Through an arrangement with TechSoup, PND is pleased to offer a series of articles about the effective use of technology by nonprofits.

8 Digital Fundraising Tips for 2018

8 Digital Fundraising Tips for 2018

Digital fundraising is constantly evolving, so it's important to stay on top of emerging trends and take advantage of new tools. Here are eight tips you can use now to better engage your supporters and raise more money.

1. Use pop-up lightboxes during fundraising campaigns. Lightboxes are pop-up graphics that appear after a few seconds of visiting a website. They're a surefire way to grab the attention of your website visitors and highlight a specific fundraising campaign.

You can configure lightboxes to only show up on your most-viewed pages and to show up only once per visit (so that you don't irritate your visitors). For an example of a lightbox, check out the Snow Leopard Trust website. (The lightbox pops up after you scroll around for a few seconds.)

2. Make monthly giving the default. Historically, one-time giving was the default, but now the trend is to make monthly giving the standard. Monthly giving means you can offer a donation amount that can be broken up into small chunks ($10 per month versus a one-time donation of $120), making it more "digestible." Giving monthly also tends to resonate with people who are recent donors, frequent givers, and multi-channel donors (such as those who have already made a gift in the mail).

3. Ensure that your marketing campaigns are mobile. In 2017, 24 percent of all online donations were made on a mobile device. As the number increases, it's important that you have a mobile-responsive website and emails. One way to track how much traffic you're getting from mobile devices is to look at your Google Analytics metrics (or those from whatever website tracking tool you use). If more than 20 percent of your online donations are mobile, make sure all your marketing campaigns are mobile-friendly.

4. Use multi-step donation pages. Instead of one long and overwhelming donation form, use several screens to make the process more engaging. Breaking things up into several user-friendly steps makes the experience more interactive, and it also gives users the feeling that they're making progress toward an end point.

5. Implement abandoned cart recovery tools. These days, special tracking tools make it easy to track who has added a donation to their cart and then abandoned it. To recover those donors, you can run targeted marketing campaigns aimed at converting them into actual donors. Perhaps they hesitated because of the donation amount, or maybe they needed more information on your organization before committing. Send targeted follow-up emails to these users with more information on your organization, or offer an alternative amount that makes it easier for them to complete the donation process.

6. Choose a donor platform that's fully integrated. Many donor platforms now have improved mobile tools, are social media–friendly, and have credit card management systems. (For a side-by-side comparison, check out this useful chart from Idealware.) Having this level of integration allows you to develop a complete picture of who your donors are and what they're doing on your site. Such a picture will enable you to run smarter campaigns based on your donors' activities and donation amounts.

7. Include countdown clocks in your emails. According to an M+R Benchmarks study, email fundraising revenue increased by 24 percent in 2017 and accounted for 28 percent of all online giving. The study also stated that for every thousand fundraising email messages delivered, nonprofits raised $36. Email is a very quantifiable tool that allows you to see open rates all the way through to the completion of the donation.

Trends in email include mobile responsive templates (see above) and countdown clocks. Countdown clocks help recipients "experience" the urgency of the campaign and visualize, in concrete terms, how close or far your organization is from its goal.

8. Personal fundraising campaigns for birthdays. In 2017, Facebook introduced a personal fundraising tool that allows users to ask friends to donate to a specific organization. Nonprofits, especially smaller organizations, can leverage the tool by activating a team of supporters and equipping them with what they need to launch personal fundraising campaigns on your behalf. 

Additional Resources: Digital Fundraising for Nonprofits

Michael Stein is a writer and digital strategist for progressive social causes and the author of three books chronicling the rise of digital marketing, mobile, and online fundraising. He currently serves as senior director of partnerships at EveryAction, where he heads up its West Coast office.