Fundraising Effectiveness and ROI

What Delights Donors And Raises Most Money Online?

Combining the best of e-commerce research with our clients’ experience and benchmarking studies has taught us that:

1. Successful Online Donation Pages Are Easy To Use

It’s obvious and yet so often overlooked. If your donor is put off by the form they have to fill in, there’s not much hope of success.

Forms For Human Beings

Certain features are proven to multiply the number of people who make it to your ‘thank you’ page. Our software has been built to include all of them:

  • Instant error messages – this reduces form abandonment rates.
  • Editable labels for forms
  • Use of “optional” on non-required fields rather than asterisks
  • Sensible error checking on form fields (we don’t tell your donor off for putting spaces in a phone number, for example)
  • Ability to style or change the layout of forms in response to usability tests

2. Successful Online Donation Pages Are Reassuringly Secure

“Pages with the Verisign security logo placed near the payment field information or the donate button performed better than other placements” – Joanne Fritz,

Protect Those Who Give

Potential donors need reassurance that their payment details willonly be seen by your credit card processor. There are two ways to give this reassurance, and you need both:


Firstly, make sure your pages are transmitted over https. Data will be sent from the page shown in your donor’s browser, through Engaging Networks, to the bank. Using https ensures that all data is scrambled. For this you need a secure certificate. We can provide a certificate for you, or you may wish to obtain your own. We are also compliant with all Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council rules on security. This is often known as PCI compliance.

Demonstrate This Visually

Secondly, users need some strong visuals that indicate security. Yes, ‘https’ may be displayed as part of the address, but most people don’t realize what this means. To build a successful donation form, you need to add graphic elements that your potential donors will find reassuring. Donordigital (an online fundraising consultancy) discovered that by putting security seals and logos close to the donate button or payment details boxes, they raised more money.

The Engaging Networks donor pages are completely customisable and editable. You can place security badges, logos and seals wherever you like, to reassure your donors.

3. Successful Online Giving Forms Are On A Platform You Own – And Can Customize

“Maintain the same branding on all landing pages. Your Facebook custom tab and avatar should have the same logo and colors as your email newsletter template which should use the same logo and colors as your direct mailings. You don’t want to lose your audience by having them reorient themselves to different branding.” – John Haydon, Network for Good

Protect Your Brand And Raise More

Using third-party fundraising sites can reduce the number of people who give, reduce the value of your average donation, interfere with your messaging and affect your brand in unpredictable ways. Make sure you can use your own campaign branding, and freely communicate with your supporters directly in the manner you choose.

Arrange Pages Exactly How You Want

Our platform allows you to customize and design your campaign pages exactly how you want them. No competing branding. No rigid forms. No tight structures that you have to work around. You keep and control ALL your data, too. By using our platform, your supporters are safe from being enticed away by other nonprofits.

4. Successful Online Fundraisers Integrate Their Appeals With Other Media

“Donors acquired online who use multiple channels to give are worth 50% more than those who stay online.” – Care2

Use Other Media

For ultimate success with fundraising – increasing the lifetime value of your donor – you need to make sure that your database is able to keep track of donations made offline and online. Make sure that you can use your online data to reach out to your supporters via other channels.

Data Is Key To This

The Engaging Networks platform makes this simple:

  • You can collect all sorts of data from your donors including phone numbers and communication preferences. This allows you to connect with them across different channels.
  • We have an API that allows you to draw data in and out of our database. This means you can connect online data with your offline fundraising database, if you have one.

5. Successful Online Fundraisers Make Full Use Of Social Media

“Raising money for good causes through social media has more than doubled in the last five years. Social giving is becoming very popular and effective among nonprofits.” – MDG Advertising

“When you have donated, if you’re provided with an opportunity to brag about the fact, you get to say “I’m a nice generous person because I’ve donated to this cause” and in doing so get kudos, or social capital. The [nonprofit] gets some advocacy, and your friends get motivated to donate too.” – Beth Granter, Nixon McInnes

Allow Supporters To Give Without Leaving Facebook

Use Engaging Networks’ donation widgets to enable your supporters to give directly on Facebook. Keep up with the results using our tracking and reporting tools. Feature social sharing tools on your thank you page with the click of a button.

6. Successful Online Donation Pages Are Personalized To Potential Donors

‘52% of digital marketers surveyed agreed that “the ability to personalize content is fundamental to online strategy”’ – E-Consultancy and Adobe

Strong Relationships Are Built On Details

When somebody remembers a detail about you, you can’t help but warm to them. It’s just like this for your donors. Make things personal, and you’re 80% of the way to being a star fundraiser.

“Personalized communications are three times more likely to cause action than traditional forms.” – Andrew Seibert, President, SmartMoney

“Different donors respond to campaigns differently, and knowing the proper donor demographic is critical to a successful campaign.” – Nancy Gessmann, Senior VP, Enterprise solutions, CDS Global

Create Good Feelings And Increase Giving

So many fundraising platforms are essentially dumb and unfriendly. Your donors are treated coldly and impersonally. Perhaps there’s more information about your donor in the database, but you have no way of making the best use of that information.

“Part of the reason my email campaign was successful was because I had carefully selected my list of recipients. While my email list included some of the social media friends I was already reaching via other channels, it contained mostly relatives, parent’s friends, and classmates who typically do not see my Twitter and Facebook activity. Make sure you are segmenting your audience when sending out communications – different strokes for different folks!” – Chad Norman, fundraiser for Movember

Make Your Communications More Intimate

The Engaging Networks platform allows you to:

  • Personalize emails with specific details about your donor such as location, name and other data
  • Send out different messages depending your donor’s interests or previous actions
  • Raise your average gift by customising your donation form amounts based on your donor’s previous gifts
  • Improve response rates by prefilling your donation form with details you already know about your donor

7. Successful Online Fundraisers Test And Improve On An Ongoing Basis

The 2012 Obama campaign discovered through vigorous testing that one subject line drew $2,000,000 more in donations than another. Look at these two subject lines and guess which was more successful:

Was it: ‘I will be outspent’
Or: ‘The one thing the polls got right’?

Actually, the first one outperformed the second by a factor of six!

Testing Is The Only Reliable Way To Pick A Winner

This is perfect proof that testing is the only sure-fire way to choose a subject line. The Engaging Networks platform uses built-in split A/B testing so you can see which email subject line (or sender, or opening paragraph, or link style) results in the greatest response for your campaign. More importantly, it also tracks results from a click on a link in an email right through to a completed donation. That’s the only way to know which email is most persuasive overall.

Stop Wasting Money

You can also measure which channels or promotional materials give you the greatest return on investment using our tracking system.

8. Successful Online Fundraisers Invest Significant Resources In Their Work

“The organizations that invested more resources into their programs were more successful, in both generating advocacy activity and raising significant funds online… The most successful organizations were those that prioritized investments in online communications.” – eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, M + R Strategic Services, Advocacy Institute

Invest For Results

The web makes fundraising seem effortless, but you will need to spend time and money on it. To reap the biggest returns, invest your time and resources in planning, strategy and tools.

9. Successful Online Fundraisers Use Event Fundraising And Tribute Gift Pages

“Social fundraising, where fundraisers and charities involve their friends and supporters, is incredibly effective.” – Jeffrey Wolfe, Crowdrise

Let Others Do The Fundraising For You

Imagine never having to ask your donors directly for gifts ever again. How? Your volunteers or existing donors are doing it for you!

Event fundraising, tribute gift pages, virtual gift catalogues – these are all part of a new social trend in online giving. This is sometimes known as peer-to-peer fundraising. Smart fundraisers know that when a friend asks for a gift, it’s hard to refuse.

Friendships Create Bigger Donations

Harness this peer pressure power with our fully customizable event and tribute fundraising pages. Allow your supporters to create their own profile on your website, then share it with their friends.

10. Successful Online Fundraisers Use Email Strategically

“Along with an organization’s Web site, e-mail messaging is the most important component of many nonprofit organizations’ online communications programs.” – eNonprofit Benchmarks Study, M + R Strategic Services, Advocacy Institute

Regular Communications Are Necessary

Great fundraising requires more than just a single email ask to your donors once a year. They want to be thanked. They want to know how how their donation is making a difference. They want to know how the beneficiary responded. And they do actually want to know if there is anything else they can do!

Let The System Do This Automatically

You need a system that has the capability to target and send email updates quickly and easily. Using our platform, you can set up emails to be sent to your supporters automatically, depending on their actions. This could be as straight forward as a thank you email. But it could also mean sending them an email if they haven’t given in a while, to find out why they’re not responding. Or you could send a ‘what happened?’ email if they got halfway through a donation form but then abandoned it. There are many different ways for you to be creative in your relationship with donors.

11. Successful Online Fundraisers Work Directly With Higher Value Donors

“Always good to start with your existing customers. Are there any hidden gems in your database? Donors who may be giving small sums but have the potential to give a significant gift given the right approach.” – Jeff Shear, Solid Management

Treat Your Donors As Individuals

So many nonprofits leave money on the table by treating all donors the same. Successful fundraisers know to keep an eye on their database of donations. They look for patterns in giving such as increasing gift value, regularity, and higher-than-average gift amount.

Mine The Gold In Your Database

The Engaging Networks platform gives you everything you need to profile your donors. You can then research potential major donation prospects who would otherwise be hidden in your database.

Zero In On The Best Prospects

You can use our reporting tools to find out which donors have these hallmarks and see what other information you know about them. You can then contact them directly or flag them up to a more specialized fundraiser.

12. Successful Online Fundraisers Display Evidence That Other People Are Taking Part

“By showing people that others have already donated, it shows a movement, a behavioural expectation – “other people are doing this” which should hopefully make people think “I want to do this”. This could be supplemented more strongly by incorporating people’s social graphs via Facebook etc. so that “other people are doing this” becomes “my friends are doing this”, providing a much stronger psychological motivator to join in yourself.” – Beth Granter, Nixon McInnes

People Like To Do What They See Others Doing

We provide a number of different tools for doing this:

  • Data feeds that you can use to show the last few comments by donors about why they gave
  • Customizable thermometer widget – show how much you have raised so far and how much there is to go
  • Social sharing buttons for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter so that your donors can let their friends know that they gave to your cause

13. Successful Online Fundraisers Continue The Appeal On To Their Donation Pages

“Is your donation button framed in a compelling way? What personally relevant, tangible change will result if someone gives now?” – Network for Good online fundraiser’s checklist

Is Your Existing Donation Page A Leaky Funnel?

You’ve spent hours poring over your appeal package, email and adverts. And yet when your prospect presses the ‘Donate now‘ button, they go to a standard form with another company’s logo and branding all over it.

This is a perfect way to lose thousands of potential donations. As they take care to fill in your appeal form, your donor may very well lose interest (that is if they’re not put off by the fact they’re on a different website).

Your Donation Form Should Be Visibly Similar To Other Appeal Pages

It’s imperative that your donation form looks as much like your appeal as possible. It’s tedious for a donor to type in their credit card details, so keep them going by reminding them why they are giving.

Be Creative With Your Donation Form

This is simple to do if you’re using the Engaging Networks platform – you can design and brand your donation pages exactly how you want them. You can create as many different pages as you like for different appeals. This works far better than a vanilla donation form.

14. Successful Online Fundraisers Squeeze Every Pixel Of Worth Out Of Their Thank You Pages

“Get more out of your thank you page. Lead them to a second landing page after they donate. Your cause is at the top of your donor’s mind right after they give. Use that moment to get them to take another action (share, join an email list or text message list, etc)” – John Haydon, Network for Good

Increase Positive Feelings By Offering More To Do

Your donor is feeling the warm glow of their selfless generosity. Why not take this moment to remind them what a great person they are? Rise above the norm! Seize this rare opportunity to extend their good experience. Show them ways to make the feeling last. This could be by:

  • Asking for more information (would you be interested in volunteering? Which appeals do you prefer to support?)
  • Requesting they share the page with their friends on Facebook or by email
  • Sending them to an advocacy action page

A Continued Good Experience

The Engaging Networks platform provides many different ways to continue the good experience your donors have with you. You can redirect to different types of actions, personalize the thank you page and add social sharing buttons. The platform expands your creative possibilities.

15. Successful Online Fundraisers Give Donors A Part To Play In The Story

“People give because doing so offers them a chance to write their own story – and join in a shared story.” – M&R Strategic Services

Your Supporter Is The Hero

Your donor wants to know that their gift makes a difference. They want to be more of a key player in your story. Imagine taking them on an adventure where they can approach royalty, slay dragons and come to the rescue. Make it so, and you have won their lifelong support.

Let Them Be A Character In The Story You’re Writing

By combining a sequence of personalized emails with fundraising appeals at strategic moments, you can involve your supporters deeply in your mission. Especially if you ask them for feedback, and show how you’re using it.

Respond Instantly To Plot Developments

For even more impact, add your donor to an automatic email sequence using our email triggers feature. Or set up emails that are triggered off in response to your donor’s gifts. The combination of all these things may even make your donor the star in a life-long love story with your cause…

Chloe Green is a copywriter and digital campaigner with almost a decade of experience in the charity and political sectors. She’s delivered campaigns, copy and consultancy for a raft of good eggs including Anthony Nolan, the National Union of Students, St Mungo’s, and Hillary for America. She was Social Media Manager at the Labour Party between 2016–2019 and now she’s Head of Creative with the lovely team at Forward Action. She leads on fundraising emails, UX copy, and all creative facilitation. She’s an expert in email list growth, digital strategy, organic and paid-for social media, and digital mobilisation.

Rachel founded the specialist charity web agency, Rechord, in 1999. Between 1999 and 2012 they created hundreds of different web applications for organisations in the UK and internationally.
In 2013 she became the 'Donor Whisperer' and focused on helping small to medium-sized non-profits to reach new donors and activists and from there increase their income. She uses a unique process that combines the benefits of consultancy with capacity building.
Her clients include Traidcraft Exchange, the Overseas Development Institute, Jubilee Debt Coalition, the Leprosy Mission of England and Wales, Tax Justice UK, The Canary, Humanity and Inclusion, the Anti-Tribalism Movement, BRACE, New Family Social, Arseh Sevom - and that's just the last year.
She also feels weird writing about herself in the third person.

Ellen is Campaigns Manager overseeing national and local campaigning at the MS Society. She has worked at the MS Society for 2 and a half years, with roles at Scope and Guide Dogs prior to this.

Hannah is Senior Campaigns Officer at the MS Society, working on their local campaigning programme, Local Action for MS and also on social care and carers. She’s worked at the MS Society for a year and a half, and was previously at the MND Association and National Voices.

Executive Director of C6 Digital, London based agency

Emily has worked at Guide Dogs for the Blind Association since 2019, working on a range of campaign areas to empower people with vision impairments to live the life they choose. Prior to this, Emily working in parliament and severed as a borough councillor.

Brani Milosevic ia a digital consultant and coach at
She helps individuals, teams and organisations to learn how to seize the opportunities offered by digital and navigate its challenges.
Brani set up the Digital Leadership Forum, is an NCVO trainer, a CharityComms mentor and a qualified executive coach.

Rhiannan Sullivan is the Vice President of strategy and partnerships of social action network, Over the past 10+ years, she has worked with hundreds of UK and EU charities helping them grow and develop their digital fundraising programmes. Prior to working for Care2, Rhiannan worked at then political campaigning agency Blue State Digital, a global leading digital strategy agency who has helped many organisations build and engage online communities, clients included political and advocacy campaigns, non-­‐profit organisations, cultural institutions and global consumer brands.

Calum manages social, email and some digital campaigns at CPRE, and is CPRE’s expert Engaging Networks user, working on development and helping other teams make the most of the platform. Happiest working on campaigns for change or rambling around in the countryside.

Brandon Fuller is Engaging Networks alumni and owner of Raise the Roots, a digital agency that has supported over two dozen organizations on Engaging Networks - helping them to maximize their digital engagement using this powerful platform. He previously managed global online advocacy campaigns for the Pew Charitable Trusts and has worked in the nonprofit community for nearly two decades.

I joined the Woodland Trust in 2018 and now lead on policy and engagement campaigns working to improve protection, restoration and high quality creation of woods and trees. Prior to campaigning for trees, I worked in Peterborough, tackling fuel poverty in the community. I care deeply about the climate and nature crises and the many, intersectional impacts and solutions. Endlessly inspired and energised by the dedication and passion of our supporters and the public who take action time and time again.

Hannah Mudge is Digital Innovation Manager at The Leprosy Mission England and Wales and has had the privilege of seeing the 147-year-old international development charity evolve over the last decade, from sending out its first online fundraising appeal to achieving record levels of income despite the challenges faced since the start of the pandemic. She is based in Peterborough and enjoys running, cooking and reading in her limited spare time when not parenting two lively boys. During 2020 she added ‘homeschooling’ to her skillset although what Ofsted rating she would achieve is probably best left to the imagination.

I am a campaigner in the Woods Under Threat team at the Woodland Trust. My role is to help protect ancient woods and trees from damaging developments across the UK. Ancient woods and trees are irreplaceable, so we work hard to stop any further loss of these precious habitats and ensure they are protected for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Matt Strong is the Campaigns and Engagement Officer for the Ramblers.

He has recently run campaigns on increasing the number of new green walking routes in some of our biggest cities, including London and Manchester. He has also been leading on the Ramblers’ campaigns work around the Environment Bill. Matt has a background in politics after spending a decade as an elected councillor on Manchester City Council and having previously worked for two Members of Parliament and a political party.

Claire Warner is a former charity Fundraising Director & Senior Leader, turned Culture & Wellbeing consultant.

It was in trying to throw herself back into her beloved Fundraising Director role after 12 months' treatment for aggressive breast cancer, that Claire realised the focus & memory loss and heart condition side effects she'd been left with after her treatment, plus the life-changing experience of the illness itself, meant (guttingly!) a 300% commitment, 50+hours a week Fundraising Director role was no longer an option.

On looking into what others do in this situation, Claire discovered the field of workplace wellbeing, the research work of Prof Cary Cooper, the Gallup Organisation and Simon Sinek, and hasn't looked back since.

In 2018, Claire created her own piece of research into the wellbeing of fundraisers and when it concluded in 2019, over 700 fundraisers had taken part. The results of the research were used to further inform and refine the work Claire does with organisations and individuals in the charity sector.

In 2020 Claire won the Best Digital Leader Award at the Social CEO Awards and in 2021 curated the first Charity Wellbeing Summit.

Today, Claire works on organisational culture and wellbeing projects with charities and offers coaching and mentoring programmes to sector professionals.

Becky has spent the last decade building people power and people-powered movements to hold the most powerful to account for a fairer, more just, and cleaner future.
She helped build 38 Degrees UK into a movement of over 1 million citizens and led many of the biggest campaigns. As part of OPEN’s senior team, she helped build and sustain a network across 19 different countries, by supporting, coaching, and building fast-growing digitally facilitated organisations.

She's currently Senior Strategist at The Sunrise Project leading the Global Banks Program and building grassroots activism on finance around the world. She’s on the board of Skiftet, Sweden’s biggest online campaign community and Left Foot Forward in the UK.

Andrew Taylor-Dawson is Development Manager at Liberty, where he leads on member and support engagement. He has been in fundraising for around 13 years. In this time he has worked in the human rights, homelessness and social justice sectors as well as having been a freelance consultant.

He has held board positions with Global Justice Now and the adoption support organisation We Are family.

Rebecca is a Digital Project Manager, who recently led the redesign and redevelopment of The Children's Society's website.

Rebecca worked closely with senior stakeholders, subject matter experts, and digital agencies to create a new platform that demonstrates the organisation's refreshed vision, mission and brand. There has already been astounding results in the 6-months since launch.

I have worked as a web developer for about 20 years and for Which? since 2015, primarily on their WordPress sites. This has involved integration with a variety of different APIs, most recently the Engaging Networks API, along with the creation of APIs to allow sites to talk to one another.

Glyn Thomas is a digital strategist and web developer. He built his first website in 1997 and has been working in digital communications since 2002.

For the past 12 years, Glyn has almost exclusively worked with charities and non-profit organisations. Almost all the projects he works on are focused around campaigning, fundraising or supporter recruitment, and often a mixture of all three.

Now based in Berlin, Glyn works with organisations in the UK, Europe and North America.

Rhian is the Strategic Programme Manager for Physical Activity at Versus Arthritis. Alongside Sport England under the Richmond Group ‘Movement for All’ programme, Rhian is co-developing a long-term, sustainable programme to support those living with Musculoskeletal conditions to increase their physical activity levels and improve their quality of life. Rhian has over 15 years’ experience of supporting people with long term health conditions to become more active. She is passionate about prevention, working in partnership and using an effective knowledge base to create impactful change at scale.

Having gotten his start organizing with anti-war veterans and working as Sala Labs, Sales Engineer, and Partner Manager, Bryan now brings his expertise to non-profit and mission-driven clients as 4Site Studios Director of Digital Strategy. Specializing in challenging and complex projects, Bryan works with each client to craft holistic approaches tailored to goals, budget, and outcomes.

Mary Margaret Callahan is the Chief Mission Officer for Pet Partners, where she is responsible for leading mission delivery including the therapy animal program and grassroots advocacy program. She joined Pet Partners in 2013 and has worked to establish the organization as both an influencer and a resource within the animal-assisted intervention (AAI) and human-animal bond (HAB) community. In 2018 she was named one of PetAge Magazine’s Women of Influence. Mary Margaret lives on a small farm outside Seattle with her husband, daughter and menagerie of animals including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chickens, goats and miniature donkeys.

Joe Derry Hall is a freelancer working on creative digital and communications. His interests include tech innovation, upending power and reimagining different futures. Joe has been the winner of a Mozilla Creative Media Award and the joint winner of a BAFTA digital award. He was previously in-house in campaigning and communications roles at Amnesty International, the Climate Coalition, the Ecocide campaign, Save the Children, Scope and others. He is one of the initiators of Right Way Up, an experiment to create a radical, practical new vision for the social change sector.

Anna Chowcat is the Digital Manager at Refuge and oversees the charity’s digital function and output. Since joining Refuge, Anna has been instrumental in introducing a number of digital engagement programmes including digital campaigns, bespoke email supporter journeys and user friendly donate/campaign pages. Before joining Refuge, she has worked in digital engagement and campaign roles at The Labour Party and Leonard Cheshire Disability.