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5 Ways Canadian Charities Can Grow Their Digital Fundraising

Published by Nathan Hill

Canadian giving is on the rise. According to Blackbaud Institute, Canadian giving grew by 4% from 2020 to 2021. Additionally, online giving grew by 6%.

In isolation, these sound like positive trends. But we’re firm believers that good is the enemy of great. And the recent Global Online Fundraising Scorecard revealed many simple ways in which Canadian charities can optimize their digital fundraising efforts to beat this benchmark and grow giving even more.

Frontier ( – a Canadian fundraising agency – is the most recent agency to partner with NextAfter on a mission to decode what works to grow fundraising and generosity around the globe. They’re focused on taking optimization ideas like you’ll see below and helping Canadian charities implement them to increase digital fundraising results.

Below, you’ll find 5 testable digital fundraising ideas that Canadian charities should test as a means of improving conversion rates, acquiring more new donors, and cultivating better donor relationships:

Read on to see why these ideas are uniquely applicable to Canadian charities and see specific a/b test examples showing just how impactful these tactics can be.

Use a Dedicated Confirmation Page to Lead New Subscribers Towards Their First Donation

One key question we asked when analyzing the giving experience of 79 Canadian charities was this: “What do Canadian charities ask new subscribers to do after they sign-up for an email list?”

Before analyzing what new subscribers were asked to do next, we looked to see if Canadian charities were using dedicated confirmation pages at all.

How a dedicated confirmation page can unlock new donors

A dedicated confirmation page – as opposed to a simple “Thank you for subscribing” message – would allow for an intentional next step call-to-action including:

  • Make a donation
  • Take a survey
  • Attend an event
  • Volunteer
  • Share this resource on social media

We’ve actually found that making a donation ask right on the confirmation page can be an effective means of online donor acquisition. When someone downloads an eBook, completes a survey, or signs a petition – you can use a dedicated confirmation page with a donation appeal to turn a portion of them into new donors right away.

Simple offers like petitions tend to attract more email subscribers, but with fewer converting into instant donors. An eBook offer tends to have a lower cost-per-email, while having a high “instant conversion rate.”

Without a dedicated confirmation page, the typical  experience is that the sign-up form or widget says “Thank You” and leads the new subscriber to navigate on their own, or to close the browser and move on.

How are Canadian Charities performing?

Our analysis of 630 nonprofit organizations globally, including 79 Canadian charities, found that just 43% of organizations globally use a dedicated confirmation page after someone signs up for an email list.

Canadian charities, however, have even more opportunity. Only 32% of Canadian charities used a dedicated confirmation page.

Cultivate New Online Donors via Email Within the First 90-Days

The way that any relationship begins has a major impact on how the relationship is going to last – whether it’s with a new co-worker, a friend, or a donor. According to a study from Bloomerang, the simple act of making a phone call to a donor within the first 90-days can increase their retention rate by nearly 25%.

While there may be a lot of valid approaches to how you welcome and cultivate donors within the first 90-days, it’s a safe bet that your retention rates will suffer if you don’t communicate at all.

How are Canadian Charities performing?

Globally, 73% of nonprofits sent at least one email to their new donors within the first 90 days. A single email isn’t exactly the best benchmark of high-quality cultivation. But one email is far better than none.

In Canada, only 58% of organizations sent any amount of email communication to their new donor. Put another way, 42% of Canadian charities didn’t send a single email to their new donor.

A Simple Approach to New Donor Cultivation

Creating an automated welcome series can be an effective means of building a relationship with new donors right from the start. Most fundraisers know this, but tend to get hung up on the details:

  • How many emails should I send?
  • How often should I be sending?
  • What’s the best time to ask for a second gift?

Unfortunately, getting hung up on the details often leads to in-action. So to start, plan to set up any form of new donor welcome series. It could be as simple as 3 emails sent over the course of a month that share stories about the impact donations have on the cause.

One organization noticed that email engagement dropped off, and they wondered if they needed to send more cultivation. So over the course of 6 months, they split their email file in half and gave each half a different experience.

Group A received the typical cadence of emails.

Group B received all the same emails as Group A, but they also received a dedicated cultivation email every Friday.

By sending more cultivation, Group B led to a 42% increase in revenue over this 6-month time frame.

Need more ideas on how to build a new donor welcome series? You can check out our free new donor welcome series guide.

Start accepting donations via Bank or EFT – especially for recurring giving.

Recurring donations are the lifeblood of many organizations internationally. It’s the default mode of giving and donor acquisition for many organizations around the globe.

And one of the best ways to secure a long-term recurring donation is to offer donors the ability to give via their bank or EFT. According to Bankrate, the average person uses the same checking account for 16 years. A credit card, on the other hand, expires far more often than every 16 years. Add to it that many people switch credit cards routinely.

If you allow donors to give a recurring donation via their bank or EFT, you may cut down attrition. On top of that, you can cut out additional time and costs of tracking donors who simply need to update their credit card info.

One organization tested adding an option to give via their bank their donation page. Version A only allowed for credit card donations. Version B allowed the donor to choose to give via “Bank Account” or “Credit Card.”

For this organization, recurring credit card donations averaged 12 months. But bank account donations averaged 5 years. While the experiment did not impact conversion rates, 15% of donations came in using the “Bank Account” option, leading to a projected 55% increase in revenue.

How are Canadian Charities performing?

Why is this idea specifically for Canadian charities?

When we looked at payment options across donation forms globally, we found that 39% of charities worldwide offered the ability to give via their bank or EFT.

However, in Canada, only 7% of charities included an option to give via bank or EFT.

Make Sure Donors Know that Their Donation is Secure

Any donation page needs to process a transaction securely. But just because your donation page is secure doesn’t mean that your donor knows it’s secure.

It’s possible for would-be donors to feel anxiety about entering their credit card information into your donation form. The moment they submit their donation, they’re trusting that:

  • Their information is secure
  • You’re not going to sell their card info
  • Their credit card number isn’t going to get stolen

For a would-be donor to trust you, sometimes you must go out of your way to remind them that the transaction is secure.

How adding security reinforcement reduces donor anxiety

In one experiment, this organization tested adding a visual reminder for donors that it was safe to enter their credit card info.

In Version A, the credit card fields looked exactly like every other field on the page.

In Version B, the areas for credit card information were in a gray box. A padlock icon was inserted in the corner to visually remind donors that this private information will be kept secure.

By simply adding these visual reminders, they saw a 20% increase in donations.

How are Canadian Charities performing?

When analyzing the donation experience of organizations around the globe, we found that 46% of global organizations included a visual security reminder around the credit card info.

In contrast, only 30% of Canadian charities included a security reminder around the credit card fields.

Increase Credibility and Build Trust with Donors on Your Page

One of the 4 elements of an effective nonprofit value proposition is “Credibility.” In our donation appeals, fundraising emails, and donation pages, we need to make sure that donors trust that their gift is going to be impactful.

Credibility answers the question of “Do I believe you? And do I trust you?”

And one simple tactic to help donors boost trust is to use 3rd party “trust marks” or credibility seals near the donate button on your donation form. Some common trust marks for U.S. charities include:

  • Charity Navigator Rating
  • Guidestar / Candid Seal
  • Better Business Bureau Seal

In Canada, organizations like Imagine Canada and Charity Intelligence Canada offer charity accreditation.

How adding boosting credibility impacts donations

In this experiment, the organization wondered if increasing credibility in their value proposition would lead to greater giving.

In Version A, they offered a free book as a thank you for a donation.

In Version B, they added a testimonial from someone who had received the book sharing how valuable it was for them.

This added credibility via a testimonial led to a 27% increase in donations.

Whether through trust marks, testimonials, or reviews – consider how you increase credibility and boost trust on your donation page.

How are Canadian Charities performing?

When analyzing the donation experience of global nonprofits, we looked to see how many utilized trust marks and a credibility booster on their donation page.

Globally, 51% of nonprofits use some form of trust mark.

Only 32% of Canadian charities used any type of trust mark on their donation page to increase credibility.

How Canadian Charities Can Start Optimizing Their Digital Fundraising

Although there are a lot of similarities between the nonprofit landscape for Canadian and US-based charities – there are also a lot of nuanced differences. At minimum, the tax structure around Canadian charities and donations is very different from the United States.

For that reason, we’ve partnered with Frontier – a Canadian fundraising agency – to be our exclusive partner in taking testing & optimization to Canadian Charities. They understand the nuances of Canadian fundraising and are equipped with all the same tools, tactics, and strategies we use here in the states to grow digital fundraising programs.

If you’re looking for meaningful ways to start testing and optimizing your online fundraising efforts, you can set-up a time to chat with Frontier here:

Published by Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill is Vice President, NextAfter Institute.