Top 5 Tips to Improve Your Digital Dollars in 2009
I hope you enjoyed last month’s article about online giving versus online fundraising, and why it’s so important to learn to distinguish one from another. For those of you who missed it, let me provide this disclaimer: I lead an online fundraising company, so my perspective is very pro-digital … but it’s also informed by 10 years of Internet fundraising experience, so I hope my insights will be of some value to you.
This month’s topic is timely as many of us face challenges in certain areas of our top-line income. As our major gifts and corporate support could be in decline in 2009, what can we do to pump up our digital giving?
Tip No. 1: Find your digital leadership
As they say, it all starts at the top. When I see effective digital fundraising programs, they’re almost always paired with effective digital leadership. In your organization, who is your Obama? And who is on the team surrounding that Obama? Not all of us are fortunate enough to have the resources for the types of people we’d like to see leading our digital future, but we have great connections in the community. Why not set up a volunteer-led digital dollars team this year? It’s a great way for some of the bright-minds in your community to help your important cause, and it will bring a fresh perspective to your organization.
Tip No. 2: Create a baseline
How many visitors came to your Web site last month? How much money did you raise online last month? How do these numbers compare to the same month last year? In order to be effective at improving the quality and quantity of your digital dollars, you need to know your current position. Develop a baseline that includes both financial and Web site traffic numbers. If you aren’t already using Google Analytics on your Web site, stop reading this article and get on that immediately!
Tip No. 3: Use common sense
Resist the urge to revamp your entire Web site. I know it would feel good to do away with the site you’ve been using for the past few years, but don’t make hasty and expensive decisions. Once you have some baseline information about how people are using your current site, use common sense. Where are most visitors going? How long do they spend on your site? How do they find your site? Your existing site is a treasure trove of information waiting to be studied.
Tip No. 4: Conversion first, traffic second
Before you have a big party, you make sure your house is in order. In terms of your Web site, understand what your conversion rate is. How many visitors does it take to get one online donation? Is it five, 10 or 100? The answer to this question is extremely important. If one out of every 100 visitors is currently making a donation, you have a 1 percent conversion rate. You can double your digital dollars in one of two basic ways: work to get your conversion rate to 2 percent, or double your Web site traffic. Measure, test, refine until you are happy with your conversion rate before you start spending resources on driving traffic to your site.
Tip No. 5: Tell a great story
Most fundraising organizations I know have an abundance of great stories about the good work their fundraising supports. Lucky for you, there have never been better storytelling tools on the Internet, and many of them are low- or no-cost. Try something new this month: Rather than sending out a long, text-heavy e-mail to your past donors, send a video. Get any basic digital camera, look into the lens, and tell a story you’re passionate about. If you don’t like the first take, delete it and do it over. Repeat as many times as necessary. Once you’re satisfied, upload it to YouTube and send the link to your past donors. Immediate and authentic impact!
Philip King is president and CEO of Artez. He can be reached at email@example.com
Philip King is founder of The Donation Funnel Project, an experiment in online and mobile fundraising. He is a regular contributor to NonProfit PRO.