Four digital tools to better connect with your donors in a virtual world

By Lieve Buzard, Senior Client Service Associate

In this time of quarantine, social distancing and wide-spread uncertainty, connecting with donors over virtual channels is more necessary than ever before. Across the country Americans are living in isolation, looking for opportunities to connect with others and give back to those communities being impacted by disruptions related to COVID-19.

Read more about how to navigate confidently through COVID-19.

As a nonprofit, now is the time to find creative solutions to effectively communicate with your current donors and grow your donor base for the future.

Thankfully, new technologies make online connection easier than ever. There are many digital tools out there. This blog post will highlight a few that we have recently used with our clients and would like to share with you!

Note: The Alford Group is not an affiliate or strategic partner with any of these organizations. The Alford Group is not endorsing these tools over others, but simply sharing what we’ve learned by using them.

Below is a round-up of four disruptive innovations that are changing the face of how nonprofits communicate with their most valued supporters. These platforms are easy-to-use, free tools that you could quickly get up-and-running at your organization today.

#1 Engage and impress your donors with video messaging

With the new necessity of remote work, organizations around the country are adopting video conferencing as the new normal. Social media has also changed the tenor of video communications. Gone are the days when videos needed high production value. Today’s proliferation of video on social media has made it less like HBO and more like reality television. Gritty, unvarnished videos let the viewer feel like they are part of an informal conversation or seeing an inside view into your operations.

Imagine you want to thank a donor for his/her generous contribution. You could send a hand-written thank you note – or you could send a personalized thank you video message!

Recording a video message can seem daunting and complicated. What I liked about using CauseVid is that even with the most basic technology – a smartphone or a computer equipped with a webcam and microphone – the platform guides you step-by-step instructions to create a powerful video message.

Did I mention it’s a personalized video? Here’s how it works. Once the primary content of a video has been put together – like a message from a program officer or an impact story – CauseVid has a special system that records personal, named video-greetings from your donor list. CauseVid then guides you to give a short thank you to each donor on your list. It’s faster than composing a hand-written note, and the video format allows your donor to personally connect with a face and voice at your organization. The video is then sent via email and CauseVid can track the donor analytics for every e-mail campaign.

#2 Raise more money through sustained online giving

When it comes to donating to their favorite organizations, more and more donors prefer to incorporate giving into their monthly budget rather than donate in one lump sum.

While it may seem burdensome to increase gift processing by allowing for quarterly, monthly or some other cadence of recurring donations, donors may feel more inclined to give a higher total donation through a recurring donation option.

DonorBox provides a simple solution to set-up recurring payment sign-up and processing. Our clients who use this platform appreciate that it is easy to install on a website and can be used in desktop or mobile configuration with a clean, intuitive interface that’s friendly to tech-nerds and luddites alike. DonorBox connects to a variety of payment providers, so your donor can choose their preferred way of giving – from Stripe and PayPal to a credit card or bank transfer.

Tip: If your organization fundraises less than $1,000 per month through DonorBox, use of the widget is completely free. If above $1,000 per month the cost is 1.5% of the transactions.

#3 Make legacy planning easy for your donors

Legacies and estates gifts can be some of the most transformative contributions nonprofits receive. For many people, the process of creating a will can be a significant emotional and financial expense. Navigating complicated legal necessities adds an extra layer of difficulty.

True to its name, Freewill is a free platform that allows anyone to easily create a will and prepare for the future eventuality that many of us would prefer to brush aside and ignore. I personally gave Freewill a try and used it to create my first will. The process was painless and I can vouch for its friendly, easy-to-use interface.

Freewill also provides customized solutions to nonprofits:

  • A bequest tool that shares information about Freewill on your website – and tracks donor data around any subsequent bequests
  • A qualified charitable distributions tool to support tax-free donor giving from IRAs
  • A stock gifts tool that supports your organization’s ability to accept gifts of stock, ETFs, mutual funds and bonds

Many donors are unaware of the breadth of giving vehicles available to them and the various opportunities to reduce their tax burden through charitable contributions. Finding ways to educate your donors about tax benefits from giving is increasingly important in the face of market volatility and financial uncertainty.

#4 Allow donors with DAFs to give directly to your organization

DAFwidget is a brilliant way to connect with your donors who have Donor Advised Funds (DAFs). If a DAF is your donor’s preferred giving vehicle, DAFwidget makes it easy for a DAF fundholder to give directly to your organization through their DAF. All the fundholder must do is click on a ‘donate now’ button (which is the widget – hence the name) on your website and search for their DAF provider. If available, DAFwidget directs the donor to connect with your organization through their bank or community foundation’s DAF portal.

DAFwidget has a tutorial (that I found to be short and intuitive) explaining how to integrate it into your web browser. For those organizations new to DAF-giving, DAFwidget further provides educational information about how DAFs work.

If your organization is not already using DAFwidget, your webmaster could get it up-and-running in 5-15 minutes. Best of all, use of DAFwidget is completely free for your nonprofit organization.

Has your organization harnessed the power of a disruptive technology to reach donors and streamline fundraising? I hope these tools give you an idea of what digital options are out there as we all transition to this COVID-19 virtual world.

As we all continue to learn, improve and grow for the greater impact of our communities, I’m interested in hearing what other tools you are using! Send me an email – or leave me a video message 😉.