It’s Not Too Late to Supercharge Your Year-end Online Fundraising

There’s a lot riding on your year-end online fundraising efforts. Some nonprofits raise a quarter (if not more) of all their online revenue in December. No doubt your team has been carefully planning its year-end online campaigns and is hard at work implementing the messages. Here are a few last-minute ideas to supercharge your fundraising.

Resend to Non-openers

So much of year-end fundraising is about persistence. For email appeals, that means resending your email message to people who haven’t opened your message. Wait a day or two, pull a report of who opened the message the first time, and suppress them from your resend. Yes, there is always a risk of over-messaging, so be sure to change the subject line.

You might also pick a different time to message such as very early in the morning, in the late evening, or on the weekend, all in the name of standing out to get noticed — and opened.

Add a Special Appeal for Monthly Giving

Year-end is traditionally the time for one-time gifts, but we know that donors are always in search of flexibility and options. Make sure you make the case for monthly giving, either in the body text or P.S. of your email message, and also on all your donation pages. This is one of the fastest growing segments of online fundraising, so jump on the bandwagon at year-end too.

Keep Sending Appeals to People Who Already Donated

We go to great lengths to avoid sending appeals to people who have already donated to our campaigns. But year-end is a great time to keep including recent donors, especially if you have a dollar-for-dollar match. Include a sentence recognizing and appreciating their gift, and many donors will be motivated to give again, or to spread the word via social media with friends.

Ask Your Donors to Tell Their Friends and Family

Your donors feel great after they make a donation to your cause. That’s what charitable giving is all about. Make it easy for your donors to share that feeling with friends and family by adding sharing options on your website “Thank You” page and also in the thank-you email/receipt that gets sent to each donor. Discuss with your online vendors to find out how to add these features.

Add a Pop-up Lightbox to the Highest Trafficked Pages on Your Website

It’s vital to grab the attention of your website visitors during the last two weeks of the year. The pop-up lightbox is a perfect tool to get in front of people and convey your year-end fundraising message, especially if you have a match. Set a cookie for your returning visitors so the lightbox only appears once every few days.

Increase Your Messaging out on Social Media

You’re probably planning some social media messaging at year-end to promote your fundraising efforts, but you’re probably not planning enough. Get creative with ways to promote your year-end campaigns, using tie-in graphics, thermometers, and thanking donors publicly. Your creativity and humor will pay off, especially for your followers who are also on your email list. And don’t forget to track your social media click-through traffic to your donation pages.

Michael Stein is a Senior Account Executive at Mal Warwick | Donordigital in Berkeley, California. With Nick Allen and Mal Warwick, Michael wrote the groundbreaking 1997 book: Fundraising on the Internet: Recruiting and Renewing Donors Online.

Be The Match tests improvements to its email messaging template

Test Version of the new email messaging appeal template for Be The Match. (Click to Enlarge)

In an ongoing effort to optimize the engagement with our clients’ email appeals, we recently tested a new messaging format for Be The Match.

In this “story appeal”, the control version used their standard email template design and copy layout, weaving together a donor/ recipient story with a donation ask (linked to a standard donation form).

The test version used a more visual layout, with the copy telling the first half of the story of Henry, a young cord blood transplant recipient. The call-to-action drove recipients to a donation form which provided the uplifting conclusion to Henry’s story, with a donation form directly below it.

As we hoped, the test appeal format saw a significant lift in engagement in comparison to the control. In the test version, the click-through rate was significantly higher — about five times higher than the control — while the unsubscribe rate was lower.

We continue to test and optimize the email and landing page design and layout to provide a more engaging experience which we can roll out during the year-end fundraising season.

The call-to-action drove recipients to this donation form which provided the uplifting conclusion to Henry’s story, with a donation form directly below it. (Click to Enlarge)

Email client market share

Here at Donordigital, we obsess about “email clients,” which are the various software tools that people use to read the email they receive. Our obsession derives from the fact that we have to test every email message campaign that we send out for our clients. Most of the time that goes smoothly.  Once in a while, an email message won’t render correctly in, say, Microsoft Outlook 2004.

Email clients fall into three general categories: desktop software such as Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, webmail in the cloud such as Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail or Gmail, and then various email clients installed on mobile devices like iPhones or Blackberry.

Which got us wondering about the top email clients in use today.  Not surprisingly, various analysts have studied this issue.  We tracked down a 2010 report which shows the current state of the email client market, with data from almost 250 million email recipients.

Here’s the Top 10 email clients in decending order of estimated market share:

  • Microsoft Outlook – 43%*
  • Hotmail – 17%
  • Yahoo! Mail – 13%
  • Gmail – 5%
  • Apple Mail – 4%
  • iPhone – 4%
  • Thunderbird – 2.4%
  • Windows Live Mail (Desktop) – 2%
  • AOL Mail – 1.2%
  • Lotus Notes – 0.4%
  • Others – 8%

* Outlook 2003 and earlier – 34%

* Outlook 2007 – 9%

Read about this report