I always wanted to work with charities and non-government organizations; I find their sincere dedication to causes they’re passionate about an inspiration. Last year I had the opportunity to pursue this interest and flew to Hanoi, Vietnam to work for an NGO (Non-Government Organization) called “Center for Development of Community and Children.” This experience made me realize locating funding and raising awareness is hair pullingly tedious, exhausting, and beyond frustrating. To get any funding from governments or private sponsors was painstakingly time consuming and rather impersonal. Of the several projects I was working on, my primary donation hunting efforts were for building a school in the rural area of Dien Bien, North Western Vietnam.  All of the funding applications I spent hours filling out consisted of budgets and past organization reputation.  Understandably, these are important but I never felt like the reality of the project was communicated to the reader which was how badly these tykes wanted to learn how to read and get a basic education.

When I started working in online marketing, I realized quickly, these barriers I’d faced didn’t need to exist.  An online presence is so powerful for charities. It makes them visible, allows them to engage with their donors, and acquire donations faster than if they were to wait for government assistance.  Below, I’ve put together 5 tips I’ve found to be most significant when a charity is trying to build a presence online.


1. Tools mean nothing without sincerity and relationship building

Using social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are excellent ways to get your cause known on a large scale and build a network of support for what you are doing. But it is critical to remember, social media is merely a tool to help you reach your goals. People will be more likely to engage in your cause, help and support you if they like you and respect your objectives. Directly asking people for money without building rapport will likely not lead to the results you are hoping for.

2. Clearly outline your purpose

It is important when people visit your site that your message is directly communicated. Be clear about what it is you want them to do. Is it sign up for your newsletter, “like” you on Facebook, get involved, etc…? Whatever it may be, make sure it is upfront and easy for those interested to get connected.

3. Transparency is the best course of action

Transparency increases the level of trust between your organization and your stakeholders.  People want to know about your successes and your failures. If they see you solving problems it will build their confidence you can solve the larger ones. This will improve your fundraising efforts because the better your donors understand your objectives, the more eager they will be to support you.

4. Engage your audience and be frequent with communication

Make participating easy and show stakeholders you are listening by responding to their positive as well as negative comments. Have a newsletter that people can sign up for so they can follow your regular progress and remain up to date on the latest news. Ideally, start a blog. Write about the ups and the downs of working on a cause and make it personal. Give people the little details that keep you passionate about your projects and it will likely do the same for them.

5. Use a platform to make donating to your cause easy

Enabling people to make donations easily will encourage people that are interested in donating. Giving them specific items that are required for the project, with a specific dollar amount attached to it will help them to better understand where their contribution is going. For example rather than saying “we need $1500 to build a school in Nepal,” try being specific with an option like, “purchase 1 year school supplies for 20 children: $120.”

Here are four of my favorite philanthropy websites your organization can sign up for:

Global Giving: Global Giving is a marketplace for philanthropy that is open for any internationally recognized nonprofit. Once approved, the charity can post their projects directly to the site with photos, text, and video. Donors visiting the site can find a cause based on location or initiative and easily make a tax-deductible contribution. The site charges 15% of the contributions. People are able to add this amount to their donation so all of it can go to the cause or have it deducted from the amount they are donating. I used this site for my project in Vietnam and found the steps to getting my organization recognized rather simple compared to other sites I had tried.

Universal Giving: is a marketplace that allows people to donate or volunteer to a cause of their preference. Nonprofits that have 501 status in the US are able to create a page on their project. This organization is one of the few that passes 100% of the donation to the nonprofit of the donors choice.

Causes: Causes is a Facebook application that allows fundraisers to raise money and recruit volunteers for their cause. People can solicit to their own contacts expanding their reach to individuals that they know would be interested. Processing fees for donations are 4.75% and only Facebook members can donate. This application use to be available for Canadian charities as well, but recently has been changed to strictly US based charities.

Ammado: Ammado, on the other hand, is similar to Causes but allows organizations from all over the global access to its service. They accept more than30 currencies and charge a 5% fee of all donations received. Organizations create their own grassroots pages and people can donate directly through the Ammado Giving Widget on Facebook.

If you are volunteering or working for a nonprofit, give a few of these pointers a try and see how your visibility increases. Hopefully you’ll find these tactics easier than filling out tedious government funding applications.