The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

6 Unexpected Online Fundraising Tools That Can Grow Your Revenue

Published by Nathan Hill

6 Unexpected Online Fundraising Tools image

The key to growing your nonprofit’s online revenue doesn’t lie in new online fundraising tools. Because people give to people – not to the latest CRM, email marketing platform, or social media listening tool.

What I’m not going to do in this post is give you a list of all the slick donation page tools out there (although if you need a great one, you should check out Raise Donors).

I am going to give you 6 unexpected online fundraising tools that you can use to build a donor-focused and humanized online fundraising strategy – without forcing you to spend a ton of money.

These 6 tools will help you implement new strategies that connect with donors on a personal level even when they’re just browsing your website.

Here are the 6 unexpected online fundraising tools:

Rather than just give you the name of a tool and a quick review, I’m going to give of how each one ties into an online fundraising growth strategy.

Let’s dive in.

(P.S. Huge shout-out to the NextAfter CTO for putting this list together. You can hear him break down each tool in a free webinar on 6 online fundraising hacks here. )

Google Analytics

If you work in online fundraising, you should know about Google Analytics. It’s not designed specifically for nonprofits, but honestly, none of the platforms in this post are designed specifically to be “online fundraising tools.”

You likely already have Google Analytics set up on your website. But the big question is…do you have it set up correctly?

Actually, there are lots of important questions to ask here.

  • Do you have it set up correctly?
  • Are you tracking your campaigns using UTMs?
  • Are you structuring your UTMs correctly?
  • Are you utilizing goals to track conversions?
  • Do you have ecommerce tracking turned on so you can track what fundraising efforts lead to real donations and revenue?

If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” you might want to dive into an online course we’re launching on Google Analytics for Nonprofits in April 2020. (More info to come soon).

If you think you’re all set with your Google Analytics set up, let’s talk about some ways you can actually use your analytics data to drive your strategy.

Using Google Analytics to find Unexpected Content

One tested and proven strategy to acquire new online donors is to use advertise an “email offer” that leads to a landing page, that leads to an instant donation page. You can dig into that strategy in depth in this free webinar called Cracking the Code of Facebook Fundraising.

Google Analytics can help you discover what content your website traffic (and potential donors) may be interested in.

Google Search Console screenshot

For example, in Google Analytics, you can enable Google Search Console which will allow you to see what Google search queries are driving traffic to your website. Often times might find that there are topics driving traffic to you that you didn’t expect.

In this particular case, this organization (a Catholic missionary group) found that 10 of their top search keywords were related to “Novena” – a type of devotional prayer.

They took this unexpected discovery, created an eBook related to “novenas”, and plugged it right into their online donor acquisition strategy.

Example of an email acquisition to instant donor funnel

This newfound email offer generated new email signups, and also led to more people becoming new donors right away.

If you’re not already, start using Google Analytics for free here »


Rev logo

If you just go to and check out their services, you might not see how it relates to online fundraising right away. But the truth is that many major organizations are using Rev and tools like it to make their online fundraising efforts faster, more efficient, and more cost effective.

Rev provides transcription, captioning, and subtitles services. Just upload audio files like a podcast or link your latest video and they’ll have your file transcribes/captioned – often in less than 24 hours.

Now how in the world does this relate to online fundraising? I’m glad you asked.

Using Rev to streamline the creation of new content

One of the biggest bottlenecks in an online fundraising program is having the time and bandwidth to create new content like blogs, articles, eBooks, etc.

But good quality content is critical to growing and cultivating new and long-term donor relationships. Content is the primary way that we can keep donors in the loop about what type of impact they’re making through their support.

Here are 3 ways you can use Rev to streamline your content creation…

Turn an existing podcast into a blog post. If you have podcasts, radio broadcast, or even recorded meetings where you’re talking about your organizations impact – you can turn these into great blog content with ease.

Upload your audio recording to Rev, get a transcription back, and make a few edits. This will save you tons of writing time and give you a new piece of cultivating content to share with your donors.

Write the raw copy for an eBook by transcribing a presentation.

eBooks are one of the best tools that fundraisers have to acquire new emails that lead to new donors. They help potential donors learn more about your organizations, experience your impact, and they require an email to download.

But the hardest part of getting an eBook created is writing the content. On the other hand, you can fairly easily whip together a presentation – like you might for a board member or major donor – and record yourself presenting on a topic related to your organization.

Rev will help you transcribe your audio, and within 24 hours, you have all the copy you need to put your next email acquisition offer together.

Have you seen any of our nonprofit research studies? Every single one of them has used Rev to get the basis for the copy.

Get your videos “social media ready” by adding captions.

“As much as 85 percent of video views happen with the sound off.” – Digiday

Most people are consuming video-based content on social media – like Facebook, Instagram, etc. – with the sound off. That makes captioning all the more important and critical to delivering your message effectively.

Screenshot of a video using captions

Here’s a screenshot from a video I made for an ad just a little bit ago promoting a webinar. Knowing most people watch video with the sound off, I added some captions to make sure people could read what I was saying.

Again, Rev makes this super easy so you can make all your videos mobile friendly and engaging for social media viewers.

Check out how Rev can help you start creating more new content here »


Rev will help you turn existing broadcasts, presentations, podcasts, etc. into usable copy. But if you need an editor or a designer to help bring your content to life, Fiverr has got your back.

While there are lots of benefits to insourcing editors and designers, most editing and design work for online fundraising is quick and simple jobs that can be outsourced to anyone with basic editing experience or proficiency in photoshop.

Fiverr is a go-to online fundraising tool for us at NextAfter (and a bunch of other nonprofit fundraisers) for projects like:

  • Laying out copy for an eBook
  • Proofreading your blog posts and articles
  • Whipping up some social media graphics to promote a post
  • Designing ad creative for your latest email acquisition offer

Honestly, you can find someone to help you with pretty much any project on Fiverr. And the prices are nearly impossible to beat.

If you’re hesitant to outsource an important project, hire two people to work on it to get two different concepts. You’ll still come in way under the cost of most design agencies out there.

Check out what you can outsource through Fiverr here »


Unbounce can serve you in two super critical areas where you might normally have to seek out a web developer. We use Unbounce for our own marketing at NextAfter, we use it in fundraising programs with virtually every organization we work with. And we recommend to EVERYONE because it’s that important.

Here are the two components that make Unbounce an essential online fundraising tool…

Unbounce will help you build landing pages without a developer

In my own experience at a nonprofit, web developer time was super hard to come by. And from most folks I talk to, that seems to be a common experience. Maybe you don’t even have a web developer at your organization.

But you need landing pages for your online fundraising efforts. In particular, if you have an email offer like a quiz, petition, eBook download, or even newsletter signup – you need a landing page where someone can learn more and sign up.

Unbounce lets you cut out the need for a web developer, and design email acquisition landing pages yourself. You get full design flexibility, it integrates with most major email marketing platforms out there, and you can a/b test different designs with ease to see what’s most effective.

If you want a quick example of this tool in action, our webinar registration page is built entirely in Unbounce.

Unbounce will help you acquire email addresses across your website (again, without a developer)

One of the best features of Unbounce is their sticky bars and pop-ups. They call them “Convertables.”

That’s because they’re super easy to implement tools that help you convert your website traffic into email addresses that you can begin to cultivate.

All you have to do is install a little snippet of code, and you can start showing off your latest and greatest email offer (eBook, newsletter, etc) to people all over your website.

You can show these “convertables” to everyone, or you can get specific and target particular locations, people who engage on specific pages, visitors that stay on a page for a certain length of time, etc.

Here’s a screenshot of what the editor looks like to create these different pop-ups and sticky bars:

A/B test using sticky bars to increase donations

Again, you can do this without needing a developer to code some fancy little email capture tool for you. Just use the built-in design and form tools right in Unbounce.

Unbounce sticky bars could boost revenue on your mobile donation page

Here’s a bonus idea for you. In a recent experiment, CaringBridge testing using a stick bar on their donation page to reinforce why someone should donate.

The original page was just the standard donation page. But they designed two different variations of the page that each used a sticky bar to re-iterate the importance of donating.

Unbounce pop-up editor screenshot

Treatment 2 led to a 13% increase in donations on mobile devices because it helped mobile users quickly and clearly see what type of an impact their donation would have.

You can sign up for Unbounce and try out in your online fundraising here »

Google Optimize

All these other online fundraising tools are helping you actually create something new – determining new content opportunities, transcribing audio to help write copy, getting things designed, and building pages/ads.

Once you have these different tools, offers, and ads in place – you’re far from finished with your campaign. Everything can be optimized, and Google Optimize is there to help you figure out how to optimize your results.

There’s no excuse for not signing up for Google Optimize – it’s free!

Once you have it set up, you can run an A/B test on any page your website – including your homepage, landing pages, articles, and even your donation page.

An a/b test you can easily run using Google Optimize

If you’re not sure what exactly Google Optimize can do for you, let me give you an example.

Illinois Policy Institute ran a very simple experiment on their donation page. They wondered if they could increase donor conversion by adding more copy explaining why someone should give.

The original page had one small line of copy saying “Together, we’re writing the next chapter of Illinois’ comeback story.”

They created a variation of the page that 4 paragraphs of copy explaining the problem they were trying to solve and how a donation would make an impact.

This test could be set up with ease in Google Optimize. You don’t have to touch a line of code – just click to edit the copy, paste in your new copy, and turn on your test.

Google Optimize will send 50% of your traffic the original page, and 50% of the traffic to the new page. You can monitor the results along the way, and it will alert you when you have a winner.

The result?

Results of a donation page a/b test

This organization saw a 150% increase in donations just by adding some copy.

What do you think? Can you justify using a free tool in order to see a potential 150% increase in donations? I would imagine so.

You can get a free Google Optimize account here »


SlyBroadcast is the best most unknown online fundraising tool out there. Like most of these tools, it’s not designed specifically for nonprofits and fundraising.

While it’s not specifically designed for nonprofits, it is designed to help you connect with people – which is what fundraising is all about.

SlyBroadcast helps make it possible for you to connect with your whole donor file over the phone.

That sounds impossible, but it’s pretty sly in the way it works. Get it? SLY-broadcast?

Robo-callers and recorded messages played over a phone call are super annoying ad likely do more harm than good. But SlyBroadcast lets you record a personal message and slip into the voicemail box.

This means you can send out a thank you message to all of your donors via voicemail after they give. On their phone, it looks they have a missed call, and they’ll see your message in their voicemail.

In most cases, this can prompt them to give you a call back when they have a quick second to say hello and chat.

SlyBroadcast platform screenshot

This type of strategy will help you do 2 things…

  1. You get to leave a positive, personal impression on each one of your donors.
  2. You don’t have to spend every waking moment of your day making phone calls.

Sign up for SlyBroadcast here » And if you use the referral code 15724f100, you’ll get 100 free messages.

What other online fundraising tools do you use?

None of the tools I’ve listed above have asked to be featured in this blog. No one is paying me to mention them.

These are just great tools the we swear by, and I really think you should try out in our own fundraising programs. Used with the right strategy, these can help you manage your time better, improve efficiency, and grow your revenue.

But I’m always curious…are there tools you’re using in your own fundraising efforts that people should know about?

Share your favorite unexpected online fundraising tools in the comments. I’d love to hear what you’re using and how you’re using it.

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

3 Lessons from Analyzing the Key Metrics of 155 Nonprofits

Published by Nathan Hill

Online Fundraising Benchmark image

I recently wrapped up a brand-new research study analyzing the 3 essential online fundraising metrics of 155 organizations (web traffic, monthly donations, and average gift). 

And while dissecting all the data, I found myself asking some critical questions. There were a few data issues that we had to think through in order to give an accurate look at how these organizations are performing.

So I thought I’d take a moment to share with you 3 challenges I faced that led to some important insights that can equip you for online fundraising growth.

Ready? Here goes…

1. Your Context Is More Important Than the Average

The first step in creating this study of key online fundraising metrics  was to find the average monthly web traffic, donations, and average gift size. This is a little bit easier said than done.

But after cleaning the data, scrubbing organizations whose data was verifiably inaccurate, and crunching the numbers – here’s what we found:

  • The average (median) nonprofit had 12,708 website sessions per month.
  • The average (median) nonprofit saw .61% of those website sessions convert into donations.
  • The average (median) nonprofit had a $106.71 average gift size.

3 essential online fundraising metrics

What bearing does the average have on your organization’s performance?

That’s the question I asked right away. With so many different shapes and sizes of nonprofit organizations, how does the average performance of 155 organizations really help?

If you have a lot of web traffic (say in the millions per month), you might think these online fundraising metrics aren’t even relevant. Same goes if you have really low traffic.

You may walk away thinking “This benchmark is for someone else.”

But that’s why you need to dig a little deeper and view these metrics in a context relevant to your own. And when we drilled in, we saw a fuller picture that’s a lot more helpful…

The more traffic an organization has, the lower their conversion rate and average gift sizes tend to be. 

Online Fundraising metrics by Traffic Volume

In order to get an accurate picture of what conversion rates and average gift sizes are possible for your organization, you have to compare yourself to organizations with similar traffic volume.

2. Just Because You Have Data Doesn’t Mean It’s Reliable

In another area of the report, we dove into specific web traffic channels to see which ones are most effective for driving revenue. But the initial result didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Online Fundraising Metrics Revenue Per Channel

The number one channel for driving online revenue appeared to be direct traffic.

When we start working with a new nonprofit partner, one of the first recommendations we make is almost always some form of improving Google Analytics tracking. It’s shocking how many nonprofits (and for-profits) aren’t accurately tracking their marketing and fundraising efforts properly.

And when we look at organizations in the benchmark report that we can verify are tracking revenue and web traffic properly, the picture changes.

Email is the Most Effective Revenue Generator

In almost every scenario where we can verify that revenue and campaigns are being tracked properly, email is actually the biggest driver of online revenue and donations. Here’s a quick look at 3 organizations that are tracking their revenue properly.

A Health Organization

This health related organization brings in 199% more revenue through email than they do from direct traffic.

Online Email Revenue for a Health Organization

A Public Policy Organization

This public policy organization brings in 421% more revenue through email than they do from direct traffic.

Online Email Revenue for a Public Policy Organization

A Higher Education Organization

This higher education organization brings in 739% more revenue through email than they do from direct traffic.

Online Email Revenue for a Higher Education Organization

At the end of the day, email is the most effective channel you have at your disposal to drive online fundraising revenue. If you’re not actively growing your email file, you might want to re-think where you’re focusing your online fundraising efforts.

3. Not All Fundraising Channels Have the Same Potential

If we were to simply look at channels that drive revenue directly and stop there, we’d likely do ourselves more harm than good. Because, as you know, there’s a whole lot more to fundraising than simply asking for a donation.

That being said, based on what we’ve seen in other research studies (like this on one mid-level donors), it seems that many online fundraising programs place a major emphasis on the role of cultivation in online channels.

I would guess that we often forget or ignore online cultivation strategies because there isn’t a lot of data out there on what really works.

To help see what channels may be most effective for cultivation, we scored the engagement value of each primary web traffic channel. And we found that Referral Traffic and Social Media Traffic have the highest engagement.

Online Fundraising Metrics Engagement Scores

Using High Engagement Channels as a Donation Primer

First off, let’s define what a donation primer is.

A donation primer is a piece of content that gets a prospective donor ready for a fundraising appeal.

A donation primer doesn’t make a direct donation ask in and of itself. It simply helps someone gain a deeper understanding of why a donation is valuable.

Here’s a quick experiment to show you how it works…

Version A – Visitors did not see donation priming articles

In version A of this experiment, the traffic segment being analyzed saw the normal news articles and blog content on this organization’s website.

Version B – Visitors did see donation priming articles

In version B of this experiment, the traffic segment being analyzed saw the normal news articles and blog content, but they also looked at an article that was designed to help them understand the value of donating to this organization.

Donation Primer Experiment Example

The Results

This experiment was conducted around year-end season. After the season was over, they analyzed the behaviors of these 2 traffic segments. The traffic segment that saw the donation priming articles was 196% more likely to donate.

Although blogs and articles (that might get shared on social media, linked to from referral sites, and rank in organic search results) aren’t good drivers of direct revenue, they can certainly make a major impact on the likelihood that someone gives later on.

Turning your high engagement channels into a donation primer is one strategy you can use to start seeing direct revenue impact from your “non-revenue-driving” channels.

If you want to dig deeper, you can check out this webinar on growing revenue without sending more donation appeals.

3 Essential Online Fundraising Metrics


3 Essential Metrics for Online Fundraising Success - Book ImageThere’s a whole lot more data, insights, metrics, and quick tips in the full report on 3 Essential Metrics for Online Fundraising Success. And the whole report is designed specifically to help you figure out where to start testing and optimizing.

You can get a free copy of the report to see how your organization stacks up against others, and learn how you can grow your online fundraising revenue.

Get a free copy of 3 Essential Metrics for Online Fundraising Success »

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.

Get access to interviews with multicultural marketing experts to see how you can improve your marketing to Hispanics.LEARN MORE

5 Hispanic Marketing Insights for Nonprofits

Published by Ivan Leon

5 Hispanic Marketing Insights for Nonprofits

Cinco de Mayo is just days away! To celebrate, I’ve prepared a spicy plate of data-driven Hispanic marketing and fundraising insights from marketing leaders in companies like Sprint, Nestle, Pepsico and Comcast to help you optimize your fundraising to Hispanic donors.

There’s a huge opportunity for nonprofits to connect with Hispanics and engage them in their missions.

I got to sit down and interview these industry leaders during the Culture Marketing Conference, the premier gathering of Hispanic strategists and creatives.

You can watch each full interview with these multicultural marketing leaders here »

According to these marketing leaders, there are big changes in marketing and fundraising right around the corner. The ethnic diversity in the United States of America increases every day.

And one ethnicity is taking the lead in terms of numbers – Hispanics.

That’s why in the interviews with these successful marketing leaders, we tapped into their wisdom and asked how their strategies and principles apply in the nonprofit sector.

Here are just five of the many recommendations they gave me for nonprofit leaders.

1. Hispanics are changing the face of American society.

It’s been a long time coming, but it is finally here.

Minority populations in America are shifting, and Hispanics are about to take the lead in sheer numbers.

According to the latest Census data, Hispanics will make up over half of U.S. population growth between 2016 and 2020 (and as much as 80% by 2040-2045).

On top of that, Hispanics have a younger median age and longer life expectancy. So as this demographic moves into its prime years of wage earning, it is set to reshape the U.S. market.

In terms of social and political causes, the Pew Research Center released a study earlier this year showing Hispanics will be the largest voting minority in the 2020 election.

The data is clear: Hispanics are and will be a growing force for social change in the U.S.

Vanessa Strain, VP of Multicultural Growth and Strategy at Nielsen, warns against putting this priority off to another time.

The nation’s Hispanic population is projected to double by 2050.

Simply looking at the demographic data, Vanessa urges nonprofits to invest now in multicultural marketing and fundraising while there is time to plan.

The Hispanic market is an expanding population who already values social and community causes.

Just consider how Hispanic buying behavior speaks to their concern for community causes:

  • 57% of U.S. Hispanics agree they are more likely to purchase from brands that support a cause they care about.
  • 43% expect the brands they buy to support social causes (over-indexing non-Hispanic whites by 26%).
  • 58% agree they are willing to pay more for a product that is environmentally safe.
57% of Hispanics are more likely to buy from brands that support a cause they care about.

No matter what experience your nonprofit may have had with Hispanic marketing or fundraising, this growing market cares about community and social causes.

Don’t miss the massive opportunity to get ahead of the curve!

2. Don’t translate. Communicate.

While speaking with José Velez-Silva, VP of Multicultural Marketing Communications at ComCast, he stressed that addressing multicultural audiences doesn’t mean sending the same blanket message to everyone.

Nonprofits should avoid translating their general marketing messages into Spanish.

Instead, they should listen to their Hispanic audience to see the world through their eyes and then craft messaging that will resonate with them… in whatever language makes sense for that particular campaign.

It’s counterintuitive. But your most effective messaging can be in Spanish or English.

Ricardo Aspiazu, Director of Brand Marketing at Verizon, put it this way: “It is less about language and more about culture.”

Today, second and third generation Hispanics live in the US, making up more and more of the market. And they’re bilingual.

In order to reach Hispanics, nonprofits must now engage with culture, not just language.

Marketers have endless options for tuning in to Hispanics’ rich and vibrant culture.

One size does NOT fit all.

Each demographic needs to be engaged on its own terms, while at the same time supporting a unified nonprofit brand.

3. Digital marketing is a MUST.

Although digital marketing has many advantages for reaching all kinds of demographics, Hispanics tend to be overrepresented in digital marketing channel data, especially social media.

In their studies, Nielsen found that “35% agree that they are among the first of their friends and colleagues to try new technology products (over-indexing against non-Hispanic Whites by 36%).”

35% of Hispanics are among the first of their friends and colleagues to try new technology.

That means your Hispanic donor or audience is more likely to try out and own new gadgets and technologies than non-Hispanic whites.

An industry leader in youth Latino entertainment and television, David Chitel is even more enthusiastic about digital marketing to Hispanics saying, “Digital is the great equalizer for Latinos.”

“…digital has special relevance for Hispanics at different levels of acculturation. With the right talent or partners, you could release Spanish language content on any of those platforms. With digital, you have access to all kinds of Latinos, including many bilingual, bicultural millennials. Hispanics with all kinds of desires and passion points are waiting for you to speak to them.”

– David Chitel

Not only do Hispanics consume digital content at higher rates than other ethnicities, they also engage on these digital platforms.

In my interview with Meghann Elrhoul, Head of Global Research for Twitter, she told the story of how Hispanics changed Netflix’s programming decision to cancel the popular show, One Day at a Time.

This show follows the life of a Cuban-American family, and Hispanics loved it.

But when Netflix pulled the show – cast, crew, and fans of the rebooted sitcom took to Twitter, demanding a third season.

And Netflix listened. On March 26, the series was renewed.

To reach out to your Hispanic donors, you’ve got to meet them where they’re at, online.

4. Hispanics are generous.

You might have heard before that Hispanics don’t give.

This myth has been around for some time, claiming that Hispanics either don’t have the means to give, or that philanthropy isn’t as valued in their culture

Multicultural marketing leader Jose Villa says differently.

“Hispanics are a huge opportunity for organizations that depend on donors.”

– Jose Villa

So why the discrepancy in the amount that Hispanics, as a whole, give to charity?

Villa explains in our interview that for centuries, the life of the average Hispanic “centered on the church – and that’s where they’ve directed their giving.”

But now as Hispanics continue to immigrate to the United States, they are growing accustomed to the American society where “the church is a less dominant cultural force. And the alternatives for giving are endless…”

Last year, Telemundo and Univision raised $20 million in 30 hours for victims of Hurricane Maria and the Mexico City earthquake, out of a primarily Spanish-speaking audience!

One of my favorite examples is how St. Jude Children’s Hospital set a record raising $4.6 million in a campaign with Spanish-language channel Univision.

This is a big opportunity for nonprofits like yours to become the charity they give to.

5. Collaboration is critical for Hispanic marketing success.

The idea of working with a marketing agency or fundraising firm isn’t a new one. You’re probably already working with a general marketing agency right now.

Marketing is a specialized field, and it’s a lot cheaper in the long run to hire an agency than to hire a large team in-house.

However, long-time multicultural marketing veteran Aldo Quevedo warns against leaving your Hispanic marketing up to the generalists.

“If your nonprofit recognizes the need for Hispanic marketing, that objective will probably butt heads at some point with general market goals. Plenty of organizations end up working with both a Hispanic marketing agency and a general market agency. This may seem complicated, but successful collaboration is a game-changer.”

– Aldo Quevedo, Principal and Creative Director, Richards/Lerma

Aldo’s not the only one who thinks partnership is essential.

Alberto Lorente, Sprint’s multicultural marketing director, attributes much of Sprint’s success in Hispanic marketing to their Hispanic marketing agency partners.

In 2017, about 34 percent of Sprint’s new customers were Hispanics, — and at the time, they only composed 18 percent of the U.S. population!

34% of Sprint's new customers in 2017 were Hispanic.

Sprint sells more in the Hispanic segment than their competitors, Verizon or AT&T. That’s incredible.

Their success is no coincidence.

Bonus: Commitment is key.

The success of the marketing leaders I interviewed is linked to their commitment to reaching out to the growing Hispanic market.

I’m confident that with the same commitment, your nonprofit can experience the same success in optimizing your fundraising by connecting with the heart of Hispanics.

And if you want to glean even more insights into how your organization can develop relationships with Hispanic donors, you can get all the interviews in full!

Watch the Interviews with Multicultural Marketing Experts

Get free access to each full-length interview with key multi-cultural marketing leaders to see how you can start reaching this key demographic.

About the author:

Ivan Leon

Ivan Leon

Ivan – the founder of Kerux Group – is an accomplished communications strategist, specializing in the Hispanic market. With more than 10 years of experience as a publicist, television producer, and marketing executive, he is passionate about offering solutions that overcome cultural barriers and build an authentic customer experience.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

5 Behavioral Economics Theories To Keep Your Nonprofit From Getting Left Behind – Creative Science

Published by Nate Andorsky

Our mission at Creative Science is to leverage behavioral economics to build strategies, campaigns, and technology for today’s most important causes. Behavioral economics is the marriage of psychology and economics; it is founded on the understanding that humans do not always make the rational trade-offs economists would expect them to. Rather, we act in predictably irrational ways.

Behavioral economics provides a framework to help us understand why people make decisions. Because the tenants of behavioral economics have such a significant impact on how, why, and when people give, understanding this field of thought is essential for those in the nonprofit world. In this post, I’ll describe the five theories from behavioral economics that I think are the most critical for you to understand so you can make sure your nonprofit organization doesn’t get left behind.

#1 Identifiable Victim Effect

The identifiable victim effect is exceptionally important for nonprofits who help people to understand. Ignoring this theory leaves money on the table, hands down.

Karen Jenni and George Loewenstein first published this theory in 1997. They conducted studies showing people tend to offer greater aid when an identifiable individual victim is presented as being under hardship. When people consider the plight of a single victim, they empathize with that specific person and they respond more strongly and emotionally than if they’re told the plight of even two or three victims.

One of the most powerful ways you can captivate potential donors’ attention is to tell and show them one individual victim’s story. This increases the likelihood that they make a donation. The more similar the victim to the individual or someone the individual knows (gender, geographic location, age, name, etc.) the more powerful this effect.

We created a landing page for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids that expertly leverages the identifiable victim effect. This image presents a specific person, which elicits feelings of empathy. Notice the intentionality of being able to see the victim’s eyes. The eyes hold a vast amount of information about one’s emotional state and deepen our connection to this identifiable victim and thus our desire to donate to this nonprofit.

#2 Anchoring

Anchoring is the behavioral economics theory that shows someone’s initial exposure to a number serves as a reference point and influences their subsequent judgments about value. You start with some anchor, a number you hear or see, and then adjust it in the direction you think is appropriate.

Anchoring can also be thought of as the human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information that an individual receives (called the “anchor”) when making a decision. Once this anchor has been established, there is an overall bias toward interpreting new information around this anchor. For example, when you’re told something used to cost $149.99 but it’s now on sale for $99.99 you think it’s a great deal! You only think this is a great deal because of the information you have about the “regular” price.

How much a donor gives to a nonprofit can be significantly influenced by a strategically placed anchor. Taking the time to understand anchoring and employ it effectively will serve your nonprofit well moving forward. For example, anchoring can be used when presenting various donation options or giving levels.

Presenting donors with options of making a $1, $3 or $5 donation can result in lower donation totals than if you present $3, $5 or $10 donation options. You’ll see the anchoring effect even more starkly when you compare what people donate when they see a $1, $3, and $5 donation array against what they donate when they see a $30, $50, and $100 donation array.

When choosing which dollar amounts to present you don’t want to push the envelope too much. The donation options also send a signal to donors about what is normal and expected

If someone would donate $20 to your nonprofit and the pre-listed options are $200, $500, and $1,500, they may think you don’t care about their $20 and decide not to donate after all. You want to avoid this scenario. Determining what should go in your donation array should involve testing and iterating.

The image below is a screenshot of a donation page we created as an example design composition for the fictional nonprofit Africa Reads Now. This uses several behaviorally-informed techniques, but the anchoring plays out in the fact that the $200 donation is a different color than the others. It is highlighted and thus becomes the reference point in our minds. We are also anchored in part by the lower bound ($50) and upper bound ($500) donation amounts. Our minds adjust the amount we choose to donate, using these amounts as reference points.

#3 Reciprocity

The reciprocity effect occurs because people tend to respond to a positive action with an additional positive action. This ultimately rewards acts of kindness. Further, it means that in response to friendly interactions, people are more likely to be much nicer and cooperative than one would expect from the self-interest model.

When donors give it is imperative to close the reciprocity feedback loop by clearly communicating how their donations are helping further your cause. While your donors won’t expect a physical item in exchange for their contribution they should receive an emotional warm-glow feeling after they’ve donated. Make sure to clearly communicate back to donors the impact their donations have made and that their contributions are appreciated. This closes the reciprocity loop and encourages more donations. Too often nonprofits accept donations and support but do not communicate back to their supporters the impact of their assistance.

Reciprocity is about creating a positive feedback loop, not engaging in a transaction. Be very careful with giving small gifts as a sign of appreciation. These can make the donation feel transactional and can crowd out the positive effect of altruism. If you do want to give your donors a small gift, the best way to do this is to give it unexpectedly. This will engender further reciprocity.

#4 Herd Effect

The herd effect is the tendency for people to follow the behavior of a larger group. Social psychologists have been studying the human tendency to act as part of a group or mob since at least the 19th century. Our tendency toward herd behavior is present in our consumer behavior and in the ways we interact with each other. The herd effect is also part of our desire to fit in with social norms. We want to make socially desirable decisions and are attuned to what other people are doing, i.e. keeping up with the Jones’.

Here’s a story of how this has played out in a field research setting – scientists at the University of Leeds instructed volunteers to randomly walk around a spacious hall without speaking to one another. A few of the volunteers were given specific directions in advance of where to walk. Those who were given specific directions ended up influencing the people who were not. The key finding from this experiment was that it only takes about 5% of people who appear confident to influence the direction of the other 95% of the people in the crowd. The volunteers who didn’t receive instruction followed those who did without even realizing it.

Human beings are social creatures and herd behavior is one of the most powerful influences in our society. Social feeds on a website are a great way to leverage this theory. Consider posting photos of current supporters to your website (with their permission of course!) to showcase the people supporting the cause. Encourage supporters to post to social media about how they’re helping your nonprofit. If you want to check out a great example, GoFundMe expertly leverages the herd effect on their donation pages.

ONE Campus, an initiative from the ONE Campaign, also leveraged the herd effect by holding a competition among different colleges to see who could raise the most money. A public facing website showcased a leaderboard that was updated in real-time. This strategy leveraged the herd effect to incentive colleges to compete against one another which helped to catapult action.

#5 Scope Insensitivity

People are insensitive to the scope of the problem and they have a hard time really understanding what large numbers mean. This has been demonstrated in a research study that showed the number of lives saved (referred to as the scope of the altruistic action) has little effect on the donor’s willingness to pay. No human can visualize 20,000 lives, let alone 200,000 or 2 million. Researchers have found that an exponential increase in scope creates a linear increase in the donor’s willingness-to-pay.

When telling potential donors how many lives their donations can save, be mindful of scope insensitivity. We just don’t “get” numbers, but we do “get” stories. Which brings us back to our first theory, the identifiable victim effect. Rely on stories, not statistics, to convey your value proposition to potential donors. Because donors’ willingness-to-pay only increases linearly to an exponential increase in scope, consider limiting the scope in order to minimize the gap between the two. Alternatively, utilizing a smaller denominator is another effective mechanism for combatting scope insensitivity. For instance, instead of saying “# per year”, say “#/365 per day.”

So there you have it! The identifiable victim effect, anchoring, reciprocity, the herd effect, and scope insensitivity. Five of the most important behavioral economics theories for nonprofits to understand. Leveraging these theories in your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts is absolutely critical to keep your organization from being left in the dust of other savvier nonprofits.

About the author:

Nate Andorsky

Nate Andorsky

Nate Andorsky is the CEO of Creative Science. He spends every day thinking about how to use behavioral economics in the digital space to help nonprofits move people to action. He was born to be an entrepreneur and is certain he would be fired if he ever worked for anyone but himself again.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

10 Online Fundraising Ideas That Are Proven to Grow Your Revenue

Published by Brady Josephson

10 Online Fundraising Ideas Proven to Grow Revenue - Blog Image

After spending a year observing every online fundraising idea, test, and experiment being run by all the optimizers here at NextAfter, I found 10 online fundraising ideas that you need to be testing and implementing this year.

Let’s get right to it!

1. Focus on the 3 online fundraising metrics that really matter.

There are a ton of shiny objects in digital fundraising and marketing to get you distracted from real goal: increasing revenue.

3 Online Fundraising Metrics

To optimize your online fundraising, you’ve got to get laser-focused on the 3 metrics that we call The Flux Capacitor of Online Revenue Maximization.

The three online fundraising metrics that really matter are:

  1. Website Traffic
  2. Donation Conversion Rate
  3. Average Gift Size

Increasing any single one of these metrics is going to lead to more revenue. But increasing 2 or all 3 of these metrics is going to lead to exponentially more revenue.

To learn more about the FCORM metrics and how they relate to online fundraising revenue, read this blog post by Nathan Hill. Here, he breaks down what it is and how nonprofits can leverage it for higher online revenue.

But here’s the basics of what you need to know…

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Use these 3 metrics as your strategic framework. Anytime you and your team make a decision about a new online fundraising idea, activity, or strategy, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will it produce more traffic to my website?
  • Will it drive more of my traffic to donate?
  • Will it encourage donors to make bigger donations?

2. Think of your donor funnel as a donor mountain.

The Donor MountainReally this is more of a way of thinking than a strategy. But changing your perspective on the how your donors interact with you is critical.

We can’t pretend that donors are organically falling into a typical “sales funnel.” They’re not falling in at all. In fact, making a donation can be a lot of hard work.

A donor rarely wakes up thinking, “I’m going to donate to ORGANIZATION today.” Something has to prompt them to consider giving. And it’s your job to help them make the journey from being prompted, to actually completing a donation.

Your message is your main tool to help your donor up the mountain.

From the moment a donor is prompted to consider giving, there are distractions and micr-decisions all along the way.

You have to use the copy in your emails, on your landing pages, and on your donation page to explain why someone should keep moving forward to the ultimate goal of donating.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

A donation doesn’t happen in one step. You have to help your donor take a lot of little steps towards the ultimate goal of donating.

3. Your emails and donation pages need to be longer than you might think.

It’s often considered “best practice” to keep your copy (or your message) really short. But over and over again, testing and research shows that almost every organization needs to write longer copy.

Here’s why…

How more copy on an email signup form increased conversions

In this experiment, we wanted to increase email sign ups. The version on the left is what the vast majority of nonprofit email signup forms look like.

Online fundraising idea - Email newsletter signup form test image

The treatment on the right really has one substantial change…there is more copy explaining why you should sign up!

The new version says this: “Get exclusive access to breaking campus reform stories as they happen. Sign up below and we’ll keep you in the loop too.”

Adding two sentences and tweaking a headline increase email signups by 28%.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Use more copy to communicate why someone should sign up, click through, or donate.

Keep in mind, it’s not the length of copy that improves conversion. It’s how well your copy communicates why someone should give, or click, or sign up.

If you want to dig deeper into how you write better copy to increase conversion, you can check out this post on improving your value proposition.

4. Send your fundraising emails from real people to real people.

Almost every single email best practice out there recommends using some form of a designed email template. But here’s something most experts will never tell you (because they don’t dare test it)…

All the hours you spend designing emails are costing you donors and revenue.

“Well, how else are you supposed to do it, Brady?”

Just write an email like an average, everyday human being who doesn’t know how to create a flashy HTML email.

This is how real people write emails to their friends and family — and that there is a multitude of experiments and data to show that sending plain-text style emails is far more effective for raising money.

Here’s just one of numerous experiments that strongly suggest that a personal approach performs better than a heavily designed email.

How a more humanized email increase donations…by a lot!

Online fundraising idea - write a more personal email - imageIn the control on the left, you can see some graphic elements like the corporate logo and the big blue button below. The recipient’s name is personalized with their first name.

In the treatment on the right, we’ve removed these graphical elements and saw 145.5% increase in donations.

With these results in mind, try experimenting with your own email fundraising by:

  • Removing design elements so it looks more like a personal email.
  • Using copy/text that’s more personal and about your donor (like the second-person pronoun “you”).
  • Using a real person’s name and email as your email sender
  • Personalizing the email with the recipient’s name.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

People give to people, not email marketing machines. The more human and believable your email is, the more successful your online fundraising will be.

For more on making your emails more human, you can dive into a free online course on Email Fundraising Optimization here.

5. Send emails when others aren’t.

When I check my email in the morning, I often have 10, 20, 30 or more emails to sift through – depending on the day. But when I check email throughout the day, there’s not nearly as much to sift through all once.

You can stand out in the inbox by sending emails when others aren’t!

So what days are organization sending emails? Well, I’ve got some data for you on that.

In the month of December, we looked at all the emails we received in our aggregate donor inbox from hundreds of organizations and charted them.

Online fundraising idea - send email on the weekend chartWe found that weekends present an opportunity for nonprofits to stand out because they have lower send volumes from “competitor” organizations.

In fact, not only were email open rates optimized, the data shows an increase in average gift size from emails sent on the weekend too.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Try publishing your emails on weekends and during afternoons and evenings, when fewer organizations are sending emails. By sending during relatively quiet times, you’re more likely to be noticed.

6. You don’t always have to send more email to bring in more donations.

You can always send more emails to try and bring in more donations. But you don’t always have to do this to increase donations.

You can increase donations without adding more email sends to your calendar by using content marketing.

This is one of the coolest experiments in our research library. And it’s a perfect mashup of how direct mail and online fundraising come together to make even stronger donors.

Online fundraising idea - uses brand ads with direct mail imageIn this experiment, one half of the donors were sent a direct mail letter with a donation ask.

The other half were sent the same direct mail letter, but they were also targeted with brand ads on Facebook.

The goal wasn’t necessarily to get people to click on the ads. It was to make sure they were continually reminded of the organization.

The group that was targeted with brand ads saw a 25% increase in donations.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Create content (both organic and paid advertising) that reinforces the impact of donating. Use this to cultivate and prime your donors in order to make your direct donation asks even more effective.

Here’s another super cool experiment that shows how a personal post-card (without a donation ask) can lead to greater year-end giving.

7. Throw away your boring confirmation pages, and start using instant donation pages instead.

Last year, I went around and signed to receive emails from 152 organizations. And I made this startling find…

Only 48% of organizations used a confirmation page after an email signup.

You might be saying, “Why does that matter? My form shows a thank you message without using a new page.

Online fundraising idea - use an instant donation pageBut here’s the deal… A real confirmation page will let you:

  • Improve the user experience by letting users be 100% they’re done.
  • Continue the engagement by providing more interesting and useful content.
  • Track completions and conversions easier

Now, for those that are using confirmation pages, only 8% actually asked for a donation right away.

“But Brady…that’s so rude to ask someone who just signed up for an email to donate.”

I prefer to let the donor be the judge of that. And time and time again, we see new contacts becoming new donor instantly when using an instant donation page.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Instead of just showing a thank you message or standard confirmation page after someone signs up for an email, use an instant donation page to start acquiring new donors right away.

You can dig into the ins and outs of instant donation pages here.

8. Stop designing to make things look pretty. Start designing to make things more effective.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not anti-design.

I’m very pro-design. But that design has to be communicating the right message in a way that is empathetic to our donors.

Designing for the sake of being modern or pretty often leads to some pretty negative results. And just because Charity Water has a really cool looking page doesn’t mean that it’s the most effective thing for you.

We need to design with our donors in mind.

Take a look at how redesigning a donation page to make it more personal affected the actual revenue coming in from the page below…

How design impacts conversion on a donation page

Online fundraising idea - design your donation pages for effectiveness imageYou can see the original page here. It’s just one giant form. No value proposition copy. Hardly any personal copy at all. There’s also a load of distracting button links across the page.

Now, here’s the treatment version of that donation page.

You can see quickly how the design changed drastically on this page to be much simpler and have more value proposition copy.

This new layout saw a 340% increase in revenue.

In this experiment, we see how a “pretty” page became a lot less pretty – but it drastically improve donations.

Online fundraising idea - pretty design isn't always effective image

You don’t have to read the copy to see what changed in the design. The treatment opted to use less imagery and more copy to help donors understand why they should give.

The “less pretty” page saw a 134% increase in donations.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

The goal of design isn’t to be the prettiest, or the most modern. The goal is to get more donations.

Here are some of the essential elements we’ve found are proven to increase donations on your page.

9. Get rid of all other links on your landing pages and donation pages.

One of the easiest ways to improve and optimize your donation page performance is to remove all the unnecessary distractions from your donation page.

Every other link on your donation page is an opportunity for a donor to get distracted from the primary goal, and head off down a rabbit trail to something else.

Even something like a link to “login” can actually hurt your donations – primarily because remembering a username and password can be so incredibly frustrating.

Other examples of distracting links include:

  • Share this on social media
  • Follow us on Facebook
  • Look at Planned Giving options
  • Subscribe to our newsletter

The list goes on and on.

All of these options create friction in the process of giving and reduce the likelihood that your page visitor is going to donate.

Online fundraising idea - remove extra links imageRemoving the navigation from the donation page saw a 195% increase in donations!

In this experiment, we went a step further. It’s not just navigation links that can hurt donations. Even the most well intended links can be holding your donations back.

Online fundraising idea - remove other ways to give imageRemoving the “Other Ways to Give” link saw a 5.5% increase in donations.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Reduce friction anywhere you can. In your email marketing, donation pages, and website.

Wondering how much friction is actually on your donation page? Take the Friction Self Assessment and find out how you can optimize your donation pages!

10. Focus on recurring giving.

Recurring donors are worth a lot more in a year — and over their lifetime – than your other donors.

The State of Modern Philanthropy report shows that recurring donors are worth 5.4 times more than one-time donors over their lifetime.

Yet when we looked at 150 nonprofits in the U.S., we found that only one out of 11 organizations had a value proposition that explained why a donor should become a recurring giver.  

To increase the number of recurring donors, you need to answer the question: “Why should I give a recurring gift to you rather than a one-time gift… or to another organization… or not at all?”

How a recurring donation prompt increase recurring donor conversions

In this experiment, this organization showed a pop-up right when you clicked the “Donate” button. Before the gift was processed, they asked if you wanted to upgrade to a recurring donation.

It gave some strong reasons why a recurring donation (even with a smaller initial donation) was more effective.

Online fundraising idea - recurring donor popup

Using this recurring donor prompt led to a 64% increase in recurring donations.

Key Online Fundraising Idea

Increasing recurring donations can be transformational for your fundraising, and there are tons of ideas to test to try and grow this essential donor segment. Here are two ideas:

  • Give a reason as to why someone should make a recurring gift on your one-time donation page.
  • Place a recurring donation ask right before someone completes a one-time donation.

And if you want to go really deep on recurring giving, you can check out the free Nonprofit Recurring Donation Benchmark Study and get 30+ new strategies and online fundraising ideas to test based on data and research.

You can get the recurring donor report at

Need more ideas to grow your online fundraising?

Email Fundraising Optimization Course imageWe’ve developed (are continuing to develop) a series of online fundraising courses that will show you everything we’ve learned from 1,888 online fundraising experiments. These courses cover proven strategies to help you:

  • Grow your email fundraising
  • Improve conversion and revenue on your donation pages
  • Acquire more emails from your email acquisition landing pages
  • Use Facebook to acquire new donors
  • Set up and run a/b tests to learn what really works to grow
  • Create an effective online year-end fundraising campaign

Every single course is available for free. So if you want to dive deeper and learn proven ways to keep growing, you can activate your free courses at

About the author:


Brady Josephson

Brady is a charity nerd. He's an adjunct professor, fundraising writer, speaker, and podcast host and a huge Liverpool FC fan (#YNWA). At NextAfter, he oversees training and research to help nonprofits raise more money online to fund their life-changing work.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

3 Online Fundraising Metrics that Every Nonprofit Needs to Track

Published by Nathan Hill

3 Online Fundraising Metrics for Nonprofits to Track - blog image

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.

3 Online Fundraising MetricsBut 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!

How web traffic affects revenue - example image

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 you all you do is get the same donors to give a little bit moreyour 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.

How multiple metrics affect revenue - example image

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

3 Online Fundraising Metrics - Website TrafficLet’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 options that don’t require you to enter a credit card in order to boost your traffic. If you want to spend money, there’s 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:

  1. Don’t know about it
  2. 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 it 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 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

3 Online Fundraising Metrics - Donation Conversion RateOnce 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 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 1,888 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

3 Types of Donation Pages - template image

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 organizations 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

3 Online Fundraising Metrics - Average Gift SizeThe 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 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:

Value Proposition Example - Control

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:

Value Proposition Example - Treatment

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 average gift size by 16.2%.

Not only did improving the value proposition lead to more donations, it led to larger donations.

Determining Which Metric to Optimize First

Online Fundraising Benchmark Study

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 »

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

AB Testing Guide for Nonprofits

A/B testing is something that not a lot of nonprofits are doing well – but those that are running a/b tests are seeing major lifts in donations and revenue. So how exactly do you start setting up and running a/b tests at your nonprofit that lead to major lifts? I’m going to show you how in the A/B testing guide for nonprofits.

In the 8 steps below, you’ll learn exactly how to find where to test, what to test, and how to test. But before we get there, let’s look at why you need to be testing.

Why is a/b testing so important?

The answer here is actually really simple. Relying on your own intuition is no better than flipping a coin to determine which version is better.

But why should you take my word it? Let’s look at an example or two…

Which of these donation pages is going to bring in the most donations? The all text page or the page with a video?

Text vs Video a/b test


If you’ve read more of our blogs than just this one, you probably know the answer already. But this is an area we get questioned on more often than almost anything else.

The correct answer?

The all text page saw a 560% increase in donations!

Without testing, we would have no idea. And even if you’re one of the few fundraisers that would have picked an all text page over a page with a video, would you have been willing to risk a 560% change in donations without testing it first? 

Let’s look at one more test that’s a little more nuanced.

Which email below brought in more donations? If you can’t read the text, just click on the image to pull it up full screen.

Email A vs Email B - a/b test

Honestly, I could make an argument for why either of these should win based all the fundraising “best practices” that are circulating out there.

Here’s the answer…

Email B increased donations by 360%!

Did you get that one right? Even if you did, were you 100% confident? Confident enough to risk a 360% change in donations?

Where should you start a/b testing?

The simplest answer is to ask yourself the question, “Where can I get the most return for my effort?”

But I bet if you asked that question even to your closest colleagues, you would get wildly different responses. So here’s what I would suggest…

3 Key Online Fundraising MetricsStart testing areas of your fundraising that influence these 3 key metrics: web traffic, donations, and average gift.

These 3 metrics each have a direct impact on revenue. And if you’re a/b tests start improving revenue, it will be much easier to get others to care about what you’re doing.

If you want some specific test ideas to start with, check out these 5 common fundraising “best practices” that you should stop assuming work, and start testing new, proven strategies.

Ok. I could go on and on about where to start testing, but let’s get into the A/B testing guide. Here are the 8 key steps to launching an effective and valid nonprofit A/B test.

1. Identify Your Conversion Goal

First, you need to define the goal that you’re trying to accomplish. Without a clearly stated goal up front, you will never have a clear understanding of whether or not your test was successful.

Your conversion goal will give you the framework to design your a/b test and craft your hypothesis.

If you want to improve your donation page, your conversion goal might be the “total number of donations.”

If you want to traffic from a banner ad to a landing page, your conversion goal might be “clicks” or “landing page visits.”

If you want to improve your email newsletter form, your conversion goal might be “form submissions.”

Once you’ve identified the specific metric you’re hoping to improve, you can move on to step #2.

2. Make Sure You Can Measure Your Conversion Goal.

If you can’t track it, you can’t A/B test it. And if you can’t A/B test it, you can’t optimize it. And if you can’t optimize it, well…then you’re potentially leaving huge amounts of donations on the table as you saw in the examples above.

Google analytics is your essential tool for measuring your goals.

To measure your conversion goals, there is one thing you need to set up, and one thing you really, really should set up to get the most out of you’re a/b testing.

You need to set up conversion goals in Google Analytics.

Need some helping setting up your Google Analytics goals? There’s a great post from Neil Patel on 4 types of Google Analytics goals. In short, you can set up 4 different types of goals based on:

  • URLs
  • Visit Duration
  • Pages Per Visit
  • Google Analytics Event

For almost all of the a/b testing you’ll start out with, you’re going to either use a URL goal (triggered when someone visits a specific URL like your donation form’s confirmation page) or a Google Analytics Event goal (triggered by an event that fires when a form is submitted).

Google Analytics Goal Types

You really, really should set up eCommerce tracking.

Now, I understand that eCommerce tracking is much harder to set up than a basic conversion goal. So if you can’t get it set up right away, that shouldn’t stop you from testing. But the more you run a/b tests, the more you’re going to want to track the actual revenue that’s resulting from your testing.

Why is eCommerce tracking so important?

eCommerce tracking will let you see exactly what you’re a/b tests are doing to your revenue. In some cases, you might be getting more clicks or visits to a landing page, but actually hurting your revenue. This may sound counter-intuitive, but it happens more often than you might think.

Here’s an a/b test where we an increase in email clicks, but a decrease in donations.

If you don’t measure revenue, your test could appear to be positive, but actually hurt you where it matters most.

3. Craft Your A/B Testing Hypothesis

Once you know exactly what you want to improve, and you know that you can measure your goal, you need to define your hypothesis.

A good hypothesis will address the specific idea that you can think can make an impact on your conversion goal.

Example Hypothesis:Removing friction from the giving process by eliminating unnecessary form fields will increase donations.”

This hypothesis tells you the specific variables that you’re a/b test will look at. It makes it clear that your treatment or challenger page will have fewer form field than your control (original page).

In this example, your treatment might remove fields like “gift designation,” or “Make this gift in honor of…,” or other fields that are not absolutely essential to processing the donation.

Changing multiple variables at once

Some would argue that your hypothesis has to isolate one specific variable. If you change too much, you don’t really know what part of your test actually made an impact.

While this is true, your hypothesis can be crafted in a way that allows you test multiple elements at once – so long as they support the foundation of the hypothesis.

Example: A more personal email will lead to more donations.

This hypothesis addresses a specific idea, but it opens the door to change multiple elements in your email. Your control could be a heavily designed template, and your treatment can be a plain-text email with more personal copy. While multiple elements are changed, it all supports the underlying hypothesis.

Here’s an a/b test where multiple variables changed, yet the experiment remained sound.

Once you have your hypothesis created, write it down! You don’t want to forget why you ran the test, or what the over-arching idea was. You’ll want to keep your hypothesis so you can document what you’ve learned after the a/b test is complete.

4. Calculate Your Estimated Sample Size

Before you run your a/b test, you need to make sure that it’s possible to get a valid result.

To do so, you have to calculate your estimated sample size. All this means is that you need to figure out how many people need to see your a/b test in order to get a reliable result.

For instance, if your test increases donations by 50%, but only 20 people actually visited your donation page, it’s possible that this increase in donations was just the result of random chance.

There are some great tools out there to calculate exactly how many people need to see your a/b test in order to get a valid result. Here are a couple to choose from:

A Quick Walkthrough of Sample Size Calculation

If this is all new to you, here’s a quick explanation of how to use the Optimizely tool I listed above.

First, enter you Baseline Conversion Rate

This is the conversion rate that you would normally expect to see. If it’s a donation page, your conversion rate would be the number of donation divided by the number of visitors.

If your conversion goal is email clicks, your conversion rate would be the number of clicks divided by the number of emails sent.

Second, enter the Minimum Detectable Effect. This is the minimum amount of change you’d like to be able to measure. So if you hope to see a minimum of a 20% increase in donations as a result of your test, enter 20%.

Third, enter your desired level of Statistical Significance. We always recommend using 95% for this number. Statistical Significance is the likelihood that you’ll see this same result in the future.

For example, a 95% statistical significance essential means you’ll see the same result 95 out of 100 times. A 50% statistical significance is basically the equivalent of a coin toss – the result could go either way with equal odds.

After entering these 3 numbers, you’ll receive your Sample Size per Variation. This is the amount of traffic (or people) you need to see each version of your experiment. If you need 1,000 samples per variation, that means 1000 people need to see your control and 1000 people need to see your treatment.

Example A/B Test Sample Size Calculation

Once you’ve calculated your needed sample size, you need to make sure you’re a/b test is actually capable of getting enough traffic.

If your donation page doesn’t get enough traffic, test something earlier in the donation process. Try testing a fundraising email first.

5. Design Your Treatment

Half way there. The planning stage of you’re a/b test is done. Now it’s time for the fun part: designing your treatment.

Your test design is made up of at least 2 variants – your control and your treatment. The control is your original page, email, form, etc. The treatment is your challenger or the new design you want to test.

To design the treatment for your a/b test, you’ll want to keep your hypothesis in mind. If your hypothesis is as simple as “Removing the image in the email will increase clicks,” then your design will be really easy.

All you have to do is get rid of the image.

Designing for a more complex hypothesis gets tricky. If your hypothesis is something like “A more empathetic messaging tone will increase donations from an email fundraising appeal,” you have a little more work to do.

Every element you change has to support your hypothesis. With the example above, you shouldn’t change the color of your call-to-action links, or use a completely different email design. But you would likely have major changes to your email copy throughout.

This can get pretty complicated, so it’s best to have a colleague double check your a/b test design to make sure aligns with your hypothesis.

Our friends at ConversionXL have a great post on how to craft one of these more “radical redesigns.” You can read more about radical treatment designs here.

Once your treatment is designed, you’re ready to set up your experiment.

6. Set Up Your Experiment

You’re getting to the home stretch! Time to set up your well-planned experiment.

Setting up an experiment on your website

It used to be that you had to shell out some cash for a tool like Optimizely in order to run a good a/b test. But with Google Optimize, the vast majority of your testing can be done for free.

So that’s what’s next. If you don’t have a Google Optimize account, you can create one just using your normal Google Analytics login. If you need help getting it set-up, this post from Google has got you covered.

Once your account is all set up, you’ll create a new experiment. In many cases, you can edit the actual page elements right from Google Optimize without having to touch any code.

You can set your URL targeting, change what percentage of your web traffic sees your control and treatment, and set your conversion goal. Remember how we set that up in step 2? This is where all that hard work pays off.

Google will even help you preview your experiment to make sure everything’s being tracked properly. Here’s what your dashboard looks like once your experiment is running.

Google Optimize Screenshot

Once you’ve got everything configured, do one last test to make sure everything’s firing properly. Open the page you’re testing in an “Incognito Window” and see if it gives you the control or treatment. Then close the window and open a new one until you’ve seen and tested both your control and treatment.

Setting up an email experiment

Most email marketing tools will let you run an a/b test without any additional tools, fancy coding, or jerry-rigging of the platform. If you don’t know how to do it with your email tool, contact customer support.

If your email tool can’t run a/b tests, there’s a way to hack it. You can manually divide your email list into 2 parts and send two separate emails. Just make sure your lists are divided randomly, and not between key segments like “donors vs non-donors.”

*If you have to hack it like this, you’re using the wrong email tool. Time to start looking for a new platform.

If you don’t have an email tool, start with Mailchimp. It’s free up to 2,000 contacts and it will let you run a/b tests. It’s by far the best tool to use if you have a small list or are just starting out. Plus, there are tons of integrations to get your data into other common online fundraising tools.

7. Validate Your Results and Document Your Learnings

You’re a/b tests don’t matter if no one learns from them. 

If you don’t document your results, you’ll never remember what you learned. And one day you’ll be sitting in a meeting where someone asks, “Why don’t we have a video on our donation page anymore?”

If you document your experiment, you can easily show that the video on your page was killing donations. If you don’t document your experiment, it’s just their word against yours.

Logging your experiments is super easy and totally free on 

WinstonKnows a/b test tool Screenshot

It has never been easier to document your experiments. We built this slick tool called that will give you your very own research library, allow you to log every experiment you run, and give you an infinite archive to keep track of everything you’re learning.

Plus, there’s a cool dashboard to show all your big wins. You can use that to help get yourself a little promotion when the time is right.

Winston Knows Dashboard and Library

But it gets even better…

You can also connect your Google Optimize account, Mailchimp, Hubspot, Unbounce, and other common testing tools so your a/b test results get pulled in automatically. It’s literally like magic.

When you’re all done logging you’re a/b test, will give you a short little URL that you can use for step 8…

8. Share Your Results and Change the World

If what you learned from you’re a/b test never gets seen by anyone else besides yourself and your closest colleagues, how can you ever hope to see major growth?

If you work at a nonprofit, sharing these learnings can lead to entire organizational culture transformation. And organizational culture change can be one of the biggest factors leading to online fundraising growth.

If you’re a consultant that works with nonprofits, the best way to get more buy-in from those organizations is to share your learnings with them. And by doing so, you empower those nonprofits to apply those learnings in other areas in order to increase their impact.

No problem or challenge is ever solved by withholding data. So if you want to see generosity increase and the causes you care most about have a bigger impact, sharing your learnings is essential.

Need some new ideas to test in your online fundraising?

The Year-End Donation Page imageCheck out our free online courses covering donation pages, landing pages, email fundraising, year-end fundraising, donor acquisition, and more. You’ll find research driven and proven ideas to test in your fundraising in order to grow your revenue and impact.

Learn more and activate a free course at

About the author:


Kevin Peters

Kevin is a proud Fightin' Texas Aggie. Enough said.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

5 Online Fundraising Habits to Stop This Year - Blog image

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:

How stripping out branding in an offer email affects clickthrough rate (Experiment #7466)


Treatment #1

19.69% Increase to Clicks

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:

How creating a "shortcut" to the donation form affects conversion (Experiment #2107)


Treatment #1

28.16% Decrease to Conversions

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.

How first-name personalization affects email engagement (Experiment #5707)


Treatment #1

270.07% Increase to 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)


Treatment #1

134.19% Increase to Conversions

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:

How additional friction from a verification screen affects revenue (Experiment #3712)


Treatment #1

175.62% Increase to Donations

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:

How subject line personalization affects open rate (Experiment #4307)


Treatment #1

137.19% Increase to Opens

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:

How a personal tone affects donations in an email fundraising appeal (Experiment #4171)


Treatment #1

145.5% Increase to Conversions

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%:

How the addition of value proposition impacts donor conversion (Experiment #6623)


Treatment #1

150.15% Increase to Conversions

4. Start Tracking Your Campaigns Properly

UTM MakerEvery 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.

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

4 Reasons Donors Don’t Give to You that You Can Fix with Better Copywriting

Published by Nathan Hill

4 Reasons Donors Don't Give to You that You Can Fix with Copywriting image

Amy Harrison pictureGenerating traffic is only half the battle. Amy Harrison of Write with Influence shares how you can write persuasive marketing copy that will help you get a donor from “No” to “Yes, I’ll give!”

Good copywriting is essential to optimizing conversions on all of your digital marketing campaigns. So today, we’re bringing you an excerpt from Amy Harrison’s 2018 NIO Summit session on “Getting Past No.”

If you’d like, you can actually, watch the entire session in the video below.

And if you want to be there next time for more high-quality, field-tested wisdom like this to optimize your digital fundraising success, sign up for the next Nonprofit Innovation & Optimization Summit!

Copywriting: The Marketing Amplifier

People don’t do things because it’s the right thing to do. And they don’t do things just because they’re told to.

You’ve got to persuade them — and copywriting is the language of persuasion.

The rest of this post will look at 4 reasons why your ideal donor often says “no” to donating that can be overcome with better copywriting.

Here we go…

Why is your ideal donor saying “No”?

When you sit down to write copy, you’re probably thinking, “Why should the donor give to my organization?”

But that’s not the right place to start. It’s better to ask, “Why are they not donating?”

This starting question makes you more inquisitive and more critical of your copy. It helps you to eliminate the barriers that stop your donors from giving.

Here are the four most common barriers donors have to giving to you.

They can’t see your offer.

The first reason donors don’t give is because they can’t see the offer clearly. It may sound crazy, but the truth is there are a lot of funny things we do that hide our offer from the donor.

Often we try to be too clever with our words, passionate in our tone, or too emotive in our message. Donors get lost in it and don’t see what you’re asking them to do.

Don’t try to be mysterious or clever in your copy. Tell your donor what’s going on in simple language.

Take this email experiment for example. In the control email subject line, we’re trying to arouse the donor’s curiosity.

Email Subject Line - Control

But in the second email line, we get a little more direct and tell the donor what’s inside the email.

Email Subject Line - Treatment

It’s about the best stuff we’ve read this week. There’s still mystery, but the donor now knows what kind of mystery it is.

The second email saw a 26% increase in traffic.

The Danger of Ambiguity

Another way organizations inadvertently hide their offer is by being ambiguous, or as Amy puts it, “easy oasy.”

“Easy oasy” is the feeling you get when you read fundraising copy and it’s as if the nonprofit really doesn’t have an opinion on whether or not the donor gives. They could donate, or they could go do something else. “I’m easy oasy.”

Easy Oasy Copywriting example

Whatever. Give if you like. Don’t give if you don’t like. Either way, we’re fine. We’re “easy oasy”!

But do you see what happened in this experiment when ambiguity was removed, and the call to action was clearly articulated?

There was a 78% increase in conversions over the “easy oasy” control. Don’t hide your offer in ambiguity.

They have beliefs that make them say “No.”

People use false beliefs all the time to put off doing something. False beliefs include…

“This is impossible. My gift won’t do anything.”

“There’s no real urgent need, so I’ll give later.”

That’s why you’ve got to use your copy to address those false beliefs and show them why they’re wrong.

This is demonstrated in the results of an experiment we conducted with a public policy group that was gathering signatures for a petition.

The objective of the landing page was to thank the petition signer and persuade them to top it all off with a donation to the cause.

Donation Page Headline Control

In the control, the offer is clear, but it doesn’t emphasize just how much the donor’s gift will mean for the cause.

The donor may very well be thinking, “Great, I signed a petition. But what good will this do?”

So in the treatment, we ramped up the idea of what an individual donation can do right now. Instead of a basic “Thank you for joining the fight” headline, the treatment said “Thank you! Your signature at a time like this is critical for three reasons…”

Donation Page Headline Treatment

The new donation page that emphasized how critical the donor’s participation is produced a 125.6% increase in revenue compared to the control.

So tackle the false beliefs your donor might have straight on –and remove them one by one.

They don’t think what you do is important enough.

When a donor hesitates to give because they don’t think your work is important enough, it’s usually because the copy does not articulate the impact of what you do well enough. There are a few levels of showing impact in your copy.

Here’s an example of an organization that provides food to families in areas where disaster has stuck. First, they can show what their organization can do with the gift. For example, a donation of $35 can provide enough food to sustain a hungry family for a month.

Second, there’s the impact level of what the family is able to do when this basic need is met. Having this need met means the family doesn’t have to split up to find food. They can be together, comfort each other, and ensure each other are safe.

And lastly, there’s the final level of impact that shows the ultimate outcome for this family. The donor is providing peace of mind, less stress, and one less difficulty to sort out as they figure out what’s next.

All of this, for $35. And that sounds a whole lot better than just buying some cheap groceries.

Your copy needs to remind donors of the impact their gift can make using examples of each level of impact.

This increases desire in your donor to give.

They don’t trust you.

We live in a broken world with many nonprofits that mishandle donor gifts or simply aren’t able to make a significant impact with the funds they’re given.

Understandably, many donors don’t blindly trust the claims of organizations or businesses for that matter.

To get around this barrier, write copy that shows how you’re different than all those other organizations without calling them out or criticizing them.

Identify potential frustrations your donors might have with other organizations (that shall remain nameless) and show them why they can trust you to be different. We call this exclusivity, and you can read more about it in our research study on nonprofit value proposition.

One frustration many donors have is that organizations can be impersonal and corporate-like.

So in the experiment below, we took a standard email appeal and stripped away all the corporate branding and imagery. You can see in the test email that without all the corporate brand elements, the email looks more personal, like it came from a friend.

Email Template Example

Friends don’t use logos when they send emails. They just type.

The more personal email saw an 80.3% increase in traffic by addressing a common donor frustration.

You don’t have to go head to head with “competitors” and explain why your organization is better. You just have to identify frustrations and then show how your organization is uniquely equipped to serve your cause well.

There’s so much more! But I can’t fit it all into a single blog post.

Get brand new strategies and tactics that you can apply at your organization to improve your digital marketing and grow your online fundraising revenue by getting a free ticket to NIO Summit 2020.

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.

The world's most mind-bending virtual phenomenon for online fundraising & digital marketing... NIO SummitLearn More »

A Thanksgiving Lesson on Donation Page Optimization

Published by Nathan Hill

Thanksgiving Optimization Blog image

The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably Googled “how to cook a turkey” in hopes of finding a step-by-step guide on how to cook the best turkey you’ve ever eaten in your life.

With searches like this, you find all sorts of ideas and opinions that often give you conflicting information. And how are you supposed to know which “best practice” is right for you?

  • Ways to Cook a TurkeyShould I bake the turkey?
  • Should I brine the turkey?
  • Should I smoke the turkey?
  • Should I deep fry the whole thing?

After 10 minutes of being overwhelmed with articles like “25 Ways to Cook a Turkey” (yes, there are apparently 25 different ways), we’re left planning to cook the turkey the same way as always – like mom used to make it.

But what if there is truly a best way to cook your Thanksgiving turkey? How could we go about proving that one way is better than another?

The answer is optimization. Not only can it help you cook a better turkey, but it can also prove what works to convert more donors and raise more money on your donation page.

My Thanksgiving Hypothesis

To get started, I need a hypothesis. A hypothesis should be an idea you have about your donation page, email, advertisement, or turkey that could help improve performance. My hypothesis is this:

Hypothesis: A deep-fried turkey will be more enjoyable than an oven-baked turkey.

After defining my hypothesis, I need to convert it into a research question – something we can actually measure and answer with data. If you’re optimizing your donation page, you might look at total conversions. With a turkey, you might measure how many people say “Mmmm…”

But an “Mmmm…” could mean a lot of different things. So let’s go with something more concrete: the number of post-turkey-dinner-naps.

Research Question: Which turkey will cause more people to take a post-turkey-dinner nap? 

Next, I need to define my treatments. Which turkey cooking methods (or designs, copy, form fields, etc.) am I actually testing? In this case, I have my control and one treatment:

Control: Oven-Baked Turkey

Oven Baked Turkey

Treatment: Deep Fried Turkey

Deep Fried Turkey

Running A Valid Thanksgiving Test

Before I get ready to run my test, I need to make sure that I’ve considered any environmental factors that could skew my results.

If you’re trying to test too many variables at once (design changes, form fields, copy changes, etc), you’re going to have a hard time knowing what variable affected your results.

In this case, my results could be skewed by someone eating more mashed potatoes than anyone else. Or maybe having one too many glasses of wine. In the same way, if I change both the headline and the design of my donation form, how will I know which change caused more conversions?

To ensure I get a valid learning, I need to make sure that all turkey-eaters have the same Thanksgiving spread. My personal go-to dishes include:

  • Thanksgiving MealMashed potatoes (with brown gravy)
  • Real cranberry sauce (not the gelatin kind…)
  • Stuffing (more savory than sweet)
  • Green bean casserole (not because I like it, but because it’s tradition)
  • And pumpkin pie (made with Libby’s pumpkin)

You’ll also want to make sure you’re collecting your data properly. Be sure to define what constitutes a nap before hand. Is it 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour?

On a donation page test, you’ll want to make sure your analytics tools are properly tracking donations for your various treatments, and that nothing is skewing your data.

Once you’ve considered and eliminated all validity threats, you’re ready to run your test.

Cook the turkeys. Set the table. Feast.

Determining the Champion Turkey

As the results come in, you’ll want to make sure they’re valid. You’ll need to have a large enough sample size (people eating your turkey, or visiting your donation page) and a statistical level of confidence of 95% or greater. If this is too much for you to calculate on a holiday, we have a free experiment validator tool you can use.

After plugging in your results, you may realize that your sample size is too low. In that case, you’ll want to grow your email file for next year so you can invite more people to your Thanksgiving meal. We have a resource for that as well called 6 Ways to Grow Your Email File.

Campaign Donation Page TemplateAnd if you wake up from your Thanksgiving coma realizing that you could use these same optimization principles on your donation page to grow your fundraising exponentially…we have just the tool to help you get started.

Inspire more generosity this year-end season by crafting a high-converting year-end campaign donation page. Download your free copy of the Campaign Donation Page guide with 21 ideas that you can test.

About the author:

Nathan Hill

Nathan Hill

Nathan is the Marketing Director for NextAfter. He spends every day working to help nonprofit organizations discover how testing and optimization can transform their marketing and fundraising, leading to greater impact and organizational growth. He is also a giant Star Wars nerd.