The more I work with different charities the funnier this point gets.
People think that just by opening a profile on a 3rd party fundraising platform and sticking a link on their website, that’s it, they’ve cracked online fundraising. And if it doesn’t work, well then it’s probably because there is “too much competition” or “the internet is great for raising awareness but not for systematically raising donations”.
To illustrate how absurd this is, let me use this analogy – Imagine that your one and only experience travelling around the world is a £2 ride on the city bus during rush hour. No trains, no planes, no Porsche or Ferrari, not even an Uber.
You’d probably think one of 2 things – Either you’d accept the situation as is and just agree that it’s okay to advance 1 mile every 45 minutes and “This is how transportation works”.
Or you will just prefer to use your own legs, walk and forget all about this new technology.
When someone will tell you how they flew from London to New York in just a few hours, or from London to Paris underwater in 30 minutes. You’d probably think he’s either crazy or lying.
I have found that using these platform is actually hurting your cause a lot more than it helps and here’s why:
You’re wasting money
At an avg 5% per donation, this could sound good for charities that have zero online donations, but if you’re working properly online, you should raise 5 to 6 figures from online donations per year, this means you’re paying a 3rd party company thousands of pounds per year for next to nothing. Plus, there are added fees by PayPal or the Credit/debit card processing.
You’re just getting a basic donation form, no real training or know how. Speak to a local web designer to get you the same thing for a one-off fee of a few hundred pounds and boom, you now have a few more thousands every year to help your cause.
Stop giving your donors to your competition
Even though we’re all here to help great causes, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to give away your donors to other charities. Well, you’re already doing exactly that.
When you’re redirecting potential donors away from your website and into one of the 3rd party tools, you are sending them to a marketplace where they most likely lose focus, explore a bit and most cases will end up donating to a completely different charity or just opt out altogether.
To understand this point, think of the last time you went on Amazon or eBay to buy something. Were you distracted by the abundance and the additional options? We all do, these websites are designed to do that. Did you end up buying only the thing you wanted, more often than not you will find a better alternative to what you were looking for and ended buying from a completely different supplier OR you were so overwhelmed by the options that you left the website not buying anything saying to yourself “let me think about it and we’ll see”.
In fundraising, whenever a potential donor is saying “let me think about it and we’ll see” it’s almost always a NO.
Stop sidetracking your donors
Let’s look at your potential donor’s journey when using a 3rd party tool to raise online donations.
Potential donor visits your website >> after reading about your activity he decides to support you cause >> he’s looking for the Donate button and clicks it >> (optional step) he will land of the donations information page of your website, talking about ALL the different options and ways he can help (remember, he already decided he wants to donate and we’re still bombarding him with info), if he makes it, he finds the link to the 3rd party donation platform and clicks it >> he lands on a brand new environment – new colours, new fonts, new logo, new layout, new voice, new everything >> user gets confused and click back or leave.
Now let’s try and compare this process with another company, again to illustrate how this situation has shifted away from reality.
Imagine that I want to buy a diamond ring for my wife. My journey will look like this:
I will go to a jewellery shop and look around until I see what I like and make a decision that I want to buy >> find the salesperson and say that I want to purchase this ring >> he says “Visa or MasterCard” >> Done.
I will go to a jewellery shop and look around until I see what I like and make a decision that I want to buy >> find the salesperson and before I tell him what I want he starts showing ALL the items in his shop, including the watches and earrings >> I finally point to what I want out of all the things he’s shown me >> He says, “no problem, please go to the end of the street, there’s a bank over there, please take out the cash and come back, they will also charge you an extra 5% >> I walk out of the shop and on my way to the bank >> I look at other jewellery shops along the way that might have better offers than the one I visited initially >> If I make it to the bank, I need to introduce myself and wait to be served >> I pay the extra 5% and now need to walk back to the shop, passing a few more competitors along the way >> I finally get to the shop and pay the vendor – Well I probably quit a looong time ago saying something like “let me think about it and we’ll see”.
I hope you can appreciate how crazy this sounds and that you can see the similarities to your current online donations process.
So what DO you need to do?
Like anything else in life, without a clear plan, you’re going to get confusion and frustration. If you are ready to make a plan you can start small – write down how much (exact figure) you want to raise online this year.
Now that you have a goal, life is much easier, all you need to do is reach this goal!
You can find books and search online to see how you can get hit your goal, break it down into smaller and smaller steps that you can do each day. Now this can take a few years but the sense of achievement will be incredible IF you don’t give up first and you stick to it
You can watch this video to show you exactly how to do that: https://charityaccelerator.co.uk/case-study/
Please let me know how this exercise worked for you in the comments section below and if you this post resonated with you, let’s talk – I’m sure there’s plenty of other things I can do to help you scale your charity and increase your impact on your cause. Schedule your free strategy session with me here