At the start of a new year, there’s a universal sense of resolve to look at our lives and consider what we’d like to do differently in the year to come. While it’s healthy to do this in our personal lives, it’s also essential to a healthy online fundraising program.
To help you hit the ground running with your online fundraising in 2020, I’ve outlined 5 online fundraising habits that you need to stop doing right now.
But a new year is also a time for new beginnings. So I’ve also included 5 online fundraising habits and strategies that you need start using this year if you haven’t already.
The Top 5 Online Fundraising Habits You Need to Stop
1. Stop Using Heavily Designed Email Templates
Time and time again, our ongoing testing and research has shown that personal, humanized emails greatly outperform heavily designed email templates. People give to people, not email machines. So when an email looks like marketing that was sent to thousands of people, donors tend to ignore or delete it.
In experiment 7466, we saw a 19.7% increase in clicks by dropping the heavily designed email template:
2. Stop Using “Donate” Short-cut Buttons on Your Donation Pages
Not every donor visiting your donation page has actually decided to give. This seems like a generally understood idea, but most fundraisers create opportunities to short-cut donors right to the donation form.
The most common example of this is a page with a “Donate Now” button in the navigation that jumps the visitor right to the form. The problem here is that it lets the visitor bypass the reason why they should give, and decrease the likelihood of them actually donating.
In experiment 2107, we saw a 52.6% decrease in revenue when we used the short-cut button:
3. Stop Calling Your Donors “Friend”
The quickest way to let your donor know that you don’t actually know them is by starting your email with “Dear friend.” Nearly every email tool on the market today allows you to insert the recipients first name. And as it turns out, when we call our donors by name, our email performance improves.
In experiment 5707, we tested inserting the recipient’s first name and saw a 270% increase in clicks.
4. Stop Using Words That Every Other Organization Uses
If you were to go look at the donation pages of 10 different organizations, chances are that you would see several common phrases across all of them. Give hope. Stand with us. Join the fight.
Phrases like these are generic, and can apply to almost any cause. To improve donations, we need to communicate our message and the reason to donate in a way that is unique. The way that your organization solves a particular problem or fills a specific need is exclusive to you, and your copy should communicate this.
In experiment 5729, we saw a 134% increase in donations by using more exclusive value proposition copy:
How a radical redesign that reduces friction and increases the force of the value proposition affects donor conversion (Experiment #5729)
5. Stop Using Donation Confirmation Pages
Once someone fills out your donation form and clicks the “Make my donation” button, that natural assumption is that they’ve completed their donation. Yet, many donation pages include a confirmation or verification page for a donor to review their gift before making it is final.
This extra step creates unnecessary confusion because most donors will click the “X” and assume their donation is complete – causing you to lose a donation without your donor ever knowing it.
In experiment 3712, we removed the verification page and saw a 175% increase in revenue:
The Top 5 Online Fundraising Habits and Strategies You Need to Start
1. Start Personalizing Your Emails
Personalization is more than just inserting a first name here and there. It’s about making the entire email feel personal to the recipient – as if you sat down and wrote an email specifically to them. This includes personal sender names, subject lines, and copy.
In experiment 4307, we saw a 137% increase in clicks by creating a more personal email:
2. Start Writing Emails Like a Human Being
It’s not always just the details of your email appeal that make a difference in donations. The tone of your email has a huge impact on the likelihood that someone will open, clicks, and respond. Use a tone that sounds like a human wrote it, rather than a brand or marketing machine.
In experiment 4171, we used a more personal tone and saw a 145% increase in donations:
3. Start Writing More Copy for Your Donation Pages
Most fundraisers want to keep their donation pages short and sweet. Maybe this is because of the common notion that “people don’t read online.” Or maybe this is because some fundraisers just simply don’t know what to write.
Regardless of the reason why, testing says that using copy to thoroughly explain why someone should give to you will increase conversions and revenue.
In experiment 6623, we saw a perfect example of how more copy on a donation page increased donations by 150%:
4. Start Tracking Your Campaigns Properly
Every time we start working with a new nonprofit partner, the first thing we do is look at all of the analytics and donor data to find where the greatest opportunities are. Yet, most organizations aren’t properly tracking their campaigns with consistency or accuracy.
Kevin Peters created this fancy little tool called UTM Maker that will make it super easy to track all of your campaigns back in to Google Analytics. Just enter your URL and a few pieces of info about your campaign, and it will generate a perfectly tracked link to make sure your analytics are clean.
5. Start Optimizing
Every learning in this entire blog post is a result of ongoing optimization. Every day, we’re testing new ideas and hypotheses across donation pages, email, advertising, articles, and more. And every new experiment leads to greater learnings and understandings of what works to raise more money online.
Make a commitment this year to start testing and optimizing your own online fundraising. And if you need help getting started, we’ve got a blog post that will walk through the steps of setting up your first experiment.