Posted by & filed under Crowdfunding, Digital, Marketing/Communications, Mobile Giving, Next Generation Philanthropy, Social Media, Special Events.

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Jessica Lewis, Fundraising Innovation Consultant, hjc

With all the buzz surrounding the Boston marathon this week, it brings back memories of my last race in New York in November. I caught the marathon bug a few years ago, running my first one in Toronto in 2012 and then Chicago the following year. After running Chicago, I decided that I wanted to complete another major marathon and was determined to run New York.

You can get into the New York marathon by either gaining entry through the lottery system, qualifying with extremely fast race times (speedier than Boston) or signing up with a charity team. I decided to sign up to run and fundraise for Team for Kids, which is the New York marathon’s partner charity that supports New York Road Runners by offering health and fitness programs to children in under-served schools across the United States.

I chose to run with Team for Kids for two main reasons. One, I felt a connection to the cause. Two, the minimum fundraising goal was $2,620 which seemed achievable in comparison to other participating charity requirements. It might not seem like a lot of money, but I knew that I would likely depend on the support of my peers for micro-donations of $25 on average. Breaking down my total goal meant that I would need to get over 100 people to donate to my personal fundraising page. According to The Next Generation of Canadian Giving, 64% of Gen Ys are 1-2 times more likely than Gen X, Boomers and Matures to support someone else raising money on behalf of a charity. Most of my peers fall within Gen Y, so at least I had a better chance at gaining their support!

At hjc, we have been doing a lot more work with our clients around mapping optimal donor journeys, which has often led to improving the overall experience (and conversion rates) for event participants. It got me thinking about my journey running with Team for Kids – from the first touch point of creating a profile online to receiving the alumni newsletter.

If I were to map out my own journey with Team for Kids it would look something like this:

  • I created a profile with Team for Kids and received a confirmation email
  • I received multiple confirmation emails, including an acknowledgment of my self-pledge, a summary of my registration payment and a fundraising agreement outlining my commitment to raise $2,620 by October 1st
  • I received a fundraising kick-off email with ample resources to kick start my fundraising and sent out my first donation e-appeal asking friends and family for support
  • I received the first donation to my personal fundraising page!
  • I received weekly coaching emails over the 5 months leading up to the event, which included both fundraising and training tips, and inspired me to host my own fundraising event
  • I posted a link to my personal fundraising page on Facebook asking my friends for support
  • There were other emails, videos, conference calls that included multiple resources for both fundraising and running. These resources were inspirational and connected me to the cause.
  • I hosted a cocktail party to raise money for Team for Kids and reached my fundraising goal!
  • I got race day reminders (e.g. transportation, pre marathon breakfast) and started packing for my trip to New York
  • I ran the New York marathon!
  • After the event, I received a congratulations email
  • I received a post event survey
  • I am now subscribed to the Team for Kids alumni newsletter

In addition to receiving email communications from Team for Kids, I followed their charity page on Facebook to connect with other participants. Because of this, on the day of the marathon I got the VIP experience and was able to jump on the charity bus to go to the starting line and huddle inside the Team for Kids tent to stay warm. Not to mention, the charity had also arranged for access to hot water for my pre-race ritual meal of oatmeal and a banana. After crossing the finish line, I was welcomed by a nice volunteer who helped me stumble over to the finisher’s tent to rest my tired legs after a grueling 42 kilometers through all 5 boroughs of the city.

My journey from start to finish was fantastic – from the first Team for Kids coaching email to the post-race tent. This could have been dramatically different if the charity didn’t provide me with resources to help me reach my fundraising goal, such as social media banners I could re-purpose for my efforts, or inspirational stories that were shared with me along the way to build my connection to the cause. Not to mention, the race day support like hot water and a cozy post marathon tent. These were moments that mattered to me.

Putting on my consultant hat, they did everything right. Team for Kids provided me with the tools and support to reach my fundraising goal. We know from our work with non-profit clients that journey mapping is effective in increasing donor conversion rates and building more personal relationships with constituents.

Does your organization personalize and optimize the experience for event participants? What does your current journey look like for participants from the time they register to the day of the event? Do you know what your supporters would consider the ‘moments that matter?’

Jessica Lewis is a Fjessicalewisundraising Innovation Consultant at hjc, a global consulting agency in the nonprofit sector. She helps her clients use online technologies to fundraise, advocate and build brand awareness. If you want to chat further about this topic you can reach Jessica at jessica.lewis@hjcnewmedia.comYou can follow her on Twitter @jessklewis.

 

Posted by & filed under Advocacy, Crowdfunding, Digital, Ethics, Leadership/Management, Marketing/Communications, Next Generation Philanthropy, Opinion, Social Media.

The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Often, it starts with a tragedy, illness, or fueling an ambition. Then it goes viral, raising thousands of dollars for someone in need or for a particular cause. This is the new world of direct giving. But as we see more personal crowdfunding, questions are raised about why we give, how the funds are distributed and what we expect of the role of community and the state in supporting one another. The Agenda takes a look the state of charitable giving in the age of disruptive technology. This program features Caroline Riseboro – AFP Greater Toronto Chapter Board Member and  Senior VP of Development with CAMH Foundation.

Posted by & filed under Campaign, Digital, Marketing/Communications, Mobile Giving, Next Generation Philanthropy.

Beate Sørum

Digital Fundraising Consultant, b.bold

Photo: Nick Ares

People like me always tell you you are losing money by not optimising your web page for mobile, making better forms and clearer content and calls to action. But do you know just how much? I’ve seen some real world-examples lately, and even I was shocked at the sheer amount of money left on the table.

I worked with several appeals for different charities over Christmas, but let’s focus on two of them. Traffic sources where quite similar, and the call to action was pretty much equal, and both campaigns where very successful, and the landing pages where both as close as possible to the actual payment.

One charity managed to get 8% of its mobile visitors to pay. The other only managed to convert 2,5% of its mobile visitors. I did the math. If charity two also managed to convert 8% of their mobile visitors, they would have raised CAD $56.000 more. That is some serious money to walk away from!

Even if we take a lower estimate, like 5%, they would have raised CAD $22.000 more.

So what does this mean for you?

It means that if on a dedicated landing page, you are converting less than 5% of mobile visitors, you are leaving money on the table. Lots of money. I strongly encourage you to find out.

These are some of the things you should look into fixing:

  1. Make sure forms work for mobile visitors. Even if they make up a small share of your donations today, that might just be because you are scaring them away.
  2. Don’t ask unnecessary questions. Yes, it’s nice to know how old your donors are, or how they found you, but is it crucial to processing the donation? If not – get rid of it. Every extra field in your donation forms lower your conversions. You can always ask follow-up questions later.
  3. Does your layout indicate clear paths forward for the user? Pressing the wrong button and having to start over might just make someone give up. This is especially true on mobile, where horisontal scrolling suddenly has to happen to find action buttons.
  4. Remove distractions. Does the landing page for donations have banners leading elsewhere? Is the form hidden far down the page, under menus, copy and unnecessary images? Make it front and center.

Good landing page design is an art and requires expertise, but the tips above should get you started pretty good! Think about the donor first – what are his or her needs in this situation? Make sure you fulfill them – and you’ll see your digital donations climb steadily.

Beate is a well-known international public speaker, who runs digital fundraising consultancy b.bold. She has more than five years of digital fundraising expertise, most of which is from  the Norwegian Cancer Society, where she among other things doubled the digital fundraising return. Her special interests are user experience, landing page and donation form design, content strategy and using social media for donor stewardship. You can follow her on Twitter @BeateSorum

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Campaign, Digital, Direct Mail, Marketing/Communications, Social Media.

Jessica Lewis, Fundraising Innovation Consultant, hjc

November is here, the leaves have changed colours and the air is crisp and cool. Most people are starting to think about the holiday season and shopping. Not fundraisers, many of us have been thinking of the year-end holiday season for the past few months. As a fundraising consultant at hjc, my office is in full swing helping our clients launch their holiday campaigns.

If you haven’t started planning yet, don’t fret! Here are 5 tips to help you get started:

gold-giftDetermine your goals for this year. Start by looking at last year’s results. Was your holiday campaign a success? What worked well and what didn’t? Establish benchmarks this year, so you can measure your results and improve year over year.

Develop your creative concept. What is the main focus of your campaign? Create your key messaging and calls to action. Don’t forget to make it personal and leverage stories, imagery and video content to illustrate the mission of your organization.

Leverage symbolic giving. Symbolic giving is an easy and interactive way for people to support you, give gifts and send cards to their loved ones during the holidays. Do you have an existing symbolic gift program? There are multiple ways that you can transition your traditional giving program to online, either with a simple campaign landing page and custom donation form or a more robust e-commerce microsite like The Redwood’s Safe Haven Store.

Integrate your campaign across channels. What is your DM team planning? How can you integrate your offline and online holiday program? Make sure you have consistent messaging across your end of year DM letter, email appeals and social media communications.

Promote your campaign online. Invest in online advertising. Have you thought about Google AdWords, Facebook Ads or blogger outreach? Leverage your Google Grant, but also invest in paid ads as the holiday season is a competitive time of year for popular key words.

The best thing about symbolic giving is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving! You can change up the design and messaging and use the catalogue all year-round. For more helpful tips on symbolic giving and how to launch a new program online check out my session with Wendy Bray from The Redwood at Congress called “Small Shop Success: Traditional Gift Giving Program Transitions to Online Symbolic Gift Store.”

Jessica Lewis is a Fundraising Innovation Consultant at hjc, a global consulting agency in the nonprofit sector. She helps her clients us web technologies to market, fundraise, advocate and build brand awareness. Jessica will be presenting at Congress 2014 and you can follow her on Twitter @jessklewis.

 

Posted by & filed under Analytics, Crowdfunding, Digital, Marketing/Communications, Mobile Giving, Social Media.

Beate Sørum

Digital Fundraising Consultant, b.bold

1. Not having clear, prioritized goals

If you ask around your organization why you have a website – the answers may be embarrassing. A lot of the time it’ll be “just cuz”.

The first step in any successful strategy is to set goals. Web strategies are no exception. How does your webpage tie in with your organizations overall goals? Define 3-4 objectives in prioritized order, with measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s).

The objectives should be decided by high level management to give you mandate to operate. Business objectives can be different; raising money, improving retention, providing a service to the public, raising knowledge of a certain problem etc.

2. Not knowing your users needsbsblog

It is really hard to attract users to your page if you don’t know what they want from you.

Invest in research to find out. From extensive surveys, to talking to a few users or potential users – anything is better than nothing. The more complex your webpage, the more research you must do.

Once you know what the users want, you know why they come. Focus your energy on the pages where business goals and users needs overlap. Make sure these are updated, prioritized and have clear ways forward to other actions you’d like them to take (like donating).

3. Violating best practice in donation forms

Since digital income is still a small part of our total income, we tend to forget about all the money we’re losing out on by not paying proper attention to usability and interaction design. The other day, I went to make a donation to a big international charity, only to find a non mobile-friendly page
that asked far too much information, and eventually crashed. No money for them.

Forms should be mobile friendly, ask as little information as you can get away with (need-to-know basis only!), field lengths adapted to the information that go in them, fields that belong together grouped (like name-fields, address-fields and electronic addresses), remove buttons that hurt more than help, clearly labelled buttons – just to mention a few.

Have an interaction designer look your forms over.

4. Presenting your donors with the paradox of choice

We want everyone to engage in our cause, no matter their level of commitment/income. So we heap on with ways to support us. Make a donation! Recurring donor! Become a member! Like us on Facebook! Post to instagram! Join the newsletter! Run a marathon!… you get the picture.

It’s nice that we want to allow anyone to support us. But then we’re not telling anyone what we need them to do. Your donors are confused. They want to help, but don’t what you need help with. Studies have shown that when presented with too many options, we don’t make a choice at all.

Have one preferred action prominent as the «normal» thing to do. Then by all means present all other ways to support, below. People who don’t want the default action will look for the others. People who just want to support you, will know what to do. Win-win-win.

5. Relying on your “Donate Now!” button

We write compelling impact stories, showing how we make a difference in the world. And then at the end of them – nothing. We expect people to go look for the donate now-button to give if they are so inclined.

What’s the number one rule of fundraising? Ask! Attention is on the content. Making the donate now-button bigger is just like making web banners flashier. They still won’t work. Studies show that we don’t see them. It’s not that we ignore them – if it looks like advertising, we don’t see it at all.

So ask in the content. “Would you like to make a donation to help us do more work like this?” Not only are you asking – you are also not averting peoples attention by having them start thinking logically to find how to give. Giving is an emotional decision – not a rational one. Making people think loses you the gift.

Even better than a text link, is including the donation form itself. Then you can keep people in the same emotional context as when they decided to give.

6. Not testing

The only way to know what works is to test. Think another default amount will give you higher donations? Test it. Think a different wording in your ask will be more effective? Test it! Think people are not finding things on your page? Test it.

There are many ways to do user testing, from looking at web statistics, to lab research with eye-tracking. Somewhere in the middle sits my favorite – guerrilla-testing. Grab a mobile device, go to the nearest shopping centre and ask people to do the tasks you’ve set up, from donating to finding information. You’ll learn lots from observing users trying out your product.

7. Not following up on your objectives and KPI’s

Once you’ve set your goals – how will you know if you’re reaching them if you’re not following up? Be sure to follow up on the right statistics, and making adjustments where you need to, to reach your goals.

If you avoid these 7 deadly sins, I see a bright web future for you! Come to my Congress session in November to learn more about all of the above.

Beate is a well-known international public speaker, who runs digital fundraising consultancy b.bold. She has more than five years of digital fundraising expertise, most of which is from  the Norwegian Cancer Society, where she among other things doubled the digital fundraising return. Her special interests are user experience, landing page and donation form design, content strategy and using social media for donor stewardship. Beate will be presenting at Congress 2014 in Toronto. You can follow her on Twitter @BeateSorum