Digital Fundraising Top-Tips No#1: Stop Asking For Money.

The surprisingly effective approach to higher donor revenue

Every charity is at a different stage in their digital journey, and there is no one-size fits all approach to what will work, but every charity knows it is a vital part of their fundraising and marketing strategy. The move to more digitally sophisticated strategies was already well underway pre-pandemic but the COVID19-era of lockdowns and uncertainty has added a turbo-charged determination to plan and execute this transformation across the entire sector.

As part of the REAL family, Digital has launched a suite of services that can assist you in all stages of this digital journey; furthermore, in these coming weeks and months, we will be sharing our top tips, strategies and insights to help you plan and execute this work, articles that will support you moving to the next stage of your roadmap; whether you are just setting out, are already on the move or running advanced digital fundraising campaigns already.

We begin with our No #1 top tip

Stop Asking for Money!

A slightly sensationalist subhead, we admit, as it does require the qualifying phrase ‘all the time’.

Charities have to constantly balance the need to curate a community with the demand to fund their vitally important work. More often than not that funding need wins out and, coupled with the fact that charities have never been under more financial duress than during this pandemic, the impulse to create a financial ‘ask’ at every touchpoint is an entirely understandable one. But it is a self-fulfilling prophecy; by ignoring the power of inbound marketing, of nurturing potential donors, and ensuring you bring your a-game to retention (and dramatically slice those attrition rates), it’s a vicious circle with an ever-blurring exit door.

The immediate answer lies in continuing your current acquisition campaigns to maintain cashflows and planning for a future with a more sustainable and steady income stream.

How do you do it? At its core, lies one simple truth: Value your donors. And not just with a message thanking them for donating. Donors should be looked upon as partners in your cause and treated accordingly — in how you attract them, how you qualify yourself to them, and how you treat them — or in terms of the flywheel model (one that has replaced the traditional funnel) — Inspire, Engage and Delight, a framework that applies to your newest prospects all the way through to your most reliable donors.

If you are looking for a new partner, asking them for money every time you see them is unlikely to result in a long-term sustainable relationship. They want to understand your values, beliefs and goals; your achievements; and for their relationship with you to deepen, they want to understand where their money is being spent and, ultimately, if it’s helping. They want to feel valued.

Facts & Figures

Let us break it down for you with some cold, hard data:

  • Online research in 2020 showed that 84% of consumers use online services to research brands before deciding on purchasing a product or service.
  • 84% of people expect brands to produce content that entertains, provides solutions, and produces experiences and events.
  • Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional methods.
  • On average it takes 6–8 touchpoints to convert a prospect

This data may be from the commercial world, but consumers and donors are not separate beings — your charity is a brand, fighting to cut through the noise, the same as any other. And as expectation shifts in the commercial sector, so too will it in the third sector.

In the third sector:

  • 66% of 25–34s and 82% of 55–64s cite trustworthiness as the most important factor in giving.
  • 60% of donors cite how an organisation will use their donation as a deciding factor on giving.
  • 52% cite evidence the organisation is having an impact as a deciding factor.
  • 30% cite regular reporting on progress as a deciding factor.
  • 55% stated they want to feel connected to a charity and its fellow supporters.

Donors want to trust charities they give to, understand where their money is being spent, the effectiveness of that money in the cause, and to feel part of a community.

Sources: Digital 22Sprout SocialThink GoogleBlackbaud/CIoFHubspot

How will this benefit us?

In HubSpot’s article and report ‘How to run a lean, mean, non-profit marketing machine’ they tell the story of National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), a non-profit focused on improving the well-being of children through the promotion of responsible fatherhood. After becoming a recognised voice at every level from government to community since their inception in the early 90s, they noticed drop-off in recognition, donations and effectiveness as we moved into the digital age. Exploring new means of communication, adopting inbound marketing and retention strategies, they soon achieved a 40% increase in organic traffic, a 5.3X database growth of new constitutions, and an 11% reduction in annual marketing spend.

Recently, an agency ran a study for a non-profit client to discover the results of nurturing a sample group of donors over time. The results:

  • After 3 months, 10% had converted.
  • After 6 months, 15% had converted.
  • After 12 months, 30% had converted.
  • After 24 months, 70% had converted.

Demonstrating your value and that you value your community, and potential donors, will drive up donor acquisition at a fraction of the cost.

And, with research stating that a 10% increase in donor retention can raise the lifetime value of a non-profits donor database by 200% [Fundly], the economics of creating value all throughout the donor journey become impossible to ignore.

How can we put this into action?

Charities are all at different stages in their roadmap for inbound and retention strategies. But wherever you are, at the heart of everything you do in fundraising, you must remember — you are communicating with a community of valued partners. But to put this into action, you must truly understand who these partners are.

It may be an obvious point to make but it’s one worth stating for clarity — as you make you plans to refocus your energy and goals on a new or evolved strategy, this work should happen concurrently with your current digital fundraising and marketing plans, giving you time to develop and execute your transformative strategy.

Creating your new digital fundraising plan

  1. Define your new goals
  2. Understand your audiences
  3. Craft key messages
  4. Determine your fundraising and marketing strategies
  5. Test, analyse and optimise

DEFINE YOUR NEW GOALS: Use a series of SMART objectives to set your new goals, based around adding value to your prospective and current donor base.

UNDERSTAND YOUR AUDIENCES: It is important to have mapped your donor personas based on your currently available data and research. Understand who these donors are, what they are interested in, and what drives them. Then segment these donors to communicate in a timely, relevant and appropriate way. If you already work with developed personas and segments, it is important to revise these at least every 12 months to ensure they are still relevant.

MAP KEY MESSAGES: Now you have segmented your audiences it is important to craft your messages, based on your SMART goals, that are relevant to each segment of your audience — think about what is important to them, what drives that behaviour, and therefore how to deliver the most engaging message.

DETERMINE YOUR FUNDRAISING/MARKETING STRATEGIES: Once you have completed these first 3 vital steps, you are ready to begin planning your strategies and tactics. In marketing and fundraising, it is important you take an omni-channel approach. Whether online or offline, marketing or fundraising, you must consider the whole donor journey to determine strategies, tactics and content to give them the complete 360 valued experience that is mapped to your audience behaviours and needs.

TEST, ANALYSE AND OPTIMISE: We all know the power data now gives us in optimising to achieve success. By setting your own testing framework — from audience, to tactics, to messaging — and adopting an always-on approach to data analysis, these insights can ensure high ROI and achieve successes to take your fundraising to new heights.

Whatever stage you are at with developing your digital fundraising strategy, ensuring the fundamentals are in place builds a solid foundation to create your success. In the future, we will be taking a deeper dive into all different aspects and elements of the digital world to assist you in this journey.

If you would like to talk with REAL about how we can partner with you in delivering a greater ROI in your digital fundraising, you can learn more about our digital services here.

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