Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Fundraising

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Digital technology enables us to venture into a dialogue with donors and potential donors along loads of new interesting channels, but it does not allow us to abandon the old school fundraising methods or mediums – quite the contrary. Our digital fundraising must be firmly integrated to work. Digital media has changed and is continuing to change the way the world works, and we charities are going to have to follow suit. The tips below come to us from Maia Kahlke-Mikkelsen who originally posted this piece on

Some Do’s and Don’ts to help your organization stay ahead of the curve:

DO keep trying.

New technologies and methods are conceived all the time. Just because they didn’t work last year, it doesn’t mean they won’t today. Most technologies need to mature and many go through many transformations each year.

DON’T believe the hype.

Remember when everyone talked about QR codes and apps as our saviors a few years back? And now we kind of laugh about it? There is often a long time from a technology’s introduction into a market to the point where it starts rendering hard benefits to businesses.

DO work digitally with donor retention.

Digital communication is an excellent way to keep donors updated and to boost your retention rates. Run a program which communicates appropriately – meaning along the expected channel. Don’t use a square peg to a round hole. Use the medium preferred by your target group and track constituent preferences.

DON’T rule out print.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that the ”death of paper” means you can skip using print or sending something physical to your donors. They may say in a survey that they don’t want your letters or magazines, but the effects of suddenly cutting e.g. the quarterly magazine, can be devastating. Take a look at your best donors who may still be of an age where they can be insulted by the assumption that they can just find stuff online.

DO use a two-step approach on your online presence.

Try to harvest data when you engage people online. Lead generation and conversion to regular giving is one of the areas where digital tools excel. Whenever you develop a new digital platform, optimize your website or venture into a new social media, try also to think about how you can get people’s data to enhance their experience with your organization.

DON’T let this out of your sight.

Get your hands dirty when designing online forms and apps – so many opportunities are wasted in, otherwise, well thought out digital communication campaigns because data is not harvested.

For more do’s and don’ts of digital fundraising, plus information on the differences between a one-step and two-step approach to digital fundraising, see the full post on

These are just a few digital do’s and don’ts. What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!

Monika McMahon

About Monika McMahon

Monika joined Heller Consulting after spending 8 years in the Boulder technology startup scene. She is an expert in Social and Digital marketing, adopting and implementing new (and old) platforms for organizations ranging from ecommerce, SaaS, and nonprofits. Monika not only understands how these platforms work but how to use them to meet business objectives. When she is not educating and sharing her online talents, she can be found enjoying the music scene in Denver.


  1. Keith Heller

    Sarah and Dan, I think you both highlight a key point – an organization’s online efforts shouldn’t leave behind their traditional / offline constituents. Another issue I see is this – because, as Maia notes, new channels are regularly being introduced, and their value to nonprofits can take a while to become clear, NGOs sometimes suffer “analysis paralysis”. Because they may not have a strong online presence or strategy, maybe no more than their website, they aren’t sure where to expand their efforts. Looking around they see all these new channels being highlighted in blogs, webinars, etc. And instead of getting started with what are now tried-and-true online channels (blogging, FB, Twitter, etc) they say “we’ll wait and see what shakes out with these new channels”. Better to move forward with the channels others have already proven (which ones? depends on your organization and your goals in engaging your constituents) and let the cutting edge folks figure out the new channels.

  2. Leveraging offline with online fundraising also helps you cut through the clutter. As a donor, when you receive multiple email solicitations a week, it’s difficult to know what to focus on. Something a simple as a ‘postcard’ can help create a tangible connection to your organization and augment your online fundraising efforts.

  3. Another good general message that is woven in here is to simply not leave your ‘less savvy’ constituents behind. Educating while working on using technical means is just another form of outreach, and people will often thank you for helping them overcome a gap if you are presenting it the right way!

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