Tracking, audiences, creative, channels, website optimisation, digital wallet options – there’s a lot to consider when trying to secure an online donation or action. Here’s how to get it done.

During their recent 2022 Digital Fundraising Day, fundraising platform, iRaiser partnered with Digital fundraising and communications agency, Digital Ninjas to deliver a comprehensive webinar that focused on providing donors with the best-possible online experience and implementing tactics to get the most out of your organisation’s digital fundraising activity. Here we share their insights.  

Digital – front end  

Payment methods: wallet giving and being mobile first  

There can be no doubt that charities need to be ‘mobile-first’. The graph below shows that almost 55% of people arriving at websites via internet traffic are on mobile (based on an average across the countries iRaiser operates in). 

Graph showing the average breakdown of internet traffic sources within the countries iRaiser operates in.

Consider wallet giving. iRaiser’s research and presence in Europe has shown that donors using mobile will overwhelmingly use a digital wallet to donate – in Sweden, 65% of mobile donors giving via the iRaiser platform use the Swish mobile payment system.  

There is no reason to think that Australia and New Zealand will not follow this trend – the convenience of not having to pull out a credit card and type in the numbers transcends all countries. And it’s an important consideration when addressing conversion and your digital activity overall – for example, if you go to the effort of providing QR codes that make it easy for supporters to reach your donation page, why would you make payment difficult once they get there?  

Nordic countries as an example of the high rate of wallet giving (shown in green).

Ask yourself, can you donors connect and pay (for both one-off and regular donations) in two clicks? This is something to strive for. 

In Australia and New Zealand, the availability of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and PayPal on your donation page will provide choice and ease to donors across desktop, iPhone and Android. Amazon Pay is also an emerging contender as a donation payment option, albeit on a smaller scale. 

It should also be acknowledged that these digital wallet giving options do not mean that online donation forms should no longer include credit card fields and easily accessible cheque and bank transfer information. What you are trying to do is enable the donor to give in a way that suits them best – ie. removing barriers.  

The wallet pay process can be intuitive; if someone has an iPhone but does not have Apple Pay activated, they will not see this payment option. If someone is on Android and does have Google Pay activated, then this payment method will be made available to them. And so on.  

Note that iRaiser is fully integrated with the above-mentioned wallet options (meaning that if you have any of the options activated on your phone, payment details will be pre-populated when donating on an iRaiser page) and other fundraising platforms are joining the pack.  

Two screenshots that show one donor having two different donation experiences according to platform they are using to donate: Left – on desktop where Apple Pay is not available. Right – on iPhone where Apple Pay is available. Source: Oxfam Ireland.

Widgets to boost fundraising & donations  

This is about activity you can implement on your landing pages to increase the visit-to-donation conversion rate.  

Last donation made 

iRaiser have experienced an increase in conversions when last donation notification banners are displayed on donation pages (fundraisers should consider setting a minimum amount for the donations they wish to display and test different amounts).  

A donation page with last donation information displayed across the top.

Most popular amount  

When you highlight a suggested giving amount on your donation form (labelling it as the ‘most popular’ amount), more than 60% of supporters will select that amount, iRaiser have found. They suggest fundraisers establish their average donation, add 5%, and set the resulting figure as the ‘most popular’ donation amount.  

Progress bar 

A progress bar that shows how close a campaign is to reaching target will improve conversion. There’s a good chance that you are already using progress bars or donation ‘thermometers’ on your donation pages, but it can’t hurt to check that they are clearly visible and working properly.  

QR codes 

‘Checking-in’ has become a way of life for Australians over the past two years and the main tool for this has been QR codes. Once written off as a digital moment that wouldn’t last, QR codes are now widely accepted and they offer significant value to fundraising. In addition to their inclusion in offline communications (such as direct mail and outdoor advertising) to drive offline audiences to online pages, and at events, donor presentations and webinars to provide a quick means for attendees to reach your desired online location, they play a valuable role in peer-to-peer activity. A unique QR code gives fundraisers a shareable means to send family and friends to their fundraising page. This feature is available on iRaiser.  

Remember, the golden rule for all the above initiatives is to test, test, test!  

Speaking of testing for the donation page experience…  

Other aspects of your donation form that you should test include colours, the use of images (and which images you use), the number of form fields (think about what information you really need from your donors), and whether you pre-select one-off or monthly donations (a note on pre-selecting monthly – make sure this is crystal clear on the display, no donor wants to sign up to a monthly gift by mistake).  

A general rule of thumb is that simplicity rules (eg, a super easy-to-use donation form will typically have a more significant impact on conversions than compelling imagery), but only by going through the testing process will you truly understand what works best for your supporters (and this may differ from campaign to campaign).  

Digital – behind the scenes  

Tracking 

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is often misattributed to American engineer, W. Edwards Deming. What he actually said is, “It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth”. But in the instance of digital fundraising, the misquote can be applied.  

Digital activity takes investment – if not in money, then most definitely in time. And, if you’re not tracking your digital outcomes, then do you know if your investment is worth it?  

Tracking should not be an afterthought that trails behind the setup of every other element of your campaign. It should be one of the first considerations when planning digital activity – what do we want to achieve, what are our tactics to get there and how do we measure/track them?  

Google Analytics alongside the Ad Platform-specific pixels/analytics for any paid media (such as Facebook, TikTok and Taboola) are, at minimum, what should be applied when digital fundraising.  

There are two types of conversions to consider when tracking: 

Micro – these are small wins, such as the number of videos views on your site or visits to the initial stages of your donation form (even if they don’t complete)

Macro – big outcomes such as donations, event registrations and newsletter sign-ups 

Understanding the difference between the two will help you structure your tactics and KPIs. When you have set up tracking for micro and macro conversions correctly, your Google Analytics for a campaign should look something like this: 

In a nutshell, you need to be tracking Volume, Value and Gift Type in both Google Analytics and paid media.  

Infrastructure 

This means the human side of a campaign, technical considerations, and your digital toolkit.  

Here is a breakdown: 

  1. Humans
  • Your team 
  • Your suppliers and external partners 
  1. Technical
  • Landing pages  
  • Website  
  • Payment enablement/processors 
  1. Digital Toolkit
  • Email tool, such as Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor 
  • Landing page optimisation software, such as Optimize, AB Tasty and Optimizely 
  • User insights software, such as Hotjar 
  • Next generation analytics platforms such as Insightech 
  • Advertising platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, TikTok and Taboola  

Creative 

Facebook research shows that up to 50% of a campaign’s performance can be attributed to effective ad creative. That’s huge. The other 50% can be attributed to tactics such as audience insights and targeting. Creative really does count. 

Jonathan from Digital Ninja’s three laws of ad creative are:  

  1. Your ad must stop viewers from scrolling past  
  2. Your ad must hold their attention for a short period of time  
  3. Your ad must inspire them to act 

Stopping the scroll 

A few tricks: 

  • Use video or motion in your ads (remember to test motion versus static images, carousels of images etc.) 
  • Use kinetic text that engages viewers subconsciously with large, fast-moving text (note that kinetic text is not subtitles – it is large text in a prominent position that overlays a video and appears (ideally) word-by-word).  
  • Use interesting ad formats, such as 360-degree images, video carousels, 3D and Canvas 
  • Use interesting video formats, such as split screen, cinemagraphs, live photos and Parallax.  
  • Leverage your brand – if an ad is part of an integrated effort across channels create some consistencies between channels.  

Holding attention  

You’ve caught it, how do you hold it? Fundraisers are great storytellers, but when it comes to digital, the way the story is told must be appropriate to the format in which is appears.  

There are a few ways to hold attention and some of them are the same as those used to initially disrupt the scroll:  

  • Speed – telling compelling stories in a short amount of time  
  • Kinetic text – used to drive the story along quickly and to spoon feed information 
  • Use interesting Facebook ad formats  
  • Use interesting video formats  
  • Use language to promote social norms – “Many of our supporters just like you choose to…”  

Inspire them to act 

If your ad has stopped the scroll, engaged people, but then fails to inspire them to take an action, then it has not served your fundraising well.  

Tips to secure actions include: 

  • Don’t wait until the end of the ad for the call to action (CTA) reveal 
  • Use imagery and copy that resonates with the audience segment  
  • Build a sense of urgency with speed and transitions  

Old v’s New 

To illustrate the nuances of digital fundraising – versus other fundraising channels – we can reflect on the ‘old’ way (direct mail, outdoor, television) and the ‘new’ way (digital) of delivering our messages. 

The old way is more reliant upon: 

  • Long videos to tell stories  
  • Long copy 
  • Long production times  
  • High costs 
  • Slow sign-off process 
  • External expertise and skills 
  • One video used across several channels (Jonathan says “If you’re going to produce a video for TV and think you can then just show it across social media, don’t do it – it won’t work”).  
  • Making assumptions about creative fitting the audience  

The new way (the digital fundraising way!): 

  • Short 10 – 30 second videos  
  • Very fast storytelling 
  • Focus on audiences’ motivations 
  • Concept to production: 2 – 3 days  
  • Multiple videos that are all different from each other  
  • Design video formats that are specific to the platform (eg. Facebook tends to favour square or landscape format, whereas TikTok uses vertical) 
  • Use existing assets – film on your phone and use images you already have in your organisation’s photo library 
  • Cost effective 

Quick tips for TikTok creative 

  1. Install the TikTok tracking pixel 
  2. A 9:16 aspect ratio is preferred (which is the same as a standard mobile screen). You can also use 1:1, however, this won’t take up the full screen 
  3. Produce two versions – one 5-second and one 15-second version. Videos can be up to 60 seconds in length they are extremely compelling content) 

Driving Traffic  

Now that you have the creative approach nailed, how do you drive as much traffic as possible to you your ads?  

Audience 

Understanding your audiences is the number one consideration when it comes to successfully driving traffic to your ads.  

Here’s how you can form an understanding of your audiences: 

  • Build an audience targeting hypothesis (you can obtain a free template from Digital Ninjas here).  
  • In this process, think about your best ‘types’ of donors – what are their demographics, interests and online behaviours?  
  • Leverage your existing supporter base to create custom and lookalike audiences that reflect your existing one-off donors, monthly donors, leads, newsletter subscribers, peer-to-peer event participants and so on. Lookalike audiences have a proven track record of success. On site remarketing also works well. You can often achieve scale with competitor targeting (reaching the audiences of pages similar to yours), although changes in Facebook have made this more difficult.  
  • Using demographic targeting alone does not work well – simply using criteria such as age or gender leaves you with audiences that are too large and diverse to be able to reach effectively.  
  • Don’t make assumptions about audience demographics according to platform. Yes, TikTok has a younger age demographic, but older users are still there.  

A chart showing the age differences between users on different social media platforms. ‘DIFF’ = ‘difference’.

A note on budget and success 

The powers that be must be willing to invest in order to give fundraisers ample opportunity and exposure to test audiences and creative approaches.  

Set clear KPIs from day one (a good place to start is aiming to beat your offline metrics – such as cost per acquisition for face-to-face fundraising), but don’t expect to achieve them straight away – optimisation takes time. Don’t give up too soon! There may be dips in performance as you begin with your digital activity, but stick with it – it takes three to four weeks, at least, to start seeing positive results on most platforms. Ensure this is built into the expectations you manage with stakeholders.  

Channel comparison and myths  

The chart below provides comparisons between popular digital fundraising channels and an overview of common myths relating to these channels.  

In summary!  

  1. Get your tracking set up at the beginning of any digital fundraising activity  
  1. Make sure your infrastructure is ready – tell the story in an engaging way and optimise the donation journey (especially ease of payment) 
  1. Adapt your ‘old’ creative approach so that it works best for digital 
  1. Be audience led and test multiple channels for the best results  

 

To watch the full iRaiser-Digital Ninjas webinar, click here.  

iRaiser operates in 20 countries across three continents and supports 37 different languages. To access iRaiser’s Global Giving Indicators Report, click here 

Digital Ninjas are digital marketing and Google Ad Grant specialists.  

To access more Pew Research Center findings about social media use, click here.  

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