As a consultant to nonprofits who are looking to create social change in this world, I spend a lot of time reading through nonprofits' online fundraising appeals. Even though many organizations have improved integrating their online and offline fundraising work, too many “goofs” are slipping through the cracks that can drastically impact response rates. These silly goofs can cost your organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations over time.
Before you send out your next fundraising appeal, print out my top six fundraising goof checklist, stick it up on the wall where you can see it, and refer back to it before you hit the send button.
1. The first call to donate money with a hyperlink is buried five or six paragraphs in the fundraising appeal.
Why is this a mistake? People skim emails - they don’t read them word for word and are looking for cues to take an action early on in the email. Yes context is very important so it’s best to frame your story quickly before you ask people to donate money.
2. Underlining sentences that have a call to action with no hyperlinks to donate.
Why is this a mistake? Every time I see this goof, it breaks my heart because a supporter was prompted to donate money, but since the text was not hyperlinked, the donor could not make a donation. Your organization potentially lost thousands and thousands of dollars in a fundraising appeal because of this silly goof.
3. Hyperlinks don’t work.
Why is this a mistake? This is self-explanatory. If your donate links are broken in your fundraising appeal, your donors can’t contribute money. Even worse, your donors can loose faith in your organization because it does not seem like you have your act together. Also, broken donation links can really frustrate your donors. As nonprofits it’s important that we focus on keeping our donors happy.
4. Not including a donate link in a fundraising message that your President or Executive Director re-forwarded to your online donors as a reminder to donate money.
Why is this a mistake? If your donor is going to take the time to read or re-read an online fundraising appeal that was re-forwarded to them by the President or the Executive Director of the organization, you MUST put in a link to donate when you ask people to contribute money. Again, you are missing out on raising significant money by not including a simple link to donate money.
5. Sending several fundraising appeals over the course of a week.
Why is this a mistake? It’s important that you respect and cultivate your donors properly, which means spacing out your online fundraising appeals enough so that your donor’s don’t feel like you are treating them like an ATM machine. Of course you should be asking your donors for money, but that needs to be balanced with other engagements like inviting them to special events, sharing a great campaign success that they took action on, etc. Cultivating donors is about building solid relationships. And like any relationship people need to feel appreciated and not taken advantage of.
6. Putting the worlds weight on your donor’s shoulders with large and unattainable goals.
Why this is a mistake. Nonprofits need to be realistic about the goals that they share with donors and the impact donors can expect to see with their donations. Asking your donors to help end world hunger by donating $50 is not going to end world hunger and your donors know it. This strategy can actually make donors feel powerless and say to themselves “What can I do about ending world hunger? I’m just one person.” Focus on breaking down long-term goals into small chunks so donors feel inspired to join you in achieving shared goals and supporting them financially.