We talk to a lot of fundraisers here at WeDidIt, and one of the most common concerns they have when it comes to online fundraising is driving traffic to donation pages. The shift to online donations has forced many fundraisers to play the role of a marketer, which requires a very different skill set.
Crowdfunding and online fundraising is a game of averages. Statistically, less than 2% of a page’s visitors will actually make a donation. If you get 100,000 visitors to your page, then you don’t have a problem.
But if you’re only getting a few hundred people a month visiting your donation page…
The more eyes you can get on your page (and more importantly, the more eyes that are interested in your cause), the better. Suddenly those averages start to work in your favor and you can create a dependable revenue stream.
People Don’t Donate Like They Shop
There’s a common misconception among fundraisers new to online giving that people browse and shop around for nonprofits to donate to, and once they find your donation page, they’ll give a gift.
Sadly, that’s not how it works. Most people don’t wake up in the morning thinking “Hmmm, I’m going to find a new nonprofit to give to today!”
“Hmmm, I sure do feel like being altruistic this morning!”
Slow Your Roll
Most seasoned fundraisers would tell you that asking for a major gift on the first meeting is usually not the best approach. You need to build some rapport first.
Your online donors are no different.
First time visitors to your page aren’t ready to commit to you just yet; they’re still learning about the need and gaining your trust. In the online marketing world, this is called the “Awareness Stage.” They know there’s a problem, but they’re only gathering information about it.
Your job is to educate them and build trust so that you can move them to making a donation.
The Problem of Leaky Pages
“Leaky pages” are pages on your website where visitors come and go without engaging with you in any meaningful way. They might read the content, but then they’re gone, never to be heard from again.
Anonymous page visitors are no good to you! If you want to build a relationship, you’ll need multiple touchpoints with these visitors.
And websites that capture anonymous visitors and turn them into known contacts are the ones that build influence.
The problem is, that’s a whole lot easier said than done. In fact, if you master that, there are a whole lot of companies out there who will pay you handsomely for your skills.
There are some best practices however that will get you moving towards capturing one-time visitors and turning them into supporters.
All Hail The Email!
If you’re new to online fundraising, here’s commandment #1: The email address is your end-all, be-all.
Securing a visitor’s email address (along with their permission to contact them) is just as valuable as a donation. That’s because email is far and away the #1 driver of traffic to crowdfunding pages.
That big green chunk is email. It accounts for 56% of crowdfunding page traffic, on average.
Collecting an email address allows you to stay in contact with an individual across a long period of time. They have multiple opportunities to engage with your organization, learn about what you do, volunteer, sign a petition, and yes, donate.
So how do you get a visitor’s email address?
Step 1: Give Them a Reason to Visit (and Return)
Like I said before, people aren’t randomly browsing the internet for causes to donate to. So if that’s your strategy for attracting visitors to your site, you’re not going to have much success.
You should be using your organization’s blog for more than just a newsletter. Use that space to tell stories about your cause, highlight supporters, and educate on your mission.
It’s important that you do this regularly as well. You tune into your favorite TV show every week, but you only watch your favorite movie once a year. Why? Because there’s nothing new about that movie. The TV show is providing you something new every week. You don’t want to miss that!
Step 2: Catch Their Attention
Once you’ve got them on your site, even if your content is compelling, there’s no guarantee that they’ll fill out a subscription form.
That’s why you have to make it EASY. And I mean painfully easy.
When landing on a website, most people don’t pay much attention to the areas around the content they’re reading. So that polite form off to the side that encourages them to subscribe to your blog isn’t going to cut it.
Trust me, I’m speaking from experience here.
Here on the WeDidIt Blog, we used to utilize a simple, one-step email collection form on the right side of the blog.
And it didn’t collect anything.
So we implemented something a bit more attention-grabbing.
You might have noticed as you read this post, a box asking you to subscribe slid up from the bottom of the page on the right. It’s hard to ignore this form! Now we can be sure that engaged readers actually see our subscription form.
Is this more obtrusive? Sure. But anyone who’s not interested can simply click the “x” and continue on. And the ability to capture a subscriber far outweighs any issues it might bring.
And have I got great news for you! The same plugin we use is actually a free plugin offered by a company called SumoMe. It’s simple to install and set up in just a few minutes.
By the way, you should totally subscribe.
Step 3: Sweeten the Deal
So maybe your visitors need some convincing before they go and give you permission to contact them. Hey, who doesn’t?
Sweeten the deal for them! Back in the day, nonprofits used to give out return address labels to encourage donations. All you need to do is think of the 21st century version of that and offer it to anyone who subscribes!
Here on the WeDidIt Blog, we offer these beautiful, super handy, time-saving donor thank you email cards. All it cost us was a little bit of time to make, and we can offer them to an infinite number of people.
The key is to make your offer something that your target donor would value. Maybe that’s a volunteering guide, awareness poster templates, or even just a playlist of songs centering around a theme related to your mission. Get creative!
Donation Pages Are Just One Piece of a Healthy Fundraising Machine
It’s tempting for someone like me, a hardcore proponent of technology and applying it to all facets of our lives, to say that online donations are the future of nonprofit funding and you need to throw all your resources at this donation stream. But that would be disingenuous.
The truth of the matter is, your website’s donation page is just one part of what should be a multi-channel donation system. This includes major gifts, corporate sponsorship, events, commerce, grants, government funding, and more. But if you give your online fundraising machine the attention it needs, it can play a vital role in your development strategy.