Like crime, procrastination doesn’t pay. Literally.
For many organizations nearly half of online fundraising revenue comes in during the month of December. But in actuality it takes months of preparation – building and stewarding an online community, inspiring donors, cultivating them, testing in advance of year-end and analyzing your metrics -- to really make the most of your year-end fundraising opportunities.
The good news is you’ve got several months – four to be exact – to get your fundraising house in order. That’s why Eric Rardin and I co-wrote this Overachiever’s Guide and presented a Care2 webinar on this very topic last Thursday – so we could share nine steps you can implement now to help you raise more money in December.
Your Mother gave you sage advice that holds doubly true with your donors: Always say your hellos and thank-yous.
While welcoming new donors and thanking them seems obvious, in my reviews across non-profit organizations, a majority do not welcome and thank their donors enough. And an un-thanked donor won’t be a donor for long.
- Does your auto responder donation thank you look like a tax receipt? If so, you are missing an opportunity to re-inspire a donor who just gave to you.
- Do you send your donors non-ask updates on your work including success stories they made possible? If not, you are missing a stewardship opportunity that is relatively cheap and easy to do online.
- When you get a large online gift do you ever pick up the phone or send a handwritten note to thank the donor? This is a huge opportunity to bond that high-dollar donor to your cause for the long run.
- When was the last time you made a gift to your organization? I highly recommend you find out first-hand how you are treating your donors in advance of year-end. What would you want to change about the experience? Most likely, your donors want to change that too.
Another huge opportunity you have now is to optimize your website including your donate forms in advance of year-end. With would-be donor drop-out rates approaching 98% in some cases, your forms are a crucial part of your year-end success.
- Take your site for test drive. Recruit three test subjects who are not familiar with your site. Sit down with them, lend them your credit card, and ask them to make a gift to your organization. Get them to verbalize their thoughts. How did they find the form from their web browser? What link did they click? Did they leave the form for some reason? Did something frustrate them?
- Chances are, three good tests will surface as much as 80-90% of the major usability speed bumps. Once you know them, fix them.
- Do some A/B split testing. Change one element on your donate form and keep it live for a few weeks or months (depending on your traffic). See the Guide for specific form testing ideas including intro copy, images, and layout.
- Develop a “why donate” or case for giving page. For every would-be donor who is prepared to consummate the deal online, you have a dozen or more donor-visitors who are researching a potential gift. Make a good case for why they should give to you including third-party endorsements, simple pie charts of where your money comes from and where it goes, and make it easy to find off of your form.
In addition to testing (or in lieu of it due to low traffic), comply with best practices.
- Suppress global navigation on your forms.
- Do not ask for any information you don’t need.
- Provide your mailing address, phone number and email address on your form.
- Do not require would-be donors to create an account.
Again, see the Guide for more best practices you can implement.
In the Overachiever’s Guide, you’ll also learn why and how you should:
- Make your website an email collection and donation magnet.
- Review your traffic.
- Get to know your supporters.
- Tell your stories.
We also share concrete examples of these tactics in practice.
You don’t have to be a Type A personality nor a Virgo to put these steps into action now. Download the Guide.
Alia McKee is a principal of Sea Change Strategies, a boutique strategic marketing and fundraising group specializing in high intensity partnerships with remarkable causes.