of truth’ with all your supporters properly coded and accounted for.


6. See your social media as a space for dialogue and not just a publication platform: You’ll need to put time into engaging and communicating with your followers and build relationships with them.


7. Make sure you are optimising social tools: like the Facebook Donate Button and Facebook Birthday Fundraisers – the latter has seen the greatest rise in individual donor recruitment on Facebook during Covid and beyond. If you have a fundraising campaign you are promoting on social media, you might consider sponsored posts – for a relatively small investment you can reach a much wider network.


8. Strengthen your donor stewardship: As small charities, we have the benefit of being much closer to our supporters – but there is a risk we can take them for granted! Those thanked in 48 hours are 400% more likely to donate again in the future so well worth the effort of getting thank you messages set up in advance. Don’t limit yourself to a one-off email through – think about calls and notes, invitations to events or ‘insider’ updates. ​


9. Use the rise of digital to incorporate new relationship building methods into your stewardship: We’ve seen lots of small charities make use of Zoom and Teams to give updates on progress to donors and funders or to host cultivation events for prospective corporate or high-value donors.


10. Get others involved: When you’re a small charity fundraiser we know you have lots to do already! Think about how you can get others involved – whether it’s trustees helping to share your messages on their social media platforms, project staff giving an update at a virtual event, or volunteers who are helping you give the ‘high-touch’ stewardship to your supporters, you don’t have to do it alone! If you don’t already have people in your organisation who can support you, be creative in how you can build your ‘crew’ – perhaps by engaging student volunteers or skilled volunteers to get some of these essentials in place.


For lots more advice and tips on Fundraising Through Digital Channels, keep an eye on the FSI’s training events where we have full day courses and shorter webinars on this topic. You can also book a free 1:1 advice clinic with an experienced advisor , or speak to our partners at Nova Fundraising about more hands-on consultancy support.



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