Five Steps to Skyrocket Online Donations


Online donations involve a lot of parts: functionality, reach, and messaging. If done right, online can be a huge asset for nonprofits of any size looking to accelerate their offline efforts or even locate new opportunities.

Here are the five steps we suggest your organization takes when looking to increase online donations:

Step #1: Make Donating Online Easy

This is probably the most important piece of the puzzle. If you’ve attracted all the right people to your site but the donation page is hard to find or actually donating is just clunky and hard, you probably won’t see the conversions you were hoping for. This might sound obvious as a user, but within organizations things like this get overlooked all the time.

red crossA great example of a site optimized for donations with clear calls to action and matching navigation paths is the American Red Cross website. The home page image rotates through a few featured images that have one clear call to action on each, whether it’s to donate money, donate blood, or enroll. The home page is clearly aligned with the Red Cross’ goals for the user and easy for the visitor to navigate. Once clicking on the donate button, the "quick donate" form even has a checkbox for easily making the donation recurring. Its "support" page has clear calls to action as well, with a text to donate campaign feature. Its site is actually set up very similarly to an ecommerce site with rotating featured images that usually drive to a relevant category page to shop, each with a clear goal and user navigation.

The second part to making it easy to donate online is creating either a responsive or mobile site, with a donation form that’s simple to use on mobile, as well. Anyone with big thumbs knows the frustration of wanting to buy something or donate online, but giving up because it’s so difficult. As more and more people switch to smart phones and expect to be able to do everything from book a dinner reservation to a flight on them, you want to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity because of poor functionality.

Step #2: Collect Website Visitors’ Information Right Away

Once you have potential donors on your site, you want to make sure that whether they donate or not during that visit, you have an opportunity to nurture them further with your cause. That’s why it’s so critical you capture at least their email, but preferably more information like first name, last name, zip code, and organization or company name. While anything is better than nothing, smart forms are preferable because they are able to capture more detailed data from your visitors over time. For example, if you are using a smart form and someone has already filled in the first and last name, those questions can be replaced by, “What’s your number one concern when choosing a nonprofit to give to?” or “Approximately how much did you donate to nonprofits last year?” This is invaluable data for your fundraising team when locating a hot lead, or for marketing to further understand what motivates someone to donate to an organization’s cause.

Step #3 : Tell Compelling Stories Around Your Cause

Besides personalizing your messages with information you’ve gathered from the forms, you should also have a content strategy. Since many people give to organizations like Susan G. Komen or the American Red Cross because of an emotional connection, telling compelling stories is another essential component to show how your organization’s efforts are touching lives and reaching goals. The stories can come from employees, donors who agree to participate, and

other people who are touched by your cause and could inspire others to contribute as well. Multimedia like videos and photos or slideshows can be great here to show the emotions behind the stories and evoke similar emotions in potential donors watching or viewing them.

Step #4: Get Social

Since nonprofits are generally about a cause, they’re also about creating a sense of community. This makes social media a natural fit for them. Share your stories, photos, and videos on social media outlets relevant to your brand where your target demographic tends to be and, if done well, watch the word about your cause spread fast. Social media, just like nonprofit storytelling, favors strong images so be sure to put your best photos forward and post them not just on your wall but also in groups, and tag relevant people. Join the conversation. This doesn’t have to mean (and shouldn’t mean) living online; instead, think of it as marrying offline and online. If you’re at an event, for example, post a picture on Instagram and Facebook with a supporter and tag it. That personalized attention might even motivate the people you do that with to become brand advocates for your organization, so they share your posts and tell more people about your great cause.

Step #5: Nurture Your Current and Potential Donors

Email marketing is one of the best ways to nurture your donors, because almost everyone uses email. It’s also easy to personalize, segment, and analyze. While you’re working to build relationships with your connections via email, just remember you should always provide value to your subscribers in each email that you send, not just a hard ask for a donation. That’s a quick way to get unsubscribes. Instead, try including some of your compelling stories, offering useful information about your cause and within the industry, adding a few FYIs about the organization, including relevant and upcoming events, and lastly, incorporating donation asks where appropriate and with discretion. Tapping into your email or customer relationship management (CRM) data here can go a long way, such as segmenting by the amount given in previous years, events donated to previously, demographic information, and more.

Well there you have it. Now all you have to do is come up with a great event idea, implement the five steps outlined above, then sit back, relax, and watch your organization exceed it’s 2014 online fundraising goals. Good luck!

Feeling overwhelmed? We understand! Click here to contact us for a complimentary 30 minute consultation to see how we can help boost your online fundraising efforts for 2014 and beyond.

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