Moving Offline Appeals Online



Website.  Facebook.  LinkedIn.  Twitter.  Pinterest.  Instagram.  The buzz urging nonprofit organizations to implement a good strategy online is deafening.  By now, I’m sure development professionals have had their fill of articles and blog posts emphasizing the importance of online presence and email and social media.  I’m quite sure that they get the general idea.  The implementation of new tools can be daunting; the need to generate fresh content all the time can be a burden.  Here’s a little tip:  Look at your offline activities for inspiration.  In all likelihood, there are things you are already doing offline that can easily translate to online engagement.

Let’s look at an example.  Minds Matter Cleveland is a great organization helping low income high school students achieve academic excellence and gain admission to leading colleges.  At an event last year, they had a fantastic display arranged to demonstrate the potential impact of donations made.  On tables, they had items displayed and cards indicating the donation that would be required to supply necessary items for students:



















This is brilliant!  It shows potential donors, in a very tangible way, what their gifts will accomplish.  It creates focus and makes help attainable.  Put these two appeals side by side:


“Please donate whatever you can to help under privileged kids achieve academic success.”

“Please donate $50 to cover a full year of RTA expenses for one of our students.”


The first is such a broad request that it’s easy to think, “What can I really do to help all the underprivileged kids working to achieve academic success?”  The second identifies a very specific need and benefit and shows a potential donor the impact of the gift thereby motivating the donor to give.

Creating a range of “asks” and demonstrating the impact of each takes some time and thought.  Minds Matter did this work to prepare for the event.  Moving that strategy online was as simple as taking photos of the event displays and using them to create online donation items:

Minds Matter of Cleveland - Impactful Giving









Online communication isn’t meant to replace offline efforts.  But the scope and impact of offline activities can be broadened if those efforts are echoed online.  Now, donors approaching the organization online get the same impactful experience as those who attended the event.