May 22, 2020 | Categories Coronavirus / COVID-19 Nonprofit Resources, Featured, Fundraising Strategies, Nonprofit News

How to Gain New Donors Through Digital Fundraising Strategies in the Age of COVID-19

How to gain donors through digital fundraising strategies

This article was authored and contributed by Robin L. Cabral, MA, CFRE, MFIA.

One thing about pandemics, or just crises and downturns in general, is that they tend to expose organizational weaknesses, poor practices, and complete neglect. We can see evidence of this daily around the world today. Systems, structures, and things are showing their weaknesses.

What I have been noting is that it is quite evident in many fundraising programs that many are top-heavy but base limited. What does that mean? There has been a strong emphasis on major donor development and little spent on new donor acquisition, mid-level upgrades, and, of course, as always retention.

It is the new donor acquisition that I prefer to focus attention on. Right now, one thing we are seeing is non-donors giving for the first time. People are feeling out of control. The sentiment in the country is one of the people trying to wrestle control of their present economic situations or health concerns. Tensions are rising. And, so is that feeling of the need to take control and do something.

In the case of some individuals with a more philanthropic spirit, the one thing that they can do is solve your organization’s problem. And, the pure fact is that we can no longer find or build donors offline. Everything is now being done through online or mobile channels.

While the adage is that it takes three exposures to a company before someone makes a purchase, the real number is much higher these days. On average, a prospect has to interact with your organization by phone, email, or social media 20 times before they make a donation or a purchase.

So, how can we work to attract new donors to our cause? Follow these tips to get started today. But first, check out my new guide 7 Tips to Take Back Control of Your Time to help you gain the time you’ll need to see these ideas through.

Polish your communication channels.

During these times of social isolation, we are finding that more and more people are online, so your website needs to be tuned-up and mobile-friendly and responsive. Then turn your eye to your social presence.

Analyze the effectiveness of your website.

Take a look at your Google analytics and track behaviors on your website. How effective and attractive is some content over others? Where do visitors go first?

Make adjustments as needed.

Determine your current prospect to donor conversion rate. Here is a great formula on how to do that; Go look up the number of new subscribers you got last month and divide that by the total number of website visitors that same month. (# of new subscribers) / (# of site visitors) = your conversion rate.

If you’re like most nonprofits, you’re lucky if your conversion rate is higher than 1%. Most are closer to 0.5% or even lower.

Develop an online donor persona.

Identify past online donors, identify website visitors, and their behavior and develop an ideal constituent profile.

Identify your offline donors and introduce them to your digital presence. Remind donors that contributions once mailed in, can now be easily made online and put directly to work during this crisis.

Become much more personalized in your approach.

Spend time learning about donor preferences. Identify past programmatic interests and in-corporate highly segmented in-email personalization.

Develop a donor journey funnel.

What’s a “donor journey”? Like the traditional sales funnel, you aim to take someone from the moment they learn about your business to the moment they make a purchase.

Understand lead magnets.

Lead magnets are incentives that offer up a specific reward in exchange for a user’s email address. Leads can be e-books, webinars, cheat sheets, discounts, quizzes, or a course.

Develop a lead magnet for your prospective donors.

Leads for a nonprofit organization could consist of a download for a “COVID-19 Emergency Action Guide,” or “COVID-19 Tips to Keep You Safe.” Tie your mission into relevancy for the moment and create a relevant and attractive lead. How about a Guide to Helping Out During COVID-19?

Once you have created your lead magnet, you then need to host it, either as a pop- up on your website, a landing page, or some other format that starts a funnel. Once they’ve traded their email for your lead magnet, then it is time to enter these prospects into an online and offline cultivation stream called a “donor journey”.

Create a systematic donor journey.

Identify all of the different touchpoints that you will use. These touchpoints don’t all have to be digital. They can include both offline and online strategies, i.e., emails, text messages, video, telephone, in-person visits, etc.

Break down the donor journey into different phases with touchpoints.

Align each step with a goal just as you would be designing strategy moves for each of your major donors. Planning thoughtful stages or steps will maximize your donor relationship as you would offline. Each phase or level should aim to increase the donor’s engagement and interest in your organization and help them to feel good about possibly becoming greater involved in your efforts through giving. Your ultimate goal is to move them from awareness to an ask.

Personalize each phase of the donor journey.

Develop a system in your CRM and its integrated communication tools. The method you use should allow you to build out each segment of your journey using things such as automated emails, calls, etc. and then set your system free and let it do its job.

Keep tabs on your donor journey.

Continually monitor donor behaviors as they enter, participate in, and exit your donor journey stream to identify areas for correction, enhancements, or adjustments.

It is imperative that you begin to move your efforts digitally as a result of COVID-19. Given this, attention should be provided as to how you not only retain new donors but also how you acquire them. Never before has acquisition has been as important or as effective as digital. Follow these steps, and you will soon be on your way to having a strong digital acquisition program and a growing donor base.

About Robin Cabral

Robin Cabral, a LinkedIn Top Voice in Philanthropy, is a CFRE expert who is providing Strategy and Career Coaching for Emerging and Advancing Fundraisers and Executive Directors. As a “top in the field” Certified Fund-Raising Executive who has been billed as one of LinkedIn’s top philanthropy voices of the year, she has the skills and experience to focus your efforts, drive your results, and enhance your ability and confidence through easy to understand and informative strategies, tools, and templates. 

For a free, 30-minute consultation with Robin Cabral or to learn more about her “Survive and Thrive” professional coaching services, visit Development ConsultingSolutions.

Join Robin’s new Facebook group: Nonprofit Survive and Thrive Mastermind and receive support and inspiration to drive your results.

COVID-19 Survival Resources Series for Nonprofits

The experts at DonorPerfect, and special guest authors like Robin, are creating a series of free resources for nonprofits facing new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the Free COVID-19 Resources for Nonprofits section of our blog for more useful strategies.

Emily Patz
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