Guest post blog submitted by: iATS Payments, a leading integrated payment processor for nonprofits.
With COVID-19 continuing to encourage safe social distancing practices and sparking anxiety through every business and organization, it makes sense that you’re worried about the state of your nonprofit. While the world is in turmoil, it seems almost impossible to continue fundraising as if nothing is happening.
For one thing, it’s okay to be worried. Everyone is feeling the same way. Nevertheless, in times of uncertainty, organizations like your nonprofit need to step up and communicate. Let your staff know of any new health guidelines or procedures and start making the transition to work from home, if possible.
It is upsetting when you have to cancel an event that was supposed to bring in a chunk of revenue, a challenge many nonprofits are facing right now. However, when equipped with the top nonprofit tools, you can still raise money for a good cause, whether it’s COVID-19 or your primary mission. The best tools ensure you keep processes donor-centric and still work with safe social distancing practices.
In this guide, you’ll be learning the basic ways to ensure nonprofits like yours are fully prepared to take fundraising to the purely digital level. However, your best bet is to turn to tech consultants, like DNL OmniMedia, to ensure you’re prepared to convert fundraising efforts to a virtual and online space. Nevertheless, it’s still important to review the best practices for the following tools:
- Nonprofit CRM
- Online Donation Tool
- Email Marketing Tool
- Social Media Connections
- Fundraising Dashboard
- Integrated Payment Processor
Think of this as a checklist— you don’t want to realize a key tool like your nonprofit payment processor is missing or outdated later on if things get even more hectic. If you do find yourself more scrambled than usual, a tech consultant can provide customized care to meet your nonprofit’s unique needs.
Ready to get started? Let’s begin.
1. Nonprofit CRM
If you’ve been fundraising for a while now, you know just how vital your donors are. They’re the ones who continuously support your mission and fund the most important projects you’ve accomplished. And that’s why you need a capable and dedicated nonprofit constituent relationship management (CRM) system.
According to DNL OmniMedia, many organizations come to them to develop a tech plan when they have to replace an out-of-date CRM system. After all, your CRM is where your donor data is, and with donor data, your nonprofit can effectively engage supporters in personable and meaningful ways. When an unprecedented situation like COVID-19 happens, it’s more crucial than ever to ensure that your donor data stays secure and centralized in an accessible location.
In a time where people are feeling uncertain and lost, keeping up with donor relationships is essential to maintain support for your nonprofit. Manage your entire support base, including donors, volunteers, sponsors, and other constituents, all within your CRM. When you have a comprehensive view of data, you can better make decisions on the best outreach strategy or the type of opportunities to offer.
Even as time goes on, your nonprofit CRM will continue to collect and manage new data. Better engage with supporters as your nonprofit experiences turn digital and continue to cultivate those relationships.
2. Online Donation Tool
With more people staying home and practicing social distancing, you need to take steps to ensure your online donation process is optimized and set up for success. This means providing a seamless experience for your donors from the very moment they come upon your website to finally pressing that donation button.
Now is an excellent time to look at your online giving tool and make sure it’s up to standards. Consider the following capabilities:
- Customized forms. Don’t turn donors away with too many questions or an overly complicated form. Make sure you can customize your online giving form so that you only ask what’s necessary!
- Embedded into the main website. It’s likely that the first place donors will go to find out more about your work is your main website. To keep the process streamlined and encourage donors to make a gift, embed the form within one of your site’s pages for ease of use.
- Automated constituent profiles. As soon as someone makes a gift or signs up to be a volunteer, your tool should automatically create (or update!) that individual’s record. Make sure integration is possible with your CRM, or invest in a more comprehensive solution.
3. Email Marketing
It’s normal for tensions to be high right now. One of the worst ways to induce panic is to either not share any information or to overshare information.
As you figure out how to navigate this new world, it’s always a good idea to reach out to your supporters, remind them how much they mean to you and conduct a general check-in to see how they’re doing. They’ll not only appreciate the gesture but also feel glad to be updated on next steps for the future.
However, as with any fundraising letter or email to your supporters, you should segment your audience. One of DNL OmniMedia’s top tips for nonprofit marketing best practices is segmentation. Segmenting your supporters not only helps you cater to specific audiences but also increases the chance that the message will resonate with the reader.
Some good ways to segment your donors might be by major donors, long term donors, monthly donors, board members, and more! Take inventory of some of your most important supporters and reach out based on the unique relationships with them. For instance, say you realize that many have pledged donations but have not gone through with them. Segment those people and send them a specific email following up.
Throughout it all, remember to be conscientious of other people’s struggles and understand that this might not be the best time for them to give, especially financially. Say thank you, acknowledge their support, and make sure to provide them with the opportunity to say something back if they want to talk.
4. Social Media Connections
Another great way to keep updated with your constituents is through social media. Whether you use social media to post urgent updates or to monitor how your supporters are doing, it’s a far-reaching outlet that will likely be used even more now. DNL OmniMedia says that incorporating social media connections to your other marketing efforts can greatly expand your reach.
Maybe try hosting an online social fundraiser instead of your annual in-person event. Facebook and other platforms have garnered major success for nonprofits during peer-to-peer or crowdfunding campaigns.
These days, people of all ages have social media accounts. Around seven-in-ten Americans use social media today, so don’t miss out on this engagement opportunity. To learn how you can utilize social media even further to help with fundraising efforts, check out this DonorSearch guide on social discovery.
5. Fundraising Dashboard
One of the best nonprofit tools that many should be taking advantage of is a fundraising dashboard. This is one of the best ways to effectively manage and visualize your data analytic.
A fundraising dashboard is a comprehensive view of your entire fundraising processes, from your incoming donations to overviews of current campaigns. In just one glance, you can gain insights to improve donor relationships. With so much going on in the world and new updates changing how we live daily, access to a fundraising dashboard will let you understand your supporters and their actions better than ever.
For instance, if you notice an online campaign is starting to falter, it might be due to more and more people struggling financially. Consider sending out an email checking-in with supporters to let them know you’re nonprofit is still there.
To ensure you leverage this tool effectively, make sure your fundraising dashboard can:
- Showcase your donor retention rate (as well as suggestions for improvement!)
- Display a “to-do” list you can interact with
- Access reports
- Review accounts
- View engagement levels of each donor
The best fundraising dashboard will not only showcase how your engagements are doing, but also suggest improvements and actionable steps you can take. If you’re curious about other analytics you should be keeping track of, DNL OmniMedia has a great article on these metrics.
6. Integrated Payment Processor
As online donations start to become your main source of funds, it’s important to invest in a capable and dedicated integrated payment processor.
With so much uncertainty going on, donors especially don’t want to risk their financial information. Many are losing their jobs and have to suffer through temporary unemployment without knowing when this will end. If they do want to make a gift, it’s imperative to ensure you have a secure payment processor tool.
When looking for a payment processor, you have to prioritize security and your donor’s information. For instance, you should have the following security features:
- Tokenization and encryption to help hide card information and protect data.
- PCI compliance to ensure that your tool meets all security standards set by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS).
- Fraud protection tools to further protect all of your donors’ information as well as your nonprofit’s.
Your payment tool should be a seamless step within the online registration process. That means it shouldn’t send supporters to a third-party page to fill out their financial information. For instance, check out iATS Payments as an example of a dedicated payment processor for nonprofits.
In times of uncertainty, it’s always smart to take the extra steps to ensure all your processes are optimized and your donors are protected. Also, don’t be afraid to contact a tech consultant, if needed!
If you want to do some additional research on how COVID-19 will affect your nonprofit, check out the Natl Council of Nonprofits’ resources dedicated to this topic.