Do you want to get more donations for your charity, but find getting them is hard? These 10 proven ways to get more donations for your charity will give you a head start for your online fundraising.
Whilst the bulk of charitable donations go to large charities with big advertising budgets, you can still get your voice heard. Including these best practices in your fundraising strategy is a great way to increase donations and the average donation amount. The more tips you implement, the quicker you will reach your fundraising goals.
So read on and make your charity's fundraising efforts stand out amongst the 200,000 UK and 1.5 million charities in the USA. Join our mailing list (link at the bottom) and we will give you even more tips and suggestions on the best ways to build your online donations.
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Tip 1: Social Media - asking for money
Most charitable organisations will have accounts with some social networks, so this may seem an obvious tip, however, how you use your social media has a huge impact in getting new donors and recurring donations.
Most charities use social media to convey 3 messages:
- What they have done (pictures of events, achievements etc)
- What they are going to do (planned events such as fairs etc)
- To ask for money (donations)
None of the above address the (potential) donors motivation(s) to hand over their money, and so fail to maximise incoming donations. Consider this scenario for 2 charities that helps the homeless:
- Charity 1 posts a picture of a man in a comfortable room, with the caption "this is Joe, after 5 years on the streets we helped feed him and find him a place to live. Your support will enable us to help others like him"
- Charity 2 posts a picture of an old man in a tattered sleeping bag, huddled in a doorway with snow all around. They follow this with the caption "This is Joe, he's freezing cold and hungry and may die of exposure like other homeless people who have died from the cold this year. We desperately need your support so that we can find Joe, and people like him, somewhere warm to sleep with a hot meal to eat"
Whilst the core of both messages are the same, the message from charity 1 does not convey urgency. This leaves the reader to conclude "these people do good work, maybe I should give them some money some time". The message given by Charity 2 however, says "This man needs help immediately. if I give them money right now I will be helping this man".
Charity 2 makes it both urgent and personal. The only way charity 2 could make it stronger would be to base the post on a picture of a young person, to strengthen the vulnerability factor.
When creating a post seeking donations you need to think of your potential donor as only able to donate to one charity. They are surrounded by several asking for money, so your message has to both grab attention, and convey an urgent need in order to get that donation.
Tip 2: Social media – Engagement
To build up a following (and increase your donor base) on social media, you need to engage with your audience. This means that the majority of your posts should not be asking for money (at least, not directly).
Keep donation request posts to between 1/5 and 1/3 and use your other posts to do two things.
a: Promote direct engagement, for example you could build posts around
- Staff achievements or stories
- Past successes
- Future aims
- Your charity’s history
b: Drive traffic to your charity’s website
- Have an extended version of your post on your website (blog post)
- Include the link (to the blog page) in your post, with “ for more on this, go to…” or something similar
Know your aim for each post and don’t mix messages. For example, if you want donations don’t also ask for volunteers. It’s fine to comment on a past event however, provided that has a direct relation to the event your post is promoting.
Tip 3: The Google Grant
The Google Grant gives a charity up to $120,000 (£95,000) worth of free Google Adwords advertising each year. It can be complex however, and fewer than 1% of charities have managed to get it. Don’t worry though, there is a very high chance you can both get the grant, and have the hard work done for you.
The main reason for the grant is to drive traffic to your charity’s website. In fact, a suitable website (see tip 4) is one of the things Google looks at when considering your charity’s grant application.
Getting the grant is easier than keeping it, since Google has certain minimum performance levels, so it’s best to use professionals for this. The good news is that CharitySaver has Googles original Google Grants team members providing this for you at very low cost.
Remember, the primary aim of both the Google Grant and your social media is to drive traffic to your charity’s website. It is important that that website not only works well, but also keeps a visitor’s attention and, ultimately, encourages them to make a donation.
A note of caution: If using an agency to manage your Google Grant, always check they have plenty of experience with charities. For example Charitysaver's team is led by the person who set up the Google Grant system for Google. In effect, Charitysaver has the professor, whilst marketing agencies have the student. Click here to find out more.
A note on Foundations
Foundations are not for profit organisations that award grants to charities to further their causes. These can be a great source of funding for your charity, but finding them is not always easy.
Our next blog post lists 55 organisations that offer potential funding for your charity. That post will be regularly updated with more fund providers for you as we find them.
Tip 4: Making your website attract donations
There is a statistic which says that 92% of new visitors to a website won’t make a purchase or a donation before leaving. Another statistic is that most people spend under 15 seconds before deciding whether to leave your website or not.
The most successful websites are those that are built for the user, rather than to showcase your achievements. You can always talk about your charity/achievements, but make sure this is on a separate page so it does not detract from your message.
Your website should:
- Have a fast loading landing page that quickly engages with your audience. A visitor to a sales website will be looking for a solution to a need they have. A visitor to a charity website does not have a need as such, so you need to both create one and provide a solution.
- Your landing (home) page should aim to create an emotional response in your visitor (creating the “need”) and then to draw them in. This means your page should be clear and concise with limited distractions, history, aims, objectives, about etc belong on other pages.
- Pictures should be there to draw an emotional response, and possibly to draw visitors further in. for example, a dog rescue charity could use a picture of a mistreated dog on the landing page. With a short paragraph or two against this and a link to “find out more about…” which leads to a small gallery of pictures showing it’s road to recovery. In this they would then have 2-3 donate buttons and calls to action, thereby generating both the emotional “need” and the solution (donating to the charity)
- You should also provide a link to each social network that your charity uses. A quick link to your latest fundraising campaign is also very useful.
You also need to remember readability. When visiting a website we tend to scan the information rather than read it like a book, so we need a good reason to read on. This means that short sentences and paragraphs are absorbed more efficiently than longer ones. In addition to this many people will view your website on a mobile device, so you need to optimise your website for this
As a general rule, keep sentences around 20 words and paragraphs to 2-3 sentences. If you use bullet points, break these up into separate blocks if there are more than 6.
SEO bonus tip: If posting images make sure they are in .jpg format and not .png. Jpg format is easier to compress and will help your page load faster. You should also ensure they are given an alt description (alternative text) as this will help visitors relying on visual aid readers.
Tip 5: Make it easy to donate
Most people do not like filling in forms. The more information you ask for, or page links they have to click, increases the chances that you will not get that credit card donation.
Make it easy for potential donors by having a simple donate button on your website (or a link) that goes straight to a payment page. Better still, put the Charitysaver button on your website as this makes the donation process quick and collects all the donor information you need on your charity dashboard.
Where you need to have a donation form on your website, make sure to keep the number of payment options to 3 or less. It has been shown that the number of incomplete transactions (people who leave before buying/donating) actually increases where more decisions have to be made.
Quite simply, your donor should only need to make three decisions – to donate or not, how much they want to donate, and whether it will be a recurring donation. When you add in extra decisions… card, PayPal, £5, £10, £20 etc you risk them thinking “I’ll come back to this” and losing them.
Tip 6: Marketing – to pay or not to pay
There is no doubt that paying for some sort of advertising is likely to get more attention and possibly donors. However, most charities have a limited budget for this, so what’s best?
Your posts on social media, with some limited exceptions, are likely to be seen by a tiny 1-2% of your followers. This because the social media company wants you to spend money advertising and some, like Facebook will give you two options for this. These are post boosts, and general advertising.
Our advice on post boosts is… don’t bother. Paying to boost a post simply means that some more of your existing followers will see your post. Your aim is to attract new visitors to your website, where you can encourage them to donate.
Existing followers will almost certainly know of your website already, so you need to get in front of new people. You can do this for free by joining groups related to your charity. For example, a dog rescue charity could join groups for animal lovers.
Posts to groups will be seen by more people and have better results. Be sure to use posts that drive people to your website, not ones asking for donations. Converting visitors to donors is best done via your website.
If you have a limited budget you will get better results by spending that money on optimising your website. Any left over can be spent on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
Tip 7: Build your email lists
We’ve stated lists (plural) for a reason, and that’s because you should look at building at least two. Getting peoples emails is important to your donation growth strategy. Social media posts get to just 1% of your followers, but the average email post is looked at by 8% of recipients.
That 8% can also be increased sharply if your email is properly structured and written
- Longer subject lines (36-50 characters) increase responses by 24% on average
- A personalised subject line - e.g. “Here is your update for January, John” instead of “our newsletter for January” will increase response rate by upto 30%
(By “response rate” we mean getting the person to visit your website or engage in other ways)
- Personalising the opening message in the body of the email increases responses by around 33%. So “Hello John” instead of just “Hello”
- Finish the email with a signature that includes social media profile link(s). An Instagram link increases responses by around 23%, with others decreasing downwards to Twitter at just 8%.
- You can also try using and autoresponder - You can get a free one by clicking Here (opens in a new tab)
At the start of this tip we talked of two email lists. You need one for people who have donated, and one for potential donors. This is because both need separate approaches.
Your message for donors will be largely on what their donation has done, playing to their emotions so that they will donate again. Your message for potential donors will play to the challenges faced and aim to push them to your website.
Direct mail is an effective way to keep donors engaged and raise awareness of your next fundraising event.
Tip 8: Corporate sponsorship and gifts
Whilst many companies support charitable causes and will help a non-profit organization (or many) finding details is harder. A good way to start is to check out supermarket (Mart) chains.
Many of these have local connections or programs that make charitable donations or gifts. For example, CharitySaver works with the Tesco Community Champions program. Tesco Community Champions has delivered many gifts to local charities for auction, prizes and virtual events.
Tip 9: Applying for grants
The range of funding sources available to nonprofit organizations is vast and covers pretty much all worthy causes. The downside however is that amount of money available varies immensely, as does the geographic area they cover.
To save you hours of research, we have collected a list of website links to over 100 funding bodies that you can check out. These can be found on our blog post… 100 Active Charity Funding Sources to Apply for (2023) - just click here to see more
Tip 10: Hold an online auction
This is a little more complex, and may be subject to restrictions depending on your local laws. There are a number of ways to organise this, but the easiest would be to use CharitySaver's fundraising events option. Note: we recommend your closing date is set to about 1 month ahead, with a maximum of 2 months.
First you need to source your prizes, which can be whatever you wish. For smaller prizes (if you are in the UK) you could contact Tesco or Asda community champions. Tesco community champions already work with CharitySaver and have supplied prizes before to our charities. You then sort out prize order - 1st prize, 2nd prize etc.
Set up your fundraising event on CharitySaver when you have your prizes and then promote the link across social media email. Note: you will need to post across social media (and email) at least once per week, and double for the last 2 weeks.
When your auction has ended, you award the top prize to the highest donation and so on until all the prizes have gone. If you have used CharitySaver for the auction you can download donations details via the dashboard.
Once you have finished you should send an email (to all of those who have donated) thanking them. You should also invite them to join your mailing list to keep them up to date with what you are doing. This also serves to increase your audience for any future fundraising drives.
We hope you have found these tips useful. For more tips and exclusive help, please subscribe to our blog by completing the slide in form.
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