By Annabel Maw
Most nonprofits today face similar challenges. Among them are acquiring and retaining donors, finding volunteers, promoting brand awareness, competing for scarce resources and engaging the community — all with limited time and often insufficient budgets.
For nonprofits willing to embrace technology, online forms can help alleviate at least some of these constraints. Let’s look at a few of the benefits and ways to use online forms at your nonprofit.
Benefits of Using Online Forms
Online forms help to save time and increase efficiency.
They enhance trust by keeping website visitors on your site to complete important actions, like making a donation or signing up to volunteer, rather than sending them to a third-party platform.
They simplify and streamline information gathering.
Online forms eliminate the need to enter information into a database manually.
They can be customized to your exact specifications and designed to support your nonprofit’s distinct use cases.
Most online form builders offer integrations with payment gateways, email service providers and donor databases.
Most forms can be shared as standalone links, which makes them ideal for sharing via email and on social media platforms.
6 Ways to Use Online Forms at Your Nonprofit
1. Collect donations. Online donation forms are a simple and effective way to raise money for your nonprofit. They provide an opportunity for potential donors to give with little to no friction, and most online forms can seamlessly process one-time or recurring payments.
Donation forms can integrate with payment gateways, like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.Net, and others. And these forms create a handy record of donor information you can use for future fundraising campaigns.
2. Recruit, register and schedule Volunteers. Online forms make it easy to recruit new volunteers. You can embed the forms on your website, send them in an email to your network or mailing list and even post them on your social media channels. (Most form builders allow you to integrate volunteer forms with email services, like Mailchimp, which makes sending out these forms via email even easier.)
In addition to standard contact information, you can also collect data on availability and interests, allowing you to accurately match volunteers to specific projects.
Calendar widgets and integrations allow volunteers to schedule their own hours automatically.
3. Register attendees for events. You can use online forms to create event registration forms, send fundraiser invitations and keep track of the guest list. Your event registration form can also collect payments for tickets or donations.
As with your volunteer sign-up forms, you can embed event registration forms on your website, send them out via email to your mailing list and share them on your preferred social media platforms.
4. Give people a way to contact you. It goes without saying that every nonprofit organization needs a contact form on its website. Encouraging the public to reach out to your organization via an easily accessible contact form creates a sense of openness and approachability.
You can create a basic form with fields for just name and email address, or make it more engaging with additional fields that ask questions or encourage comments. It’s also a good practice to add a line of copy on the “Contact Us” page to indicate when people can expect to hear back after they’ve submitted the contact form.
5. Grow your mailing list with email opt-in forms. Whatever you call it — an email opt-in form, subscription form or mailing list form — your nonprofit needs a way to collect email addresses from interested parties who want to receive regular updates about the work your organization is doing in the community.
Once someone signs up for your email list using the opt-in form, you can easily keep them up to date on fundraising campaigns, volunteer recruitment efforts, upcoming events and more.
6. Survey donors. Want to conduct donor-satisfaction surveys? Forms can help with that, too. Donations and monthly giving programs are the lifeblood of any nonprofit organization, but donor feedback is just as important.
Send a survey via an online form to donors after a campaign or project has concluded to gather comments and insights. Then use this information to make improvements to your next fundraising or marketing campaign. Showing donors you care about their opinions is the right thing to do, and it’s possible you’ll get more gifts and even additional donor leads as a result.
Online forms can replace tedious and time-consuming paperwork, which means you’ll have more time to carry out your organization’s mission.
These six online form capabilities are the basics. They can help nonprofits start streamlining and optimizing their operations. Other beneficial online forms for nonprofits are event RSVP forms, eligibility forms and vendor application forms, among others.
If you can imagine a valuable form for your nonprofit, you can probably create it with today’s tools.