Microsites for Nonprofit Fundraisers

Submitted on Fri, 7/20/2012 - 2:45pm
An online donations page may be the right solution for some organizations, but you may want to consider the additional features that can be included in a full-fledged microsite.

A fundraising microsite is a dedicated website where nonprofit organizations can share information about an upcoming fundraising campaign, manage participant registrations, collect donations online, and more. Utilizing a microsite can not only make hosting an online fundraising campaign easier for the organizers, but also provide a place for participants, volunteers, sponsors and community members to engage.

A microsite also allows administrators to collect and store information from sponsors, donors, participants, and volunteers, as well as create various reports to determine how successful the fundraising campaign was executed in order to improve planning in future campaigns.

Microsite vs. Online Donations Page

A microsite is different from an online donations page. Some organizations use online tools that provide the ability to embed a donations page directly within their website, providing an easy way to collect online donations for their fundraiser.

There are some advantages of this solution. Maintaining a donations page within your organization’s website allows you to maintain complete control over the page. It also provides an opportunity to direct traffic to your site, potentially improving your analytics reports and attracting new visitors to support your cause. An online donations page also provides a simple and safe way to collect online donations via credit and debit card transactions, verses the traditional methods of collecting cash and checks.

An online donations page may be the right solution for some organizations, but you may want to consider the additional features that can be included in a full-fledged microsite.

  • A microsite can provide an easy way for participants, sponsors, and volunteers to register online, make payments, create teams, upload logos, learn more about your cause, view event details, etc. – but in a very focused way.
  • Participants may like the ability to personalize their fundraiser by creating personal fundraising pages, where they can upload photos, post personal goals, manage communications, and track progress of their donation collection against other participants. This functionality is built into some microsite tools.
  • A microsite can be hosted from an external server so there is no need for software downloads or internal tech-support.

So Can a Fundraising Microsite Really Increase Results?

Well, there’s never a clear answer to this question, as there are many external factors that must be considered when evaluating the success of a fundraising campaign. Your organization will want to be sure to have a strong planning committee to help with administrative details, networking and sponsor solicitation, as well as promotion of the fundraiser. Then, by providing participants with the tools the need to succeed and motivating them to use them, you’ll likely bring in more donations for your cause.

So we can’t say that a microsite will make you more successful by itself (as many of these other factors are also important). However, we can say that if used properly, it should increase efficiency for the administrators planning and managing the event, while making the donation-collection process much easier for participants and donors. The two of these things together will likely lead to improved success.

Here are two organizations that have seen huge results after implementing a fundraising microsite.

Case Study: Exeter Swim Team

Exeter Swim Team has 130 members ranging in age from 7 to 18. The team hires two full-time coaches and three part-time coaches, in addition to paying for pool time. In an effort to cover some of these costs and keep dues at a reasonable level, the team participates in various fundraising initiatives. In recent years, the team has hosted swim-a-thon events to raise funds for these costs. The swim-a-thon is a great way to raise funds, as team members aren’t just asking for funds, but rather earning money to support their team by swimming for it!

Prior to implementing their dedicated microsite, Greg Cronauer had hosted four other swim-a-thon events, – and he’s now a huge advocate of the tool. The previous swim-a-thon event Exeter hosted (prior to utilizing the microsite) brought in approximately $10,000. This past year, after launching their microsite to manage the event and collect donations, Exeter Swim Team raised more than $38,000. The group more than tripled their income from previous swim-a-thon events, while making it much easier for event organizers, swimmers and their parents.

We asked Coach Greg Cronauer why this worked so well:

“In previous years, managing swim-a-thon events and collecting donations manually was a tremendous amount of work. It is so much easier when done electronically. We used pre-formed fundraising templates and just added our text and photos. Swimmers were able to easily set up their own page, with an individual message and photo, to solicit pledges. This gives a ‘personal and individual touch’ without the need to go door-to-door. Your potential sponsors are now all your friends and family from across the country. By using a microsite, participants can send their personal page through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter and donors can click a button to submit a pledge online with a credit or debit card at a time that’s convenient for them. In summary, we tripled our income with less than 25% of the effort.”

In fact, Exeter was so happy with the results from their fundraising website they not only intend to continue using a microsite for upcoming bi-annual swim-a-thon events, but they’re now using a microsite for a new fundraising campaign. The group is striving to raise $90,000 by August 5, 2012 to fund a “pool bubble”—a structure to cover the pool. They’ve set up a Donations Website, which they’ll promote until they reach their goal. Sponsors will go online to the donations website, learn more about the cause, and make a safe online donations with a credit or debit card. They’ll motivate donors by creating a “legacy wall” where they will thank donors who contribute a certain amount by printing their names on a wall.

Case Study: Roots of Development

Roots of Development is a nonprofit development organization that helps impoverished communities in Haiti acquire the financial resources and organizational skills they need to manage their own development. In order to support the Haitians with their development, Roots organizes an annual cycling/ walk-a-thon event.

Thanks to the use of a microsite, the organization has been able to substantially increase their annual fundraising goal for the walk/bike event. The first year they implemented a microsite for their event, their profits doubled from $6,000 to $12,200.

Marian Bissonnette, Task Force Member, describes her experience with the fundraising website from an administrative standpoint:

“My computer knowledge is basic at best. At first I felt intimidated with the idea of administrating a website. That fear quickly changed. I followed some simple steps and utilized the templates provided, and was able to create a professional fundraising website. As the administrator of the event site, I have easy access to update event sponsors or changes in event details. As people register and donations come in, I receive instant notification through my email.”

This year, Roots hopes to raise $20,000 at the walk/ride event on Sept. 16, 2012. The village’s water source serves over 8,000 people and testing has shown the water to be highly toxic, even deadly. With the help of participants, donors, the easy-to-use fundraising website, and the labor of the Haitians, the fundraiser will be able to save many lives.

Kari Ann Kiel has 15 years experience managing events and marketing initiatives, and is currently marketing manager at DoJiggy, a company which provides a complete line of online fundraising software for fundraising events and initiatives including: walk-a-thons, charity golf tournaments, gala events, and online charity auctions.