Donating Online Shouldn’t Feel Like a Transaction

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Last week I both purchased some holiday gifts and made a bunch of donations online and there wasn’t much difference in the process.The key word here is process because both felt like a transaction. My inbox was filled with pleas – last chance to get a Cyber Monday deal or make a donation on #GivingTuesday.

Many fundraising appeals focus more on the transaction than the relationship. I’m trying to help kids receive presents on Christmas morning or help low-income families stay safe and warm this winter. I’m not buying sweaters.

Yes, you’re trying to raise money, but you should also try to build a relationship with me.

I did see a few heartfelt requests for donations on #GivingTuesday, but most were focused on the imperative need to donate today because it’s #GivingTuesday. Your donors get to decide when they want to donate and not everyone is on the #GivingTuesday bandwagon. Thank God It’s Wednesday

I may rethink about making my donations on #GivingTuesday. I’m glad if there’s an opportunity for a matching gift, but it’s so transactional and that includes the thank you experience or lack there of. 

We can do better. After #GivingTuesday or anytime you receive a donation, focus on the relationship and not the transaction.

Make a good impression with your thank you landing page

Most of the landing pages of the organizations I donated to said Thank You. Some included a donation receipt, which is fine because donors often want one. But they could have included a short description of how my gift is helping them make a difference, along with an engaging photo or video. Most of the landing pages were not that different from the ones I received from online retailers.

Your subject line matters, too

Make your thank you email stand out with an engaging subject line.

The best one I received was – Thank you. We appreciate your generosity. That’s fine but not outstanding.

Others included a simple Thank you for donating X organization, Thank you for becoming a (name of monthly giving program), or just Thank You.

One for an organization where I just started making monthly donations said Sustaining Initial Thank You I trust there will be more thank yous to come.

Others had the less than inspiring Donation Receipt, Your Recurring Donation Receipt, and Electronic Receipt for your gift to X organization.

Overall, I was not impressed. A better subject line would be something like You just did something incredible! or You’re Amazing!

A receipt is not a thank you

I like to use PayPal for online donations and purchases when I can. As great as PayPal is, it doesn’t provide a warm and fuzzy experience. PayPal will send you it’s own receipts. Most organizations sent their own automatically generated thank yous and one sent a personalized email.

I made a first-time donation to one organization and all I received were PayPal receipts – nothing from the organization. So, I’m curious to see what comes next, if anything.

If your organization uses PayPal, make sure your donors receive a stellar thank you email from you.

Speaking of which, let’s look at some of the thank you emails I received.

I just became a monthly donor for one organization. They welcomed me to their monthly donor club and gave me the name of a contact person if I had questions or wanted to arrange a tour (always a great way to connect).

One of the good ones opened with Through your support – which we’re grateful for each and every day – we’re able to: Then they listed some accomplishments and included a short thank you video, which showed how my gift is making a difference.

Another good one included Thank you for standing with those from across the country in supporting common sense solutions to gun violence. We can’t achieve real change without your support. This organization also sent a second thank you email two days later!

Here are a couple that are okay, but would have been better if they gave specific examples of how their donors are helping them make a difference.

We are deeply grateful for your generosity and support of our efforts. Your gift makes a difference — it enables us to provide vital services to the community we serve. We count on you and people like you to ensure that we can continue providing these services.

Your gift on Nov 28, 2017, will help X organization provide needed services to over 100,000 people each year through its neighborhood network.

Others didn’t even bother to tell me the impact of my gift. I checked my spam filter to see if any thank yous crept in there, but alas that was not the case. Maybe I’ll hear from some of these organizations or maybe not.

Again, I was not impressed. Most of these organizations could use some Thank You 101

Is there more to come?

A week after giving, I’ve received no type of thank you in the mail or a thank you phone call. I’ll write again in the New Year to let you know what type of #DonorLove I receive, if any.

And, I’m not the only one who thought donating on #GivingTuesday felt like a transaction. 2017  #GivingTuesday Secret Shopper Review

Photo by Mike Lawrence –  CreditDebitPro.com

 

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Raise More Money With Monthly Gifts

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Although I often encourage monthly (or recurring) gifts as a great way to raise more money, I just started making them at the end of last year. I made all my pledges online, and it was easy to do.

It should also be relatively easy for you to start or grow a monthly giving program. Of course, this doesn’t just include asking for donations. You’ll need to thank your monthly donors and stay in touch throughout the year.

Here’s what you need to get started.

Make a special request

You should always promote monthly giving in your fundraising appeals. Your best bet to get a monthly commitment is long-term donors. One idea is to send specially targeted appeals to donors who have given for at least two years. Thank them for their past support and ask them to upgrade to becoming a monthly donor. Their previous donation of $50 could become $5 a month or $100 becomes $10 a month.

Make it easy

Be sure monthly or recurring giving options are prominent on your pledge form and donation page. Let your donors know what $5, $10, $15 etc a month will fund.

Make the online process easy, but keep in mind that some donors won’t want to set up their monthly giving online. Some may want to do this by mail or phone, and if it’s by phone, make sure there’s a friendly person on the other end to help them.

If possible, make one person responsible for monthly giving. There needs to be a contact person if your donor needs to change her credit card/bank account information or has questions.

Create an attitude of gratitude

Welcome your monthly donors with open arms. If they’re first-time donors, welcome them to your organization. If they’re current donors, thank them for going the extra mile and becoming a monthly donor.

Most of the organizations I donated to thanked me specifically for being a monthly donor. Some did it better than others.  One organization refers to their monthly donors as Friends for all Seasons. Another told me “I have joined an elite group of dedicated supporters we call our Friends of the Center.” Another thanked me for being a Monthly Partner.

These organizations are telling me I’m extra special, and most of my gifts were $5 a month.

Several organizations send me monthly thank you letters either by mail or email. While this is nice, most of them are exactly the same generic thank you every month. One sends a statement, but it includes a different update each month.

Here’s how you can do better. Yes, send your these donors a thank you each month, but don’t resort to the same old same old. One organization that helps low-income families does a good job of sending engaging updates. Here’s an excerpt from their most recent email thank you.
Boys with shoes

When a mother of three children picked up her children’s Kidpacks, she burst into tears and said “My kids will be so happy.” She couldn’t afford to spend extra money on new clothes, shoes, books or school supplies because she was barely making ends meet.

Much better than a boring letter or receipt.

Take your donors on a journey

You want to stay in touch with your monthly donors and let them know how they’re helping you make a difference. You can do this with your monthly thank you letters and other updates. You may also want to consider a special newsletter just for monthly donors.

Another idea is to introduce your monthly donors to an individual or family your organization is working with. Let’s say you run a tutoring program. You can introduce your donors to Kira and her tutor, Sophia. Each month you can share updates on how Sophia is helping Kira do better in school.

Make your monthly donors feel special

Of course, all your donors are special, but go out of your way to show the love to your monthly donors. Find creative ways to show appreciation. You could make a video or hold an open house just for monthly donors. You want them to stay committed to being monthly donors for a long time.

Erica Waasdorp is an expert in monthly giving and has tons of information to help you.

And here are some more monthly giving tips.

18 Tips to Create a Wildly Profitable Monthly Giving Program

3 Tried and True Techniques That Encourage Monthly Giving

 

Is Donating Online as Easy as Pie?

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Year-end giving is in full swing and even if you’ve mailed your appeal letter, many people will choose to donate online. Chances are you’ll send most of your reminders by email and social media with a link to the donation page on your website.

That means online giving on your website needs to be easy to do. It’s tricky because you want to capture vital information without overwhelming your donors. 5 Donation Page Blunders That Kill Fundraising Response Rates

Use this checklist to make sure your donation page is ready for your online donors.

  • Is it easy to use and navigate?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • Does it allow for multiple donors, for example, spouses with different last names?
  • Does it include an option for a gift in memory or in honor of someone?
  • Are you capturing mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers?
  • Does it include a check-off box to join your mailing list?
  • Is it also easy to give on a mobile device?  This is crucial. More people are donating on mobile devices now. Getting Started with Mobile Fundraising: 5 Ways
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?
  • Does your homepage include a blurb about your appeal and a prominent Donate button, in case a donor Googles your organization instead of going directly to your donation page?
  • Is the rest of your website up-to-date and engaging? Donors might visit other pages to find out more about your programs or learn how they can volunteer. Is Your Website Up to Par?

Test it out

Put yourself in your donors’ shoes by donating to your organization online. Try it on a computer and a mobile device. Remember not all your donors are tech savvy. You might want to find someone who’s also not tech savvy to test it out.

Was it easy or did you feel like kicking and screaming?

Create a memorable thank you experience

If you’ve ever donated online, you know the thank you experience often doesn’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. This is easy to fix.

Start with an engaging landing page that says You’re amazing! or Thank you,Susan! Include a picture and a short, friendly message. An online donation should also generate an equally engaging thank you email.

You’re not off the hook yet. You still need to thank your donors by mail or with a phone call.

3 Things Your Nonprofit Must Do Well After An Online Donation

The perils of third-party sites

If you use a third-party site, such as PayPal, you don’t have much, if any, control over how the donation page and thank you experience will look and work. To make up for this, you’ll want to send a super-incredible thank you email, followed by something just as incredible by mail or phone.

Are you ready?

Be sure your donation page is in good shape for your year-end fundraising campaign, and throughout the year. Make it as easy as pie for your donors to give online.

Read on for more information on creating a great donation page.

7 Ways to Upgrade Your Nonprofit Donation Page

8 Best Practices for Building an Online Donation Page

And, if you’re looking for an online donation platform, here’s some information on that. 15 Online Donation Tools to Please Your Nonprofit’s Donors

Getting Started with Mobile Fundraising: 5 Ways

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By Eric Griego

Almost everyone has a mobile phone these days and that includes your donors. Imagine they’ll see your next fundraising email appeal on their phone and decide to donate right then. Will they be able to do that without getting so frustrated that they’ll want to smash their phones to pieces?

Before we get knee-deep into year-end fundraising season,take some time to get up to speed with mobile fundraising. Eric Griego from @pay shows you how.

Mobile fundraising is a craze that’s sweeping the nation. And if you’re a nonprofit professional that’s curious about how you can jump on this exciting bandwagon, you’re in the right place!

In this article, we’re going to discuss 5 of the top ways to make mobile fundraising a part of your organization’s strategy.

Let’s dive right in!

#1. Upgrade Your Email Strategy for Mobile.

First things first, you have to get your emails in line.

Because Americans spend an average of 6.3 hours a day checking their emails, you’d better believe it’s important to make your emails stand out.

And where are they checking their inboxes most often? You guessed it: on their mobile phones!

That’s why it’s doubly crucial to make sure that all of your correspondence is mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly.

Some easy-to-follow best practices for ensuring this include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Stack content vertically instead of horizontally,
  • Limit the amount of text and large images,
  • Enlarge buttons and calls-to-action,
  • And ensure a quick loading speed,

A couple of these strategies will require more work than others to incorporate, but at the end of the day, it’s vital to invest in your mobile email strategy if you want to launch a successful mobile giving campaign.

For more concrete advice on re-vamping your emails, check out @Pay’s guide to email newsletters.

#2. Investigate Text-to-Give Technology.

Another big piece of the mobile fundraising puzzle is text-to-give fundraising.

Text-to-give technology lets users text their favorite nonprofit (that’s you!) with the donation amount of their choice, and voila! Their gift is submitted!

An example would be a donor has simply texted the number “10” to a Disaster Relief Fund’s text-to-give number. They’ve clicked on the link that was automatically sent to them to confirm their payment, and the nonprofit has sent them an immediate, “Thanks!”

Texting to give is a short, intuitive process that takes less time than tying your shoes.

And it’s an absolute myth that young people are the only ones that text to donate.

In fact, the average text-to-give donor is 49-59 years old and has a college degree.

All of this is just to say that when you’re looking into getting started with mobile fundraising, don’t discount text-to-give technology.

It’s a simple, swift, and — best of all — secure way for your donors to give on the go.

#3. Give Your Website a Mobile Refresher.

Just as you should probably re-boot your email strategy, you should also take a second glance at your nonprofit’s website to make sure that your online giving options translate well to mobile.

Again, you’ll go through a lot of the same procedures as you would when you’re updating your email systems for mobile-responsiveness.

You’ll still want to make sure that the contents of your website stack neatly and vertically on a phone. This will ensure that no one has to pinch, zoom, or swipe around in order to read and navigate your site effectively.

You may also want to figure out an interesting way to tell your nonprofit’s story through mobile-friendly visuals.

But make sure you’re still limiting the number of large images, as they tend to bog down loading times. Striking the right balance is hard, but not impossible!

To read more best practices for sprucing up your nonprofit’s website, click here.

#4. Make Mobile Fundraising a Part of Every Day.

One of the most important facets of mobile fundraising is that it allows your donors to be able to communicate with you from wherever they are, whenever they’d like.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why you should consider making mobile giving a part of your everyday strategy.

From live fundraising events to direct appeals and so much more, your nonprofit can incorporate every kind of mobile giving into your plans.

For instance, if you’re hosting an auction, you might consider looking into mobile bidding technology.

And if you’re trying to ramp up your year-end giving, you may want to research the ways that email donation buttons can significantly increase annual gifts.

Not to mention the kind of funds that launching a text-to-give campaign at a benefit concert could raise!

If you need further advice on buying software, consult @Pay’s informative article.

#5. Incorporate Mobile into Your Stewardship.  

Nothing is more important than giving your donors a great thank-you experience.

And with mobile giving technology, your nonprofit can make that goal a reality.

Before the advent of online fundraising, a donor would have to mail in a check or submit one in person (at a gala or other event) and then wait a few days (or weeks, in some cases) to hear that the organization appreciated their donation.

Now, when a donor makes a mobile contribution, the software automatically sends back at least one message of thanks within a few minutes!

And setting that automated message is as easy as apple pie.

In addition to setting up automatic messages of gratitude, your organization can (and should!) also be prepared with personalized email messages to send out to your mobile donors.

You don’t want to leave the conversation with just a “Thanks!” You want to demonstrate to those supporters that their gifts are instrumental to your cause.

So be sure to draft up several different digital letters of thanks throughout the year.

Update your email messages with current project info, real photos of progress, and most of all, sincere words of gratitude.

Because when you thank your donors promptly and personally, you end up with happy, loyal supporters!

Hopefully, this article has enlightened you on some of the ways that you can get started with and incorporate mobile fundraising into your existing strategy.

Until next time, happy fundraising!

Eric Griego is the Director of Business Development at @Pay, a simple Eric Griego Headshotand secure giving platform that provides donors a seamless way to give on a mobile device. He has implemented effective fundraising strategies for hundreds of Nonprofit & Church organizations. In his spare time, he roots for the Denver Broncos while enjoying a nice craft beer.

iPhone photo by Martin Halek

Is Your Website Up to Par?

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It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of August and year-end fundraising is just round the corner. One thing you need to do before you switch from going to the beach to apple picking is to make sure your website is up to par. This means it’s up-to-date, easy to read and navigate, welcoming, and audience-centered.

How does your website fare?  Use the checklist below to find out.

Home page

Your home page is often the first place a newcomer will visit. Make it an entryway to the rest of your website.

  • Is it free of clutter and easy to navigate and read?
  • Does it include an engaging photo and a small amount of text, such as a tagline or position statement?
  • If you’re highlighting something such as an event, is the information up-to-date, and is it the most newsworthy item you can feature?
  • Does it include a Donate Now button that’s prominent without being tacky?
  • Does it include a newsletter sign-up box and social media icons?
  • Does it include your organization’s contact information or a link to a Contact Us page?
  • Is the navigation bar easy to use?
  • Does it include a search feature?

Donation page

Many people donate online now.  Make this a good experience for your donors. Don’t stress them out with a cumbersome and confusing donation page.

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?

The rest of your pages

Be sure to take a look at the rest of your web pages, too.

  • Are they easy to read/scan and navigate?
  • Do all your pages have a consistent look?
  • Is the content well written in a conversational style (no jargon!) and free of grammatical errors and typos?
  • Are your pages audience-centered? Remember, some visitors know you well and others don’t. A person visiting your volunteer page may not know much about your organization, so you’ll need to include a compelling description of what you do.
  • Do your pages contain a clear call to action? For example, your volunteer page should entice someone to volunteer.
  • Does each page have one or two photos related to its subject matter? Going back to your volunteer page, you could include a photo of volunteers interacting with clients.
  • Is all the content up-to-date?
  • Do all your links work?
  • Do all your pages include a Donate Now button, navigation bar, social media icons, a newsletter sign-up box, contact information, and a search feature, so your visitors don’t have to go back to the home page?
  • Are you using analytics to see how often people visit your pages? If you have pages that aren’t generating a lot of interest, find out why that’s happening. You may need to make the page more engaging or take it down.
  • Do you periodically survey your supporters to get feedback about your website?
  • Is your website mobile-friendly? This is crucial. 7 Steps To Ensure Your Nonprofit Has A Mobile-Friendly Website
  • Is there other content you should include (or take out)?

After you’ve made all your changes, have someone who isn’t as familiar with your organization (maybe a friend or family member) look at your website to see if the content is clear and it’s easy to navigate.

Your goal is to have a website that’s welcoming and audience-centered for everyone from first-time visitors to long-time donors.

Read on for more information to help you get your website up to par.

14 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

Best Websites of Non-Profit Organizations

10 Must-Haves For A Successful Nonprofit Website

Photo by Steve Cook

 

Why Does Giving to Your Organization Feel Like a Transaction and Not a Relationship?

506328659_22260c5bb2_zFor the last couple of years, I’ve done my year-end giving online on #GivingTuesday.  The day before I purchased Christmas gifts on Cyber Monday, and there wasn’t much difference in the process.

Is it #GivingTuesday or Asking Tuesday?

On #GivingTuesday I was inundated with emails asking for donations, just like the day before I was barraged with emails from Amazon and Zappos.  I know organizations are trying to capitalize on #GivingTuesday, but it was more like Asking Tuesday.

I was told I only had a few hours left to give. Really?  But this isn’t the only day to give. If you’re going to stress urgency, focus on the need of your recipients and not your organization.

I saw very few hints of any type of relationship. Only one organization recognized me as a past donor. Your generosity makes the work we do possible

Many emails began with the dreaded Dear Friend.  Some of these came from large organizations that should be able to afford a database that personalizes salutations.

Some organizations stressed the importance of being a part of #GivingTuesday.  Why is that important? I would rather be a part of helping you make a difference for the people you serve.

Your donors don’t want to receive an appeal when they’ve already donated.  At the very least include a thank you like this – We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to those who have already given.

You can do better by opening your appeal with a story and thanking donors for their past support. Give donors a compelling reason to give and focus more on the relationship and not the transaction.

I’m not the only one who felt this way.  COULD DECEMBER BE THE MONTH WHEN YOU WILL LOSE THE MOST DONORS?

A receipt is not a thank you

When I shop online, I don’t expect the receipt I receive to be as warm and fuzzy as the sweaters I just purchased, but I do expect something personal after I make a donation.

Your thank you landing page is a chance for you to make a good first impression and that doesn’t always happen, especially on some third party sites.

Here’s an example that’s pretty blah.

DONATION CONFIRMED
Thank you for your generous gift to
DONATION SUMMARY AND RECEIPT

.

This one’s a little better, although I would nix the On the behalf of ……

Thank You!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff at X, thank you for your generous online contribution.


Even better

Thank you Ann!

None of the email thank you messages I received knocked my socks off. Here are two openings that are particularly bad.

Thank you for making a donation to x

Here’s an acknowledgment – you should keep this for your records:


 

Thank you for your donation to x

If you have any questions about your donation, please email x and reference number 151201134525.

Yes, I’m feeling the love right now.

But all hope is not lost. I received a follow up thank you email a few days later with the subject line

You #CrushedIt on Giving Tuesday

Almost every online donation I made felt like a transaction. I know you need to include the donation summary and tax ID information, but put that at the end of your thank letter, after you tell your donors they’re amazing.

Donor Relations Guru Lynne Webster has some additional insights #GivingTuesday 2015, and here are some ways to give your donors a better thank you experience. Don’t Treat Thanking Your Donors as an Afterthought

Keep this in mind for all your appeals, especially the ones you send at the end of December.

Focus on the relationship, not the transaction.

Photo by Paul Downey

Online Giving Should Be Painless

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Even if you mail your appeal letter, many people will donate online. If you’re sending reminders by email and social media, you’ll also include a link to the donation page on your website.

That means online giving on your website needs to be painless. It’s tricky because you want to capture vital information without overwhelming your donors. 7 things that might be killing your donation forms

Use this checklist to make sure your donation page is ready for your online donors.

  • Is it easy to use and navigate?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • Does it allow for multiple donors, for example spouses with different last names?
  • Does it include an option for a gift in memory or in honor of someone?
  • Are you capturing mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers?
  • Does it include a check-off box to join your mailing list?
  • Is it also easy to give on a mobile device?  This is crucial. More people are donating on mobile devices now.
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?
  • Does your homepage include a blurb about your appeal and a prominent Donate button, in case a donor Googles your organization instead of going directly to your donation page?
  • Is the rest of your website up-to-date and engaging? Donors might visit other pages to find out more about your programs or learn how they can volunteer. Is Your Website in Good Shape?

Test it out

Put yourself in your donors’ shoes by donating to your organization online. Try it on a computer, tablet, and mobile phone. Was it painless or did you want to tear your hair out?

Create a memorable thank you experience

If you’ve ever donated online, you know the thank you experience often leaves you with an empty feeling. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Start with an engaging landing page that says You’re amazing! or Thank you, Tom! Include a picture and a short, friendly message. An online donation should also generate an equally engaging thank you email.

You’re not off the hook yet. You still need to thank your donors by mail or with a phone call.

3 Things Your Nonprofit Must Do Well After An Online Donation

The perils of third-party sites

If you use a third-party site, such as PayPal, you don’t have much, if any, control over how the donation page and thank you experience will look and work. To make up for this, you’ll want to send a super-incredible thank you email, followed by something just as incredible by mail or phone.

Be ready

Be sure your website is in good shape for your year-end fundraising campaign. Make it painless for your donors to give online.

Here is more information on creating a great donation page.

19 Ways to Raise More Money From Donation Pages

7 Tips for Your Online Donation Page