Why your digital fundraising strategy is off

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Forgive me for being blunt!

The following article is designed to walk you through some of the most common mistakes I noticed after speaking and working with hundreds of charity managers and fundraising professionals. Helping craft digital fundraising strategies.

I’m not only going to show you what’s wrong with it, but I’m also going to show you what you should be doing to start raising real revenue from your online activities.

More so, I’m going to show you how you can do less and raise more, which is so important when it comes to the dwindling resources and lack of manpower in our sector.

Here’s what we will cover:

  1. Lack of focus
  2. Lack of a donor-driven message/offer
  3. Relying on 3rd party platforms
  4. No tracking
  5. BONUS: Free resources

Unfortunately, when it comes to the existing digital fundraising strategies employed by nonprofits, there are so many other issues but fixing these 5 points will already put you on the right path to systematically raising un-restricted funds.

And, hopefully, put a stop to the never-ending wastage I’m seeing every day.

Lack of focus

Probably, you already have a facebook page and a twitter profile.

You might also have an Instagram account, YouTube channel, Linkedin page, Facebook group, Just Giving profile, Global Giving, Local Giving, BT MyDonate (until June when they shut down), Virgin Money Giving and the list goes on and on.

Plus, you might also have a Google Grants account and you’re investing (just a little – through “Promoted posts”) into Facebook ads.

Digital fundraising strategy

Yet, it’s only you managing them all, or might have 1 team member that has a bit of experience online, the biggest advantage they have is just being younger than you.

This is on top of your day to day activity, running the organisations, maintaining the connection with your existing donors, applying for grants, laying out strategies AND let us not forget the board that’s is breathing down your neck, posing questions you probably not sure about. Or even more often than not, giving you suggestions about things they have no idea about.

Does that sound reasonable to you?

If you answered “Yes” then this article will not really help, you’re just going to grind it out until you burn out.

If you agree that this is insane, let me give you one tip on the matter:

Look at the only channel that is actually generating at least some revenue and ignore all the rest.

You don’t need to shut them down for now, but you must focus on what works.

Find out WHY it works and do more of that.

Once you systemize the channel to the point that it doesn’t require your daily attention, or that you can write down the process of how to manage it properly and pass it on to one of your team members,

Then you can proceed to the next channel and repeat that process for full domination across the different channels and platforms.

This process will help you focus your digital fundraising strategy.

Just make sure you set benchmarks for success and receive ongoing reports on what was done and well (or not) it worked.

Lack of a donor-driven message/offer

If you believe that anyone in the world/the country/the city is a potential donor and that they should all support your cause, then you’re probably not doing too well online.

Finding your exact audience is one of the most important things you can do for your charity and cause.

You don’t need millions of supporters when you’re just starting out, you need 100-200 ongoing supporters to cover your overhead and help you expand your impact systematically.

Once you know (exactly) who you are targetting, it will make it so much easier to find them online.

But once you find them, then what?

Knowing your potential donor will give you clarity as to what they are looking to hear.

You can craft your message around their problems and desires, then build the solutions and benefits as to why they should partner with you.

By doing that you will let them know that you genuinely care about them and thus they should care about you too.

Relying on 3rd party platforms

This one is kind of baffling to me. It’s so common it’s overwhelming.
Have you ever seen a professional business sending their hard-earned prospects to another website when they are ready to make a purchase?

Probably not. But non-profits do it all the time!

Someone makes a decision to donate, then they are redirected to some random 3rd party website, the might have never heard of before, to complete their donation.

It’s 2019 guys – Having a payment gateway built into your website is one of the most basic things in web design.

The way I see it, a proper digital fundraising strategy MUST include bringing your donation form form.

How you should react to potential donors leaving your website.

More than that, you will be able to have control of the user’s journey. So that you can track the progress across the different steps and fix the holes in the bucket.

Once a user leaves your website, it’s super hard to get them back. So simply make sure they don’t need to leave!

Also – I can see the concern around the fees charities encounter on these platforms. Having this on your website will reduce your fees to 0. Other than the standard transaction fees for cards and PayPal.

No tracking breaks your digital fundraising strategy

Which brings me to my next point.

Imagine that you’re a marathon runner, but you never track the distance, speed and time it takes you to complete a run.

How likely are you to become the best?

We live in a data-driven world and the digital world allows us to be more precise than ever when it comes to tracking our progress and our results.

Being a digital fundraiser and building digital fundraising strategy means that you need to be a data scientist.

Disregard any distraction or feelings or outside opinions that are not part of your precise “experiment”.

You should track every step from the point the user was introduced to your message, including from where they came from and in what numbers, through the different pages they visited, the emails they opened and clicked on AND the actions they tool within your website.

This will allow you to calculate the ratio or conversion rate for each step of your system or journey.

Tracking your success (and failure)

With the data collected, you can clearly see what works and what doesn’t so that you can tackle JUST the parts that need your attention, rather than randomly change things around and hope for the best – Sometimes breaking a perfectly good system (or step of the system).

BONUS: Free resources

So, I’m hoping that you can see the logic behind the above 4 points.
They are great to help you expand your mind help you think in the right direction.

But like with any free resource they are designed to be an introduction to a subject.

I try to provide as much value as I possibly can on my articles and free pieces of training, but obviously, I keep some things up my sleeve for our paying customers ? It’s just common sense.

My grandma used to say “Going cheap is the most expensive thing you can do“.

Especially when we keep in mind that the most valuble resource we have in life is time.

Let me give you an example.

Last year I decided I want to learn to play the piano.

I can already play very well on a guitar. I know how to read music and understand music theory, recorded more than 100 songs and performed on stage more than 1,000 times to tens of thousands of people. Definitely not a beginner.

So I thought to myself, “why would I pay a music teacher? I can just go on YouTube and figure it out on my own“.

And so I did – I searched, “learn to play the piano” on YouTube and found millions of videos.

I watched the first 3 to find 3 completely different approaches to the same thing. Every teacher had their own way of doing things and it just left me more confused.

But I powered through and took action on all 3 videos.

And then what?

Oh… this was just an introduction and if I want to learn more I need to pay.
I wasn’t mad, I understand their point of view. How could I even expect to get something valuable completely for free?

Each one of these teachers has studied for years, paid for the education they received, bought instruments, filmed a video and promoted it hard enough to be on the top of the YouTube search.

So I had a choice to make, I could either waste my time siffing through millions of other pieces of training, take action on all of them, see what works and what doesn’t, write comments on the videos if I had any questions, wait for them to answer, check back if they did…

I’m a busy man, I’m running 2 businesses, I’m building a family, I have employees to worry about and so on.

I just wanted to learn the piano in my spare time.

My next search was “piano teacher in NW London“.

I haven’t watched one piano video since and I can now even play the song I set a goal for myself when I decided to start.

Let me leave you with this beautiful song and to let you know that my team and I are here to help you reach your online fundraising goals and help you craft the right digital fundraising strategy for your cause.

But if you’re not ready yet, feel free to comment here below with any of your questions 🙂

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