Website and Social Media Strategies to Boost Online Donations
By Maggi Berwind-Dart, Account Manager
Donating online has played a role in fundraising for more than a decade, and its popularity with donors rises exponentially every year. In 2016, healthcare organizations experienced a 9.6 percent year-over-year increase in online giving, according to Blackbaud Institute’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report. However, overall giving decreased by 4.5 percent.
Donations help fund new medical equipment, new facilities, and community-focused initiatives such as mobile mammography services and fitness programs. You’d likely be hard-pressed to find a community member who hasn’t benefited from your services. So why do some health systems struggle with generating donations online?
Let’s discuss how to target the correct donor base, make it easier for people to donate, and integrate social media strategies to spread the word about your fundraising campaigns.
Who are your online donors?
Efforts to promote online donations traditionally have been targeted to younger generations that were perceived to be more comfortable using technology.
If you’re only targeting Millennials, you’re missing out on a huge online donor base. In fact, according to a 2016 survey, donors age 40-59 are the most likely to give online, with 67 percent of them saying they had done so. The survey also found that donors older than 60 are just as likely to give online as those younger than 40, at 54 percent.
There will always be people who are more comfortable writing a check. So, while we shouldn’t end offline fundraising, we should always consider who makes up an online donor base and focus efforts there.
Make it easy for people to donate on your website
Asking for donations – online or offline – is only effective when the call to action is clear and the next steps are easy. Don’t turn away potential donors by making it difficult.
- Add a clear call-to-action on the homepage: Too many organizations hide the donation section a few layers into the site – such as including it in a “Volunteer” section. Include a “Donate” button or “Giving” category prominently on your homepage. In times of emergency or during a big campaign push, you could include it in a hero carousel, a rotating image feature that is available at the top of certain web page templates.
- Don’t make donors click around: While your donation section should highlight donor stories and express gratitude, don’t make potential donors read through a lot of dense text or scroll before giving them a link to the donation form.
- Optimize for mobile users: Seventeen percent of online donations in 2016 were made on mobile devices, up from 14 percent in 2016 and 9 percent in 2014. Be sure your website, donation forms, and email messages are mobile friendly.
- Give options for where their money goes: Some people are more inclined to donate when they know their money will go toward something they’re passionate about. Allow donors to choose a specific fundraising campaign or options such as a general “Annual Fund” or “Where the Need is Greatest.”
Remember that timing is everything. An analysis of 2015 online giving trends found that 30 percent of donations were given in December, with the bulk of them coming in the last three days of the year. Based on this information and the giving trends of your existing donor base, you could tailor “asks” to maximize holiday giving, last-minute tax exemptions, or estate planning trends.
Finally, go through your website’s online donation process yourself once a quarter to experience each step from your donors’ perspective. Is the entry point compelling? Is the system intuitive? Would you feel compelled and safe to donate online? You should be able to answer “yes” to all those questions. If you can’t, it’s time to make changes!
Incorporate social media into fundraising strategy
Social media is reshaping online donations, becoming an important driver of online giving. However, I still too often see well-intentioned healthcare organizations share an update or story on social media and not give readers a path to donate.
- Facebook: Facebook is currently the gold standard for promoting online donations thanks to the ability to include links, images, video, and virtually unlimited text. And as one of the most established social media channels, a wide variety of people are comfortable using it.
- Twitter: While not as dominant in online giving as Facebook, Twitter is still a powerful way to distribute fundraising messages. If you use an image, which can help with engagement, you also can add text to images to give additional context, since tweets are limited to 140 characters.
- Instagram: Instagram offers a great opportunity to thank your donors, reminding everyone who follows you about your programs and giving opportunities. Though URLs aren’t clickable in non-promoted posts, they’re still valuable. Make sure you use original photos, not stock. An idea could be to include photos of what fundraising dollars were used toward, such as new equipment or benefits for sick children.
Snapchat is a newer platform and there aren’t a lot of examples of hospitals and healthcare systems using it specifically for fundraising. While slightly older, the same goes for Pinterest. These channels are, however, a great marketing tool to boost brand awareness and engage the community.
If you worry about asking for donations too often on social media, keep your messages fresh by approaching the topic from different angles. For example, during or after a natural disaster, instead of a direct ask, your post could be geared toward praising community strength along with a link that tells readers how they can help those in need. Thank donors by posting photos and tagging organizations, along with including a link for people to learn how they can help. If you have a post that links to an appropriate blog article, include a “Donate now” call-to-action within the blog article.
And while social media has become increasingly more important in online giving, don’t forget about email. Email still has an excellent success rate, with a 2016 study showing email accounted for 26 percent of online fundraising revenue.
Keep an eye out for opportunities to join social charitable movements. While some, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge are short-lived, others such as #GivingTuesday – referring to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving – have gained momentum over time.
Donations are vital to continuing your organization’s mission to serve the community. Implement these tips to more effectively reach potential donors through your website, social media, and email lists when they get the urge to give.
Contact us today to get help with your online fundraising strategies.
Read more articles.