Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Having an engaging, well designed and functional website is a great start to a successful year of online fundraising. But it’s not the end. Once we have a great website in place, we have to know what we’re doing with it. Let’s look briefly at what you can do this year to find online fundraising success in 2014.

Here’s a quick overview, and I’ll go into more detail in the coming weeks. Get your year started right with these steps:

Make sure you have a great email list.
It’s important to gather as many email addresses as possible from your online visitors and potential supporters—and don’t forget about gathering email addresses offline as well as online. If we’re at a live event somewhere and we have people gathered on behalf of our organization, it’s a great time to ask them for their email address. Don’t just collect them solely online and leave it exclusively to that domain.

Provide easy online registration to events.
Make it simple for people to connect with you on your site. And I’m not talking about providing a PDF of a registration form for people to print at home and mail in. Online registration should be just that—the ability to sign up and register for events online, without having to get a stamp and use the USPS.

Become a thought leader.
Create a blog, content, articles, white papers—whatever form you decide to share your expertise in, get it out there and share it. Whatever your mission or purpose as an organization is, be the thought leader in that area, within the community.

Optimize your website for search engine optimization.
This is not something that the majority of nonprofits need to invest heavily in. With that said, however, you do want to make sure that that when people type search terms into Google, Yahoo, Bing or whatever they’re searching in, they find you and are able to get to your website.

Use social media to extend your cause.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+—all of these tools can help us extend our reach and connect with as many people as possible. It’s important, though, to do your research and find out where your audience is before you spend too much trying to connect with them. It’s pointless to invest heavily in a social network if they’re not there.

Use a professional donor database tool.
Here’s a great resolution: No more Microsoft Excel managed donor data this year. Your donor database tool should be easy to use with the functionality you need, cloud-bases, and focused on donor retention.

Finally, integrate online and offline efforts.
It’s important to marry both your online and offline marketing efforts in order to increase momentum and awareness of your organization.

We’ll talk more about each of these further in the next several weeks, but now is a great time to start thinking about how these steps can enhance your online fundraising success in the coming year and beyond.