Sunday, June 03, 2007

Easy fundraising for non-profits on web

If you are a small (or not so small) non-profit organization, looking for new fundraising ideas through the internet – this article is for you. Web can be a very lucrative ground for fundraising. The organizational costs are low, and you can reach people across geographical borders.

There are many ways to collect money for your generous purposes on the internet, besides the traditional donation form on your website. What if I tell you there is a way to easily collect money through the internet without asking people for hard cash? A fundraising campaign that runs on good spirit and a little bit of technology. Easy to set up, maintain, track and… free. And no, it’s not a scheme of any sort. Not even a big secret – I’ve found mentions of it around the internet. I’ll just go into a little more detail here.

So what are the ingredients and how does it work?

Clicks on the internet are worth money. If they wouldn’t – we would not be invaded with banners and spam. But not all of it is evil. Small and big businesses are struggling to get their message in front of potential buyers, and they are ready to pay for it. Last time you were “googling” on the internet, looking for some product, you probably noticed the non-intrusive ads on the top and on the right side of the search results. Those ads are relevant to your search. It’s just a way for companies to appear within the first pages of that search.

It’s such a big business for Google, that they make now much more money on selling advertising than their search engine. Google has extended the idea of contextual advertising to the whole internet – everybody can register and start placing Google ads on their own website, making some profit when people click on those ads. This model is called AdSense.

You can find more details on AdSense on Google’s official website: . But all you have to know is that it’s free to set up and the more visitors you get to your website – the more money you can make. Google takes care of the rest, like matching the ads with your website content.

The key is to generate enough clicks on those ads, usually by having a very popular content. So how can it help a non-profit? How can you bring more users to your website?

We, at, came to this idea by accident. In order to promote our brand we developed a set of highly interactive ecards for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

Ecards are a perfect viral marketing tool for the internet. We took extra time to create original ecards, investing a lot of time in it and, at the end, it paid off. We got a lot of attention and even got mentioned on CNN Headline PRIME news. At this point, as a way to cover our traffic expenses, we decided to give AdSense a try. The results proved to be very good for such a small website.

For our Valentine’s Day campaign we decided to share a part of our modest AdSense income with The Salvation Army. And that’s when I started to think about how this model could be used for fundraising.

Events like Christmas, naturally, generate a huge amount of traffic for Christmas-related ecards. People exchange them with each other, across geographical borders, spreading the spirit of holidays. It’s also a good time for non-profit organization to appeal to people’s best qualities. All you have to ask them is to keep sending those ecards to their friends and family and anybody they know, because every single click generates a small amount of money for your organization. This will make them even more willing to do so. It’s fundraising driven by good spirit (do not forget the technology).

Setting such campaign takes a couple of easy steps:

  1. Setting up a page on your website with an ecard from Sure, it can be any other ecard, but quality and originality will set you apart from many others. At this point we have Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day ecards. We are also working on a birthday one right now. You can get more info here: . The best part is that we license our ecards to non-profits with no initial payment. You can pay the cost later, from money generated from your campaign. If it never works for you – you don’t have to pay us. But we know it will work. Setting up the ecard(s) takes 2-3 days maximum.
  2. Setting up an AdSense account. Though it’s free and simple, Google uses a snail mail registration, so you may want to start this process in advance. We can help you with that or offer alternatives. The ads can be placed anywhere on the page, usually beneath the ecard, like on our website.
  3. Sending your ecard around and tracking the AdSense income. Easy like that. The data is updated hourly, so you will be able to track your campaign step by step.

Besides the cash generated from AdSense campaign, you will also build awareness of your organization, and this can bring more donors through traditional channels. So it’s a win/win situation. A free promotion that actually generates money, while asking people nothing more than greeting each other during the holidays.

If you are interested to give it a try – email me at . I’ll be glad to talk to you.

- Sergei


Anonymous said...

Im with the idea of creating a non profit organization for trying to help homeless people, love your inputs on the matter.

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