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Accessibility in Fundraising: A Guide for Nonprofits

adam weinger

Adam Weinger President, Double the Donation

Nonprofit fundraising is a significant component of any organization’s operations and tasks. In doing so effectively, groups like yours are able to collect the funding they need to better pursue their missions and make their marks on their communities and on the world. 
A large part of optimizing your organization’s fundraising efforts involves ensuring your campaigns are easily accessible to the entirety of your audience. This includes those with disabilities, differing needs, and more. 

So what can your nonprofit do to best engage with all sorts of donors and supporters? We’ve put together this quick guide to share the basics and best practices for best results. Let’s explore the following topics:

  • What Is Fundraising Accessibility?
  • The Importance of Accessibility (+ Inclusivity) in Fundraising
  • Best Practices for Ensuring Accessible Fundraising Efforts

Ready to learn more about accessibility in fundraising? Here’s what your team should know!

What Is Fundraising Accessibility?

Fundraising accessibility is the idea among nonprofits and other fundraising groups that revenue generation efforts should be equally easy for any donors or other supporters to engage with.
This includes but is not limited to visible and invisible disabilities such as hearing and visual impairments, physical ailments and mobility limitations, mental, cognitive, and learning disabilities, and more.

The Importance of Accessibility (+ Inclusivity) in Fundraising

In order to address accessibility challenges that people with disabilities often face online, the WCAG (or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) were developed. These international guidelines are used to aid web developers and content creators over the world in elevating the standard of accessibility among online content.

The basics of accessible fundraising should involve efforts that adhere to the WCAG standards as well as take other common roadblocks into consideration. In the end, the goal is to offer equal access to fundraising and engagement opportunities that remove barriers to entry and encourage people of all needs to get involved.

If you haven’t spent a ton of time developing a plan for optimally accessible fundraising efforts for your organization, you might be wondering what the big deal is⁠—and why it’s important in the first place.

The simple answer is that strategic accessibility keeps your nonprofit open to engagement for all people while simultaneously improving the donor journey on a strategic level. Lack of accessibility can exclude potential supporters from being able to easily get involved with an organization.

From the supporter’s end, this experience can be extremely frustrating. It implies that a donor’s potential contribution or involvement is not worth the effort required to bring the organization’s fundraising materials up to accessibility standards. That can be extremely disheartening!

From the nonprofit perspective, you want to make sure all your supporters feel included⁠—which, ultimately, has the added bonus of maximizing possible revenue. 

Best Practices for Ensuring Accessible Fundraising Efforts

Make sure to prioritize accessibility in all of your organization’s fundraising efforts⁠—from online giving to matching gift promotion to face-to-face experiences and more.

Here are five easy practices your team can incorporate to help open up your offerings to all sorts of people! 

Develop graphics and visuals with accessibility in mind

Imagery plays a key role in nonprofit fundraising, and ensuring the imagery is accessible to all supporters is critical. One of the first things you’ll want to consider is your organization’s color scheme. For optimal accessibility (not to mention overall aesthetically pleasing designs), it’s important to choose colors that have a high enough contrast to be easily differentiated and consumed.

At the same time, be sure to incorporate ALT text with any images you include on your organization’s website (and even many social media posts). This short descriptor should be associated with each image to ensure those using screen readers are able to have a better understanding of visual elements on the page. And as an added bonus, ALT text also helps boost SEO!

Ensure your online fundraising is mobile-friendly

One of the most essential components of an accessible online fundraising strategy ⁠— and an overall positive user experience⁠ — is ensuring your digital content is made easily available on a range of platforms, browsers, and devices. For many, that means prioritizing mobile devices.

In fact, research shows that over half of all nonprofit web traffic comes from cell phones and tablets, while desktop-based usage continues to decrease. As these trends develop, more transactions are being completed on mobile devices as well.

So if your digital fundraising remains inaccessible (or even technically accessible, but with a poor UX), you’re likely losing out on a ton of potential revenue.

Prioritize skimmability in written content

You want to make sure your fundraising content is as easy to read as possible. This typically involves avoiding long blocks of text in your web, social media, and printed content. The more you can break up your copy, the better readers will be able to read (typically, skim) materials and take away the main points.

That’s why we recommend including bullet points, numbered lists, short sentences and paragraphs, multiple subsections, and more.

Not to mention, you’ll also want to utilize primarily clear and concise language, avoiding jargon and technical terms whenever possible.

Consider accessibility in regard to virtual and in-person events

Many organizations’ most profitable fundraising ideas often involve nonprofit events. In typical fundraising events, donors gather (traditionally in person) to support their favorite charities with their dollars while also engaging in an entertaining experience.

However, in-person events have also tended to face challenges with being less-than-accessible to a range of people with disabilities and unique needs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have shifted to largely virtual (and, now, hybrid) events⁠—bringing with them new opportunities for increased accessibility in fundraising.

If your organization is planning or considering hosting an upcoming fundraising event, make sure to do so with accessibility needs in mind. For example, virtual events should incorporate closed captioning options on attendees’ screens, while in-person engagements can encompass sign language interpreters.

Encourage supporters to communicate needs and provide feedback.

Even with all the accessibility strategies you do incorporate in your overall fundraising plan, you might not always meet the needs of each individual supporter. This can be especially hard to do if you don’t know what those needs are!

To overcome this concern, it’s a good idea to maintain an open line of communication with your nonprofit’s supporters. Ask for feedback and listen when individuals provide you with ideas and suggestions. Try to accommodate individuals to the best of your organization’s abilities!

The world is moving more toward increasing accessibility in a multitude of contexts. Luckily (to donors, nonprofits, and mission beneficiaries alike), fundraising is among the priorities going in this direction for thousands of organizations.

Understanding what accessibility means for causes like yours, what the strategy entails, and how to incorporate the ideas into your own team’s strategies is essential for optimizing engagement among your widest possible audience. Good luck!

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