Tag: digital fundraising

The online donation form is now a teenager. The late 1990s saw the rise of ecommerce and along with it the first few philanthropic forms to accept donations on the internet. From those first few clicks to the latest multichannel campaign, online giving has continued to grow and change the nonprofit sector.

While online fundraising represents less than 10% of fundraising overall, it continues to grow every year. According to The Blackbaud Index, online giving grew over 13% on a year-over-year basis through November 2013. We also know that online giving has become the first response channel of choice for donors when disasters and other episodic events take place.

Online giving has also been changing while all this growth has been happening. Back in the old days, you had one donation form and it only came in black or white. Now you have dynamic donation forms, mobile friendly forms, peer-to-peer fundraising, gift catalogs, recurring giving, crowd funding, and something that was just developed 30 seconds ago.

All this change means one thing: more change. That’s why Sarah Janczak and David Neff from PwC, Miriam Kagan with Kimbia, and I wanted to do a session at NTC 2014 all about what’s new in online fundraising. We also thought having a creative title would help: This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Online Fundraising. Here are just some of the topics we plan to cover during the 90 minute session.

Where Are We Now

We’ll take a look at the latest trends and statistics in online giving. Where is the growth happening? What’s working? What’s not working? The goal is to set a baseline for how most online giving happens today. We’ll show meaningful and practical data from across the nonprofit sector.

For example, we know today that most online giving is through traditional donation forms. But peer-to-peer fundraising now accounts for a larger percentage and grows every year. Mobile and social are also transforming the online giving experience.

Where Are We Going

What does the future hold for online giving? And we’re not talking about futuristic predictions or crystal ball sorcery. We’ll show real examples of how different nonprofit organizations are changing how they fundraise online. And in the spirit of learning from past failures, we’ll take a look at experiments that didn’t work. The focus will be on new and innovative approaches to raise money online in different ways.

Online giving challenges, crowdfunding projects, giving days, and mud runs are adding a new twist to old school fundraising programs. Nonprofits are experimenting with these new approaches and finding out what works and what doesn’t.

How Do We Get There

This is going to take some change. Some things aren’t going to work. The best practices of today will change tomorrow. We’ll close out the session by talking about practical ways to iterate your way to the future. Real change doesn’t happen overnight, but there are steps nonprofits can take to accelerate the process.

Some assembly is required when it comes to these new online fundraising programs. The good news is that a lot of lessons have been learned that other nonprofits can benefit from. Having some guidance will help you to drive change at your own organization.

We believe that session attendees will get a lot of value from this session. Bring your questions and curiosity. We’ll bring real data, real examples, and real ways to move into the future successfully.

According to Blackbaud’s Online Marketing Benchmark Study for Nonprofits, online giving is on the rise–but only represents a fraction of total giving. Nonprofits have an unprecedented opportunity to reach more donors and increase revenue through online marketing channels, including search, video, and social media.

Search Mojo designed this infographic to illustrate in an easy-to-follow format the different online marketing options available for nonprofits, as well as the process for applying for a Google Grant.

Get the infographic The State of Online Giving: Online Marketing Opportunities for Nonprofits, to learn about programs available to nonprofits to help them get more revenue for less cost.

Search Mojo has worked with a number of nonprofits to help them achieve their marketing goals, and specifically we’ve helped them to take advantage of the marketing programs Google has available specifically for nonprofits. From our experience, we know that many nonprofit marketers struggle with a lack of resources – both in budget and staff. We wanted to provide a resource that would not only help them navigate through Google’s nonprofit programs (such as Google Grants and YouTube for Nonprofits), but also learn about other low-cost ways they can spread the word online.

Last year I wrote a post for NTEN about four social media fundraising tools. This year I’m going to take a vertical rather than horizontal approach, and identify several important types of tools you’ll want to consider when raising money online – either through your website or on a social network.

Shareable visual content like this Bearsharktopus relates to several important facets of social media fundraising: Is it easy to share on social networks? Does it link back to a page with a donation form or other action? Can you track who likes Bearsharktopi in your CRM?

Website Donation Form

I think humble donation forms are the bedrock of online fundraising: You can steer people to them from elsewhere on your website, from email, from QR codes, and of course from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networks. These forms can be great lead generation tools at the same time they are bringing in necessary revenue. While it seems like donation forms were “solved” years ago when our sector turned its attention to social fundraising and social media, many organizations are still struggling. Some causes who have invested in building their own forms find them difficult and expensive to maintain. I can see why: simple forms are harder than they seem. You should…

  • maintain a high level of security for PCI compliance
  • ensure mobile friendliness and easy social network sharing
  • provide flexibility for varying needs of campaigns and programs
  • measure, tweak, and improve conversion rates by altering images, copy, and other attributes of the form

The alternative used to be directing your supporters off-site, to PayPal.com, Authorize.net, or other secure but not as flexible (or branded) donation flows. My favorite tools these days embrace the best of both worlds.

Let someone else worry about HTML5, standards compliance, scalability, and usability while still enjoying the benefits of hosting the form at your own domain. “Embedded” forms usually have easy to use form building kits too. Kimbia and FormStack are good examples, and both are starting to integrate with large CRM platforms like SalesForce.com. Blackbaud, Salsa Labs, Fundly, and other nonprofit tradeshow regulars offer embedded forms, too.

Help The Social Web

Everything you put on the web can help – or hurt – your overall results. Does your website CMS (content management system) automatically create the proper meta tags for the big social networks? When someone shares a URL on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, what image, blurb, and text is included automatically? When someone pins a great image from your website, where do clicks on it end up?

If you view the HTML in a socially shareable webpage, you’ll see a set of meta tags. A good CMS (perhaps with a few plugins) should allow you to set up defaults for this kind of sharing, while allowing you to override titles, primary images, and other shared attributes as needed.

Your supporters will share the page you want them to, but they will also share pages buried deep in your site that you haven’t thought about in months. When they do, make it easy and effective.

These four “open graph” tags make Facebook and Twitter happy. The “title” tag is very important (it’s what shows up as the tab name in your browser). The “image_src” one helps your image show up in LinkedIn. Along with the description and keywords tags, they all help with search engine optimization too. (If you use these, be sure to insert your own information!)

Social CRM

This is another foundation of online fundraising. Consider adding new fields for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, or other social network URLs that are important in your community of supporters to your CRM (constituent relationship management) system.

This way, social data you collect can inform your direct mail, email, volunteering, advocacy, and other efforts. You might be surprised to learn that your funders, board members, and partners are on social media too. There’s lots of talk about the ROI of social media. Adding social data to your supporter database is a very important step in making sure you can increase and sustain the return on your invesment for years to come.

The simplest example of this is figuring out which people hate your paper mailings and want to hear more tailored messages from you online instead. Save money on your mailings and have happier supporters, too.

Getting this data out of Facebook and other networks can be a challenge, though. If appropriate, allow your users to share this information with you in other channels or with apps. Consider using apps that allow you to retain ownership over the data. SmallAct provides a lightweight social CRM platform called Thrive, and also allows organizations to mass update their contacts with social data. Blackbaud recently launched a “social score” tool, similar to Klout. Many other data sources are more focused on for-profit data and sales needs, but it’s worth checking out Rapleaf, Rapportive, their competitors.

Platform-specific Donation Apps

For most organizations, the Facebook tab donation form is still one of the only options out there. Twitter offers advertising, sponsored Tweets, and sponsored #hashtags. Few organizations are asking for donations directly through LinkedIn (as it’s a much better place to find skilled volunteers or build your network, IMHO). Pinterest and Tumblr are great places to share visual content, and a best practice is to make sure that content is linked back to a donation page or another place where supporters can take action.

While quite useful, tabs ain’t what they used to be. Tab engagement dropped more than 50% after the shift to Timeline. Remember, most supporters will interact with your content in their feeds, and won’t visit your page frequently. Expect low numbers from your tab apps, compared with your posts.

I’ve also noticed that lots of organizations still have Causes.com’s tab on their Facebook page. However, Causes.com has deprecated this tab and simply redirect clicks to causes.com. That said, once your page reaches a certain level of activity, tabs are still a worthwhile investment. It’s easy enough to add a donation form, a mailing list signup form, and perhaps one or two other action oriented tabs, and let them do their thing.

Remove the default Likes app, since that information is available elsewhere. Assuming you’re sharing great visual content, keep the Photos app. (You don’t have a choice anyway – that’s Facebook’s way of telling you how important visual content is.)

Nailed It?

If you are totally kicking butt at all of the above, and you see how your website, your other online communities, and your other channels are all flowing harmoniously together to drive donations and other actions, then…. good for you!

I caution against building custom native (iPhone, Android, Facebook timeline) apps unless all of the above is aces for your organization AND you’ve run the numbers and are really sure your community is large enough or active enough to make a custom app worthwhile.

If you’re still tempted, I then suggest doing a simpler version as a proof of concept, or finding a similar app that you can borrow or customize.

In House Vs. Off The Shelf Addendum: If you’ve found a app or donation form vendor but you are concerned about an extra percentage being taken from the donation, make sure the math is on your side. Let’s say the vendor is taking P percent above the typical 3% credit card fees. Let’s also say you’ve spent D dollars (be sure to include technical staff time) building your own forms or apps in the past year. That means you need to raise at least 100 * D / P = T total dollars from your forms to justify keeping them in house. If you’ve spent $2,500 building forms last year and a new vendor who can do it for you adds 3%, you should go with the vendor unless you raise more than $83,333 per year (subtract any of the vendor’s fixed costs like monthly fees).