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How to Encourage Online Giving in Rural Communities

This past #GivingTuesday, it was brought to our attention that some of the participating nonprofits that served rural communities had supporters who were less inclined to give online.

These organizations expressed that having to make credit card transactions online was met with some resistance, as it wasn’t something their supporters did often or even had access to.

Giving Days exist to rally a community together. Realizing that online giving can be a barrier to participate for certain communities or sub-communities, we reached out to our Giving Day partners from Missoula Gives to see what they’re doing to encourage online giving in their own rural Montana community.

Online Giving

5 Ways to Encourage Online Giving

1. Establish Trust

Building trust between your nonprofits and their donors is essential to encouraging online giving. The level of trust your donors have can depend on several different factors, such as your reputation within the community, the quality of your website, or simply how much time donors have been working with the nonprofits they support. 

Missoula Gives is in its fifth year, and partner Nikki Robb emphasized that having an established day has had a positive impact on the trust between all parties involved.

2. Give Nonprofits Ownership Over Their Day

Something unique that Missoula Gives does is allow offline gifts to count towards Giving Day prizes. This gives the participating nonprofits ownership over the day – and helps establish that sense of trust.

This ensures that anyone who wants to participate can, and gets the message out that all gifts of all kinds are welcome. Nikki’s philosophy is that if a donor wants to drive out to a nonprofit’s office to make a donation – more power to them!

The trust and relationships that are established by getting donors participating regardless of the method can help encourage more online giving over time, as can be seen with Missoula Gives, who has seen an increase in online donations each year!

3. Encourage Online Interaction in Other Capacities

If donors rarely interact with a nonprofit online, they’re unlikely to give online when asked. Nikki emphasized the importance of nonprofits having a consistent online presence – and it has made a difference! Nikki made the effort to provide nonprofits with training sessions about social media and online event pages that covered topics ranging from what a hashtag is to how to gain more followers on Facebook.

And out of these efforts, Nikki has seen her participating nonprofit’s Facebook pages grow! These efforts gain nonprofits’ visibility and get their supporters to interact with them online, setting the stage for when they’re invited to participate in an online Giving Day!

4. Make Online Giving More Accessible

What about folks that don’t have access to the internet? In-person Giving Day events are an excellent way to rally and celebrate your supporters, as well as provide access to online giving to folks that otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Nikki partnered with local businesses to set up donor lounges in their community. One of their donor lounges was set up at a local wine bar where the owner incentivized folks to give by donating on top of their donation, as well gave them a free drink token for every donation they made of five dollars or more.

Nonprofits came to these lounges and took the opportunity to chat with community members about their cause, while volunteers circulated the area with an iPad for anyone who wanted to make their donation immediately.

Nikki also mentioned that the atmosphere that was created by nonprofits being present within the community made donors feel more comfortable, and enticed people to pull out their phones and give on the mobile site.

5. Host Giving Day Events that Coincide with Community Events

Another key element to hosting Giving Day events is to take advantage of a pre-existing event where community members are already present.

Nikki and her team realized their downtown area is bustling with families on weekends in May due to recitals and end of year concerts, and so have planned Missoula Gives 2018 to occur in in tandem with the First Friday Gallery Night in May.

What are some ways you’ve encouraged online giving in your community?