Online fundraising is not just a new buzzword… No, digital fundraising should now be a fundamental part of your organization’s strategy to boost results and support your programs. In reality, online donations accounted for 7% of total online giving in 2016. You may think this number is insignificant. But you might want to think twice and get on the online giving wagon now. Focusing on increasing your online fundraising efforts requires a few simple hacks to build donor trust, donor acquisition and donor retention. That’s why we compiled 7 starter hacks used by top nonprofit organizations to boost their online donations.
1. Welcome your donors in a safe environment
A secure landing page or secure fundraising website is still often overlooked to this day. With recent headlines of massive worldwide hacker attacks, online security is all the more important. The creation of great tools and services in the web development space enables nonprofit organizations to quickly build an online presence. Which is great! Unfortunately, this has a few side effects. One of the most serious is that webmasters often overlook security, or sometimes don’t quite understand the importance of securing a landing page or website.
If you are using CMS (Content Management Systems) such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla!, make sure you update your plugins regularly and download plugins from known resources, backup your website, use a website firewall and choose strong passwords (long, complex and unique). You can also use a Nonprofit Content Management System specifically built around security.
Make sure you acquire an SSL Certificate (Secure Sockets Layer). SSL will not solve all your security issues, but it will greatly minimize the risk of common “Man in the Middle Attacks”; it prevents hackers from being able to intercept traffic. SSL encrypts communications between the website server and browser. SSL is especially important for fundraising websites, donation pages and any web page that accepts submissions with sensitive user data or Personally Identifiable Information (PII). The SSL certificate protects your donor’s information in transit, which in turn protects your organization from the fines that come along with being found noncompliant with PCI DSS. An easy solution is to choose a donation software and an online fundraising company that helps you make sure security is covered. Funderdog makes sure sensitive data never hits your servers by partnering with industry leaders such as Stripe and PayPal.
Welcoming your donors in a secure environment will make a difference. Look at it this way. We’ve seen a boom in mobile and online e-commerce purchases for the past 3 years. This did not happen magically or overnight. E-commerce websites and for-profit companies spent years increasing security and finding ways to reassure customers they were about to make a safe purchase online. Your donors are those same customers! Younger and older generations of donors alike are going to check if your website has a little green padlock and/or a security seal (Norton, VeriSign, Comodo…) before ever attempting to donate to your organization.
2. Mobile, mobile, mobile!
We cannot repeat it enough: your nonprofit website, landing pages and donor forms need to work on mobile devices. With a staggering 17% of online donations made through mobile in 2016, it is more important than ever for your nonprofit website to be mobile-friendly. More than 60% of American adults own a smartphone and almost 60% of all website traffic comes from mobile devices. Mobile usage continues to grow year after year.
More prospect donors and active donors will view your website from a mobile device… or try. If their user experience is frustrating, they’ll likely have a lower opinion of your nonprofit brand. Remember, making things easy is the key to creating more traction. Moreover, according to Google, responsive websites will perform better in search results because they provide a better user experience than sites that are not mobile friendly.
Don’t force your donors to zoom in on your donation forms… they simply won’t have the patience. In other words, they won’t donate online, or worse, won’t donate at all. If redesigning your website is not a top priority at the moment, at least use a mobile responsive landing page or mobile optimized donation widget that will automatically fit the viewer’s screen when the donor hits your donate button. If you want both, well, you are in the right place.
3. Set clear expectations
This goes hand in hand with your website’s architecture. It is crucial to guide your prospective donor through a simple yet clear conversion funnel. Whether you wish to increase the number of newsletter signups or increase the number of donations, clear donor paths should be planned and properly executed. Expecting your donors to give without showing them how won’t cut it. A simple tip: set clear expectations!
It is important to put the emphasis on your fundraising goals. At the end of the day, you make the world a better place thanks to the generous support of your donors, right? So, don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t shy away from swapping in a big donation button in your website header or seamlessly incorporating asks inside other important pages (programs, projects, about us…).
Once a prospective donor clicks on donate, what happens next?
This step is often overlooked as well. Are your donors redirected to an empty, unbranded, disorienting checkout page or are they prompted to a powerfully branded conversion page? This brings us to our next point: the need for branding.
4. Branding and donor trust
Hurray! Your visitor clicked on your donate button… now what? Too many times we see a completely unbranded, bland and more than likely poor-performing donation checkout page. We hear a lot of excuses: branding takes time, branding is difficult… So start simple. Use a donation software you can easily embed anywhere on your website for example. This way you stay consistent with your overall website branding and structure. Use compelling images. A picture tells a story just as well as, if not better than, a text blurb.
“A picture is worth a thousand words” – Cliche? Indeed. But true nevertheless!
Branding your donation page is crucial to create brand trust. You need to convey the spirit of your organization and the sense your donors are in the right place and are making the right decision to donate to your cause. State how a donation will help you make an impact on their behalf. Remember to set clear expectations.
5. Simplify the donor experience
Don’t over-crowd your online donation page. There is a logical underlying reason for this: the more distractions, the more distracted the viewer. Your donation page should be the last element of your online conversion funnel.
Here is a successful, yet simple online conversion funnel:
- Create awareness around your cause
- Build interest in your service
- Create the desire to support your service
- Ask for an action
When a donor or prospective donor hits donate, they should be at step #4. Meaning, this is not the place to distract a donor, but rather to confirm their choice to donate to your organization. We suggest to get rid of the menu tab in your website header, sidebars and any other calls to action (like newsletter sign-up forms, menu tabs, etc.), while featuring your logo, colors, donation call to action and mission statement. You can chose to build the page directly on your website (which may require some CSS knowledge to hide certain elements) or you can use a landing page builder with pre-configured templates.
Simplicity can also lie in the choice of the donation software itself. You always want to test out different fields and donation levels. But keep one thing in mind: less is more. People are more and more turned off when asked to fill numerous fields or when they have to scroll too much. Donors are trying to donate, not fill out a survey!
Funderdog came up with a lean donation software that keeps data collection simple:
You can easily control the fields, set donation levels, ask for recurring donations or one time donations. Funderdog partners with Stripe and PayPal to offer more ways for donors to give to your organization.
6. Be transparent
Transparency is a major component in donor trust. Donors want to know how and where their money is being used. Make sure to share your accreditation and certificates directly on your donation page (Charity Watch, Nobel Prize, GuideStar Exchange, ECFA). Remind your donors you are an accredited 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
7. Thank your donors
Now, this seems like a no-brainer. But believe it or not, we’ve seen a lot of nonprofits out there that forgot to thank their donors after a donation was completed. A thank you email is also a great place to create a branded experience and provide your donors with further touch-points to keep them in the loop and encourage them to donate to you again. It’s also human psychology. You want to reassure your donors their gift is in the right hands and is working towards the goals and programs that motivated them to donate in the first place. To give you an example, Funderdog developed a simple flow to brand your thank you emails.
These are just a few simple hacks to boost your online donations. Funderdog would be happy to help your organization put these tips into practice. Contact Funderdog today!