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3 reasons online communities are more necessary than ever

By Jake Fabbri
April 22, 2020

Circles with silhouettes of men and women with lines linking them. In the background is a slightly unfocused close-up of the torso of a man in a dress shirt about to write on the web of silhouettes.

If you’ve been fundraising for a while, you know that various factors can affect the types of campaigns you plan or the events you host. In the current environment, with many staying home to practice safe social distancing because of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s time to redirect your nonprofit’s engagement with your supporters to the online space.

Engaging with your community online is more important now than ever. Given the current CDC guidelines recommending everyone stay indoors or at least 6 feet away from each other, it’s likely that more and more people are going to turn to digital experiences. With an online community, your nonprofit can:

  1. Promote engagement
  2. Empower supporters online
  3. Compile data

Ready to learn more? Let’s begin.

 

Promote engagement

1. Promote engagement

Thousands of nonprofits have been forced to cancel live fundraising events. Even if your organization was not one of them, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to return to traditional methods of raising money anytime soon. As COVID-19 continues to keep us home, it’s time to start brainstorming alternative ideas.

Take a look at your organization’s website and ensure you’re providing ample opportunities for supporters to interact with your nonprofit. Though you can’t bring people together physically, there are other ways for you to promote engagement with supporters and foster an online community. For instance:

  • Consider hosting an online discussion forum on your website for supporters to discuss what’s on their minds and talk to each other.
  • Ensure you have all the necessary tools to accept donations online so that donors can continue to give if they want to.
  • Keep up communication with supporters through email and continue to update them on relevant news and the steps your nonprofit is taking.
  • Host online real-time events on Facebook or Instagram to give live updates with a more personal touch.
  • Continue any meetings scheduled but do them online with video chat.

Your engagement strategy should encourage supporters to interact online and show them that even though everyone is physically apart, you’re all still a community.

 

Empower supporters

2. Empower supporters online

With so many people feeling powerless and pent up from staying home, sometimes fundraising and taking control is just what they need. Your nonprofit is in a unique position to direct funds to help with medical supplies and other forms of support.

Although not all of your supporters will have the money to be able to give at this moment, many of them now have ample time. Social media fundraisers such as peer-to-peer or crowdfunding campaigns can raise an incredible amount of money—and all the fundraising happens online.

Your supporters don’t have to give money to help. They simply can share the fundraiser with their own network of friends and family or even look around to determine if they can give an in-kind donation instead. If a supporter wants to be an official peer-to-peer fundraiser volunteer, let them create their own online donation page to share with others.

Nonprofits and other charitable organizations play a powerful role in times of crisis. With your influence and reach, you can genuinely make a difference in a fight that affects everyone. Make sure you’re transparent about where the funds go and give your supporters the opportunity to do something meaningful.

 

Compile data

3. Compile data

As time goes on, your online community is only going to grow. Whether it’s on various social media platforms, through an increase in email newsletters, or just on your main website, it’s important to track that data. Every new gift given or email received is important and can help you continuously improve.

With more and more engagements and actions happening online, it’s easier to capture data. And as a nonprofit fundraising professional, you know exactly how important data is to your efforts. The more data you have, the better you can make future decisions and visualize a course of action.

Your best bet is to invest in comprehensive software that can centralize all that data. This way, you can access information such as retention rates and gift sizes all from one place. The best systems will also compile reports for you. You and your team can choose data points to compare and figure out which outreach strategy worked better or what kind of virtual event your donors want to see next!

If you’re thinking of upgrading your tools, head on over to re:Charity’s list of top fundraising software for inspiration. Just make sure the one you choose prioritizes the online community as well!

Closing thoughts

An online community is a valuable tool for engaging your supporters during this time of safe social distancing. Make sure you’re actively providing opportunities to keep them involved. Good luck!

Tags: Communication