If you’re a modern fundraiser, chances are you’ve been faced with a donor base that’s always on the move.
For one thing, your donors are scattered across the country. Not only that, but they’re also incredibly busy. They’re leading full lives: running PTA meetings, crunching the numbers at work, catching soccer practice at night and juggling social lives.
Needless to say, it’s a lot to keep up with. On top of all of that, how do they manage to have time to be involved with your organization?
We’re not totally sure (superpowers, maybe?). But it doesn’t much matter. What matters is continuing to do what you’re already doing—but doing it better.
You probably already know this, but there’s always room for improvement. That’s precisely why we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of best practices for reaching your superhuman donors on the go.
Curious about the topics we’re going to cover? Just check out a quick preview here.
- Figure out how text-to-give fits in.
- Enhance your email outreach.
- Pump up your peer-to-peer fundraising.
- Plan ahead with prospect research.
- Maximize mobile with matching gifts.
- Step up your social media game.
- Don’t leave out letters.
- Vamp up your visuals.
- Optimize your online donation page.
- Think thankful.
We’re ready when you are. Let’s jump right in!
1. Determine how text-to-give fits in.
Perhaps the most popular form of mobile giving is text-to-give, a donation method that was first popularized about 10 years ago with the advent of text donations to disaster relief funds.
If your organization isn’t familiar with text-to-give yet, you can probably infer that it’s a fundraising method that enables donors to give on their cell phones, simply by texting your nonprofit.
Text-to-give services can differ slightly in how they work, but one thing remains constant: this donation method is incredibly easy and intuitive! Giving by text usually takes only a few simple steps and donors are already very familiar with how to use the tools required.
So how does text-to-give fit into your nonprofit’s efforts? This giving avenue can be used in a couple of ways: either your nonprofit can implement it as a regular donation channel that donors can give through at anytime or you can incorporate it into a particular campaign or event.
Either way, your nonprofit must make the necessary considerations and accommodations to ensure that you’ll be making the most out of this channel.
Here are just a few of the many questions you’ll need to ask to make sure you’re prepared for text-to-give:
- Are we using text-to-give as an ongoing giving option or will it only be used for a particular campaign(s)?
- Many text-to-give services place a cap on the number of shortcodes (unique keywords that donors must use to direct their donations to your nonprofit). If you’re using text-to-give to address more than one campaign, you’ll need to make sure you’re purchasing a platform that supports multiple shortcodes.
- How will we advertise text-to-give?
- Text-to-give takes both raising awareness and explaining the ropes to truly be successful. As such, advertising can be more involved than with many other types of fundraising strategies. If you’re going to commit to text-to-give, make sure that you have the resources to promote it properly.
- How will we handle the follow up?
- Since it’s an accessible way to give, chances are that many new donors will be using text-to-give during your campaigns. You’ll need a strong data management and stewardship strategy in place so that you can stay on top of collecting this data and following up with new donors. Your future fundraising depends on it!
As with any fundraising strategy, it’s important to think text-to-give through from start to finish so that you can maximize funds raised both now and down the line.
The point is: Text giving is an incredible way for your organization to raise a substantial amount of money from your mobile donors. Make sure you’ve made the proper campaign considerations before diving in!
If you’d like to know more about text-to-give and how it can help your nonprofit take its fundraising to the next level, check out this guide: https://www.atpay.com/text-to-give-guide/
2. Enhance your email outreach.
Studies on email effectiveness and open rates are pretty dismal. A notable inquiry found that the average nonprofit email receives only a 14% open rate—and worse yet, a 2% click-through rate!
That’s absolutely outrageous—especially when you consider how much time and effort is put into crafting these emails and how much organizations depend on them for their livelihood.
So what’s a nonprofit to do in the face of less-than-ideal open rates?
There are some basic best practices you can try, such as:
a.) Coming up with catchy subject lines.
The first thing a donor looks at when they’re scanning their email inbox is the subject line, followed closely by the sender’s name and whatever pops up in preview mode.
When you’re brainstorming subject lines for your email communications, consider what you’d like to read as a donor. Would you click on an email that said, “Donate now!”? No, of course not. No one would.
Your donors are looking for relevant, interesting content. So let them know that’s what your emails are all about!
b.) Segmenting your audience.
Not everyone is interested in your cause for the same reasons, nor does every supporter share the same type of relationship with your nonprofit.
For example, say you’re an educational nonprofit. You likely have both teachers and parents on your mailing list (you might even have some dedicated students!). Those three demographics aren’t looking for the same things from your emails.
The solution to this problem is to segment your mailing list into a manageable number of categories and target your communications accordingly.
When people feel like an email directly addresses their needs, they’re far more inclined to open and click through each correspondence.
c.) Picking objectives for each email.
Having a clearly defined objective for each of your emails will not only improve your email conversion rate; it will also help center and focus your communications overall.
Your donors are interested in communications that tell a story, answer a burning question, or meet another need. Picking an objective that’s founded on those principles will ensure that each email you draft is open-worthy.
d.) Structuring emails for preview mode.
The majority of your email subscribers are scrolling through their inbox with email preview mode on. They’re sorting out anything that looks like solicitous or irrelevant junk mail.
Don’t be pushed to the side because you’ve hidden your best content for last. Let your point shine through at the top of each email and you’ll be sure to entice more opens than ever before.
e.) Using a personal tone in your copy.
Of course, once a supporter opens your email, you’ll want them to stay and read what you have to say. You probably also want them to stay long enough to donate, sign up for an event, or make another conversion.
What’s the trick? Talk to your supporters as though they were the only donor you were writing to. Treat them as you would an old friend; be familiar and warm—and most of all, be honest and personal.
People respond best to genuine appeals, real stories and authentic conversations. No one likes to feel like just another walking checkbook.
These best practices are all fantastic habits to adopt. But in order to kick your email fundraising up a notch, you might also want to try incorporating an email donation button.
In essence, an email donation button is a button that you can easily place anywhere within your emails. It allows readers to click and donate without ever leaving their inboxes!
It looks a little something like this:
If a donor who opened this email and was inspired to give to the Disaster Relief Fund, they would be able to almost immediately.
All they would have to do is click that button and it would draft an automatic confirmation email to ensure that the donor wanted to submit their contribution.
However, if an email subscriber had never given before, clicking that green button would bring them straight to a basic online donation form, where they would input their payment information. Once they filled that form out the first time, they would never have to enter in their info again.
That new donor could give in just 2 clicks from that point forward!
To sum it all up: Enhancing your email strategy takes a multifaceted approach. The best way to increase your overall email fundraising is incorporating an email donation button into your correspondences.
3. Pump up your peer-to-peer fundraising.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is not a new concept. It’s been around since the dawn of fundraising itself.
It’s also often been called:
- Social fundraising.
- Team fundraising.
- P2P fundraising.
Essentially, peer-to-peer fundraising involves supplying active donors and volunteers already in your organization with the tools they need to raise money on your behalf.
Traditionally, those tools would be:
- Pledge forms.
- Other printed marketing materials.
- Training on asking for donations.
Fundraisers would then go door-to-door to solicit donations in person. Needless to say, it was a tedious process for the donors and the nonprofit. It got the job done, but it took a concerted effort.
The way peer-to-peer fundraising has been revolutionized in the modern age is pretty spectacular, though. Now, how these campaigns are run is more convenient than ever before.
If you’re looking to increase engagement, boost your funding and widen your reach, (based on the fact that you’re reading this article, you probably are!) then you’re in the right place. We we’ll discuss some easy solutions to help you modernize your peer-to-peer efforts.
It all starts with the tools you give your fundraisers. Some modern social fundraising tools include (but certainly aren’t limited to):
- Mobile-responsive donation pages.
- Fundraising thermometers.
- Mobile crowdfunding pages.
- Shareable videos.
- Prewritten email copy.
- Images and text for social media.
- Text-to-give numbers.
- And more!
With these tools, modern peer-to-peer fundraisers are able to extend their reach well beyond their physical vicinities. They can:
- Text their friends and families.
- Post on Facebook or Twitter.
- Make video calls.
- Email their mailing list.
Whereas they were once confined by neighborhoods and workplaces, fundraisers are now able to reach out to people who live all across the globe. In turn, those people become new donors and supporters!
The point is: When you’re trying to expand your reach and increase your funding at the same time, there’s no easier way than through mobile peer-to-peer fundraising.
4. Plan ahead with prospect research.
Did you know that donors who made a gift of $100,000 to at least one nonprofit were 32 times more likely than the average person to make a charitable donation elsewhere?
This figure may seem incredible, but it’s exactly the kind of thing that a nonprofit could learn from prospect research.
Prospect research is something that organizations and development teams conduct when they’re trying to learn more about their members, donors and volunteers, with the particular goal of identifying high-level relationships (think: major and planned giving donors).
Researchers will look into:
- Past giving habits.
- Wealth markers.
- Business affiliations.
- Philanthropic indicators.
- Political giving.
- And other data points.
Each individual indicator doesn’t do much good as far as prospect research goes. It’s only when they’re all viewed together that they give nonprofits a clear picture.
The biggest misconception is that a wealthy prospect is the best prospect. But if you really think about it, that doesn’t make much sense. Unless the philanthropic tendencies are there, wealth markers mean nothing.
A prospect can be unbelievably rich, but if they have no history of giving to nonprofits or political campaigns, they are just as likely (or unlikely) to give as anyone else would be.
So what bearing does prospect research have on your mobile fundraising campaign?
Just as you’d never know if a direct mail donor were a good lead until you conducted prospect research, you wouldn’t be able to tell that a mobile donor was capable of so much more if you never looked into their background.
Throughout your mobile fundraiser, make sure you’re taking the time to comb through your donors to look for major gift prospects.
You never know: a donor who gave $50 via text might be willing to give $100,000 if properly cultivated and stewarded!
The point is: Pairing prospect research with your mobile giving campaign is the perfect way to spot more potential top-level donors (like planned gift donors) than you might have otherwise.
5. Maximize mobile with matching gifts.
Imagine if, whenever a mobile donor gave to your organization, their employers doubled (or sometimes even tripled or quadrupled!) their donation. Two for the price of one: that’s exactly what matching gifts are!
That would be amazing, right? Fortunately, it’s a real possibility—if you market matching gifts to your mobile gift donors.
You can promote matching gifts in conjunction with your mobile fundraiser by:
- Making announcements at live fundraising events.
- Including matching gift info in your email newsletters.
- Posting about matching gifts on various social media sites.
- Calling loyal donors and letting them know about matching gifts.
- Incorporating a matching gifts widget on your mobile-friendly website.
- Sending out direct mail with instructions for submitting matching gift requests.
Once people are aware that matching gifts are a possibility, they’re bound to get excited about the opportunity to double their contributions.
All they’ll have to do is:
- Submit their mobile donations.
- Find out if their employers participate in matching gifts.
- Fill out some simple paperwork.
That’s it! Before you know it, you’ll be flooded with donations and matching gifts.
The point is: Promoting matching gifts programs as a part of your mobile fundraising campaign is a fantastic way to double (or even triple) your fundraising revenue with minimal extra effort.
6. Step up your social media game.
So you’ve pulled the trigger and purchased the best fundraising software. Now is the time to start promoting and marketing all of the fresh new ways that donors can give.
Perhaps you’ve just invested in text-to-give software. If that’s the case, you can easily promote your text giving campaign (or feasibly, any of your mobile giving avenues) through any of the major social media sites.
Let’s get the show on the road with the best social media tips on the internet. We’ll primarily focus on the top four sites that are most useful to nonprofits:
As you probably know, Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites of all time. With over 1 billion users checking it every single day, it’s a powerful tool that your organization can harness for good.
How do you get the most out of Facebook when you’re trying to get the word out about your mobile giving campaign?
The key is in posting images and videos. Text-based status updates are a thing of the past. Your followers are looking for interactive, visually-stimulating content that grabs their attention and is relevant to their personal interests.
For a stellar example, check out this Willamette Humane Society post:
They’ve kept text to a minimum and have made the relevant image the focus of the post. If you care about animals, this post is sure to get you fired up and ready to donate.
Twitter is yet another power player in the social media sphere. Over 350,000 tweets are sent out every minute.
With so much noise, how do you stand out in a crowd that’s constantly chattering? The simple answer is simplicity.
If you keep your message clear, concise and consistent, then you’ll be golden. And it doesn’t hurt to learn a thing or two about hashtagging best practices.
Take for example this SealSaviors tweet:
As you can see, they get straight to the point. They let followers know what their cause is all about and how potential donors can get involved in under 10 words.
Instagram is a social media site that’s centered on instant image updates. As such, your focus should be on procuring the best images that you possibly can.
However, that doesn’t mean that you have to be a professional photographer by any means. What it does mean is that you should curate pictures that are:
- Meaningful to your organization.
- Representative of your cause.
- Demonstrative of the work you do.
For a great example of an effective Instagram post, look no further than the Disaster Relief Fund’s post:
They’ve chosen an image that’s impactful and immediate. Followers who scroll past it will be sure to scroll back and read the caption to learn more. From there, they’ll be directed to more information and ways to donate on the DRF’s mobile-friendly website.
Last but certainly not least, let’s explore Snapchat. A relatively new social media form, Snapchat gives users the chance to send out pictures and videos that disappear just a few seconds after they’re opened.
You may think, “Wait a second, the images just disappear? How does that help our organization?”
While that’s a fair point, it’s not actually a major concern. Snapchat is still a fantastic way to get the word out about your mobile fundraising campaign.
If you make your “snaps” bold and memorable, your followers will be more inclined to look into your fundraiser through your website and other social media accounts. After all, leaving a little mystery is intriguing!
Again, the Willamette Humane Society does a great job with their social media marketing, as you can see from this example:
Their message is obvious and the image they’ve chosen would evoke positive emotions in any animal lover.
The point is: Because social media sites are so intrinsically tied to mobile devices, it’s important to make sure that your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat strategies are all well-suited to promoting your mobile fundraiser.
7.) Don’t leave out letters.
You might send out letters every once in a while, especially around the holiday season.
But as you may or may not be aware, direct mail is more than 245 times as expensive as email. So when you do choose to stamp and send an envelope out, you’d better make sure that you’ve prioritized the proper contents.
Luckily for you, we’ve gathered some of the best practices for making the most out of your fundraising letters—especially when it comes to your mobile fundraisers.
Below are the top fundraising letter tips from all over the web:
a.) Start with the P.S.
Decades of eye-motion studies have proven that people who read letters start with two major areas: their name and the P.S.
What this means for your organization: when you’re crafting your fundraising letters, make sure you include the most important info (like how and why to donate) in the P.S.
b.) Focus on “you.”
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all of the great things that you’re accomplishing. But no one, not even you, wants to read an entire letter that reads “I, I, I, me, me, us, we, etc.” Not only is it boring, but it doesn’t tell your donors much about how they can become involved in your organization.
Don’t fall prey to this trap. Instead focus your writing on “you.” The “you” being your donors, of course.
c.) Invest in envelopes.
Envelopes are the first thing that your letter recipients lay eyes on. Make your envelope stand out. Make someone want to rip it open and see what’s inside (and, of course, make sure it’s professional quality!).
That will mean different things for different organizations. Just be aware of your audience and cater to what you think will interest them.
d.) Make it easy to read.
You’re not writing a thesis paper. You’re writing for real people who really care about your organization.
Write to them in a conversational manner, in a way that will have them saying, “I can’t believe I didn’t donate sooner!”
Also, remember to keep it short. Your donors are busy people, so the sooner you get to the point in your letter, the more likely they are to follow up on whatever you’re requesting.
e.) Provide relevant links.
The whole point of sending a fundraising letter is to raise funds. So make sure that you’re giving your letter recipients every chance to donate.
That means including the link to your mobile/online donation page. It also means including your text-to-give number and some simple instructions for following through with a mobile donation.
f.) Always say “Thanks.”
Giving thanks after a donor has made a contribution is kind of a no-brainer. But we’ll say it anyway because it bears repeating.
Thank your donors. Thank people who don’t even send in a single dime. Thank them for their time, for their consideration and for their interest in your work.
You can never thank your supporters enough!
The point is: Letters are incredibly useful and important and they can actually boost your mobile fundraising efforts if you play your cards right and follow all the best practices.
8.) Vamp up your visuals.
Across the board, stunning visuals significantly increase engagement. They can make all of these communications more compelling:
- Your (mobile-responsive!) website
- Mobile emails
- Facebook posts
- Direct mail
- Event invitations
Regardless of what kind of campaign you’re running, your visuals should all:
a.) Communicate your message loud and clear.
No matter the photograph, no matter the graphic design, whatever image you put forth should ring true with your message.
The message can be your overall message—or just the message you’re trying to convey in a given campaign.
b.) Tell a story.
Donors (and for that matter, people in general) engage with storytelling. If you have a story to tell (and chances are, you do), you can tell it a thousand words at a time with powerful images.
Images that tell a story give meaningful context to your content without donors having to parse through hundreds or thousands of words!
c.) Be high-quality.
You don’t have to hire a professional photographer for every event, but you shouldn’t just publish images that aren’t polished in some way.
Of course, your photos should be high-resolution, but high-quality means something slightly different to everyone. Define what it means for your organization and never dip below that standard.
d.) Have meaning behind them.
Like we said before, people want to see images that tell a story. If you choose to post a photo or incorporate an image in your mobile email fundraising, make sure that it’s meaningful.
Don’t include images for the sake of including an image. Only choose images that add value and have real purpose behind them, or else your visuals will lose all of their impact.
e.) Be authentic.
Donors can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. So don’t even waste your time trying to fool your supporters with phony photos.
Show your mobile donors the real you. Send them images that resonate with your brand and mission and try to use photos and graphics that are original to you! Pictures of your staff, your supporters, your projects and those you serve should all do the trick.
The point is: Whether you’re raising money for your capital campaign or perfecting your peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, having stellar images that tell a story and clearly communicate your message are the way to secure that donation.
9.) Optimize your online donation page.
When you’re launching or improving upon your mobile fundraiser, it’s absolutely crucial that you optimize your online donation page.
Which is to say: you may or may not need a mobile donation page entirely independent of your online page.
Imagine this scenario: you’re sent the link to a mobile donation page and are ready to make a gift. After multiple clicks, the page finally opens, but it still takes forever to load. Once it has loaded, the page doesn’t respond well. You try to click a button and nothing will happen. You scratch your head, try to pinch and swipe and zoom to get it to work. Still nothing.
That’s the exact experience your supporters are having whenever they try to give to your organization (if you don’t have a mobile-responsive donation page).
What a shame if you’ve done all of the work to get a donor to this point. You’ve inspired them and led them to your page in the most flawless fashion. But because they’ve become frustrated and disenchanted with your donation page, they simply give up.
Your nonprofit will save time if you have donation software that automatically makes your donation forms mobile-responsive. That way, you can create one page and have it work for practically every type of device.
Moreover, you should design all your donations forms to make it easy for donors using any device. A few ways you can simplify your donation pages include:
- Adding preset donation buttons. These buttons will make it easy for donors to choose how much they want to give. Include a few low and high donations so that every contributor has an option they’re comfortable giving.
- Limiting the number of fields. This tip applies to all donation pages, but donors don’t want to have to fill in multiple fields to complete their donation, especially if they have to complete your form on a mobile device.
- Keeping your form all on one screen. Donors don’t want to have to scroll, swipe or pinch to complete your forms. By keeping your donation form to one page, donors can see everything they need to complete in order to give.
Don’t let this be the narrative of your mobile giving campaign. Invest in your mobile donation form and online donor experience.
The point is: Donation pages that aren’t mobile-responsive are much more likely to be abandoned. Before rolling out mobile giving options, double check that your page can be used easily from a mobile device.
10.) Think thankful.
The final best practice we’ll recommend is as simple as it sounds.
Your mobile donors are just as important as any other contributors to any campaign you run. Thank them accordingly.
True though a lot of mobile fundraising technology allows nonprofits to send out automatic messages of gratitude (like the one below), it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t put in a little extra effort to thank your donors in other ways.
That quick “Thanks!” is fantastic; at the very least, it lets donors know that their contributions have been submitted successfully. And the donation receipt you’ll send shortly thereafter is critical (for the same reasons). But you can take your stewardship one step further.
You can easily show your gratitude for your mobile donors by:
- Highlighting them on social media.
- Mentioning them in your email newsletter.
- Giving mobile donors a shout-out at live events.
- Sending out personalized thank-you notes to major mobile donors.
Get creative with it and show your donors just how much they mean to you. After all, they’re the ones who truly make your mobile fundraising efforts a success.
The point is: Saying “thanks” has long term consequences on your donor retention and fundraising results. Be thoughtful about following up with your donors.
There you have it! The top ten best practices when it comes to mobile giving. We sincerely hope that these tips will help you reach more donors on the go than ever before.
What are you waiting for? It’s the perfect time to get out there and start your own mobile fundraising campaign!