Growing Your Donor List: 5 Practices to Reach Your Goals

Murad-BushnaqThis is a guest post from Murad Bushnaq, Founder and CEO of Morad Media and Morweb. Since its inception in 2004, Murad has acted as Creative Director, Technologist and creative problem solver. He is dedicated to helping nonprofits and associations to grow their online presence with Morweb, a robust website platform and content management system.




Whether your nonprofit is just starting out or already well-established, there’s always room for growth when it comes to the size of your supporter base. The more donors you gain, the more opportunities you have to accomplish your fundraising goals. Your organization wants to attract new donors who care about your cause and are excited to form long-term relationships with your nonprofit.

Finding and retaining new donors is an essential component of any effective fundraising strategy, but sometimes you may feel that this goal is easier said than done! 

We’ll show you how your nonprofit can reach new supporters and strengthen your relationships with them when you:

  1. Refresh your website to attract more supporters.
  2. Make it easy for donors to give online.
  3. Offer your supporters incentives for giving.
  4. Make the most of matching gift opportunities.
  5. Keep your donors updated on your nonprofit’s progress.

Increasingly, supporters of charitable causes and organizations want to be able to make their gifts online. You can take the first step in encouraging online donations by giving your website and donation page a makeover.


1. Refresh your website to attract more supporters.


For many people who are encountering your nonprofit for the first time, your website serves as their first point of contact with your organization and your mission. A website that is easy to navigate and use will help more visitors understand your cause and recognize the importance of their donations, motivating them to give.

Whether you’re creating an entirely new website or updating your current one, keep the following web design tips in mind to ensure a positive experience for both your visitors and your team:

  • Create a clean and modern layout. Your website is an excellent place to tell your nonprofit’s story, especially to new visitors, so you’ll want to include multimedia elements, such as pictures and videos, to augment the text and showcase your accomplishments. However, ensure that these elements aren’t overused to the point that they obscure important links or cause the site to load slowly.
  • Choose a CMS that’s easy to use and update. It’s likely that your team of nonprofit professionals isn’t made up of coding experts, but this doesn’t have to stop you from creating a beautiful and functional website! Choose a content management system (CMS) that doesn’t require coding knowledge to create and edit your site and its pages. You can visit Morweb’s guide to nonprofit web development to learn more about choosing the right CMS for your organization.
  • Ensure that your site is mobile-responsive. As we spend more and more time on our smartphones, it’s essential that visitors can access and use your site just as easily from their mobile devices as from their computers. Not optimizing your site for mobile is a common design flaw that you can avoid, especially when you’re using a CMS that’s easy for your team to work with.

Your new or improved nonprofit website is sure to draw in more visitors. When they’re inspired to make their gifts, they shouldn’t have to leave your site in order to do so. Create an online giving page that makes it easy for donors to complete their gifts online.


2. Make it easy for donors to give online.


Your donors want to give online—it’s convenient, fast, and they can complete their gifts from just about anywhere as long as your donation page is mobile-responsive. Adding a secure online giving form to your website is a wonderful way to encourage donations and grow your supporter base.

To create a donation page that your website’s visitors will be eager to use, make sure that you:

  • Brand the page to your organization. Supporters find branded donation pages nested inside a nonprofit’s website more trustworthy, and these pages bring in 6x more donations than external linking pages. Don’t forget to include important branding elements like your nonprofit’s logo and color scheme on your donation page.
  • Limit the number of required fields to complete. Convenience is one of the main reasons for the popularity of online giving. Encourage your supporters to complete their gifts by limiting the number of fields they have to fill out. Minimizing the amount of required fields to include only the necessary payment and personal information will help reduce the abandon rate of your donation form.
  • Incorporate a secure payment gateway. Choosing the right payment gateway makes it easier for your nonprofit to accept donations through your website and provides your site visitors with a secure giving experience. You can check out some nonprofit-specific PayPal alternatives to help you select a payment gateway.

Once you’ve implemented an easy-to-use online giving page on your nonprofit’s website, it’s time to spread the word among your current and potential supporters. They’ll be more motivated to give when you incentivize the process.


3. Offer your supporters incentives for giving.


Everyone loves to be rewarded for their contributions, and supporting your organization is certainly worthy of recognition. Whether you want to attract visitors to your online giving page or interact with them in person at an event, incentivizing giving with branded merchandise is an excellent way to make supporters feel connected to your nonprofit.

Branded merchandise is an effective incentive because it’s both fun for supporters to receive and useful as a means of spreading the word about your organization’s good work. If you’re thinking about incorporating branded merchandise into your fundraising strategy, you’ll want to:

  • Choose the right merchandise. Supporters will be eager to give when they receive merchandise that’s both fun and practical, so choose something that they can wear or use. Custom t-shirts are a great fundraising option, as they’re enjoyable to receive and can help market your nonprofit whenever they’re worn.
  • Use merchandise to encourage involvement. Hosting an event soon? Make registration more fun by offering branded merchandise such as t-shirts to a designated number of early registrants or those who make gifts at or above a defined level.
  • Engage your social media followers in a fun contest. Encourage your social media followers to share one of your recent posts or participate in a caption or funny photo contest. The winners receive fun pieces of branded merchandise and their sharing helps widen your nonprofit’s online network!

In addition to the role that branded merchandise can have in encouraging event registration or social media participation, it can also be an effective online fundraiser in its own right. Your nonprofit can partner with an online design firm to create products your supporters will love.

As your donor list expands, you’ll want to help your new supporters form lasting relationships with your organization. One of the best ways you can do this is by alerting eligible donors to corporate matching gift opportunities.


4. Make the most of matching gift opportunities.


When your supporters begin giving to your organization, they do so because they care about your mission and value your work. You can help donors increase their support at no additional cost to themselves by encouraging them to participate in their employers’ matching gift programs. 

Matching gift programs are a form of corporate philanthropy in which companies agree to match their employees’ donations to eligible nonprofits, effectively doubling (or even tripling!) the gift that your nonprofit receives. 

While many major companies have these programs and want their employees to use them, employees are not always aware. FrontStream's Guide to Boosting Corporate Donations & Sponsorships indicates that just mentioning employer matching to donors on an online donation form can result in a 71% increase in response and a 51% increase in the average donation amount.

Your nonprofit can help your supporters give more and increase matching gift revenue for your organization by:

  • Reaching out to matching gift-eligible donors. As your donor list grows, use donor data gathered through the process of prospect research to identify new supporters who may qualify for their employers’ matching gift programs. You can then reach out to them via email and encourage them to complete their matching gift requests.
  • Incorporating a matching gift database on your website. When your supporters use your online donation page to make their gifts, they can also use the database to see whether they qualify for their employers’ matching gift programs. The database will also provide them with the forms they need to submit to their employers and complete their matching gift requests.
  • Automating your matching gift process. For large nonprofits with extensive supporter bases, facilitating matching gift opportunities can be a challenge, especially as your donor list grows longer. These nonprofits may want to consider a fully automated matching gift software solution that sends communications to eligible donors taking them through the completion process.

Supporters who take part in their employers’ matching gift programs demonstrate that they care about your cause and are eager to help you continue your good work. Keep them updated on your progress—and provide new supporters with a window into your organization—with a strong online presence.


5. Keep your donors updated on your nonprofit’s progress.


It’s no secret that most of us are spending increasing amounts of time online, whether we’re at our computers or checking our smartphones on the go. Your current supporters know that your nonprofit’s website is a hub of information containing important news and progress updates, and new visitors can use your site to learn what your nonprofit is all about.

The best nonprofit web strategy is flexible, multifaceted, and dedicated to providing a positive user experience. It’s always a good time to reevaluate the effectiveness of your:

  • Website. A clean, modern layout and an easy-to-use CMS are essential to creating and maintaining a website that your visitors will want to use and explore. Thinking about giving your site a makeover? You can check out some top nonprofit web design tips here.
  • Email outreach. Email is one of the most efficient ways of communicating with supporters, especially as your donor list expands. You can automate emails to all of your supporters or segment your donor database and create custom emails that address the interests of specific groups.
  • Social media strategy. Whether you’re already social media-savvy or new to these popular platforms, it’s worthwhile to determine which sites your supporters are using and create accounts for your organization there. Make sure that you link your website and online donation page in your account bio.

When your organization makes it easy for supporters to stay updated on your progress and make their contributions through a variety of convenient online methods, they’ll be encouraged to form long-term relationships with your nonprofit. These connections will provide your organization with the support you need to continue your good work well into the future.

Reaching out to new supporters depends on a strong online strategy combined with a personalized approach that facilitates communication between your nonprofit and your contributors. Donors who are engaged in your mission and feel valued by your organization when they give are sure to maintain their support.

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