Benchmarking a worldwide NGO

WWF, formerly the Worldwide Fund for Nature, is a global organization acting locally through a network of over 90 offices in over 40 countries from Australia to the United Kingdom.  The organization’s Global Membership Initiative engaged Donordigital to conduct an online benchmarking study of 13 offices, ranging from the UK to Brazil to Indonesia.  The goal of the study was to understand how different country offices performed in terms of online activity such as website traffic, email messaging, and online fundraising, and to set some benchmarks for achievement.

We combined data from Google Analytics with online fundraising numbers provided by the country offices to produce a global benchmark report.  We also provided specific critiques and recommendations on online and mobile fundraising to each country office.

Comparing how different countries are impacted by local technology trends was insightful.  There’s wide variability on how social media drives Web traffic in various countries, and how many people access WWF sites from their mobile phones (where India is the leader).

Nick Allen is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact: or phone (510) 473-0366.

8 good online fundraising resources that help us learn

While the basic principles of online fundraising aren’t changing fast, the tools and tests of the ways that work are.  So it’s really worthwhile to keep up with the cleverest people in the world who are writing about them.  Here are 10 sources that can help you raise more money (and avoid some big mistakes).  Most are available as email newsletters, RSS feeds, or apps.

  1. The Agitator.  If your organization is cutting its budget and you can only afford one daily email, this is the one!  (Just kidding, it’s free.) Tom Belford and Roger Craver consistently find the most important research and campaigns and write passionately about them.
  2. Mashable, the indispensable mega-site covering social media, includes substantial coverage of nonprofit issues in the “social good” section.
  3. Beth Kanter.  Whether she’s in Beirut or Boston, Beth manages to turn out a daily post which usually contains at least one nugget, if not a complete how-to on a new trend in social networking. Sample: “I had the pleasure of experimenting with a text polling app to find out the composition of the audience and their experience with…how to integrate the use of mobile technology into multi-channel campaigns with an emphasis on social…    So, while we were waiting,  I asked the panelists to take bets….”
  4. Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog.  Katya Andresen, COO of Network for Good, always has useful and provocative ideas on online marketing.
  5. Kira Marchenese’s Online Communications for Nonprofits. Insights on social media and web usability for nonprofits always has news you can use.  In recent posts, Kira, director of Internet communications at Environmental Defense Fund, writes about RFPs and “why most Facebook marketing doesn’t work.”
  6. Chronicle of Philanthropy’s daily “Philanthropy Today” newsletter.  Indispensible coverage of the sector based on the Chronicle’s own excellent stories as well as major media coverage.
  7. Mark Phillips’ “Queer Ideas.” The head of London’s Bluefrog agency explores what’s working and what’s not from the UK point of view.  From a recent post: “Choice is becoming a buzzword in fundraising. But just how important is it? …organisations like Kiva, DonorsChoose and CRUK (with MyProjects) have done rather well by offering people a chance to decide how their donations are used. …But is choice the key factor that lies behind this level of fundraising success?”
  8. UK Fundraising.  A UK version of the Chronicle, this weekly newsletter includes news you can use even if you’ve never heard of the organizations making it. Sample: “As part of its annual Cards for a Cure™ campaign, Hallmark Cards is asking adults and children to declare their love for their mother on an online ‘Mums Wall’, with the most ‘liked’ messages turned into…”

Nick Allen is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact: or phone (510) 473-0366.

Boost online response by optimizing your donation landing pages

Most organizations devote lots of time and energy into developing clever creative for their online campaigns and e-mails, whether it’s the Tck Tck Tck global warming campaign or AmeriCares “Send your mother-in-law to Darfur” gift catalog.

But if you’re trying to raise more money online, the first thing you may want to try is persuading more of the people who already click “donate” on your Web site or in your e-mails to actually make the gift on the donation landing page.   Surprisingly, 80% or 90% of the people who go to the donation page typically don’t actually complete the transaction.  And if you can improve your “conversion rate” by 10%, that’s 10% more donors – ka-ching! – without spending a nickel on more e-mails or Care2 names.

Over the last three years, Donordigital has been running landing page optimization tests that have increased conversion rates – the percentage of people who land on a donation page who actually make a donation – by 10%, 20%, even more for some organizations and some pages.  Of course, your mileage may vary, but if you optimize your landing pages, you’re pretty likely to increase your conversions and your revenue,  even if you have to pay a consultant to help you.

So what makes a better donation page?  While every organization gets different results on different pages, these are some of the variables that seem to make a difference for many organizations:

  • Show at least some of the form fields on the donation page “above the fold” (what you can see without scrolling).
  • Cut out unnecessary fields, such as title (unless you will really use it) and how-did-you-hear-about us, and ones that donors are reluctant to fill out (phone numbers).
  • Make the button say “Donate” not “Submit,” make it larger and colored; don’t include confusing and unnecessary buttons such as “back” or “cancel” (sometimes the default in to your software).
  • Provide a clear and compelling “ask” headline (Donate to save the whales!).
  • Show the “secure transaction” symbol from VeriSign or another provider above the fold.

A recent test showed a 28% increase in conversions (over the currently used “control” donation page) on a page that featured the VeriSign secure page logo above the fold, apparently making donors feeing more secure about giving to this well-known organization.

You may also want to create different landing pages for visitors from different sources.  For example, visitors clicking on the main donate link on your home page may know more about you than some of the visitors coming from a search on Google or Yahoo!.  E-mail landing page may work better if they make reference to the e-mail message that brought visitors to the donation page, but you can assume the visitors need less information and less assurance about your organization because they are read the e-mail and are probably signed up for your list.  Conversions are naturally higher on most pages in December because year-end giving and tax deductibility motivate many visitors.

So how do you do it?  There are two choices: A/B testing and multivariate testing.  In A/B testing, you test your current (“control”) donation page and an alternative one, then direct half your donation page traffic to your “control” page, and the other half to a page you think will perform better.  The more sophisticated technique, multivariate testing (MVT), enables you to test many variables at once.  However, but it’s more complicated to set up and requires more traffic to the test pages to get statistically valid results.  While there are commercial multivariate testing platforms such as Interwoven Optimost, Google offers the excellent – and free – Website Optimizer product, which integrates nicely with the free Google Analytics (which you’re already using, right?)

Nick Allen is co-founder and chief strategy officer of Donordigital, the online fundraising, marketing, and advertising company.  Contact: or phone (510) 473-0366.