So, your nonprofit needs a new website. You’re sold on the benefits and you have the green light from the higher-ups at your organization. On to the next hurdle! How do you pay for it? Funding a new nonprofit website is an undertaking, no matter how you slice it.
Unlike fully custom web design projects with big upfront costs, many organizations are now turning to website builders that follow a subscription payment model. This allows nonprofits to break up that initial cost over many months, sometimes with the benefit of ongoing support services. (That’s the approach we take with pricing for the Wired Impact platform.)
With a shift in payment structure from a large lump sum to a smaller, ongoing amount, there’s an opportunity to be more innovative with your fundraising to cover website costs. Let’s explore five alternative ways to support this critical line item in your budget.
Before You Start Fundraising
Let’s get our ducks in a row before we dive in too terribly deep. In order to fundraise effectively, it helps to have a goal amount in mind, meaning it’s helpful to have chosen a website provider. It’s tough to piece together a fundraising strategy without knowing how much the website costs per month and what those costs cover. For the purposes of this post, we’re aiming for $249 per month, the cost of a Wired Impact website.
Articulate Why a New Site is Worth the Money
If someone were to ask you what the donations would be used for, would you have a good answer? Websites are expensive, but they’re an investment in your marketing and in your mission. When done right, they’ll work to increase key organizational goals like donations, volunteers and awareness, which in turn allow you to make a bigger impact on your nonprofit’s mission.
Find a Way to Accept Online Donations
Before you start fundraising online, you need to get set up to receive online donations. Ideally, you’d be able to accept donations on your website, but you can also use another avenue, like Network for Good, PayPal or Fundly. Getting a process in place to accept donations directly through your online marketing makes it easier on donors that are more technically inclined, allowing them to give in the moment. To supplement these, add donate buttons to sites like Facebook and Guidestar.
Fresh Ways to Fund a New Nonprofit Website
We all know and love the typical fundraising campaign, with its email, website and social media components (and perhaps even a direct mail element as well), but there are a few other options when it comes to fundraising for a subscription-based website service.
We broke down five ways to cover that ongoing monthly website service payment that may not have occurred to you. As a side note, you don’t necessarily need to use these funds exclusively for the website. Any of these fundraising methods can also feed into the donations pool to raise your overall budget.
Revisit Other Paid Technology Services
Before we dive into additional strategies to add to your current fundraising methods, let’s take a look at your current marketing and technology budget. Ask yourself the following questions for each item:
- Is it necessary?
- How does it compare with a new website, in terms of your organization’s priorities?
- Will it be bundled with a website platform?
Look for services you can cut or scale back in favor of a new website. If you currently pay for things like hosting, online fundraising, website security fixes, event registrations or volunteer management, all of those payments could potentially be replaced by a monthly fee for your website, or in the very least take a chunk off of the sticker price. A website that’s easier to use could also reduce how much you spend hiring vendors to do updates for you.
Approach Donors Individually
We’re talking about attracting recurring donors. This could be one large monthly donation or multiple monthly donations to split up the costs among a few new monthly donors. Just think, with ten extra recurring donations of $25, your website service is funded for the foreseeable future. You could even reach out to your board members or star supporters.
However you break down the math, you’ll need to make a strong case for the importance of the new website and the good it can bring to your organization. A donor is more likely to support an initiative that boosts your impact in the community compared to something they see as more of a marketing project.
As you’re reaching out to folks, put your fundraising hats on and remember the best practices. Put the cause first and show your appreciation. You could even share promising stats from the website on an ongoing basis to demonstrate impact and give thanks to their generosity.
Crowdfunding is all the rage these days, there are a variety of ways to do it, including on Facebook. The idea is to get social media and tech-savvy supporters to fundraise for you. Once you show them the ropes, you can be relatively hands-off, but it’s a good idea to make someone available to answer any questions that arise and to provide support.
Strategize the best plan for your nonprofit and its supporters and start tapping people to fundraise. As your nonprofit feels more comfortable with the idea, you could even create a Fundraising page on your site and promote it to attract more fundraisers.
As with approaching individual donors, choosing the right angle for why you need a new website is key for crowdfunding. You’ll need to convince fundraisers of the benefits a new website can bring your nonprofit. People are generally more willing to support and share a project with their network that will DO something specific to help your mission, like increase pet adoptions or reduce barriers to program access.
Get Sponsorship from a Local Business
Companies and local businesses may be open to a mutually beneficial partnership. To avoid the cold email, start with those businesses that you already have a relationship with—be it an event sponsor, donor or even the workplace of a strong supporter. Promise the business a link to their website from your new one as the main sponsor. Something along the lines of “This website is brought to you by…”
As your relationship progresses, you could even start a cause marketing campaign with them to showcase their ongoing support! Businesses are looking to gain social responsibility brownie points from their potential customers, so a partnership with you could benefit the business just as much.
Host an Event Series
In the past, nonprofits would raise money through huge annual events or galas. And it’s still possible to raise large amounts of donations that can cover website fees for all or at least a portion of the year. But with the subscription model, smaller events that occur on a more frequent basis could be the way to go.
Consider a monthly happy hour, quarterly guest speaker event or an ongoing family movie showing in a park or library. Whichever event you choose to put on, make sure that the effort and funds it takes your nonprofit to host don’t overshadow the money that these events have the potential to raise.
As you think about adjusting your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy to cover the monthly cost of a website platform, whatever you do, don’t lose sight of the benefits. Educate yourself (and the rest of your nonprofit’s staff and board) on the organizational goals you can accomplish through a good website. Your new home on the web can give you the power to mobilize supporters, build trust and increase your impact on the road to completing your nonprofit’s mission.
How do you raise money to fund your subscription-based nonprofit website? Have any other fundraising ideas? Anything that we missed? Let’s chat in the comments.