This guest post is from the team at GiveGrove.
We’ve all felt the impact of the Coronavirus—whether it’s the endless video meetings, scrambling to move our conversations to digital mediums, or learning how to stay in touch with family and friends. Since March, GiveGrove has walked with dozens of organizations into the digital fundraising arena for the first time. Our organizations have had to quickly reimagine their events—which had to be successful without breaking the bank. Call after call with nonprofits pointed to three major and universal takeaways.
1. All Online Giving platforms are not created equal.
Google “Online Giving Platform” and you’ll find that sorting through the many options can be a full-time job! And many of them don’t even list their prices until you get on their mailing list, so narrowing down your choices is tedious and tough.
Imagine going to the supermarket to buy milk. You find the milk and look for the price. The price tag says, “bring this item to the cashier, and depending on whatever else is in your cart, we’ll tell you the price!” How frustrating and UNuser-friendly! It doesn’t put you on good footing with the supermarket. Do you want to have a contentious relationship with the vendor that’s going to be interacting with your donors?
Many times, the staff responsible for selecting a fundraising platform have day jobs. They might miss that a fundraising platform’s quoted price is only available for certain types of fundraising events or that that price is only available if you sign a long-term contract.
Trying to compare the various platforms is difficult to do. Hidden fees and conditional pricing make it virtually impossible.
It’s important to ask questions of the vendor and your fundraising team to inform the final selection:
- Does the platform have ads?
- Is it free up to a certain level?
- Does the vendor offer support?
- Will we have to download a platform? Or does it live online?
- Can we use it alongside the video platform we use for our virtual event(s)?
It becomes overwhelming very quickly! A company that can answer your questions honestly and without trying to oversell you is worth its weight in gold. It should be easy peasy lemon squeezy!
2. Successful fundraisers rely on their ingenuity.
We talk more about this in a different blog post, but we’ve found that the organizations that are resourceful see the greatest success. What do we have? What are our strengths? What past career experience can help me succeed at this moment?
Organizations have shared ideas with us that felt out of left field. We heard things like, “How can we get GiveGrove to work if we have a live TV show?” Or, “Have you ever done a live event with horses?” Or, “What are your thoughts on a murder mystery dinner?” Or, “If we want to deliver champagne to people’s houses before the event, can we use your system to collect home addresses?”
We saw that they were racking their brains about what they could do to fundraise in these turbulent times. The successful ones realized they had strengths and skills on their team and assets on hand that could be optimized. Like Matt Damon in The Martian. If your past events included alcohol, dancing, and interactive fundraising, then chances are your audience is going to want more than to watch a 30-minute speech from your executive director.
Thinking through your strengths is going to be important.
3. Donors want an experience.
In ‘normal’ times, the “can you please help us” with a link to give online type of appeal sometimes works. During these extraordinary times, it is more than a difficult way to fundraise. From our experience, the best-received events have been dynamic, and offer a myriad of opportunities for donors to engage with the organization in more ways than making a donation. One of our favorites was hosted by a puppet, Chad the Bird, who was a staple of a theater company in Chicago. The event was just as much a show as it was a fundraiser!
Here are some thoughts to ponder as you attempt to create an experience donors will remember:
The donor is thinking: If I can’t go out and see a band or a comedian, having one in my living room is the next best thing. At this point, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel on my Netflix queue.
What is the whole donor experience? Not just with the giving platform, but your fundraising event? Before the pandemic, fundraisers spent time thinking about the ambiance of the event, whether it was the theme, lighting, or the centerpieces—and virtual events shouldn’t be any different.
Why should you think about the donor experience? They know that everyone has great needs during these uncertain times, and you need to stand out. Things like the atmosphere of a digital event are important if you want to separate yours from other fundraisers.
You need to go the extra mile. Just recently, one organization sent masks to donors when they RSVP’d to their event, and another’s board members hand-delivered invitations.
These three takeaways are critical to the success of any fundraiser happening during this unprecedented time.
- Know which platform meets your needs and budget without any surprises or hidden fees. If you’d like a demo of GiveGrove, send us a message at email@example.com.
- Know and lean heavily on the strengths and experience of your team, and you’ll host stronger and more confident events. A stronger event helps donors feel more comfortable giving.
- Know and understand the donor experience. It can make or break the relationship you have with your donors. Is giving to your organization as automatic for your donors as checking social media? Are you creating a positive and exciting experience that brings donors back to your event?
With these takeaways, your fundraisers will stand out.