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How To Use The Digital Fundraising Cycle To Raise More Online

While it used to be a nice to have, digital should now be a part of every organization’s strategy.  Things that used to be done offline, have now all moved online – such as shopping, banking and ordering food. 

A lot of our relationships and communities are online as well. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat – connecting with people online has become a part of our everyday lives as it’s more convenient, accessible and easy to use. 

And so as an organization, we need to be where our people are – online. Channels like direct mail are still important, however, more and more people are coming online to donate every year. 

Digital is crucial to your organization’s strategy because it’s important to your donors. Digital fundraising is about caring for their experience, and their convenience, all the while building relationships with donors that are built to last more than a one-off campaign.

What Is Digital Fundraising?

The best digital fundraisers are often the best digital marketers – the two go hand in hand, and the strategies that work in the digital marketing world are also applicable in the digital fundraising world.

Digital fundraising is all about building a community and raising money online – while it follows a lot of the same principles as offline fundraising, it is not a “project” or “appeal” style approach.

“Project-style” fundraising refers to more traditional methods of fundraising, such as sending direct mailers a couple of times a year, hosting an annual gala/event, writing grants, etc. This style of fundraising can leave many nonprofits stuck: locking themselves into only fundraising at specific times of the year.

Because of the technological shift, “project-style” fundraising approaches don’t always translate when applied to raising funds online.

Online, you can adapt your fundraising approach to fit your donor’s needs, and develop an ongoing, sustainable process to grow your fundraising.

We’re not saying to stop direct mail –  your online strategy should support your project and appeals – but it should also extend beyond them by building community and connecting with your donors all year round.

Just like digital marketing, digital fundraising is about reaching the right person, at the right time, with the right message. Through digital, you can target specific people with specific messages, and really personalize the donor experience.

Today, digital fundraising comes in many forms, including peer-to-peer fundraising, online crowdfunding campaign, social sharing of your campaigns or messages, or interactive online and offline fundraisers, and special events.

By telling great stories, leveraging peer networks and engaging with your community on an ongoing basis, digital fundraising can help to build a sustainable fundraising process to grow individual giving.

The Digital Fundraising Cycle

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Digital Fundraising is a cycle of attracting, nurturing and converting donors.

This may be called a funnel in the marketing world, but we like to call it a cycle as it should be considered a continuous, repeating process that’s designed to drive predictable and sustainable fundraising growth.

By investing in this funnel you’re able to build brand awareness and cultivate a broad support base. The method, when used with each touchpoint and incorporated into regular fundraising activities throughout the year, builds on your supporter’s relationship with you and then converts it into natural word-of-mouth marketing.

Attract

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The first stage of the digital fundraising cycle is to attract new people to your organization. This may also be called ‘prospecting.’

At this stage of the digital fundraising cycle, you want to use online tactics that get the attention of prospective donors. It’s the first connection with your organization and so it should be an inspiring one!

Remember this stage is all about brand awareness and engagement – you don’t want to ask for a donation yet. Give them an easy way to engage with your cause – such as watching a video.

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To attract new donors to your cause:

  • Set up digital ads and target them towards new people. Video ads on Facebook are a great tactic to use in the attraction phase, and implementing digital ads are a great way to see immediate results in general. Read more about our best tips for successfully leveraging social media ads.
  • Google provides an ad grant that can be used by not for profits, up to the value of $10 per month. See here for more information about getting and using a grant for your organization.
  • Design an SEO based content strategy, that helps people find your website organically through search engines.
  • As part of your SEO strategy, ensure that wherever your organization is mentioned online, that there is a backlink to your website.
  • Seed your content onto third party sites and publishers – this may be through media mentions or news articles about your organization. 
  • If there aren’t many opportunities for media, you can also pay for publishers to write about you with paid editorial

Once someone has left their email address or followed you on social it means they have engaged with or shown interest in your organization. You can move them to the next stage of the cycle.

Nurture

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Once someone has engaged with your website, content, videos or Facebook page, you are able to “retarget” them and nurture them towards becoming a donor.

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Create content that educates and inspires these prospective supporters to take action. Getting someone’s data at this stage is crucial. You’ll want to continually engage with the prospective donor to build awareness, trust, and understanding.

  • Create a ‘value exchange’ product that is related to your organization, such as a downloadable ebook, kit or guide. You can use this for an ad campaign, as well as collect ‘leads’ from the product to nurture into donors.
  • Create and provide opportunities where people can sign up to your organization through an e-newsletter, a petition or downloadable content
  • Once you have someone’s information, put them on a welcome campaign where you can further nurture them into a donor 
  • Set up retargeting pixels on your website and on your social channels so that you can retarget any engagers with more content
  • Use compelling stories and impact-driven content that tells more about your cause

Someone is ready to be asked for a donation once they have engaged with your content a few times, opened emails and taken an action such as a social share or signed a petition. This all demonstrates further engagement and an opportunity to convert them into a donor.

Convert

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Now is the time to ask for a donation. Make a strong ask across multiple channels and give your donors an easy giving experience on any device.

  • Use digital ads with a strong and compelling ask on them – a compelling ask includes emotional copy, imagery and urgency. 
  • Retarget all of the engaged prospects as well as your email lists with ads
  • Align the asks across all channels – including online and offline
  • Send emails around your direct mail campaigns to increase the response rate
  • Send your supporter to a branded campaign page
  • Give them options/donation tiers including descriptors, so they are aware of what donation amounts are standard and what their donation amount will achieve
  • Make your website easy to use, and give plenty of options for donations, including  mobile payment options like Apple and Google Pay

Make sure you’re providing your supporter with the easiest and convenient way to give, whether it be on your campaign or your website. This shows your donors you care about their experience. Why is this important?

  • Donors are 38% more likely to give on responsive websites.
  • Conversion rates increased by 50% when form fields were lowered from 4 to 3. And
  • Supporters are 70% more likely to give again if they gave on a branded donation page the first time.

By using CauseVox Donation Pages you can do all of this and more by setting up a branded donation page that provides a seamless experience for your donor. Try it free today!

Repeat

Now that you have acquired a new donor, it’s time to continue to attract them to your cause. 

There’s no denying that digital fundraising is based on relationships and connections. When you effectively attract, nurture, and convert donors well, you’re building a relationship that lasts.

Not only are you increasing each donor’s lifetime value with digital fundraising, ultimately, but you’ll also inspire your supporters to become advocates. And when your strongest supporters share your organization with their friends and family, those networks are inclined to listen.

  • Thank them, send them a receipt and give them a good experience after their donation. Thanking your donor within 48 hours will make them 400% more likely to give again. 
  • Continue to nurture them with information and storytelling, providing them with more information about what their donation has achieved. We suggest setting up a donor welcome series via your email and social channels.
  • Ask for another donation, or ask them to become a regular giver. After someone makes a first donation, ask for another within 90 days based on these findings. 

By following the steps in the digital fundraising cycle (Attract, Nurture, and Convert) you will become a digital fundraiser! Continue to test, learn and see what mix of activities works best for your organization.

Measuring The Cycle

Over time, as these individuals go through the stages of the digital fundraising cycle conversion trends will start to emerge, which will let you know what is and isn’t working. This data will also help inform how you invest your time and optimize for growth moving forward.

You can use this data to learn what motivates your donors to give, segment and improve the way you communicate with your donors, and ultimately, hone in on areas to focus your efforts to optimize for donor conversions.

Digital fundraising helps you make data-driven decisions for optimal fundraising results. You’ll be able to figure out which fundraising strategies work and which don’t, based on a wealth of insights to inform your future fundraising strategy.

Next Steps

If you haven’t already taken advantage of digital fundraising, you’re not alone. Here at CauseVox, we make diving into digital fundraising easy. 

If you have questions, contact our team. Remember, we’re with you every step of the way.

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