Digital

Some quick tips on fundraising landing pages

There are lots of good tips on landing pages when you search the web but it seems not enough. Lots of people are wanting specific tips on fundraising landing pages.

So here is a six minute short video for you…

The landing page is not the end of the journey for a potential supporter, it is part of the journey.  And it needs to work really hard to ‘close the deal’.

In the end, the most important thing is the brilliant proposition or offer.

After that, you can improve conversion rates with some simple techniques featured in the video.

If you want to know more, and are based in Europe, Africa, the Americas or New Zealand I hope you are coming to one of the webinars below.

People in Australia and Asia are welcome, but it is an early morning or late night for you!

 

Upcoming Webinars: 

I will be presenting a webinar (actually three, for different timezones) in early September about how to acquire donors on Facebook.  I hope you can come! 

These ones are aimed at people in Europe and Americas (don’t worry, people in Asian, Australia, I’ll repeat the webinar later – though nighthawks are welcome!). You can register here by clicking on the date that suits you: 7th Sept –  6am Sydney, 4pm New York, 9pm London. 10th Sept – 9am New York, 2pm London, 11pm Sydney. 17th Sept – 7am Sydney, 9am Auckland, 2pm LA, 6pm Rio, 5pm New York, 10pm London.

 

Four tips for acquiring supporters online

James Herlihy breaks down the top insights he gained from helping enlist 1,500 new cash donors for Australia for Dolphins in its ‘Action for Angel’ campaign.

In May, the advocacy-based non-government organisation Australia for Dolphins (AFD) developed and launched a digital campaign around the captive albino dolphin calf, Angel, with help from Pareto Fundraising. The ultimate aims: to help save dolphins in Taiji , and to convert petition signers  to regular giving.

Activities for regular giving conversion have not yet begun, but already the ‘Action for Angel’ campaign has multiplied AFD’s capacity for future effective action by boosting its donor base and active, engaged online community. So far, the campaign has:

  • Enlisted over 1,500 new cash donors
  • Grown the e-mail list from 1,700 to 40,000
  • Expanded an engaged Facebook fanbase from 4,000 to over 10,000
  • Achieved a project return on investment (ROI) of 1:2

Here are my four top insights from the Action for Angel campaign.

1.       Non-financial engagement can bring rewards… if the proposition is right

The Action for Angel campaign sprang out of discussions with AFD’s chief executive officer Sarah Lucas in April. She revealed that the organisation was planning fundraising to pay for an upcoming legal appeal against the Taiji Whale Museum. The museum was keeping an albino dolphin calf named ‘Angel’ in a tiny aquarium tank, after dolphin numbers slaughtered her mother and pod. Global outrage about the hunts created an opportunity for non-financial mobilisation that could deliver far more than a straight-out fundraising appeal – both in terms of impact and financially.

Not every organisation has a story with such mass appeal. But online action can be inspired by many less controversial causes – even those not usually involved in campaigning. Whether it’s a petition, a pledge, a quirky poll, message of solidarity, a simple ‘share’ or backend premium, think of what interaction might help you grow an engage your online base.

As with all supporter engagement, the proposition is key. Is there something that’s really of interest to your audience? Is it emotionally engaging, shocking, beautiful, awe-inspiring, hilarious or personally beneficial? There are lots of possibilities, if you are realistic about what’s going to stick.

2.       Properly map out the donor journey

You never want to get the stage of asking yourself, “Okay, we’ve engaged tens of thousands of people, now what?” No organisation should invest time and money in acquiring new supporters without having a clear path for them – ideally one that fulfils their strong fundraising potential.

With the Action for Angel campaign, we mapped out the full journey of communications. Cold audiences were driven to a petition from acquisition channels – targeted Facebook ads and promoted posts, Google display ads, etc. There was a strong share strategy. Petition signers were then funnelled through an automated e-mail journey after signature – with e-mails building the relationship with AFD – before they were solicited through a fundraising campaign for AFD’s legal appeal.

Signers who didn’t donate after one ask received a chaser email, and the fundraising campaign was also strongly promoted through acquisition channels – including Google display, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting.

3.       Spend time on audience research and targeting – the online way

The digital landscape provides unique, powerful tools for reaching audiences. Facebook alone has an unprecedentedly rich bank of data on the interests (psychographics) and demographics of a huge segment of Australians. It lets nonprofits target people with very specific interests – in AFD’s case, it was people interested in marine wildlife and advocacy – as well as the fanbases of other aligned organisations.

‘Custom audiences’ can be created matching your organisational e-mail list, plus further ‘lookalike’ audiences with a similar profile to that donor custom audience. Facebook also enables ‘retargeting’ of people who visit your website, and includes a powerful social dimension to promoted posts and advertising that other advertising channels lack.

With almost 60,000 petition signatures and 100,000 site visits in the first two weeks of the Action for Angel campaign, some great audience ‘capital’ was built that could be retargeted with the fundraising appeal when that launched. This couldn’t have happened without setting up the requirements at an early stage.

4.       Optimise your marketing tactics regularly and be flexible

When your digital campaign launches, you can’t sit around waiting for the results to come in. You have to work every day to optimise and make the campaign go further, take advantage of external events and respond to the community.

After launching the Angel petition, daily we scrutinised all responses to optimise the campaign and get the best results.

What next?

Hopefully these insights will help in your efforts to build an engaged online community and donor base. But  Of course, acquiring a regular or first cash donor online isn’t the end-game. It’s the start of a retention journey that should continually strengthen the donor’s relationship and commitment. But that’s a topic for another day!

AFD 1

Caption: The Action for Angel campaign petition achieved almost 60,000 signatures and 100,000 website visits in its first two weeks.

Planning is a key to success

So you’ve written your e-mails, you’ve got punchy copy and a great design for your landing pages. You’re ready to go, right? Wrong. Lots of extras are involved in a digital campaign. Don’t underestimate how much time these details take. Plan them in – realistically – from the start or you won’t hit that launch deadline.:

  • Generate code snippets for Google Analytics and Google, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting early and deploy them in the right places across web pages.
  • Update your privacy policy to include reference to cookies and retargeting – Google and AdRoll will block your campaigns otherwise.
  • Under the Australian Privacy Amendment Act 2012 (in effect from March 2014), all Australian donate forms now need a consent statement linking to a privacy policy and notification statement online. Got those?
  • If you want to accurately measure ROI for different channels, you must configure Google Analytics Ecommerce and embed your Facebook conversion pixel in web pages.
  • Cover share copy and image elements early. A Facebook share alone has five important properties with specific requirements. You need to get them right!
  • Plan for testing and bug fixing. Estimate how long this will take. Then double it.

 

AFD2

Caption: So engaged were AFD supporters that they sent in artworks, like this drawing by Caroline Proctor which was posted on Facebook to further build the online community.

 

James Herlihy

James Herlihy is a digital strategist at Pareto Fundraising. He has a decade of experience at Australian government departments and nonprofits including Amnesty International Australia, where he led production of record-breaking online fundraising campaigns.

This article was first published in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine www.fpmagazine.com.au

 

Four Tips For Acquiring Supporters Online

James Herlihy breaks down the top insights he gained from helping enlist 1,500 new cash donors for Australia for Dolphins in its ‘Action for Angel’ campaign.

In May, the advocacy-based non-government organisation Australia for Dolphins (AFD) developed and launched a digital campaign around the captive albino dolphin calf, Angel, with help from Pareto Fundraising. The ultimate aims: to help save dolphins in Taiji , and to convert petition signers  to regular giving.

Activities for regular giving conversion have not yet begun, but already the ‘Action for Angel’ campaign has multiplied AFD’s capacity for future effective action by boosting its donor base and active, engaged online community. So far, the campaign has:

  • Enlisted over 1,500 new cash donors
  • Grown the e-mail list from 1,700 to 40,000
  • Expanded an engaged Facebook fanbase from 4,000 to over 10,000
  • Achieved a project return on investment (ROI) of 1:2

 

Here are my four top insights from the Action for Angel campaign.

1.       Non-financial engagement can bring rewards… if the proposition is right

The Action for Angel campaign sprang out of discussions with AFD’s chief executive officer Sarah Lucas in April. She revealed that the organisation was planning fundraising to pay for an upcoming legal appeal against the Taiji Whale Museum. The museum was keeping an albino dolphin calf named ‘Angel’ in a tiny aquarium tank, after dolphin numbers slaughtered her mother and pod. Global outrage about the hunts created an opportunity for non-financial mobilisation that could deliver far more than a straight-out fundraising appeal – both in terms of impact and financially.

Not every organisation has a story with such mass appeal. But online action can be inspired by many less controversial causes – even those not usually involved in campaigning. Whether it’s a petition, a pledge, a quirky poll, message of solidarity, a simple ‘share’ or backend premium, think of what interaction might help you grow an engage your online base.

As with all supporter engagement, the proposition is key. Is there something that’s really of interest to your audience? Is it emotionally engaging, shocking, beautiful, awe-inspiring, hilarious or personally beneficial? There are lots of possibilities, if you are realistic about what’s going to stick.

2.       Properly map out the donor journey

You never want to get the stage of asking yourself, “Okay, we’ve engaged tens of thousands of people, now what?” No organisation should invest time and money in acquiring new supporters without having a clear path for them – ideally one that fulfils their strong fundraising potential.

With the Action for Angel campaign, we mapped out the full journey of communications. Cold audiences were driven to a petition from acquisition channels – targeted Facebook ads and promoted posts, Google display ads, etc. There was a strong share strategy. Petition signers were then funnelled through an automated e-mail journey after signature – with e-mails building the relationship with AFD – before they were solicited through a fundraising campaign for AFD’s legal appeal.

Signers who didn’t donate after one ask received a chaser email, and the fundraising campaign was also strongly promoted through acquisition channels – including Google display, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting.

3.       Spend time on audience research and targeting – the online way

The digital landscape provides unique, powerful tools for reaching audiences. Facebook alone has an unprecedentedly rich bank of data on the interests (psychographics) and demographics of a huge segment of Australians. It lets nonprofits target people with very specific interests – in AFD’s case, it was people interested in marine wildlife and advocacy – as well as the fanbases of other aligned organisations.

‘Custom audiences’ can be created matching your organisational e-mail list, plus further ‘lookalike’ audiences with a similar profile to that donor custom audience. Facebook also enables ‘retargeting’ of people who visit your website, and includes a powerful social dimension to promoted posts and advertising that other advertising channels lack.

With almost 60,000 petition signatures and 100,000 site visits in the first two weeks of the Action for Angel campaign, some great audience ‘capital’ was built that could be retargeted with the fundraising appeal when that launched. This couldn’t have happened without setting up the requirements at an early stage.

4.       Optimise your marketing tactics regularly and be flexible

When your digital campaign launches, you can’t sit around waiting for the results to come in. You have to work every day to optimise and make the campaign go further, take advantage of external events and respond to the community.

After launching the Angel petition, daily we scrutinised all responses to optimise the campaign and get the best results.

What next?

Hopefully these insights will help in your efforts to build an engaged online community and donor base. But  Of course, acquiring a regular or first cash donor online isn’t the end-game. It’s the start of a retention journey that should continually strengthen the donor’s relationship and commitment. But that’s a topic for another day!

AFD 1

Caption: The Action for Angel campaign petition achieved almost 60,000 signatures and 100,000 website visits in its first two weeks.

 

 

 

AFD2

Caption: So engaged were AFD supporters that they sent in artworks, like this drawing by Caroline Proctor which was posted on Facebook to further build the online community.

 

Planning is a key to success

So you’ve written your e-mails, you’ve got punchy copy and a great design for your landing pages. You’re ready to go, right? Wrong. Lots of extras are involved in a digital campaign. Don’t underestimate how much time these details take. Plan them in – realistically – from the start or you won’t hit that launch deadline. Here are some important steps to plan in early :

  • Generate code snippets for Google Analytics and Google, Facebook and AdRoll retargeting early and deploy them in the right places across web pages.
  • Update your privacy policy to include reference to cookies and retargeting – Google and AdRoll will block your campaigns otherwise.
  • Under the Australian Privacy Amendment Act 2012 (in effect from March 2014), all Australian donate forms now need a consent statement linking to a privacy policy and notification statement online. Got those?
  • If you want to accurately measure ROI for different channels, you must configure Google Analytics Ecommerce and embed your Facebook conversion pixel in web pages.
  • Cover share copy and image elements early. A Facebook share alone has five important properties with specific requirements. You need to get them right!
  • Plan for testing and bug fixing. Estimate how long this will take. Then double it.

 

James Herlihy

James Herlihy is a digital strategist at Pareto Fundraising. He has a decade of experience at Australian government departments and nonprofits including Amnesty International Australia, where he led production of record-breaking online fundraising campaigns.

 

This article was first published in the December 2014/January 2015 edition of Fundraising & Philanthropy Magazine www.fpmagazine.com.au

Social media and fundraising; learnings from corporate world

By Sean Triner

The final session of day one at the WA state conference was with a young entrepreneur award winner, Tenille Bentley. A very interesting session, beginning (like all social media sessions) with all the huge numbers but refreshingly localized for Australian market. Mind blowing numbers; I loved one analogy – as Australians continue to give up cigarettes they become addicted to Facebook. The infamous unfair break, the smoko, is replaced by the facebooko (or face-o).

Some good tips:

  • Only worry about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn
  • 80% of your social media communications should be about your topic, indirectly about you – only 20% about your products (something I call ‘Fluff and Bite’)
  • Don’t think of social media with a ‘what is the ROI’ approach. That is like asking ‘what is the ROI on my mobile phone’. It is about relationships
  • Gave example of peril of ignoring social media; someone working at Dominos spits in a Dominos Pizza, video goes viral, Dominos no idea why or what to do about it. Eventually they counter on YouTube and begin to recover sales
  • Always have policies that people agree to to allow you to remove inappropriate comments. But be aware they will just post them elsewhere
  • All charities should have a Business Facebook page. Allows for analysis
  • Great use of you tube, blender manufacturer blends things like iPads
  • Biggest growth on Facebook is 55-65 year old women
  • How often should you update?
    • Facebook 2 x a day on business page plus 5+ conversations on others walls
    • Twitter 5-10 days
    • LinkedIn once a day, business focus
    • YouTube when you have something good and worthwhile
  • Frightening end- managing a social media brand takes about 26% of a working week.

    So if you haven’t got time to do it, see her because that is what her company provides. Nice, subtle pitch!

    Good stuff. The challenge for the fundraisers here is, of course, what role social media can have with their fundraising.

    For me, social media is still best used for retention strategies, particularly for online and face to face recruited donors, and overlaying it with Game Layer is the best idea.

    Tenille Bentley

It’s about the (online) journey, not just the (online) destination

By Jonathon Grapsas

I don’t want to sound like a walking book of jargon, but it really is about the journey.

As much so when we talk about the online world. We as a sector spend far too much time worrying, finessing and getting distracted by the destination.

By the destination I mean your website.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an important place. And making sure you keep people there, capture data, share stories, and ultimately generate donations is critical.

But getting people there, and finding ways to attract new sources is paramount.

As my colleague Sean Triner says, having a brilliant website (with no traffic) is like having the world’s best department store in the middle of the desert. Useless.

When I talk to fundraisers about developing a digital road-map for raising more money online, I often hear people say “yes, well we’re building a new website” or “our website is rubbish”.

They’re focused on the end result, the destination.

Yes it’s important, but spending a tonne of effort and resources on building the world’s most aesthetically pleasing website is going to be a complete waste of time without any traffic to drive there.

Consider these traffic driving questions:

– Are you looking at ways to re-engage and drive online prospects back to your site? By online prospects I mean previous activists, e-newsletter subscribers or enquirers.

– Are you investing time managing your search activity? See here for an earlier post on Google AdWords for charities. What about your organic listing? Are you spending time to make sure you are ranked as high as possible in search engines, such as Google?

– Are you re-targeting visitors to your site with a different offer? For example, of the 5,000 visitors to your site each month, the majority visit and then bounce away, meaning you haven’t ‘closed the deal’. Re-targeting allows you to present your offer again to these prospects in an effort to re-engage them. It’s relatively inexpensive and is used regularly by those in the commercial world. Yet we seem to be slow on the take up on this. Easier to re-engage than introduce ourselves to those who don’t know us.

– Have you investigated the new frontiers in online advertising? The power of behavioral and contextual advertising, where you can present your offer to people whose online behavior dictates they have some affinity/interest in you. Again the commercial world is leaps and bounds ahead of us here, but the technology exists, it’s about tapping into whats out there to ensure we’re locating real prospects who are showing characteristics that suggest they care. In real time.

Don’t get me wrong, the destination requires time and effort. It requires thought around ways to engage and capture. But remember, that without the traffic it really is like the best department store in the desert.

The mobile movement

By Jonathon Grapsas

Stumbled across this brilliant schematic yesterday which encapsulates perfectly the incredible shift in the mobile world.

It’s time we accepted (granted, I know many of you have long ago) that our use of technology and the way we share content, communicate and transfer information has changed forever.

Consider some of these pieces of data, and alongside them ‘thoughts’ about what they mean for fundraisers:

– 1 in 4 mobile users have smart-phones globally (in Australia it’s close to 1 in 2). Does your online approach consider the way people are viewing your content? Are you mobile enabled? If not, consider the barriers you’re placing in front of your constituents.

– 86% of mobile internet users are using their devices while watching TV. Your supporters and prospects are becoming more and more distracted. Are you working specifically on ‘sticky’ material and messaging that cuts through? The ‘traditional’ way to evoke emotion and capture someone’s attention may not have the same impact when American Idol is blaring in the background.

– Within three years mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage. The 17 inch monitor is becoming less and less relevant. It isn’t simply about adjusting our creative for smaller screens or tablets, but thinking through how our shift in mobile behavior is impacting when and how we’re viewing stuff. “I’ll go online during my lunch break” is a far less used term. A shift in our online behavior dictates a shift in our online thinking and approach. The when, where and how has changed.

First presentation at AFP: Monthly giving online

By Sean Triner

Here is my first presentation from the AFP Conference – I hope that you find it useful, whether you were there or not.

QR codes are cool, but pointless unless used properly

By Jonathon Grapsas

There’s been a heap written over the past few months about the use of those funny little barcode looking things we know as QR codes in marketing and fundraising.

For those who are not sure what they are, QR codes are a matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code), readable by QR barcode readers and camera phones. In essence, they speed up the response process, removing the need to “get online” or “send that letter” later. They potentially remove one of the biggest barriers to response: shortage of time.

Unfortunately as fundraisers the take-up of this technology (seems) to have been slow. I’ve found it difficult to locate examples of where they have been used, and if so, were they effective?

My colleague Paul De Gregorio peaked my interest on this a few weeks back over at his blog. Similarly Katya Anderson provided some insights on their potential value via a guest post from Blase Ciabaton.

Last week I attended the AdTech digital marketing conference in Sydney. Google revealed some startling data snippets about mobile usage in Australia, most noteworthy that by the end of 2011 more than 50% of Australians will own a smartphone.

I’m often cynical about statistics like this, because whilst it’s an interesting insight, it doesn’t alone suggest people will change their buying/giving habits. Just because you build it, does not mean they will simply come.

That being said they do provide an exciting opportunity. And if used properly they have the potential to lift marketing and fundraising effectiveness.

We’re about to test them with some of our clients in upcoming DM appeals. However instead of using the same, generic QR code sending donors to a general landing page to donate, we will be sending QR codes embedded with a personalised URL.

The upshot of this is again decreasing the amount of work a donor will have to do. If they scan the QR code they’ll bounce through to their own, unique donation page. They’ll simply need to fill in their credit card details and presto, a gift is made.

A couple of things to consider:

– If you’re testing the impact of QR codes, don’t just include income raised from the QR code mobile landing page. The key consideration is, has the advent of the QR code increased income overall from the group who received them?

– Despite the prevalence of smartphones, the usage of QR codes is reportedly quite low. Therefore, education and assurance is going to be key. I’d suggest any effort to push people to using them should include simple instructions explaining how to download the app and how to use the QR code reader. Put people at ease. Provide guidance.

Remember, these aren’t going to revolutionize your fundraising. At the end of the day they are merely a response device. But well executed, and used for the right purposes, they may help you bring the online and offline world just that little bit closer.

Facebook fundraising that works

By Jonathon Grapsas

We were fortunate this week to have Leonard Coyne from the Soi Dog Foundation spend a couple of hours with myself and my colleagues at Pareto Fundraising, sharing how they have successfully managed to recruit hundreds of regular, monthly donors directly from facebook.

Yes you read that correctly, recruited monthly donors from facebook. An organisation that generates around $300,000 AUD a year has managed to find more than 500 ongoing, monthly supporters (giving $20 a month) in the last year. That’s over $100,000 a year (over one third of their income) coming from facebook recruits.

Incredible. And all very doable.

So here are the secrets to their success, and what Leonard candidly explained to us that they have put into practice over the past few months. It isn’t rocket science, but it bloody works.

Perspiration. They were patient. One of the mistakes organisations make is falling out of love with social media as quickly as they fall in love with it. “We need to be on facebook”. The proceed to set up a page, recruit a tonne of ‘fans’, then run of ideas or energy and simply do nothing.

Leonard has invested time and effort into ensuring not only do Soi Dog have a social presence, but that they commit to making it work, from a fundraising perspective. Not everything has worked, they’ve got stuff wrong, it’s been about trial and error. And it’s paying off.

Let go of control. The Soi Dog page now has adaptations in 6 languages, driven purely by advocates who have offered their support, and then run with it. Soi Dog isn’t playing big brother and micro managing, they let their administrators post new comments, interact with fans, suggest new applications.

I once heard someone at a fundraising conference once comment they were afraid to relinquish control because people would ‘talk about them’ and that they weren’t able to control their brand. The reality is people will talk about you anyway, rather than try and sanitise it, encourage it. Soi Dog has.

Advertising and asking. Leonard’s been using facebook advertising for the last year, recruiting regular donors from targeted ads (particularly focusing on individuals with an interest in animals), and also placing ads to their own ‘fans’. As Leonard commented, advertising to their fans seems counter intuitive yet in fact it makes sense. They are essentially what I’d call tepid prospects and we know tepid prospects respond better than those with no affinity at all.

They regularly attach asks (to become regular givers) to stories and photos they share, like the one below. They’re not afraid to show confronting (real) imagery, attached with a dog that needs help. And then ask.

Great, regular content. It needs to be relevant, shareable and regular. It isn’t just about posting a story about an upcoming event or a new blog on your website.

It’s about beneficiaries. Leonard realises they’re fans want to know about the dogs they help, or that need help. So content, whilst shared regularly, is also very focused on imagery and on the work they actually do.

Consistent, real dialogue. Leonard and his colleagues respond to, talk and actually engage with those who have taken the time to comment. They don’t just talk the talk here, they walk it. If you don’t believe me, take a peek yourself.

In fact get on facebook now and check them out. A wonderful example of how to make money from facebook, form someone who’s actually doing it. Hats off to Leonard and Soi Dogs.

Digital fundraising means multi-channel fundraising

By Jonathon Grapsas This article was first published in Professional Fundraising in December 2010

As a colleague once said to me, having an amazing website with all the bells and whistles on offer is like building the world’s best department store in the desert. Useless if no one visits.

And that’s what online fundraising often looks like to me. A lot of pizazz, little substance.

It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria of the latest tools available to digital fundraisers, but they are just that, tools. And in fact they distract from what recruiting donors via any channel is all about: telling someone something remarkable about what you do. So incredible they’re compelled to stop there and then to act.

So what’s working right now?

Finding hand raisers

It’s far easier to get someone to commit to something small, followed by something a little bit bigger. We’ve seen it on the street when asking individuals to commit to an action first before any financial request. Same logic applies to online prospects.

Think about an action, or actions that you can ask people to agree to do prior to asking for a gift. Online surveys work in garnering interest; because they provide a way for prosects to tell us what they really think, rather than simply complete an action that feels like one way traffic (charity to prospect).

Channels complimenting, and not competing, with each other

You need to look at acquiring donors in a channel neutral manner. Think about the best way to converse with someone, and then depict which medium you’ll use to have that conversation.

Digital acquisition is in reality multi-channel acquisition. It’s tough to convince someone through paid search, a banner advertisement or an email that they should become a regular giver. Much easier to have this dialogue on the phone. Easier to build a case and close the transaction. The point is that channels should converge, not compete.

The ‘what’s in it for me’ factor?

In a recent pilot project with a Canadian client, we were conscious that we needed to provide something real and meaningful to prospects. We knew it wasn’t enough to offer our thanks and the opportunity to share their voice.

Mindful that those we were targeting have a strong sense of ‘what’s in it for me’, we offered incentives, linked to the organisations mission, for prospects to become participants. It worked. 6,000 prospects (5% of those we approached, and twice more than we expected) gave their precious time to share their views. No doubt driven by the chance to get something back, as well as the opportunity to strengthen their voice.

Honeymoon periods

Once you’ve committed someone to come on board as a regular giver, do everything in your power, especially early on in the relationship, to reaffirm the decision they made.

The honeymoon period covers the first 30 days post sign up. The time when both parties should be madly in love with each other, in each other’s pockets. Or inboxes. Sharing the love, sharing stories. Reminding your new supporter what a wonderful choice they made, before that dreaded buyer’s remorse kicks in, and divorce ensues. Don’t let it get to that stage.

Spreading the load

Online recruitment isn’t about one vehicle. The most effective programs test and tweak several initiatives. Paid and unpaid search like Google AdWords, banner advertising, e-blasts to tepid sources. The point is about not focusing on just one, yet testing the water across different vehicles to see what works.

The non negotiables, things you must get right

Follow up and timing

If your digital recruitment efforts include following up those who have raised their hand, or those that have made a single gift, then commit to it. And do it.

I’ve seen the best laid plans fall over because so much effort has been spent on the initial push to acquire, forgetting the need to follow up and convert to a regular gift. Multi staged approaches hinge entirely on getting the follow up right, and alongside that getting the timing spot on. It’s all about testing what works for you, but my experience is the quicker the better.

Not getting sucked into conventional wisdom

Who was it that said online fundraising should be different? That copy should be shorter, punchier and written by someone different?

The fundamentals of good direct response fundraising apply. Get someone’s attention, tell them something remarkable, provide a clear action and solution, and make it so easy you have no option but to respond.

Of all the fundraising myths to be debunked, top of them is that online fundraising must be different (read ‘shorter’) than offline fundraising. There is little empirical evidence to support this. Get the basics above right and the results will follow. Don’t get sucked into ‘conventional’ wisdom.

The way forward

Digital targeting

What excites me right now is the potential of online intent data. In short, this is where you’re able to connect with people based on their purchase or browsing behaviour on other sites. Intent data helps you find online those people who are already exploring the territory in which you operate.

Imagine you’re on your favourite travel website, looking for flights to Munich in April. The information is captured by a cookie, and the travel website can then sell that cookie through a data exchange company. Other companies selling flights to Germany or Europe may use this as an opportunity to reach out and offer you a similar flight or holiday.

So powerful is this information that it is now considered by US direct marketers as the second most effective tool for digital marketers in driving sales. Only transactional data has more impact.

Surely we can see the parallels for us charity folks.

Someone online is searching for an eco-holiday, offsetting carbon or looking at hybrid cars. These are the people environmental organisations want to find, prospects to whom they can show off their programs. The key, then, is to find the right vehicle and get these people excited about it. The connection may not lead straight to a financial gift, but it does introduce you to prospects that have already put their hands up.

The other aspect of digital savvy that has me thinking is the concept of re-targeting. That’s a means whereby you can identify people who have visited your site previously, and locate them in other spots once they’ve left your site. I see it as a form of online prospect reactivation. Par for the course for direct marketers at credit card companies and tel-comms, yet to be tried by most charities.

Is it all worth it?

Should we bother? We’ve seen the numbers and frankly online giving is still a tiny chunk of the pie. Other avenues like face to face are still streets ahead when it comes to volume of new supporters.

That’s true. And attracting digital donors, particularly regular ones, is really hard. But if we can find the hooks to get them through the door, the data we’ve captured in different countries shows they can be worth on average around £600-£800 net after five years. Simply because they stay on board.

Frankly, we’re not paying enough attention to all this in the charity world, even though it’s available right now. It might feel a little like Big Brother, but let’s be honest – it’s like siphoning from a funnel. When you get to the narrow end, you want to be talking to individuals who are in the right spot and frame of mind to hear what you have to say.

Targeting in the digital space is getting a lot more interesting. And so too is finding donors online.