Three things non-profits can do to improve online fundraising results – and NOT have to spend money on advertising/media:
Analytics & Optimization, Communicating Units of Impact,
and Mobile Optimization/Responsive Design
A recent survey of about 400 nonprofits by the Nonprofit Technology Network found that half of the organizations surveyed are tracking online marketing data (e.g., number of website visitors, facebook comments, and email opens) and fewer than 20 percent use this data for budget/program decision-making.
Recently, the world’s largest conservation non-profit demonstrated the financial benefits of using data collection/analysis to improve fundraising results. Using web analytics to redesign its website, The Nature Conservancy increased online donations by 15 percent from April to September 2012. Website analytics and the testing of landing pages, donation pages, and emails are steps your non-profit should take regularly to ensure insight into ever-changing online donor trends. This is your organization’s lowest hanging fruit because you are focusing on improving your donor experience (maximizing donation potential) with those that are already finding their way to your website (expressing an interest in your cause).
Looking for a place to start? DataKind is an organization with a mission to help you get informed by matching data scientists with nonprofits. Tools like Optimizely (testing tool) or Google Analytics (analytics and A/B testing tool) are great resources for any organization looking to get started on their own. Lastly, here’s a quick guide to optimizing your website using analytics.
Demonstrating results and communicating them to your donors effectively can improve your bottom line. On the most recent podcast of CauseTalk Radio, Cone Communications’ Craig Bida shared that results should be communicated in the form of a “unit of impact” or how your organization can uniquely affect change (e.g., # of oysters saved, # of classrooms established, # of hungry people fed). Once you compile a list of impact units be sure to get input from your donors. Begin communicating the most meaningful unit of impact by tracking your progress against it and regularly reporting back to donors.
Bida compliments Connect A Million Minds who has a ticker on their website keeping count of the number of people they have connected in real-time. Keep in mind (ha, no pun intended!) that donors don’t expect you to be perfect — people mostly want to know how you are doing (good or bad) and being honest can go a long way with building their trust (and a long-term relationship). A great example of this is Charity: Water who publishes failures and successes and has set new standards for communicating to donors where exactly their dollar is going (in their case, building wells).
If your donors aren’t able to read your emails, visit your website, or donate online with their mobile device then this is should be your TOP marketing priority in 2013. With mobile internet users set to surpass desktop internet users in the US by 2015, 35% of email being viewed on mobile devices, and increased tablet popularity, it is important for companies to provide a great user experience for all their visitors no matter what device they’re on.
A mobile strategy should incorporate responsive design (see Beginners Guide to Responsive Web Design to learn more), some device-specific optimization (i.e., Gmail app on Android) because responsive design isn’t supported everywhere, and a few simple steps to optimize emails for mobile viewing.
Success: Preparation Meets Opportunity
For non-profits and online fundraisers, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. The good news is that prioritizing and a little prep can be fruitful. According to GuideStar, American’s donate $200 billion dollars to non-profits annually, and each year, are willing to shift up to $15 billion dollars of donations to high-performing non-profits.
As we start fresh this year, the opportunity is ripe and these three areas of online fundraising will ensure you are prepped for a successful 2013.