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Top 3 Quick-Hit Online Fundraising Tactics to Boost Results

August is almost over, guys. That means we’re entering the intense time for end-of-year planning, a time fraught with anxiety for nonprofit fundraisers. It also means that those of you responsible for making your websites into well-oiled fundraising machines have precious little time to make moves. As Salsa has astutely pointed out, if fundraising were a pie (mmmm…pie) the fourth quarter and in particular the final week of the year would account for a massive, diet-inducing slice. However, there seem to be an endless number of opportunities for how your organization could boost its online fundraising activity. How do you choose?

At See3 we focus on how our work translates into impact and results for our clients and it is through that lense that we evaluate end of year tactics as well. Rather than take a shotgun approach, we think most orgs should do a few things and do them well. The tactics that follow are for those organizations that already know the online fundraising basics and are doing them well. These are some new, quick-to-implement ideas that can boost and supplement your existing online fundraising efforts this year.

1. Cyber Monday Fundraising

Although the last week of the year is the most active time for online donors, there are opportunities to piggyback on online retail behavior to boost online giving. Nonprofits should leverage this consumer behavior and encourage donors to give online on Cyber Monday. Tweetsgiving is one notable example of this tactic but creating incentives, limited time donation goals or matching programs could work well. Avi Kaplan describes a few of his favorites over on Frogloop. In general, there’s an untapped opportunity to align online consumer behavior around purchasing with the desire to give online. Just as people are triggered to donate online in December to take advantage of tax deductions, online fundraisers should create online giving triggers that are tied to their online retail behavior. Think about this as it relates to your website. What’s the downside in a quick cyber Monday themed call out or custom landing page? Same goes for your social media channels and other online touch points you own.

2. Optimize. Optimize. Optimize.

The next big opportunity for online fundraisers is around optimization. Optimization can mean different things: it can refer to optimizing the user flow on your site, the responsiveness of your site or the messaging and content of your site. Each of these is important in its own right.

You can be your own worst enemy. Before See3, I was a product manager at Orbitz where we would obsess endlessly over the user experience on the site’s booking path. Every new feature or piece of content was measured with regard to how it impacted the conversion rate on the site and that scrutiny paid off in dollars. Similarly, your organization should put as much emphasis into scrutinizing the user experience and performance of your donation pages as you do on the email message that drives users there. You’ll be surprised by what you find. You may well be distracting, diverting or confusing your online donors who are primed to give.

Luckily, it’s never been easier to optimize. Instead of relying upon your subjective ideas about what will and won’t improve online donations you should do as the Obama campaign has done and use A/B testing. Tools like Optimizely have vastly simplified what it takes to do A/B testing. However, the time is now if you want to optimize your forms for end of year.

And don’t forget the need for speed. Amazon, Google and others have measured the business impact of even minute increases in site latency and found that brands with slow load times lose money. If your website and donation pages are slow you need to put an optimization plan in place. You may need to look at optimizing your code, removing heavy multimedia objects (like Flash) and compressing images. You may need to reach out to your service provider or credit card processor and demand that they change their infrastructure or optimize their own code. Remember: You might put up with the slowness of your site but your users won’t.

3. Mobile is Here. Where are you?

The last recommendation is the most obvious but can be a daunting one to embrace. Your organization needs to embrace mobile if you haven’t already. Yes, everybody is saying that. Yes, its true. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t mean you need a mobile app or that you need to redesign your whole website. We’re big believers in sites built to be responsive to mobile users, however we know you’re not going to pull off a site-wide redesign in time for EOY fundraising (talk to us about what we can do for you next year!). Instead, focus on what’s most important first: mobile email and donation pages. Mobile email is really, really important … really. Mobile accounts for 27% of all email opens in 2012.

The first step is to have a little empathy for your mobile users. Mobile users are increasingly dependent on their devices for checking email, and using them after working hours while doing something else like watching TV or spending time with friends. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine what it would be like to receive an email from your organization they can’t fully see and which links to a donation page that doesn’t full work. Not a good situation.

You can start by working on creating and testing mobile-friendly email templates which are direct and simple to use. If you’ve looked at your analytics and know that you have a large percentage of mobile email users, you may want to consider pushing out emails later in the day so that your emails have better visibility within your donors’ cluttered mailboxes.

You should also create mobile-optimized donation pages. Convio has done a good job providing their customers with examples of mobile donation forms. You can use tools like Mobile Phone Emulator or iPad Peek to simulate the user experience on various devices and optimize accordingly. You can also look at the numerous guides to mobile design and development best practices online for help.

Your organization should evaluate these recommendations and determine which are right for you. Each one will likely lead to an incremental improvement in the performance of your end of year fundraising program. However, taken together they could produce big results.

So What Now?

Want to explore cyber Monday fundraising? Need to learn more about how we use optimization and mobile adaptability? Sign up for a free consultation with a member of our team (like me) to dive deeper, get some ideas and find out more about quick ways you can shore up a big win this EOY fundraising season.

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