Awareness is a giveaway goal for digital marketing – especially when your organization relies on donors and fundraising to further its mission. Increasing awareness about a nonprofit’s cause and the communities it serves is essential, but digital marketing goals shouldn’t stop there. Nonprofit marketers can, and should, use digital strategies and tactics like lead generation and storytelling to actually move the needle on fundraising goals. 

Use social media for action, not just awareness

Social media is particularly prone to the awareness excuse. But native features like Donation Stickers on Instagram and TikTok or Facebook’s Donate Buttons make it easy to integrate fundraising into a nonprofit’s social media activity, organic and paid. Although the algorithms favor personal content over branded content, organizations can benefit from the peer-to-peer influence of social media. The more traction a fundraiser gains organically among an individual’s personal network, the more they are exposed and influenced to participate. 

While social media networks want to keep users engaged on their platforms, they can also successfully drive users to off-network fundraising hubs. The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022 report by Classy found that Facebook is best for driving traffic to fundraising landing pages (83.4 percent of traffic) followed by Instagram (11.5 percent of traffic). Social media ads targeted to relevant audiences with action-oriented messaging can drive significant results. So use the native tools alongside your fundraising landing pages to drive real results through both paid promotions and organic content. 

Prioritize channels with the highest donor conversion rates

As you plan your campaigns, place an emphasis on the digital marketing channels that are proven to convert the most donors. Every organization is different, so analyze your previous campaigns to identify which channels have the highest conversion rates. Classy’s report shows that the top channels for converting campaign page visitors to donors are direct traffic (29 percent of page visitors), email (27 percent), and social media (16 percent). With this in mind, make sure that the donor experience on your website and landing pages is optimized for direct visits. Email should be a priority in any fundraising initiative, so segmented email campaigns with personalized messaging are key. 

Nurture and retain donors with personalized email outreach

Email marketing should be as personalized as possible. For donor audiences, segmentation and messaging can be based on a donor’s age, location, previous donation activity (donation amounts, areas of giving, etc.), and other available data. Use this information to demonstrate how their individual gifts are making a difference. CCS Fundraising’s 2022 Philanthropy Pulse report shows that 41 percent of participating nonprofit leaders cited donor retention and stewardship as a top challenge for 2022 behind donor acquisition cited by 53 percent of research participants. In addition to the one-on-one outreach that keeps major donor relationships intact, show your gratitude through exclusive content that recognizes their generosity. This can include email newsletters with an inside look at your impact stories or reports and words of thanks from your organization’s leadership and beneficiaries.  

Nurturing major donor relationships is critical, but don’t overlook your small donors. Another analysis by CCS Fundraising shows that 48 percent of today’s major donors took at least five years to start giving major gifts. Continuing to engage donors of all levels will retain their support, leading to bigger investments in the future. Similarly, HubSpot’s Nonprofit Marketing and Fundraising Trends for 2022 report states that “small-dollar donors” donated three times more in 2021 than pre-pandemic records. Email outreach should go beyond donation requests to include ongoing engagement, informing and inspiring donors about your organization’s initiatives and impact. 

Gain digital momentum with timely fundraising campaigns

People are used to time-sensitive marketing, from flash sales to seasonal discounts. And the immediacy and on-demand nature of the Internet lends itself to timely campaigns. Incorporate this timeliness and urgency into your fundraising campaigns to rally support around reaching a fundraising goal during a concentrated timeframe. For example, giving days are a common practice that nonprofits use to achieve a fundraising milestone in a broader campaign or raise funds for a specific cause.

The research by Classy shows that events that involve peer-to-peer fundraising, whether in-person or virtual, convert more donors than any other type of campaign – a 43 percent conversion rate compared to the 35 percent conversion rate of ticketed events and 20 percent conversion rate of crowdfunding. In-person events, with the advantage of in-depth conversations and immersive experiences, are the most effective for bringing in major donations. Yet short campaigns with a timely hook are successful for bringing in a high volume of donations, even if at lower dollar amounts. 

Optimize for the mobile donation experience

More and more, people are discovering and accessing digital fundraising promotions (email, social media, landing pages, etc.) on mobile devices over desktops. The Classy report shows that 56 percent of campaign traffic comes from mobile devices compared to 44 on desktop. Social media is the primary source of mobile visits, with Facebook accounting for 87 percent. The mobile donation experience must be easy and seamless to convert these mobile visitors, whether using a platform’s native fundraising features or those you develop. 

The attention span on mobile is even less than on desktop, so any kind of friction will hurt your conversion rates. Simplify the information required to complete the donation process as much as possible and include a variety of mobile-friendly payment methods – credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, etc. CCS Fundraising’s 2022 Philanthropy Pulse found that 61 percent of nonprofit leaders plan to continue virtual events adopted during the pandemic and 49 percent will continue online giving opportunities. This ongoing emphasis on digital fundraising makes the mobile experience crucial, whether a donation is completed or abandoned can be a matter of seconds.

Provide options for donation amounts and recurring gifts

When it comes to online giving, particularly mobile gifts, presenting options upfront simplifies the process. Although online donations are usually smaller amounts compared to offline donations, the volume of gifts made online is increasing. The research by Classy proves that allowing recurring gifts on donation pages helps ensure long-term fundraising growth. It’s standard practice to present a few incremental donation amounts that people can select ($50, $100, $150, and so on) with the option to enter a different amount if preferred. 

Tell stories of impact to build loyalty

Complement your conversion strategies and tactics with inspiring and moving stories. It takes both emotion and logic to appeal to the hearts and minds of donors. Sharing stories in a variety of formats (articles, photos, videos, reports, etc.) will draw on both. Your donors want to know where their money is going, and the positive impact it’s making for those you serve. Give a voice to your beneficiaries – make them the hero of your stories. Present relevant ‘calls to action’ within or surrounding your stories so people can take action to give if they feel inspired to contribute to your cause. It’s through seeing the real-life results of their generosity that donors will remain loyal.

So let’s not forget that digital marketing gives organizations the ability to both educate online audiences and achieve fundraising goals. While each digital marketing campaign requires its own set of goals and objectives that inform the strategies and tactics, it’s a disservice to your nonprofit’s mission to exclude meaningful conversions. Again, awareness is a giveaway goal when your investment in digital marketing can do so much more.

Cover image source: Monstera