Five Big-Budget Digital Strategies to Use with Your Small- to Mid-Sized Program

Date Published

These days, there are many new and exciting digital technologies. As online giving continues to grow, it’s easy for marketers to fall into the trap of chasing the “shiny objects” while attempting to capture a bigger piece of the pie. Many see these new platforms and want to try them without first considering a strategy for how it will lead to generating revenue.

Unfortunately, too many digital campaigns are a bit unclear on how they will go about achieving their goals. So, some marketers decide to just wing it. Then they are surprised when the tactic lets them down.

Before you try out a particular digital tactic, you should think like a potential donor. How would I find the organization within this channel? Why would I want to give to the organization? What does my gift go toward helping/achieving? Without a sound strategy in place, your marketing tactics have a greater likelihood of performing marginally.

Here are five strategic considerations to maximize your marketing dollar.

1. Don’t rely on your donors finding you online. Be found!
Many research studies have shown that the process of learning about an organization typically begins with search. In fact, an analysis of search query data within Google of the word “donation” shows that people start thinking about donating well in advance of the holiday season — with a significant peak in September and October.

Driving Donations Digitally

At least on the web, there appears to be a clear missed opportunity for those organizations that wait until November or December for their end-of-year fundraising drives.

Google provides what amounts to free money in the form of its Ad Grants program. Up to $10,000 a month in free advertising dollars are available to qualifying NPOs. There couldn’t be more of a reason to start with a search engine marketing program.

2. Bring your organization’s story to life with video.
Despite search being one of the key starting points for researching an organization, your efforts do not need to be limited to Google or Bing. YouTube is technically the second largest search engine with 3 billion searches per month. Studies have shown that videos are a key influencer for driving consideration for donations. Even better, studies have shown that 39% of donors reported looking up an organization within 24 hours of seeing a video-based ad. (This rivals email, which leads the pack at a 40% engagement rate.) If you have a video asset, you can leverage YouTube’s Donation Cards to drive donations directly within your videos.

3. Leverage social media to drive donations.
Social media has the power to raise awareness and inspire action. As it pertains to messaging, the key is to provide something of value to your audience so that they will want to share it. The more that your audience knows of your mission, the greater likelihood that they will want to support you. Within social media channels, you should focus on organically growing your audience — don’t just focus on driving gifts.

As it pertains to media, within Facebook, you have several available options beyond simply targeting your audience geographically or demographically. You can upload the email addresses or phone numbers of your current or lapsed donors into the platform and send specific messaging to them. You can also leverage the platform to retarget individuals who come to your site but do not donate.

Facebook cares about giving within the platform. It now has a few tools that can help to make receiving a donation easier. One of the platform’s newest tools is its “Fundraisers” tool, which allows you to receive donations without actually leaving the platform.

4. Provide a clear destination to receive donations.
Ok, so you have driven your audience to your website or landing page. But are you making it easy for potential donors to give to you? According to a recent report, 65% of existing sites require three more clicks in order to make a donation, and 84% aren’t optimized for mobile platforms. This is a clear problem. No matter how targeted your campaign is across various marketing channels, you need to make sure that you are not putting up unnecessary hurdles that your audience must contend with in order to give to you. Simplicity is key.

Once you have driven people to your website via your marketing efforts, it should be obvious on how to “donate now” — and it should ideally take one click to reach your donation page.

Make sure that there are multiple opportunities to donate. While many web-based prospects rely on their contact forms, there should be multiple opportunities to donate beyond simply filling in form fields. For example, do you have a phone number on your page? Can donors mail in a check?

Your organization must allow the ability to make donations for individual’s on-the-go via their smartphones and tablets. Not including considerations for a responsive/adaptive contact form ensures that you are turning away a sizable audience. Plus, Google now penalizes websites that are not optimized for mobile within its search engine rankings.

While you may leverage third-party tools for your donation pages, these pages should be minimally branded with your logo. Within these pages, you should also look to minimize the number of required form fields you have within your page. (Do you really need to have a mailing address listed as a required field, if someone is donating via credit card online? Why is “phone number” a required field?) While having more fields may help you, studies have shown that too many fields practically guarantees a reduction in those who will fill in your form.

5. Provide value after donors provide gifts.
Once you receive a gift from a donor, you should utilize this critical time to send an immediate thank-you message. Tell your audience what you will do with their gift. Provide them with progress updates along the way, in the form of social media messaging, emails, and/or website updates. Remember, it’s far easier to keep a donor motivated to support you than it is to locate another donor to fill the void of one whom you lost!

Bottom line, potential donors use the web to locate worthy causes. In order for them to donate to you make sure they can first find your organization. Once this occurs, make sure they like you and ultimately believe in you. You will then have a much greater likelihood that they will support you.

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