• Nonprofit Learning Lab

iDonate Answers All of Your Questions About Online Fundraising

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

This is a guest blog post and is posted with permission from iDonate.

Whether or not you were able to attend iDonate's free webinar "Shifting Your Focus: Raising Funds and Engaging Donors During a Crisis", you're likely to have a lot of questions about online fundraising. This is new territory for all of us, and iDonate is here to help. Below is a list of questions asked by real participants during this webinar, all answered by fundraising professionals to help you better navigate this difficult transition.

Q: What if our Development and Operations/Marketing departments are not aligned with when it is appropriate to start asking people for donations? For example on our website - our org is posting resource activities for kids to do from home, and we (Development) think that is awesome, but that we should include a message that we still need support to create these online resources.

A: Yes! You are in the right place. This is a tricky one. I have found that many people don't want to ask and instead want to provide resources. That's great but can't get in the way of fundraising. There is also resource overload right now - for sure you tie an ask (digital) for money to continue to support your organization along with value you sharing.

Q: We are concerned about approaching donors in a time of crisis where everyone might be worried about money.

A: Don't worry about contacting your donors. Now is a nice time to check in with them, ask how they are doing and thank them for support. Think of this as a moment to reconnect and get to know your donors again.

Q: Are there any ways that orgs are promoting giving through DAFs and family foundations?

A: Many people are asking DAFs and family (or private) foundations to double down on their giving. It's really hard to approach new ones but if you have a relationship with a DAF funder or family/private foundation - you should ask if they will make a gift, put up a match, or something to help you. You could also always include in materials that they can support you via their DAFs too as a way of giving.

Q: Can the dining in fundraisers still happen for take out?

A: I think this will vary by location but yes. Most regions still allow for take-out/delivery and it would be a great partnership with restaurants. Especially if you are looking to transition from gala to something different. I have seen caterers shift to picnic baskets/platters that would be fun to consider.

Q: Colleagues who don't have children simply have NO IDEA how thin I am stretched...

A: We can totally relate. We remind each other daily to allow for grace. Parents who work have it the hardest right now!

Q: Considering our current situation, what are some ways to ask local business for donations?

A: Start with ones that you and your board patronize regularly. They know you already spend money there so it is an easier start.

Q: How do we differentiate from all the other asks being made?

A: I would focus on storytelling - craft a story about how this impacts your nonprofit. Your supporters want to know what that impact is!

Q: How do we engage our donors through technology when a majority of them are in generations that are less likely to be technologically savvy, many of our members do not use computers?

A: Start with phone outreach. You may be able to collect a renewal by just checking in. If any have email, try that angle. But many people are desperate to talk to someone outside of their house right now. Phone calls will mean a lot to someone who is either lonely or needs to connect.

Q: How do you ask for dollars when donors retirement funds are in the red? Or have lost their jobs?

A: Check in first. Ask people how they are doing. It means a lot right now that you check in. We have not seen a major dip in gifts, though gifts might be smaller in size.

Q: How does our organization, which doesn't provide life and death medical services, ask for donations now?

A: Focus on storytelling - lead with a story on how this impacts your nonprofit with a link to give...soft ask.

Q: How to ask for donations with a recession on the horizon?

A: Don't be afraid to engage your donors - for profit companies are doing on-air with multiple ads on TV and radio. Work on stewardship, reconnect with your donors and check in.

Q: What was the video thank you app you suggested?

A: Vidyard, www.vidyard.com

Q: I need some ideas of how to link fees/payments to online programming.

A: Show an impact meter, or value of donation dollar for services.

Q: I've found that printers are not active.

A: They are also struggling, if they have supported you for a long time, share their business as a thank you on social media.

Q: My job can be done remotely, but as an organization we're still working through how we serve people going forward.

A: Yes! This is challenging. We will continue to talk about new needs and new fundraising opportunities, including digital.

Q: My organization was beginning to build its individual donor program. What do you recommend we do during this time? Our current individual donor base is very small, bellow 10.

A: It is important to realize that right now people might not be looking to support new organizations unless you are doing something to address current community needs. If you're looking to build a base...I might turn those 10 individuals into P2P fundraisers for your organization so you can help build your list.

Q: My team is all successfully working remotely, but the what to do next is still in flux. I'm a planner and have no idea how to plan for such an uncertain future.

A: I totally understand. I'm a planner, too. In fact, I love planning special events/fundraisers. I would recommend looking at which parts of each fundraiser could be done digitally. And, in conjunction with that, I'd create a storytelling communications plan.

Q: Obviously many "social service" types of orgs need more at this time. Any advice about arts orgs., museums, theaters, other "nonessential" to try and raise funds??

A: Share past performances, community impact, the arts are getting people through this. Think of all the Instagram concerts, authors doing free readings, art classes, virtual museum visits. Arts will keep people sane right now.

Q: Our founder seems to be disconnected to what is happening in the world and wants to move forward with sending out a save the date for a gala. Is that insensitive?

A: I think it's okay to put something out there if it's a fall timeframe BUT I would caveat it may look or feel different. Some organizations we are working with have gone from galas to doing other giving campaigns -- so the save the date might need to be a bit flexible.