June 9, 2014

Follow Your Donors to Leading Technology

Leading your nonprofit to success means being nimble and having the ability to quickly respond to your supporters.  With online giving on the rise, it behooves nonprofit leadership to focus on embracing technologies for more effective fundraising.

So how do you create a user experience that will motivate donors to take it a step further than just a $5 donation and a goodbye? How do you engage them so they will champion your cause and ultimately spread your message to their friends and family? It’s not as hard as you think. There are a few key strategies and technologies to embrace in order take your fundraising campaigns to the next level.

Donors are busy—You need to be in their pocket

Your donors are mobile, and so your website has to be easy for them to access from wherever they are. Maybe you’re a small theater company, and a thrilled patron pulls out their phone in the lobby at intermission to make a donation right then and there. Or perhaps someone waiting at an airport hears a news item about a flood and wants to donate to victims’ relief. Donations are often made for emotional reasons, so you have to be right there in your donors’ pockets while they’re in the mood. Make sure you make mobile giving easy.

Listen more—Know why your donor gets up in the morning

Do you really take the time to get to know your donors? You should. If you stop and listen, you will learn more about their passions and what drives them. Ask open-ended questions and get them talking. Have you thought about asking for feedback? Find out why they did (or didn’t) donate to your last fundraising campaign. Ask why they care about your organization. The more you understand, the better job you can do to match your campaign’s content or “ask” to what your supporters care most about. Relationships are key when raising money.

Use graphics to get attention

NP Engage, a great source of information for anyone engaged in nonprofit work, shows us an example of a fundraising page for Charity: Water. The image below catches your eye, showing a glass of fresh clean water next to a glass of dirty water. The “donate now” button on the page is a contrasting bright blue color. This visual cue that shows what the donation will do is much more persuasive than any number of words could possibly be.

Charity: Water
Charity: Water 

Build your community—Use social media to convey your message

The rise of social media has turned marketing into a two-way conversation. You have to reach out to your donors in whatever online habitat they like to hang out in—and then ask them questions, listen to what they have to say, and generally just tune in to how their lives are going. While they’re reading your latest email newsletter or checking out the cool photos you just posted on Facebook and Twitter, donors will also see your “Donate” link that’s always right there.

Be sure to say thank you

It is often overlooked and one of the most basic rules—say thank you. This is key! Donors want to know that they are making a difference. They are the ones that truly believe they can help drive change in this world. So help them feel special. Be sure to thank them for their gift.  And if you can, go the extra mile to let them know exactly how their gift made an impact. Did it buy 15 backpacks so underprivileged kids can go to school? Did it feed five hungry children? Communication builds trust, and trust builds repeat donors. Donors want to feel a part of something important and if appreciated, will be very loyal supporters.

Use technology—the right technology 

If you work in the nonprofit industry, you can’t help but notice that online donations are growing at double digits annually. You need to get your slice of that pie. But keeping up with the fast pace of innovation isn’t an easy task.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy talked to six nonprofit groups that receive more than half their online donations from donors on a regular monthly or yearly schedule. These groups said that the way to get repeat donations is simple: make it easy for donors to give.  Don’t require donors to re-enter their information each time they give.  This is particularly important on mobile devices.  Be sure you offer your most loyal donors an easy, secure 1-click way to donate.

When looking at donation tools, there are three key areas to consider:

  1. Donor Experience: With donation drop-off at 85 percent, you’re looking for a solution that doesn’t get in the way of any donation—regardless of the device a donor is using. Ideally, you don’t want to ask your donors to create a username and password to manage an account.
  2. Data Security: This is the holy grail of 1-click donations. To reap the benefits of easy, 1-click donations, your technology provider needs to securely store user credit card information—which instantly ups the possibility of being a breach target. And quite often, that information is protected by usernames and passwords—files that are easily stolen and decrypted. Look for a solution that has expertise with data security to truly get a secure 1-click solution.
  3. Ease of Integration and Overall Flexibility: How hard is the integration? Will it work with the systems you have—CRM, Website, Email?  Is the 1-click donations solution portable? The speed of innovation is breathtaking, and you need to ensure that you have the flexibility to use the best solutions across all your initiatives. The ideal 1-click solution operates independently of, yet integrated into, your CRM and website.

The nonprofit world has entered the ecommerce marketplace. With modern technology providing the advancements needed to communicate better and solicit donations more seamlessly, connecting with your donors and raising the bar on your next fundraising campaign is easier now than it’s ever been.

Elissa Everett
Elissa Everett is the director of marketing at oneID, the company behind QuickDonate. Follow oneID on Twitter.