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September 24, 2012

Online Fundraising – getting the most out of your web and email fundraising

Online Fundraising – getting the most out of your web and email fundraising

September 24, 2012

by Tim Montague, M.S., CFRE

Raising money online is something that everyone wants to do better. If you want to get better at online fundraising (or get in the game), here are seven ways to improve your online fundraising efforts including web and email.

Web and email marketing are the one tool in your marketing and fundraising kit that work for you 24/7. And you already pay for them, so why not get the biggest ROI? In general, my guidelines boil down to three factors: a) make it easy; b) make it quick; and c) make it friendly (quick and easy!). Think about ways you can minimize the number of clicks and speed the overall process.

  1. Make your ‘donate now’ button highly visible and easy to find. It doesn’t have be flashing in neon but it has to be visible (an unusual color is a good idea) and it has to be easily found from anywhere on your site. I prefer a button that stands alone (not in the tabbed navigation). See www.unitedway.org for a good example of this.
  2. Put the giving form right on the landing page. You want to minimize the number of clicks a donor has to make. The first click will be on your ‘donate now’ button or link. The second click should be on the ‘submit’ button for the donor to complete the process of making a gift. You can put some text on this landing page, but keep it short and simple. The form should be visible to the user upon landing on the page (not buried three screens down).
  3. Give your donor several ways to give. Allow them to pay by credit/debit card, check, phone, EFT (electronic funds transfer) and PayPal.
  4. Allow for recurring gifts. Most gift processing service providers will allow you to make this an option. One time gifts are great, but recurring gifts add up quickly and can make a larger commitment seem palatable to the donor. For example, a donor might be willing to give you a $50 one time donation. If they give you a $15/mo. recurring gift, that is the same as $150 per year.
  5. Put the link to your giving page on all pages and in the same spot. For some reason, people think it should only go on the home page. Or on the giving page. You have to make it obvious on all pages. Think of your website as a funnel. The bigger the funnel, the more gifts you will receive. A better funnel is important too – that’s where content and design come in. More on that in future posts.
  6. Put the donate now button at the top of the page. You can put it other places on the page, but you have to put it at the top too! It’s amazing how many organizations burry their donate button or link in some hard to find corner (as if they were embarrassed to be asking). If you don’t ask, you will not receive.
  7. Thank your donor immediately. Good stewardship is the key to repeat donors. Most gift processing tools allow for an immediate thank you receipt to be sent. This tells the donor that you received their gift and appreciate it. The rule of thumb is thank your donor seven times prior to the next ask. If the gift is significant for your organization (the threshold will vary from organization to organization), then also thank them in writing and by phone.

Remember, make it quick and easy and you’ll have greater success with your online and email fundraising. As for content development, think about AIDA – attention, interest, desire, and action! Until next time, growth for the greater good!
–Tim Montague, CFRE

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