If you’re a traditional fundraiser, moving to a digital fundraising strategy can be intimidating.
Whether you’re new to digital fundraising or trying to hone your strategy, it doesn’t have to be scary.
In fact, if you use these 8 strategies to optimize your fundraising, you’ll be able to raise more with less effort. There’s no need to mess around with clunky software or overly complex systems.
Create a process that’s optimized and you’ll be able to spend your time where it counts: on the mission.
Digital Fundraising: Getting Online Donations Is Part of A Cycle
Before you can optimize your digital fundraising, it’s important to understand how digital fundraising functions. 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.
Digital Fundraising is a cycle of attracting, nurturing and converting donors. Optimizing your digital fundraising means spending time on each of those steps to ensure technology is working for you.
We’ve broken our optimization strategies down to fit into these three parts of the digital fundraising cycle. Let’s take a look at how you can optimize each one.
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. Let’s look at two ways that you can attract donors more easily.
1. Start With Your Website
In many ways, your website is like your first interview with a new employer: it’s your chance to set a tone with people who are encountering your organization for the first time. Long before you ask for a donation, you should be pulling in potential donors with compelling content and stories throughout your website.
Pay attention to how well your website demonstrates your brand: do you have consistent colors, style, and tone across your website so that people recognize you? Are you including stories about individual people impacted by your mission?
Your website is an important source of information, but it’s also a place to build a relationship. Think about the things that would make you care about and trust an organization. How can you include those elements on your website?
Also think about how easy it is to navigate and understand your website. Is it easy for donors to find the “donate” button when they want to make a gift? Do they have to leave your website to make a donation? Have you linked to your website from your social media, in your emails, and anywhere you share your message?
All of this includes using 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.
Last, but certainly not least, you absolutely want to have a website that is mobile friendly and responsive. More and more people are using mobile devices to view websites and you don’t want to lose that traffic. Optimizing your online presence for mobile will have impacts throughout the online fundraising cycle. It’s one of the easiest ways to increase donations.
2. Create A Strong Brand Through Stories
Of course your website isn’t your only presence online. You’ll also want to reach audiences outside of that website (and eventually send them back to it). You can do this through social media, email blasts, paid advertising, and news stories that mention your organization.
Here’s the secret to all of those channels: tell a story.
Remember that giving is an emotional experience, and you want people to feel emotional about your cause.
Videos, personal stories, quotes, and images will all help evoke an emotional response in your donor. Spending some time to build up a bank of stories, images, and content will allow you to really connect with people across the internet. You can simply adjust the story to fit the right platform.
Here are some tips for creating compelling content across your website (and throughout your online presence):
- Spend some time gathering and producing images and/or videos of the beneficiaries who you are helping
- Use pictures of people, looking at the camera
- Use social proof- consider displaying the number of people or amount raised so far for your cause, as more people are likely to trust your organization and join in.
- Demonstrate the need and also demonstrate urgency in your copy – why do they need to give now?
- Use emotive language and copy – remember people respond more to stories and emotion than they do to facts and figures
- Put the donor in the story – use “you” instead of “us.” Explain why you need them? How will they help solve the issue with their donation?
- Don’t overcomplicate the stories – keep it simple
Once you’ve told your story, members of your community will start to see the importance of your organization and want to know more, which brings us to step 2: nurture.
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.
Create content that educates and inspires these prospective supporters to take action. Here are some ideal ways to start.
3. Get And Use Data
The more you know about your potential donors, the better you can tailor your messaging. Data can be an intimidating concept when you first dip your toes in, but if you set up your CRM well and have a plan for using that data, it’s really approachable.
If you’re uncertain about how to manage your data, the CauseVox Fundraising CRM helps you track and run your digital fundraising with real-time reporting on metrics that give you the insight you need to raise more with less effort.
CauseVox automatically tracks your donor data as you fundraise, helping you easily spot fundraising trends, access donor history, and manage your data.
But how do you get that data in the first place? A couple ideas:
- 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
Now you can share more information with your donors through segmentation. One great way to do that is through a welcome or nurture series of emails.
4. Create A Email Welcome Series
Once you’ve gathered some data about your potential donors, you want to start connecting with them. Putting together a welcome series of emails that you can send to anyone who signs up for your newsletter is a great way to share more information.
This is where you introduce your new donors to your organization, communicate impact, get them even more involved in your work, and convert them into lifelong super advocates.
Make sure each email in your welcome series has a clear ask that requires more engagement at each stage. For example:
- Email 1: Like us on Facebook (click of a button)
- Email 2: Share this post (two clicks of a button)
- Email 3: Subscribe to our newsletter (fill out a short form)
- Email 4: Make another donation/sign up to be a recurring donor (monetary commitment)
You can even create a couple of different versions of this series based on your segmented data. Maybe you tailor it to the interests of your potential donor, their yearly income, or the time of year. Once you have a basic structure, you can make small adjustments easily.
Now that you’ve built up a relationship with your potential donor, it’s time to make your ask. Let’s move into optimizing your conversion.
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. Here are some ways to make it easier.
5. Donation tiers
When your donation form makes it as easy as possible to give, you can actually raise up to 2x as much, without any additional asks.
For example, CauseVox users typically raise 82% more when they switch from a generic Paypal donation form, helping organizations raise nearly 2x as much through their website.
And a significant part of driving conversions on your donation form has to do with your suggested levels of giving — aka your Donation Tiers.
Here are some basic principles to keep in mind when you’re setting up your Donation Tiers:
- Keep it simple: fewer options and simple descriptions make it easier to understand.
- Customize your form. Branded forms increase your donor’s trust.
- Show the impact: connect each donation tier with your work.
- Use recurring gifts: set your default option to a recurring gift.
- Don’t be afraid to use more than one form. Customize your donation amounts for the circumstances.
There’s more to your donation forms than just the tiers though. Let’s look at the next important optimization of conversion: donor velocity.
6. Donor Velocity
Donor velocity is the time it takes people to complete their donation once they are on your donation form.
The higher the velocity, then the more donations you get. Less donors quit half-way, more donors complete their donation, and more fundraising goals get met. Here are three ways to increase donor velocity:
- At the most basic level, you can increase donor velocity by making your form shorter. You’re aiming for three to four fields to move your donors through the process as quickly as possible.
- Smart forms allow returning donors to make a donation with their name, email, and postal address pre-filled without an account. Here’s what it looks like to have your donation form completely pre-filled.
- Saved payment methods allow donors to pay with the debit/credit card stored on their phone or browser. It’s faster than typical donation forms and much easier than text-to-give.
7. Matching Gifts
A matching gift is an incredibly powerful way to excite potential donors. This strategy is great to pull in new donors and to reignite the interest of old or lapsed donors. According to Philanthropy Works, “Just declaring a matching gift increases giving by 19 percent. Plus, a match increases the likelihood that an individual gives by 22 percent.” According to Double the Donation’s matching gift statistics, 84% of potential donors are more willing to give if a match is being offered!
You can reach out to your board, a strong donor, or a business that you have connected with to build a match. Once you’ve created it, make sure that you featured it in all your communications and on your donation page to get your donors excited.
8. Bonus Optimization: Recurring Donors
Once a donor has made a gift, it’s your chance to get them on your side for good. Donor retention is a huge topic, but one strategy you can use to optimize retention and increase how much donors give is running a recurring donation campaign.
In 2015, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project found recurring donors have a 90% retention rate as opposed to 46% for one-time donors. That’s a huge increase. Plus donors who participate in recurring giving campaigns give around 42% more over the course of a year.
Focusing your efforts on recurring donors rather than one time donors clearly pays some big dividends. You can make your efforts successful by creating a special program or reward for monthly donors, by making it just as easy to donate monthly as it is to give once, and by clearly showing the donor the impact of their recurring donation.
Raise More With CauseVox
Do you want to start your next fundraising campaign with all of these optimization strategies? CauseVox has tools that make it all easy, from beautiful donation tiers and branded forms, to simple recurring donations and featured matching grants.
Raise more with less effort. Easy for you to set up and easy for your donors to navigate.
If you’re ready to start optimizing, let CauseVox make the process more simple with less clunk.