Studies have repeatedly proven that engaging donors through multiple fundraising channels—online and off—yields the best results, with donors giving more, more often. In this era of the citizen activist and the wired fundraiser, donors expect a convenient, personalized and interactive experience with your organization.

Online fundraising also saves time and money. Email is vastly less expensive than offline outreach, and online donations are far more efficient than processing checks. Another bonus: membership levels and recurring gifts are easier for you—and your donors—to manage.

Not sure where to begin? The good news is that you don’t have to be an online expert overnight. In fact, it’s recommended that you start small and try a few manageable things at a time to effectively measure and assess their impact on your organization.

Coordinate Your Efforts

  • If you have an event or giving campaign, make sure people are able to donate from your Web site. Add an event listing to your Friends Facebook page.

  • Include your online information in your offline efforts—add your Web site address to all printed materials and encourage offline donors to sign up for email updates.

Accept Online Donations

  • Make sure you can accept online donations through a secure, branded giving page like those from Network for Good, CrowdRise, or Services like these will do most of the technical heavy lifting for you.

  • Once you can accept online donations, don’t forget to add a large, colorful “Donate” button in a prominent location on your home page. It may sound absurd, but many supporters actually assume you don’t need their donations if they don’t see an easy way to give!

  • Donation widgets and charity badges are icons, videos or photos that can be embedded on your Web site or blog, encouraging people to donate, share information about your Friends group or attend a fundraising event. Your Web site may already have Facebook and Twitter icons, for example. Here’s how to build a charity badge.

Personalize Your Strategy

  • Instead of simply asking for donations, tie fundraising amounts to specific impacts—10 plants a tree, $50 helps band three ducks, etc. Invite volunteers to ask friends or businesses to pledge $1 for every invasive plant that is removed.

  • Use specific examples in your outreach and fundraising appeals. Think “Provide Kayla with the beauty of nature for years to come” or “You saved this heron from pollution“ vs. “Thousands of acres of wetlands are in jeopardy.”

Ask for Help

  • Take advantage of free training and advice on online fundraising best practices as well as webinars and blogs from Network for Good,, SocialBrite and the National Environmental Education Foundation.

  • Many consultants and students offer pro bono services and advice for nonprofits. Another option: is a “microvolunteering” network that matches up volunteers with organizations needing help with online tasks and services.

Caryn Stein is content strategist for Network for Good, which provides online fundraising services and training specifically designed for nonprofits. Visit the Network for Good learning center for more tips on online fundraising and nonprofit marketing.