If your organization needs some quick ways to increase donations this month, here are five relatively simple tactics that we’ve seen deliver fast results for many of the nonprofit organizations we work with.
1. Launch a Text Message Campaign
If you haven’t tried a text message campaign, you are missing out on one of the most effective communication channels. Compared to emails, which typically have a 22 percent open rate, text messages have a 98 percent open rate. It also helps that people check their phones on average 85 times a day. You can’t ask for better. Which is why businesses have been texting customers for years. But nonprofits have been getting into the texting game too, and finding success. One nonprofit texting tool, Txt2Give, has helped nonprofits raise more than $25 million. Of course, you’ll need the mobile numbers for your contacts, but you may have that already for many people in your database. If not, start collecting those numbers so you can add texting as one of your go-to fundraising channels.
2. Piggyback on Your Membership Form
Go to your membership form now. Does it include a field where people can donate? If it doesn’t, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on donations. Asking for a donation at the moment someone joins your organization has the same effect as a cashier asking customers for a small donation to a charity. Not every shopper donates, but many do. One organization we know saw a 20 percent increase in regular monthly donations with this simple addition to their online membership form.
3. Personalize Your Messages
When you send an email blast out to your contact database asking for donations, do you address each contact by his or her first name? Many nonprofits don’t. The problem with a bulk email addressed to nobody is that lots of people won’t bother opening it, even if the email comes from an organization name they recognize. But as soon as you start your emails with someone’s name—it’s a simple as “Hi, Monica”—your recipient is almost 30 percent more likely to open the email. And no, you don’t have to write each person’s name manually. Many email software solutions can automate this for you. It usually takes only a few seconds to set this up. To find out how to do this with the email program you’re using, try searching the help function with a phrase such as “customize emails.”
4. Make Sure Your Goal Is Achievable
One of the most admirable aspect of many nonprofits is that they take on some of the world’s toughest challenges: ending world hunger, curing diseases, sheltering the homeless, and so on. But having lofty goals can make raising funds a challenge if the message to your potential donors stays at the lofty, abstract level. For example, a message like “Donate $10 to help end world poverty” will have the unintended effect of turning away many potential donors. As fundraising expert Larry Johnson puts it, fundraising results go down when the problem gets larger. It’s called the “drop in the bucket” effect. To paraphrase Larry, donors begin to think, “My modest gift [the donor defines modest] couldn’t possibly make a dent in solving world poverty.” Donors are more likely to give money if they feel their donation will have a direct, concrete result. A statement like “Donate $20 to help us send $500 of books to schools in developing nations” is the kind of message that gets people to donate. You don’t have to change your lofty goals, you simply have to change how you communicate them to donors.
5. Groom Your Online Presence
One of the first steps most of us take when considering any decision—from buying a toaster to looking for a job—is to search online. The same goes for your potential donors. Before clicking that “Donate Now” button many will Google your organization. Do you know what they see when they do that? Are they finding up-to-date, accurate information? Is your messaging consistent? Many potential donors decide not to donate after doing some digging online. So a clear next step is to edit all the online sources about your organization to give donors the best first impression you can.
The preceding is a guest post by Donald Cowper, who is on the content team at Wild Apricot. Wild Apricot produces membership management software for small associations and nonprofits.