Free online fundraising tools for non-profits are all over the Internet these days, but: which ones actually work? Which ones are a waste of time and energy?
We all know that non-profit organizations often struggle with fundraising. If you have ever worked for a non-profit, you know that money is typically tight, leaving little room for a marketing specialist or expensive digital marketing tools.
You may not be aware that there are lots of free options for non-profits looking to explore digital marketing, however, including:
- A 10,000 per month AdWords grant available from Google
- Free e-mail newsletters for up to 2,000 subscribers available through MailChimp
- The Donate Now button available on Facebook
Below we explore each of these options in-depth so you can decide if they’re right for your organization.
Why Free Online Fundraising Tools for Non-Profits Fail
Many of our non-profit clients come to use with grand schemes for solving all their fundraising woes online. “Can you make our website and social media go viral?” One client asked a few years ago.The problem with trying to reach a lot of people online is that you end up reaching no one. Click To Tweet
If you set out trying to reach every possible person who might fund your organization, your marketing efforts won’t be targeted, which will make them ineffective. The whole advantage of digital marketing over traditional marketing is that it is targeted. You can track everything you post, who sees it, and what effect it has.
We tell our non-profit clients that it’s better to run one targeted campaign than a zillion desperate ones. Choosing the best free online fundraising tools for non-profits can be tricky, however, which is why we review three tools we frequently recommend to our clients below.
Idea #1: Apply for the Google Adwords Grant
One of the best tools out there for non-profits is Google AdWords. AdWords is a Pay-Per-Click marketing platform, meaning you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Google Ads appear alongside search engine results when users search for specific keywords online:
Google has a special grant that they only make available to non-profits which provides $10,000 of free Google Adwords clicks each month. All you need to do to get the grant is set up a Google for Non-Profits account and apply for the grant. That’s it.
Once your receive the grant you can run Google Ads completely free in order to drive traffic to donation pages on your website.
Idea #2: Use MailChimp to Stay in Touch With Past Donors
The second of the free online fundraising tools for non-profits we recommend is MailChimp. If you’re not familiar with MailChimp, it’s a newsletter application that allows you to send customized email newsletters to a list of up to 2,000 subscribers, completely free. The caveat is that if you ever add even a single subscriber beyond 2,000, your account will convert permanently to a paid account. The paid accounts start at just $10 per month, however, so even if you do outgrow the free account, MailChimp won’t break the bank:
MailChimp allows you to build a list of all your past donors right into the application. Every time you receive a donation, simply upload the name and email of the donor into your MailChimp account. Then, when you start your next fundraising drive, simply email all your post donors to start the ball rolling.
You can also upload donor spreadsheets into MailChimp or download your existing subscribers as a spreadsheet. MailChimp even deletes duplicate subscribers, meaning you don’t have to worry about messy spreadsheet management.
Idea #3: Apply for the Facebook Donate Now Button for Your Organization’s Facebook Page
Many non-profits have Facebook pages they use to keep in touch with Facebook users who like their page. Many don’t realize that you can actually install a Donate Now button right on your page. The trick is that your organization has to be categorized as a non-profit on Facebook. If your organization wasn’t categorized as a non-profit when you set up your Facebook page, you can easily change the category for your page.
Once you categorize your page correctly, Facebook will ask if you want to apply for a Donate Now button. They reserve the right to deny your application, but if your page is categorized correctly, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Once you’re approved for a Donate Now button you can add it to your page and any ads you run on Facebook:
The Donate Now button is great for non-profits running fundraising campaigns on Facebook, because it adds credibility by showing that you are in fact a non-profit and not a scammer. It also allows you to receive secure donations right through the application itself. This is especially a good option if you plan to run Facebook ads, which can be seen by thousands of people per day, depending on your budget.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment With New Tools
There are a lot of free online fundraising tools for non-profits, so don’t be afraid to experiment. We certainly aren’t saying don’t try new tools. You really need to devote significant time and effort to one tool before deciding it doesn’t work, however. You want to strike a balance between trying new tools and sticking with a specific tool long enough to see if it is right for your organization.