Online Fundraising Ideas (7 Strategies & 63% More Donations)
I’m going to share 7 insanely easy online fundraising ideas.
First I’ll show you how the Environmental Defense Fund used their email list in a creative way to increase online donations by 63%.
Then I’ll break down how you can apply 6 additional online fundraising strategies to grow your revenues TODAY.
1. Custom Facebook audiences drive fundraising success
Result: 63% more donations, 55% higher conversion rate and a 2X ROI.
Custom Facebook audiences are an effective way to leverage your existing email lists.
They work by matching your database with Facebook, creating a custom audience.
This means you can target Facebook ads to appear on the feeds of people who have donated to your nonprofit.
The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) used this strategy during Giving Tuesday to maximize their year-end online fundraising.
By segmenting their lists and creating highly targeted Facebook Ads EDF:
- Grew their revenues by 63%
- Had a 55% increased conversion rate
- Saw a 2X ROI on ad spending
Instead of uploading their entire list, EDF first segmented it into 2 groups:
- Giving History
- Environmental Activists
Each group was then further segmented into 3 separate audiences:
Giving history divided donors into:
- Current donors: Members who have donated in the past year
- Lapsed donors: Members who have donated, but not in the last year
- Sustainers: Members who make monthly donations
Environmental activists divided donors into audiences based on time spent as an activist:
- 0-6 month activist
- 6-12 month activist
- 12+ month activist
Once the list was segmented, a custom Facebook audience was created for each group.
Next, EDF created ad copy that was relevant to each audience and their personal relationship with the nonprofit.
By using Facebook’s donation button with a $3-for-$1 match offer, EDF was able to further maximize donations.
Here’s how you can quickly create a custom Facebook audience for your online fundraising ideas:
First, head over to your Facebook ad manager and select the “Audiences” tab.
Then click the “Create Audience” drop-down and select “Customer File.”
Next, choose either a .CSV file or MailChimp list to import.
When you provide your list, Facebook takes that information and compares it against their database using up to 15 identifiers.
These identifiers then match your information to donor Facebook profiles.
You can also expand your reach by creating lookalike audiences, who are people that share common qualities with your target audience.
For example, individuals who have donated to a nonprofit in the last 12 months.
When you’re ready to create a Facebook Ad just select your new custom audience to target.
2. Use remarking for fundraising campaigns on Facebook
Result: 119%-203% higher conversion rates.
Content is still a very important factor in educating, informing, and building member/donor trust.
47% of donors say they consume 3-5 pieces of content prior to engaging with a sales/development person.
But getting your content in front of your target audience can be difficult.
This is where remarketing comes into play.
Remarketing helps you reach people who have previously visited your website or used your app.
It gives you the opportunity to customize follow-up messages, provides a different form of engagement, as well as an additional avenue to promote your content in front of an audience already familiar with your work.
The marketing process looks something like this:
The research supporting remarketing is compelling:
- 70% of website visitors who are remarketed to are more like to convert on your website
- 72% of online donors are likely to abandon their shopping cart prior to completing a purchase
- Without remarketing, only 8% will return to complete the purchase
- With remarketing, 26% return and complete the checkout process
In some cases, organizations saw between 119% and 203% increase in overall conversions.
To test the theory, I recently ran a remarketing campaign on Facebook promoting my article, “How To Get More Online Donations With Content Marketing.”
I ran the ad between March 12, 2017 and March 16, 2017 with a daily budget of $50.00.
The results were SHOCKING:
- 15,227 people reached over 4 days
- 522 clicks to my site at a cost of $0.29 per click
- Average click-through rate (CTR) of 3.4%
When compared to a non-remarketed ad I ran for my article, “5 Biggest Nonprofit Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them),” my conversions (clicks) increased by 10X.
From an economic standpoint, the potential ROI is amazing.
It would only take 15 out of the 522 clicks (a 2.9% conversion rate) to donate $10.00 each to recoup the cost of the ad.
Not bad when you consider the average online donation is $104.00.
Even better, setting up a remarketing campaign on Facebook is extremely simple:
First, you’ll need to set up a tracking code on your site.
This tiny bit of code makes it possible to retarget your offer, brand, or other online fundraising ideas to people who have previously visited your site.
It works by adding a cookie to the web browser of the visitor.
These cookies are assigned unique identifiers to each visitor to ensure relevant ads are being shown.
When an opportunity comes to show your ad in front of a visitor, the chosen platform (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) will look for the cookie to place it in front of the appropriate audience.
To add this code you’ll need access to place the script in the header or footer tags of your website.
If you have a developer they can set it up in as little as 10 minutes.
Here are a few guides for popular sites to get your tracking codes set up:
- Google Remarketing Tag
- Facebook Pixel
- Pinterest Tag
- Twitter Conversion Tracking
- LinkedIn conversion tracking
Next, you’ll want to create a new custom Facebook audience targeting recent visitors to your site.
Under the Audiences tab in your Facebook ad manager, click the drop-down on “Create Audience” and select Custom Audience -> Website Traffic.
Here you’ll be given the option to create an audience based on people who have visited your site.
You can take this targeting one step further by only selecting people who have visited specific URLs.
For example, your homepage, donation page, or other online fundraising pages:
Once you have all of the criteria set you can create the audience to be used in your next Facebook ad.
3. Use live chat to engage with donors online
Result: 45% increased conversion rate.
If there’s one thing in marketing that will never go out of style, it’s a personalized experience.
Imagine the impact of your online fundraisers if your development team could instantly answer questions or assist in the donation process.
Here is why live chats are so effective at maximizing donations:
- It replaces phone or email communication with real-time support directly on the website
- Validates the entire experience and improves credibility of the organization
- Your development team can “upsell” by promoting fundraising events or membership only benefits
- Provides an opportunity to contact every person browsing your site
- Real-time visitor tracking data and analytic reporting tools
Furthermore, a report conducted by emarketer.com found that 63% of visitors are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.
When it comes to choosing a live chat platform for your nonprofit there really isn’t a bad choice.
Each offers unique customization and reporting capabilities while being able to support multiple users.
The cost is manageable with most plan levels starting between $10.00 and $39.99 per month.
Best of all it’s easy to get started, with the set up only taking 10-15 minutes.
I would recommend testing out some of the feature sets to maximize the success of your fundraising ideas.
For example, you could test a chat window that automatically pops up after a set time offering to answer visitor questions.
The thought is:
If a visitor is willing to spend 1 – 2 minutes on your site, then they might be interested in chatting with a representative from your organization to learn more.
From a branding perspective, you can set your own logo and colors, as well as create team member avatars.
The reporting tools can also be helpful by saving user history to show frequency of visits, time spent on site, which pages they visit, and how they landed on your website.
By requiring visitors to fill out an opt-in form to chat, you’ve also created a new method of growing your email list.
Bottom line, live chats are inexpensive, easy to set up, and can drive donations to your site.
4. Experiment with exit-intent popup windows
Result: 100%-600% increase in email opt-ins.
Popup windows are annoying, intrusive, and create an overall bad end user experience.
Nothing is worse than when you’re halfway through an article and this happens:
You’re probably wondering:
“If popups might cause potential donors to leave my site, then why should I use them?”
Because they are extremely effective at converting visitors into leads.
Unlike normal popups that appear after a set time, exit-intent popups only trigger when the user attempts to leave the page.
Here’s how one website uses an exit-intent popup to increase email subscriptions by 100%:
ManyBooks, which provides free online eBooks, wanted to implement a solution that would grow their email list.
What better way to do that then to use an exit-intent popup on their blog.
The popup was so successful for ManyBooks that they were able to grow their email list to over 150,000 subscribers:
The idea behind using an exit-intent vs a traditional popup window is that visitors who are going to leave your website will leave anyways.
According to industry research, 10%-15% of lost visitors can be “saved” by using exit-intent popups.
Providing another opportunity to engage with potential donors and increase the success of your fundraising ideas.
Still not convinced?
WPbeginners saw a 600% increase in email subscribers using exit-intent popups.
You might be thinking:
“I don’t want to upset my current donors or members with popups.”
WPbeginners had the same concerns, initially.
After conducting a split test to track bounce rates and visitor complaints, they proved exit-intent popups had no negative impact on their audience.
In terms of lead generation platforms, for WordPress sites, Thrive Leads is the go-to plugin.
It’s affordable at $19.00 per month and has TONS of customization options.
You can even connect the lead captures directly to a mailing list provider, like MailChimp.
For A/B split testing, the dashboard provides impression and click-through metrics to maximize conversion.
If you’re not using WordPress, then I’d recommend you check out any of these platforms:
One last point about exit-intent:
Sometimes graying out the “no” button or having a catchy headline can dramatically increase conversion rates.
5. Make online donations buttons relevant, visible and accessible
Result: 2X email opt-ins and 71% increased conversions.
Placing a static donation button or email opt-in form on every page of your website has become standard practice for nonprofits.
But why are they so effective?
Because people are persuaded to take action by engaging with different types of information.
For example, a visitor may be more likely to donate when they see scientific evidence or data.
On Paws Chicago’s homepage they use data to show how their organization has made an impact on their cause since their founding:
Others might be swayed by testimonials, case studies, or even interactive content.
Regardless of what triggers a visitor to take action, having a visible donation button, email opt-in form or relevant CTA is crucial to increasing conversions.
ONE uses a floating sidebar to capture more email opt-ins.
They also change the sidebar CTA to be relevant to the topic of their posts:
Which then takes visitors to a simple landing page to capture lead information for their online fundraising campaigns:
What are the results?
Nearly a 2X increase in email opt-ins
Another way to increase conversions by up to 71% is to include an email opt-in within the text of your posts.
Conservation International makes a point to include an email opt-in within the body of every blog post.
Depending on the topic of the post the headline and call to action changes:
6. Optimize your online donation pages
Result: 77% higher conversion rate.
Landing page optimization isn’t a new concept, but it can be a little misunderstood.
Just take a look at how landing pages are performing across all industries:
- The average conversion rate for a landing page is 2.35%
- The top 25% convert at 5.31%
- And only the top 10% see above an 11% conversion:
So why is there such a large gap in conversions between average landing pages and the top 10%?
They’re optimized for user experience.
Making even the slightest changes can have a BIG impact, increasing conversion rates by 77%.
If you’re promoting a webinar, conference, donation page, or other fundraising ideas then check out the perfect landing page for nonprofits & associations:
One of my favorite optimization tactics used on this page is the social sign in.
This feature has been known to increase conversions by 10% – 60% because it only requires one action (a click) to login or create an account.
In other words, you’re providing visitors with an easier option for signing in.
As always, A/B test your landing pages for every fundraising campaign or you could miss out on boosting your unique fundraising ideas by 162%.
When it comes to A/B testing your landing pages I would suggest looking into any of these platforms:
7. Ask if donors are willing to give monthly
Result: 500% increase in online donations.
Donors that set up recurring donations give 42% more annually, compared to one-time donations.
When you do the math, that impact can be even greater:
The average online one-time gift across sectors is $104.00, while the average online monthly gift is $52.00.
That’s a 500% increase over a one-time gift, assuming the donor gives monthly for an entire year.
The Human Rights Campaign promotes a monthly gift by default on their donation page (and for good reason):
These pre-selected fields make a big difference, increasing conversions on monthly donations by up to 35%.
While monthly donations are extremely helpful for preserving cash flow, it’s important to keep track of donor retention rates.
One way to ensure donors continue to give monthly is by using a lead nurturing email marketing strategy.
These campaigns send a series of automated email workflows based on conditioned triggers; typically promoting content to push visitors down a buyer/donor journey:
Just how effective are these lead nurturing emails?
- Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads
- Lead nurturing emails get between 4 and 10 times the response rate
- On average, 15% to 20% of the “not yet ready to purchase” leads converted into revenue
By continuing to offer content to donors, you’re reminding them of why they invested in your organization.
Now I’ve got a question for you… Are you ready to give one of these online fundraising ideas a shot?
Taking advantage of even one of these online fundraising ideas can make a huge impact for your nonprofit.
Skyrocketing your donations, membership sign-ups, and awareness of your brand.
Let us know which fundraising strategy you plan on using by leaving a comment down below!