This blog is courtesy of our integrated email partner, Constant Contact
With new channels — like email, social, mobile, and web — nonprofits have never had more opportunities to stay in touch with the people who matter most to their organization.
But even with all the tools available, you may feel that your organization still has room for improvement when it comes to generating donations online.
Don’t panic. A few small adjustments in your strategy can make a big difference in how your contacts perceive you and how likely they are to contribute.
To keep things simple, here are 5 steps you can take to improve your online fundraising results:
Step 1: Understand the channels that matter
For a lot of organizations, the first step toward collecting donations online is to set up a donation form on their website.
That’s a great start! But you also need to make sure you’re using the right channels of communication to get your donation page in front of the right people.
With email, for example, you’re able to reach your audience in the place they go every day — their inbox. With customizable email templates, you can create professional-looking email newsletters and announcements with information about your organization and how prospective donors can get involved.
With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, you’re able to communicate directly with people who support your cause, and leverage the power of social word-of-mouth to attract new donors to your organization.
Both email and social media work best when you understand which devices your audience is using to read your messages or donate to your cause.
Step 2: Focus on accessibility
Once you start using email and social media to get your audience’s attention, you need to make sure you’re making it as easy as possible for them to get involved.
If you’re asking for donations online, are you also offering convenient online payment methods?
If you’re sending an email announcing your latest fundraiser, are you providing all of the necessary information someone would need to get involved?
Or, if you’re linking to an online donation form, are you offering an experience that functions across multiple devices?
Making your campaigns accessible will expand the size of your audience and provide more opportunities to reach your fundraising goals.
Step 3: Keep it simple
When asking for money, your first impulse might be to pull out all the stops in the hopes of winning people over.
But when it comes to fundraising, the simpler you can be the better.
For example, when you reach out to your contacts for donations through an email, make sure everything in that email relates back to your goal. Keep your paragraphs short and have a clear call to action.
Your donation process should also be incredibly streamlined. The more steps there are, the less likely it is someone will make the effort to complete their donation.
Step 4: Be specific
It makes sense that people are more willing to give a gift if they know exactly where their money is going.
Get specific by laying out different donation amounts and listing exactly what each donation will be able to finance. The more your audience knows, the more comfortable they’ll be with helping you.
You also should be very clear about timing. Create a sense of urgency and you’ll be rewarded with a much better response.
Step 5: Recognize that a donation is not a finish line; it’s just the starting point
Many organizations make the mistake of seeing a donation as an end goal instead of the beginning of a long-lasting relationship.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to nurture donor relationships is to simply ask them to stay connected.
Ask new donors to sign up for your email list, or encourage email contacts to connect with your organization on social media.
If you treat your donors like they’re VIPs of your organization, they’ll start to think of themselves that way as well. When you feel the timing is right, you can reach out to donors again and encourage them to take an even bigger jump by being part of your monthly gift program.
Written by Miranda Paquet for Constant Contact.
Are you leaving money on the table? Are you looking for another untapped revenue stream? Matching gifts may be the answer. On April 23, Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation, was our featured Expert Webcast speaker. Adam offered strategies for expanding matching gifts made by for-profit companies.
Here are few facts from the presentation:
- While there are many different matching programs in existence, the most common is a 1:1 match.
- The average donation is $25-$100, but can be as high as $1,000-$20,000.
- While some companies still require paper submission, the application process for matching gifts has shifted more towards electronic.
- Matching gifts may result from the employee’s notification to his/her HR department or representative.
- Billions of dollars are left on the table if employees are unaware of the nonprofit’s matching gift program or forget to request the match. Therefore, it is highly recommended that nonprofits market matching gifts throughout all communications, including a dedicated website and online donation forms.
- A matching gift tool placed on the donation form simplifies the application process. With the new DPConnect service, DonorPerfect has partnered with Double the Donation so that WebLink forms include a searchable database. The donor can easily find out if his/her employer has a matching gift program in place.
- Constant reminders will increase the likelihood that employees will request that a match be made.
- Your organization should have a designated resource committed to increasing the matching gift revenue stream. This person should make sure that it is adequately marketed and tracked in order to determine the success of the program.
Here is the full Expert Webcast, and below is a link to a PDF copy of the slides:
Slide Show PDF: Maximize Donations with Employee Matching Gifts
The Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute have partnered with leading donor management systems (DonorPerfect was a founding member), to help provide data on a major problem facing nonprofits: retaining donors. It’s called the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, and they have been collecting data since 2006. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved greatly over the years: for every 100 donors gained, nonprofits are losing 102. This infographic reveals and explains some key findings from the most recent report, and below that we’ll share a way to help you improve your donor retention:
So, what’s to be done? As the infographic noted, starting a monthly giving program that encourages donors to donate small amounts of money each month can greatly improve donor retention. Not only that, it can lead to more money in total than just a single gift, even though the monthly gifts are smaller. Plus, studies have shown that recurring gift donors are more likely to increase gift size over time, still contribute larger one time gifts, and include these nonprofits in their planned giving.
DonorPerfect provides tools to make monthly giving easy to do. Its called EZ-EFT, and it enables you to securely retain donor payment information (credit/debit cards, bank accounts), and schedule the dates when the donation will be made. The donor’s record in DonorPerfect will be automatically updated, and receipts can be sent depending on the donor’s wishes.
Two Ways to Learn How to Start a Monthly Giving Program
- A few weeks ago, Erica Waasdorp, from Adirectsolution.com presented an Expert Webcast on how to start a monthly giving program. Click here to watch.
- Near the beginning of May, we’re going have monthly giving starter kit available for you to download for free! It takes you step by step through Erica’s program, from why you’d want to do it, how to get board approval, to the 5 steps you’ll need to get started. We’ll even provide templates for you to use in your communication with donors!
Armed with these tools and info, you’ll be able to reverse the donor retention numbers for your nonprofit. This means more money raised and less money spent – a win/win for your mission!
Written by Adam Weinger, President of Double the Donation
Some fundraising efforts, like cold calling, demand the spotlight, while others toil away in the periphery. For many nonprofits, one of the neglected efforts is matching gifts, which could be the star of your fundraising efforts if you would just show them the light of day. Matching gifts double donations, so that $25 gifts turn into $50 gifts, $100 doubles into $200, and $1,000 morphs into one happy nonprofit.
Matching gifts don’t need to be your go-to player, but they deserve to be on the playing field. In fact, an estimated $6-$10 billion in matching gift funds go unclaimed every year.
Knowing that matching gifts matter is one thing and spreading the words is quite another. For many people, the problem is that they’re not aware that their employer offers a matching gift program. You want to encourage people to seek out matching gifts by getting the word out in as many ways as possible. Here we’ll focus on four of the most effective promotional methods.
Not many folks swoon with nostalgia for the days of the pony express. Although, email might be too fast, as many folks get overwhelmed with hundreds of messages per day. This means that any matching gift information that you include in an email needs to stand out like a burning tree in a forest.
You say please, you receive your donation, and then you say thank you. Gratefulness conveys that each and every donation matters, and, once donors know that their dollars really are being put to good use, you can inform donors that they can help even more by taking five minutes to submit matching gift requests.
Here’s an acknowledgement email that goes out from Piedmont Healthcare whenever an individual makes an online donation:
An acknowledgement letter presents the opportunity to ask for matching gifts, but the core of the message is gratefulness, so begin with a thank you. Then, as Piedmont does, you can jump into a call for matching gifts. Piedmont includes a text link and a clickable graphic to send donors to a page where they can search to discover if their employer offers matching gifts.
Here’s a sample acknowledgement email from the Carter Burden Center (a DonorPerfect client) which employs a similar strategy:
Links work best when they’re eye-catching graphics, such as this red double the donation button. However, the Carter Burden Center also includes a link, in blue. If you don’t have graphics, links work fine. The idea is to send people to a page where they can search for corporate giving programs and easily navigate to the proper submission forms or additional information on matching gifts.
Dedicating newsletter space to matching gifts can go a long way. Ideally, you allocate one newsletter to being entirely about matching gifts, but you can spread awareness for corporate giving in almost any email. The National Kidney Foundation provides a good newsletter template:
The content is split between a recent event and matching gifts. You don’t need to dedicate an entire or even half of a newsletter to matching gifts, but the occasional message dedicated to matching gifts will go a long way towards increasing those doubled donations.
The Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA) demonstrates how to implement a dedicated matching gift newsletter:
This newsletter is solely dedicated to matching gifts, and that focus is the best strategy. However, including a graphic, such as the blue button above, in any email is an easy way to pitch matching gifts in messages that are about entirely different topics. Links work, too, but nothing grabs the eye quite like a good graphic.
#2: Social Media
Do you have to be on Facebook to be regarded as a real human being? No, but millions of people use social media every day, and it’s a great place to promote matching gifts. Not every social network will be of significant value, so our focus is on the two main players.
Your messages can include pictures and videos and have no character limits. The CMTA shows how to implement text and a graphic together:
The text provides detailed information with a link to a dedicated matching gift page. Notice the reaction from CMTA’s fans? 20+ likes and an individual stating that her company matches donations.
The graphic grabs your attention and makes the donor think about matching gifts in the fun context of ice cream. If you can make matching gifts feel like ice cream then you’re doing something very right.
140-characters might sound like a limitation, but it’s plenty of space to provide an authoritative ask for matching gifts, such as the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation (HNF) does in this tweet:
There’s no space to explain details about matching gifts and their benefits, but there’s plenty of room for a quick call to action and a link to a dedicated matching gift page.
#3: Dedicated Matching Gift Page
Matching gift pages are webpages that:
- Educate donors about matching gifts
- Make it simple for donors to search and discover if their employer offers such a program.
A simple matching gift page provides text that explains the program, such as on the Trinity School’s dedicated matching gift page:
A matching gift page should inform donors. You can include:
- Definition of matching gifts
- Benefits of matching gifts
- Matching gift statistics
- Links to relevant websites
- How much money matching gifts raised for your nonprofit last year
- Companies who donated last year
Trinity explains matching gifts and provides a guide explaining how donors can ask their human resources departments for additional matching gift information. Ultimately, submitting matching gifts is a small burden for the donor, so, whatever form your dedicated page takes, the core of what the page does is to inform donors about the matching gift process and how corporate giving benefits the organization.
Another strategy is to list out companies with employee giving programs so that donors can discover right then and there if their employer will match their donations. The Children’s Restoration Network’s dedicated page uses a list:
While lists effectively convey information, they must be updated and can be cumbersome to read. On a budget, lists work great, but if you have financial flexibility, and want to make matching gifts as easy as possible for donors, then a plugin is the way to go. Here’s a sample dedicated matching gift page from HNF:
HNF provides a widget for donors to search to discover if their employer has a corporate giving program. The widget is a nice addition, if you can afford a matching gift service, but the basic idea is to create a landing page where donors can find out if their donations can go twice as far.
They incorporate Double the Donation’s matching gift plugin directly into the dedicated matching gift page. This allows donors to access all the information they need to submit a matching gift including company specific:
- Matching gift submission forms
- Employee eligibility
- Links to electronic portals where donors can instantly submit their matching gifts
- Detailed instructions
Below their plugin, Charity Navigator answers common matching gift questions, and that’s the heart of what a matching gift page should do. Let donors know what matching gift programs are, how they benefit your nonprofit, and how people can submit the necessary forms. Anything else is icing on the cake.
#4: In the Donation Process
You don’t need to be a genius to realize that a great time to request matching gifts is while donations are being made. The donation process should include reminders about matching gifts, so that donors know to submit their forms then and there, as opposed to pushing off the task and eventually forgetting.
Opportunities to request matching contributions include the donation page and the confirmation screen. That’s two chances, because everyone deserves more than one.
We see organizations promoting matching gifts on the donation page using a few methods:
- With text saying “Check with your HR Department to see if your company will match your donation”
- With a hyperlink or graphic that says “Click here to learn about companies that match donations and to see if your donation can be doubled”. When a donor clicks on it a new window is opened and they’re taken to the organization’s dedicated matching gift page which has either a list of matching gift companies or Double the Donation’s searchable database.
- Providing a matching gift search box directly on the donation page so donors can access matching gift forms, guidelines, and instructions right there.
On Texas A&M’s Association of Former Students’ donation form they provide a link to their dedicated matching gift page where donors can access additional information on matching gifts.
When you click the matching gift information button…
…you are taken to a matching gift search widget without leaving the page. You don’t need a widget, but it’s a great tool and makes discovering various corporate giving programs a breeze. What’s necessary for your donation page is to include both a reminder and a call to action about matching gifts.
Not all nonprofits want to pay for a matching gift service, and, while such a service maximizes the amount of money raised from employee matching gifts, you can still gain doubled donations through links and urging people to talk to their employers’ human resources departments about matching gifts.
Some donors might miss the matching gift link on your donation page or you may be hesitant to change your donation form. Fortunately, the internet is a forgiving place, and you have a second chance to raise awareness on your confirmation screen.
Here’s a sample confirmation screen from Charity Navigator:
Always begin with a thank you, as you don’t need your mother to remind you that good manners go a long way. In this case, a thank you earns the chance to market matching gifts.
Within DonorPerfect’s WebLink they modified the receipt page to include Double the Donation’s searchable matching gift plugin. Learn more about the integration options.
When included on a confirmation page, a matching gift appeal is a soft urge to increase a donation at the cost of five minutes worth of time. The included widget makes it easy both to search companies and to navigate to the relevant forms.
With the widget, donors can search for companies with employee giving programs directly on the confirmation page.
Once you find your company, you are given links to company program guidelines, submission forms, and detailed instructions. If you can make matching gifts that easy then chances are that you’ll receive more doubled donations.
Increase matching gift awareness through a dedication to presenting the pertinent information across all of your fundraising channels. The process requires time and effort upfront, but you’ll be receiving twice the money on additional donations, so you’re trading a little extra effort for a lot of extra cash.
Learn more about Double the Donation’s integration with DonorPerfect, and check out Adam’s Upcoming Expert Webcast:
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of employee matching gift and volunteer grant tools and services to nonprofits. You can connect with Adam via LinkedIn if you have any questions about Double the Donation or matching gifts in general.
Last week was the AFP International Fundraising conference in Baltimore, MD. Over 3,000 nonprofit professionals gathered for three days of educational workshops and keynote addresses from Whoopi Goldberg, Seth Godin and Isabel Allende.
I attended three sessions while there, and the overriding theme seemed to be that in this changing world, we need to change how we reach out to constituents. Seth Godin said that we fall into tribes. Some traditional examples would be spiritual, community and work tribes, but the number of tribes is expanding furiously (e.g. Star Trek tribes, Red Hat tribes, etc.) We have to speak to tribes in a language they understand. Another session spoke about changing technology and the growth of big data, automation and the cloud. Five years ago, we were leery of online banking and shopping, now we think nothing of it because of its convenience and relative safety. The ability to use technology to automate tasks and dig deep into data will help nonprofits target their messaging to speak more directly to constituents based on their interests. The panelists said a great way to learn more about donors is to send a donor survey where you can ask why they give to you, their household income, if they plan to leave your nonprofit in their will, etc. Plus, you can find age demographics and target that way too. For example, for Boomers, you’ll send direct mail, make individual calls, and visit with them in their homes. For Millennials, they want experiences and to be a part of something, so you’ll set up an event for them so they can be with other Millennials (one of their tribes) and engage via an experience. These are just some of the great ideas I learned, and like other attendees, my goal is to combine these lessons into direct actions nonprofits can take to improve fundraising.
The conference was also a lot of fun. They always have it in distinct locations with lots to see and do after hours. This year it was in Baltimore: a great town that is easily walk-able with terrific food and lots of places to have a good time (I discovered a new casino where I made a for-profit donation – those #%&^*!!) Our friends at DonorSearch invited us to a big shindig aboard the USS Constellation, it was both entertaining and educational (all I can say is it was good to be the captain back then, and not so good to be anyone else).
The night before we had our annual Wine and Cheese reception. It was so great to meet attendees away from the booth in a relaxed setting over a few refreshments. Our own Jon Biedermann, VP of DonorPerfect, gave an 8 minute presentation (“not one second more” as he promised) about some exciting new developments with DonorPerfect, including enhancements to our reporting tools and dashboards, DP Mobile Swipe for payments on the road, and DPConnect, our new marketplace that connects our partner’s fundraising solutions with our nonprofit clients.
As a vendor, we have to spend most of our time at the booth speaking with people interested in learning more about DonorPerfect, or, if they’re a client, learning what’s new. We had lots of fun there too meeting all the attendees and giving away ice cream, popcorn, our world famous lip balms, squishy foam toys, and four TVs! That’s right, we gave away our booth TVs to four lucky attendees drawn from our fishbowl. Congratulations to our winners below!
Juile Blatt from DonorPerfect (Left) and Kimberly Laska, Executive Director of Heritage Humane Society in Williamsburg, VA
Meggan Kerber, Director of Development of Bethany Children’s Home in Womelsdorf, PA
Christopher Knoerlein, Director of Communications and Grants of the The Arc Baltimore in Baltimore, MD
Natalie Diaz, Coordinator, Member Services of ABFE in New York, NY.