After a workshop, conference, webinar, or other online fundraising training event, the most common question that people ask is, “Where do I start growing my online fundraising?” But the answer is rarely as simple as “Start with your donation page” or “Start with your email copy.” The answer always comes back to 3 key online fundraising metrics.
There are 3 online fundraising metrics that are essential to helping nonprofits grow their online revenue. And knowing where you stand with each of these 3 metrics is how you answer the question of “Where do I start growing my online fundraising?”
Over the course of this post, we’re going to look at each of the 3 online fundraising metrics and look at a few key strategies to growing each one.
But first, it’s important to understand why these 3 metrics are so important.
3 Online Fundraising Metrics that Directly Impact Revenue
If we’re being honest, the only online fundraising metric that really matters is revenue.
But just saying “I want to improve my revenue” doesn’t really give you a starting place for how to improve your revenue.
So we have to dig a little deeper.
The natural next question is “What metrics influence revenue?” And when it comes to online fundraising, there are 3 metrics that have a direct impact on your bottom line:
- Website Traffic
- Donation Conversion Rate
- Average Gift Size
Let’s think on it for a moment…
Increasing Revenue Directly
If you get more people to show up to your website, and the same percentage donate to you, and they’re giving the same amount – your revenue goes up!
In the same way, if you don’t change the amount of people coming to your website, but you get a higher percentage of people to donate at the same average amount – your revenue goes up!
And if all you do is get the same donors to give a little bit more – your revenue goes up!
Increasing Revenue Exponentially
Now imagine you got more people to show up to your website, and a higher percentage of them started giving. Your revenue is going to grow like crazy.
And if you were able to get more people, to donate more often, and donate in larger amounts…you won’t even know what to do with all the new revenue you have. Imagine the impact it could have for your cause.
These 3 online fundraising metrics – web traffic, conversion rate, and average gift – should be the driving force behind all of your online fundraising decisions. If your new campaign idea isn’t going to affect one of these fundraising metrics in the long run, is it really worth it?
Online Fundraising Metric #1 – Website Traffic
Let’s take a closer look at website traffic. This is one of the hardest online fundraising metrics for a nonprofit to improve – especially if your traffic is really low to begin with.
Why is it so hard? Because it often takes money and a healthy budget to boost traffic.
But I’m going to share a couple of options that don’t require you to enter a credit card in order to boost your traffic. If you want to spend money, there are a million ad platforms willing to help you out – although I’d recommend that you start with Facebook if you’re looking to acquire donors.
Grow Your Website Traffic Using the Google Ad Grant
The first free way to boost your website traffic is through the Google Ad Grant. In short, Google gives nonprofits $10k worth of free search advertising to spend per month. The problem is that most nonprofits either:
- Don’t know about it
- Don’t know what to do with it
While I certainly don’t have time to break down exactly how to spend your Google Ad Grant, we have a webinar that can give you all the details and a little bit of coaching on the best way to put the Google Ad Grant to work for your organization.
Here’s a little video from Google about how it works:
Grow your Website Traffic by Creating Good Content
You’re probably familiar with the term SEO (search engine optimization). Essentially, this is the practice of improving the content on your website so that it shows up when people search for related topics.
For instance, if you search for Nonprofit Fundraising Optimization, we should be right there at the top. Want to know the secret formula we’ve used to rank at the top for that keyword?
We create good content related to nonprofit fundraising optimization. Plain and simple.
Now, there are a lot of other factors that come into play when Google decides what websites show up in their search results:
- Are you targeting a specific keyword?
- Does that keyword show up in your headline?
- Are people who visit your page spending time there?
But at the core, if you create good content that’s relevant to your cause, you’re going to show up when people search for topics related to your cause.
Looking for some specific strategies to boost your SEO? Check these ideas from Andy Crestodina on how to improve your search rank and get more traffic.
Other Ideas to Grow Web Traffic
There are a seemingly endless number of ways you can allocate your time, budget, and resources to grow your web traffic. Here are a few more to get the wheels turning:
- Direct donors (and potential donors) to your website at events they attend
- Send a postcard to your donors inviting them to watch a video online
- Use Facebook ads to reach potential donors with relevant content
- Use tools like AdRoll to launch re-marketing campaigns
- Email your donors with your latest blog posts, articles, podcasts, etc.
Online Fundraising Metric #2 – Conversion Rate
Once you’ve got the web traffic rolling in, you want to make sure those website visitors are converting into donors.
There are a number of areas you can look at optimizing to improve how many visitors are converting into donors, but we’re just going to cover a couple of key areas.
Make Sure Your Visitors Know Where to Donate
One of the most common mistakes is to bury your “Donate” button in a place where no one can find it. And sometimes, these “Donate” buttons can be hiding in plain sight.
For example, we conducted an experiment with an organization whose “Donate” button sat in the top right corner of their website navigation. That’s a pretty normal spot to find it.
The problem was that it was the same color, size, font, and style as everything else in their website navigation.
So we wondered… “Can we call the donate button out in a contrasting color and get more people to the donation page?”
Here’s how the experiment worked:
Sure enough, making the “Donate” button stand out led to a boost in traffic to the donation page. But more importantly, it led to more donations.
By making it easier for someone to find the donation page, we saw a 189% increase in donations.
Make Sure Your Donation Page Aligns with Your Donor’s Motivation
This strategy is a bit trickier. It’s easy to change the color of a button. But understanding your donor’s motivation is a bit more nuanced.
But there are a few tested and proven ways you can start creating pages that align with your donor’s motivation right away. It all starts by understanding this key idea…
Not all donation pages are the same.
Here’s what I mean…
One major lesson we’ve learned through [nextafter stat=”tests”] experiments is that there are (at least) 3 core types of donation pages. Each one aligns with a different donor motivation.
The 3 types of donation pages are:
- The General Donation Page
- The Campaign Donation Page
- The Instant Donation Page
We have a whole online course that gets into all the details of these pages. You can check out the course here if you’d like.
But let me give you a quick little summary.
General donation pages have a wide variety of traffic and motivations.
The messaging that you use on these pages needs to relate to your organization’s broader goals and vision. It shouldn’t focus on a specific aspect of your cause or a specific campaign. If it’s too specific, you risk alienating a lot of your potential donors. Get a general donation page template »
Campaign donation pages have a more specific motivation.
The people visiting these pages have been driven either by an advertisement or an email with a specific prompt. The messaging on your campaign donation page needs to align with the call-to-action that your potential donor just clicked on. Get a campaign donation page template »
Instant donation pages are a replacement for your normal confirmation pages.
A visitor to this page has just submitted a form – they’ve signed up for your newsletter, requested an eBook, registered for a course, etc. Your instant donation page needs to thank them and then pivot into a donation ask related to the offer they just received. Get an instant donation page template »
Online Fundraising Metric #3 – Average Gift Size
The last key online fundraising metric that’s essential for nonprofits to track and optimize is average gift size.
If you don’t fully know what this is, let’s define it quickly…
Average gift size (for online fundraising) is your total online revenue divided by your total number of donations.
For instance, if you received $10,000 in donations this month, and you had 100 total donations, your average gift size would be $100.
This key online fundraising metrics is arguably the hardest of the 3 to control. You can’t just spend more money on ads like you can with web traffic. And swapping the color of a donate button doesn’t necessarily make people more generous.
The common factor in increasing average gift size is your value proposition.
Now, you could make a solid argument that more complex online fundraising metrics like donor retention play a big factor in average gift size. And they likely do. But the way you shape and craft your value proposition is the easiest factor to control.
How to Increase Average Gift Size by Crafting a Better Value Proposition
Your value proposition is, essentially, the way you answer this question: “Why should I give to you, rather than some other organization, or not at all?”
And the way you answer this question in your emails, in your advertising, and on your donation page directly affects the likelihood that someone will donate. But your value proposition also can affect how much they donate.
One organization we work with has a very unique service they offer…they provide websites for people going through health crises so that their loved ones can keep up with them on their health journey.
This unique service makes it hard to ask for donations in a traditional sense. They don’t raise money to cover medical costs – they raise money to provide their service to more people for free.
Here’s what one of their on-site donation ads looked like:
It says, “Honor Kade and Kallan with a donation to [Organization]. You make Kade and Kallan’s website possible.”
We created a treatment to try and help potential donors better understand the impact of a donation. The treatment version looked like this:
It says, “Show your love and support for Kade. Make a donation to [Organization] to keep Kade’s site up and running.”
The treatment version increased donations by 44%. But it also increased the average gift size by 16.2%.
Not only did improving the value proposition lead to more donations, but it also led to larger donations.
Determining Which Metric to Optimize First
Now that you’ve seen the power of all 3 of these online fundraising metrics to increase revenue, you need to figure out where you stand.
Is your web traffic low? Or are you just not converting enough of your website visitors into donors? Or…maybe you have a lot of people donating, but they’re giving very little.
In order to know where to optimize first, you need to compare your 3 online fundraising metrics to other similar nonprofits to see how you measure up. You can compare your 3 key metrics to other organizations with the online fundraising benchmark report here »