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DonateNow Helps the Legal Aid Society of DC Boost Online Giving

Legal Aid Society of DC increased online giving to 40% of total donations.

Photo: Jonathan Ragle

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia recognized early on that online giving is a growing trend. The nonprofit began using DonateNow in all of its online communications and website to make giving quick and easy. Gregg Kelley, the group’s director of development, says that online giving now makes up 40% of Legal Aid’s total annual fundraising dollars.

Network for Good services 'professionalized' our fundraising. It makes giving easier for donors.
—Gregg Kelley, Director of Development, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia

The Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia was formed in 1932 to provide civil legal aid to individuals, families, and communities who could not otherwise afford a lawyer. Over the past 80 years, Legal Aid has helped tens of thousands of D.C. residents obtain meaningful access to justice. To fund this mission and reach potential donors, Legal Aid takes their message online; in 2011, 40% of the nonprofit’s donations arrived through their Web channels. Gregg Kelley, the organization’s director of development, shared a few of Legal Aid’s strategies for successful online fundraising.

According to Kelley, Legal Aid’s donor constituency—lawyers and others in the legal field—are tech savvy and find online fundraising convenient, which makes the group's job a little easier. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have to work at fundraising. Kelley has seen online giving increase over the years to 40% of total donations. So how do they achieve such a high percentage of online giving? Legal Aid has a blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account, but they don't use social media extensively. Instead they focus on creating effective mass emails and newsletters—and they always include a DonateNow link to make it easy for people to contribute on the spot.

 

Frequent communication is vital.

Quarterly emails and frequent newsletters include client stories and updates. In 2013, Legal Aid is launching a major donor newsletter that will be sent bimonthly. Knowing their audience is key: Legal Aid tailors each message to fit the particular group they’re trying to reach. For greater giving, Kelley recommends making DonateNow prominent in all of your communications, including emails, and to display it throughout your organization’s website.

 

Legal Aid encourages repeat giving through targeted outreach.

They are responsive to donors and always make sure to thank and acknowledge them with letters in a timely manner; large donors receive thank you letters from the executive director that are personally signed. This strategy encourages repeat giving. In addition, Legal Aid's summer peer giving campaign invites law firms to compete with each other to see who can raise the most for the cause. Legal Aid extends this campaign offline, hosting a reception and a thank you breakfast for donors.

Legal Aid has been using Network for Good online fundraising tools for several years, and first decided to give DonateNow a try because they saw that online giving is a growing trend. Kelley appreciates how they can customize pages to give their online fundraising presence a seamless look and feel. He says, "Network for Good services 'professionalized' our fundraising. It makes giving easier for donors."

Fundraising Takeaways

  • Know who you're targeting and tailor your message to fit your audience.
  • Include DonateNow links in all of your communications, including emails, and display the link throughout your nonprofit’s website.
  • Be sure to acknowledge and thank your donors to encourage repeat giving.

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