Now that we are already a month into the second half of 2014, many nonprofits are firing up their fundraising engines to begin the sprint towards a big end-of-year campaign. With many organizations raising anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of their total annual donations at the end of the year, the time is right to begin considering an online campaign. The year-end campaign has become even more essential as competition for donor attention becomes ever fiercer. And in this era where people spend much of their day on the Internet, an online campaign is essential to your overall efforts.

Online giving has remained at a steady seven percent of overall nonprofit giving in the last couple of years, and online donations grew by 14 percent in 2013 (compared to five percent growth in overall giving). How much will it grow in 2014 has yet to be determined, but will you be ready to claim a portion of that audience? When is the last time you considered your online donation numbers, and potential methods to improve them?

Here are a few ideas to kick-start your online fundraising plans for the second half of 2014, and beyond.

Tell a Story with Pictures ­– As we have outlined in previous posts on social media marketing, in the crowded online space, pictures tell a thousand words. Posts on social media with photos, infographics, or other imagery receive far more engagement, reaction and feedback than those without. The same philosophy holds true for fundraising. Create some dynamic images that tell your organization’s story and, most importantly, show potential donors exactly what their money will be achieving. Whether it’s an infographic breaking down how donations are applied, or a simple picture of someone who will directly benefit from the funds raised, images can make a big impact. Integrate them throughout your efforts: into emails, landing pages, and on your social media channels.

Sharing is Caring – Speaking of social media, don’t forget to integrate this key element into your overall online fundraising efforts. If you only do this in one way, this is the most vital: allow your donors to easily share their experience with your organization on their social networks after they give. Taking this step can spread the word about your campaign to thousands, if not millions of potential donors—without costing you a dime. Set up buttons for sharing on the thank-you page, with interesting content that will pre-populate a post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other networks. Also, be sure you’re tracking these links so you can tell how much traffic your cause receives due to social sharing—the results may surprise you!

Get Mobile – We mentioned earlier that people tend to spend most of their days online. What we didn’t mention is that a huge portion of that time spent online is actually while using a mobile device. Smart phones are ubiquitous, there is an app for just about everything under the sun. Does that include your fundraising plan? If you’re not at the app stage yet, the simplest thing you can do is to make your website—include your online donation forms—friendly to mobile browsers, specifically iPhones and Android devices.

Don’t Forget to Follow Up – Retaining donors is paramount to healthy fundraising, so how can we make the online giving experience one that encourages donors to stick around after they hit “submit”? Gratitude is the first step. Certainly, an immediate email thanking the donor for their gift is a must-do. Consider going beyond that automatically generated message, however. No one ever feels special receiving a form email. Do you offer gifts to donors meeting certain levels? Allow them to select their gift immediately, and include a handwritten note. Also, make sure that you’ve effectively lowered the barriers to entry for someone to become a repeat donor. If signing up to give a monthly or bi-annual recurring gift is a simple process, a donor may be more likely to choose the “set it and forget it” approach to giving.

What are your best practices for online nonprofit fundraising? Let us know in the comments!

If you’d like help with getting started on a successful online fundraising campaign, the Abila Activate training and best practices could be the answer.