The new year is here and online giving continues to rise. This new year is the perfect time to step up your online fundraising skills.

I don’t know if this is true for you, but there are so many times when I look at the stats in reports like the 2018 Trends in Global Giving Report and forget that these numbers represent real people.

What I mean is that when it says that 54% of your donors prefer to give online with a credit or debit card, it should be more to us than a social stat we’re tracking.

This statistic shows us the preferred way our donors wish to live out their generosity.

Successful online fundraising doesn’t begin with the organizational goal of increasing funding. It begins with a philosophical, more altruistic goal:

Raise money online because it’s how your donors want it done.

It’s about your donors. It’s about serving them in the way they want to be served.

If tomorrow they all decided to start paying you in bitcoin, then bitcoin it should be. If it goes to bags full of pennies from their piggy banks, then optimize for that.

Optimizing your online fundraising certainly benefits your nonprofit and raises more money for your cause. But as you read through all the good stuff in this blog about improving your online fundraising, keep this in mind: improving your online fundraising is one of the best ways you can show “donor love.”

And let’s not forget that your mission demands that you improve your online fundraising efforts.

The desire to improve, innovate, and optimize isn’t anchored to the bottom line on the balance sheet.

It’s anchored to the bottom line of impact.

How much impact did we make possible for our donors this year as compared to last year?

That’s why a new year presents a great opportunity to improve your online fundraising.

Your cause matters, so it deserves more. One small tweak can improve donor response and win you more friends and partners.

Here are three improvements you can implement to make 2019 your best year yet.

1. Set and pursue online fundraising goals  

I’m sure you have fundraising goals, but do you have online fundraising goals?

Setting online fundraising goals is the first step to positioning yourself for online fundraising growth. In essence, this is all about creating a culture of optimization, so optimize for more than money.

If you set goals for all the metrics below, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll increase your online revenue. This is the path to higher online revenue.

  • Traffic – use Google analytics for this.
  • Conversion rate – divide the total number of donors or potential donors by the number of those who took a desired action.
  • Average gift – divide total donation revenue by the number of gifts.
  • Donor retention use your CMS or donor database to evaluate this.

Optimization is not chasing after the latest tool or fad. It’s about gathering data throughout the donor journey, using data insights to reach valid conclusions, and making things better as a result.

In other words: Set Goals. Measure. Interpret. Optimize.

The Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue Maximization by NextAfter is a great place to start when determining your goals for the new year. You might not be a Back to the Future fan, but the way they break down online fundraising is one of the best I know.

It really starts with knowing where you are at and asking searching questions like:

  • What is our average gift size?
  • What’s our conversion rate?
  • What kind of traffic are we getting to our pages?  

The answers to these questions will give you get an idea of where you are. And once you know where you’re at you can start to move to where you want to be.

2. Use attribution to understand your donors

Marketing attribution sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

Using attribution tags like ”motivation code” or “appeal code”, you can see the route by which your donor came to know about your campaign and why they gave to your organization.

Most donors do not come straight to a site and make a donation.

They come from somewhere. Something brought them there, and hopefully, it was through a traffic-generating campaign you did through email or social media!

It’s important to trace the various channels responsible for igniting that initial desire to give.

  • Did they click a Facebook ad?
  • Did they respond to an email newsletter?
  • Did they click on a banner ad?
  • Did they react to a tweet?

Attribution shows you where your messages are connecting best.

Knowing how those different channels are performing would be a big win for your organization. It helps pinpoint areas of improvement and gives you a better understanding of how well (or poorly) you are connecting with your audience and donors on different channels.

Also, attribution helps with budgeting.

Rather than share limited funds equally across different channels, you focus on the winners. Those channels bring in the most generous friends who are touched by what you do.

3. Be bold and overcome disempowering fear

If ever you’ve felt uncomfortable asking for money, you are not alone.

Many organizations feel bad about asking for money and see it as a dirty part of their job. That’s not how it’s supposed to be.

If you are truly passionate about what you are doing, then you need to realize that there are hundreds or even thousands of like-minded people out there.

They share your passion. They see your dream.

They want to help. All they are waiting for is for you to make the first move.

You are inviting others to be a part of something bigger. Something they couldn’t do on their own. This is an awesome privilege!

This coming year, review the decisions you’ve made in your fundraising to see if there are any you’ve made out of fear.

For example, you might have decided not to send monthly receipts to your monthly givers because you’re afraid they’ll cancel their gift once they realize they’re still giving.   

Some might call this smart, but this really is fear.

The reality is that you can use monthly receipts as a way to remind your donors of the impact their faithful giving is making. It’s a chance to remind them of how grateful you are.

Monthly gratitude and reporting on their impact can lead to growth, meaningful relationships, and significant work.

Think boldly. Ask boldly.

You’ve got a thrilling and life-changing mission. Share it with confidence and exuberance. You’ll be surprised just how many would be willing to partner with you financially to make it happen.

New Year, New Strategies, New Friends

Focus on the benefits of trying some of these new approaches can bring. Imagine how a simple change can accelerate your mission. Picture the greater impact you could make in people’s lives.

Dare to make that change. We will be with you all the way.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.