By Sean Edmunds, COO
Our world has changed and the importance of maintaining a strong digital footprint is increasing by the day. With that in mind, we recommend all nonprofits examine their digital fundraising strategy at least yearly to maximize their potential.
While most organizations have some form of online presence these days, there are a number of cost-effective solutions that can improve your digital fundraising strategy and yield substantial returns both in audience engagement and, more importantly, fundraising capacity.
There is more than what meets the eye when one considers all aspects of a digital fundraising strategy. Most organizations have the basics covered, such as a website and/or social media accounts. While these are vital components to your digital presence, one must not forget the importance of search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing and mobile optimization.
These five key components of a digital fundraising strategy cannot be overlooked. Let’s dive deeper into these components:
1. Streamline Your Organization’s Online Donation Process
Have you ever had a bad online shopping experience? Have you ever had an enjoyable one?
The factors that contributed to your experiences are the same ones you should consider in your online donation process.
How straightforward is your donation process? Does it require the donor to follow a substantial amount of steps? How easy is it to find your donation button? Could you eliminate some of them and simplify your process?
These are all factors to consider and should be revisited at least annually. Leveraging technology can make a substantial difference. Ensuring that your organization has an online system that you would be comfortable with means your donors will likely be comfortable with it too.
2. Improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Simply put, search engine optimization is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic to your organization on various search engines, such as Google or Bing. It also refers to the organic, unpaid visibility that benefits your organization.
This visibility is important as it relates to where your organization ranks on a search engine results page. The more you refine and improve your SEO, the higher you will show up in search engine results.
Google is by far the most popular search engine tool and captures over 90% of all online searches worldwide. In order to be successful, it is critical that your organization is easily found on a wide variety of search queries.
The more effort you place on optimizing your website’s content for search engines, the more exposure your organization will get resulting in more people finding out about your cause.
There are numerous ways that you can improve your organization’s SEO; however, many strategies can be complicated and/or require access to your website’s code. That being said, if your organization has the resources, an SEO expert can definitely assist your organization’s efforts.
For organizations on a shoestring budget, focus on creating digital content that is relevant and easily accessible to your visitors. Ensuring that your content comes from a trustworthy source and communicates expertise on your subject matter can make a substantial difference. Google and other search engines do prioritize high-quality content that answers questions that a visitor may have and shares valuable information effectively.
Backlinks are an important aspect of SEO that every organization should consider. Respected, reputable websites rank higher on search engine results pages as they communicate valuable information effectively. The more authority your organization has on a particular subject matter, the more likely your website will receive “backlinks” (links back to your website).
Simply put, your organization should focus on creating a website experience that satisfies your supporters and increased search engine presence will follow.
3. Leverage Social Media for Fundraising
While it is true that most organizations have a social media presence, many fail to leverage these platforms as part of their fundraising plan.
Recognizing the importance of visuals is critical to the success of leveraging social media as part of a digital fundraising plan.
Studies have shown that visual content such as photographs and videos drive more views and are more likely to be shared. Having a dedicated strategy with this evidence in mind can result in your message reaching a larger audience.
We would recommend that each of your social media accounts have a specific and defined purpose. It is more effective to have one strong account rather than a number of weaker ones. We advise organizations to only maintain accounts that their teams can actively manage or outsource to a digital marketing agency.
While Facebook and Instagram are the most heavily used social media platforms. The platform you choose may vary based on where your audience is most active. For example, a LinkedIn audience will differ from Instagram and your strategy should consider these differences in their approach.
It is also important to consider the Pareto Principle when it comes to digital fundraising. 80% of your fundraising volume will likely come from 20% of your donors. It is important that your social media analytics can track the level of engagement of your audience to find potential donors and segment those donors accordingly.
4. Reach Donors through Email Marketing
When implemented tastefully, email marketing is the best way to reach your donors and subscribers directly. In this day and age, it is now more important than ever to ensure that your organization has the ability to effectively reach their audience through email.
There are a number of email marketing platforms that your organization can utilize. Regardless of which you choose, it is important that the platform enables you to track metrics such as open rates and click-through rates. Your organization should strive that their content has the highest open rate and click-through rate possible. Further to this, your platform should allow for audience segmentation based on client behaviour.
The more personalized you can make your audience feel, the more effective you will be at gaining their attention. Studies have shown a direct correlation between increased personalization and higher open rates. Strategies such as incorporating mail merge techniques and the recipient’s name in the subject title can be simple changes that can result in substantially increased engagement.
Further to tracking and improving your open and click-through rates, it is important that your organization incorporates a diversified content strategy. We would recommend that you incorporate not only a monthly newsletter, but also blog posts about events that you are involved in within your community.
5. Target Donations Through Mobile Channels
Did you know that just over 52% of all web traffic in 2019 was generated on mobile devices? As smartphones have proliferated, one must always consider how their digital content is viewed on mobile devices.
Further to this, Google changed its algorithm to a “mobile-first index” meaning websites that are not optimized for mobile devices will appear lower in search results than sites that are.
With these facts in mind, it is important to ensure that your organization’s content management system is optimized for the mobile experience. Frustrating mobile experiences will negatively impact your fundraising efforts and your organization should prioritize reducing these frictions and increasing your potential for online donations.
If your organization is not fully taking advantage of digital fundraising, you are not alone! Demand for guidance in this area has grown tremendously over recent years.
On This Spot has the expertise and capabilities to help your organization develop a solid understanding of digital fundraising best practices. We can help you develop your online presence, reach wider audiences, and maximize your fundraising efforts.
We hope you reach out to learn more about our services and how we can work together to help your organization reach your goals.