10 Pointers for Raising Money Online

By Becki Donatelli and Megg Whelan
Cross-posted from

Write a plan and stick to it!
Successful online fundraising takes careful thought and a realistic strategy. Those who raise the most money online have an aggressive plan that is carefully followed.

It should be easy to make a donation
A donation link should be prominently listed on every page so a person never has to search for where to complete a donation. Once a donor is on the donation page, the transaction should be one click from beginning to end. And remember to ALWAYS make sure the donation page works!

Always work on building your list
The email list you build internally will be the most successful fundraising email list you will ever use! Everyone on your staff should be working together to build your email list together. Your work is never done. Collect emails at every event, use the candidate/chairman, circulate petitions, etc.

Don’t burn out or ignore your list
The bulk of online funds will come through email fundraising. That is why it is critical to come up with a realistic schedule of communicating with your supporters. Email your list with a mix of special fundraising and non-fundraising appeals a few times per month. As you get closer to Election Day, the frequency increases.

Break through the clutter
With so much incoming email and online advertising, focus on coming up with creative subject lines that grab attention and ideas that can spread virally.

Use premiums as incentives
Donors love to get “exclusive” merchandise as a premium for a donation. Bumper stickers, lapel pins, autographed books, t-shirts and mugs will appeal to a wide variety of donors. Don’t be afraid to ask for a higher gift to receive a premium.

Utilize search engine advertising
This is a low-cost way to prospect and collect email addresses and donations for your organization. This type of prospecting virtually sustains itself and more often than not, turns a large profit.

Use social media
Use Facebook and Twitter to engage your supporters and convert them in to donors. You can utilize Facebook polls or petition functions to collect email addresses from supporters and email them with fundraising appeals. It is also important to include an ask for donations when you are running a special fundraising campaign around fundraising filing deadlines.

Use the Internet to lift results of your other fundraising efforts
Send email invitations and provide registration links for all events. Send lead or chase emails for all direct mail packages and telemarketing phone calls.

Finally, whatever amount you ask for, you will get
If you only ask for $5, donors will give you exactly $5. The average online donation is around $60. So when making an ask for an online donation, be specific and ask for amounts like $25, $50, $100, up to the maximum legal amount.