Creating an online community? Keep donors focused

Creating an online community can keep donors connected to each other and the nonprofit.
Date Published
Sue Guttormson

Creating an online community is an effective way to generate interest and empower donors in support of a new project or in advance of a fundraising campaign. While it may seem like a difficult prospect, there are several strategies that nonprofits can incorporate to ensure their donors and supporters are connected with one another and the central mission.

Laura Iancu, public relations specialist for 123ContactForm, explained on Nonprofit Technology Network that people generally desire a sense of community, especially when they're working toward a common goal. To accomplish this goal, Iancu recommended nonprofits keep their organizational website front and center. This doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it can be as simple as providing a link to the URL in all content that is distributed to donors, board members and volunteers.

In doing so, the nonprofit develops a consistent experience for their stakeholders, centered around their website. Why is this important? In the vast majority of cases, donation and sign-up pages are prominent on an organization's home page. Meanwhile, it's a good idea to use Web tracking tools to keep record of which channels are more or less likely to guide donors back to the website and potentially lead them to contribute.

A meaningful online experience
Michael Wilson, CEO of Small World Labs, highlighted several nonprofit groups that have worked to develop online communities by effectively using their homepage. For example, the American Heart Association created the Professional Online Network as a complement to its paid membership site which individuals can access through the homepage. Through this portal, doctors, scientists and others in the health care community are able to connect and collaborate.

As a result, members of this companion site move to a higher paid membership level 74 percent more frequently than those who haven't joined. This provides more than 50 percent increase in revenues at AHA events and more participants renew their membership. Underlying this strategy is keeping members and donors is returning to the site's main page, which can increase traffic and improve fundraising outcomes.

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