March 29, 2015, 7:36 p.m. in Best Practices by Engaging Networks
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, about.com
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…