Digi.Raise has wrapped up for 2019. Andrew Sadauskas shares some key tips from this leading digital fundraising conference.

Virtual reality was one of the new fundraising tools on display at Digi.Raise.

Australia’s leading annual digital fundraising conference, Digi.Raise, has wrapped up for another year, with more than 230 attendees representing nonprofits from across the country and overseas inspired by the latest best practices and innovations in online fundraising.

The 2019 iteration of the conference, which covers all things related to digital fundraising and supporter engagement, was held on 13-14 June at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Here are five of the countless best practice tips and insights revealed to delegates at this year’s conference:

1. Make sure the sender on your campaign emails is an individual, not your organisation

In his masterclass, America’s leading digital fundraising expert, NextAfter Chief Innovation & Optimisation Officer Tim Kachuriak, revealed numerous cutting-edge best practices to help fundraisers secure more donations by email. His insights were drawn from data from hundreds of A/B tests on email and digital fundraising campaigns.

One of the international digital marketing expert’s many pearls of wisdom was that supporters are far more likely to open and donate to campaign emails when the sender is an individual who works at a charity, rather than the organisation as a whole.

Surprisingly, he noted that having the right sender on a fundraising email can do more to boost its effectiveness than having the best subject line.

“When we think about what the experience is for the donor, we have to think about how they’re approaching [their email],” Kachuriak said.

“The way I like to think about this is that they’re triaging. If you ever go to a hospital and you have something wrong, when you go to the nursing station, [the nurses] triage you. They put people in different places depending on where you need to go. If you’re not that urgent, you’re going to sit and wait for a bit. If you [urgently] need surgery, they’ll send you to the ER.

“When you think about how people triage their email inbox, there’s a variety of things going on. There was a recent study that asked donors: what is the number one thing you look at when you open an email?

“Most of us think [it’s] the subject line. What’s interesting is that’s actually the number two reason. The number one reason is the sender name first when they’re determining whether to open an email. A further 24% look at the preview text. Only 34% look at the subject line first.”

2. You can pay more for quality digital leads and still get a good ROI

In another Digi.Raise masterclass, Pareto Fundraising’s Digital Strategy Director, James Herlihy, gave a step-by-step explanation of the process for setting up an effective digital lead generation campaign.

Herlihy noted that while social media platforms such as Facebook are a good source of leads, telemarketing calls remain the point where most of those prospects will be converted into regular givers.

Given this, fundraisers can pay a premium cost per lead and still get a good return on investment – as long as they manage to get a good telephone conversion rate.

“You can pay more per digital lead [and still get a good ROI]. You don’t need a super cheap cost per lead if you’re getting really good people at a high phone conversion rate. And, conversely, you can wear a lower conversion rate if you’re getting a lower cost per lead. The two balance each other out,” Herlihy said.

3. Don’t forget secondary conversions in digital lead generation campaigns

Herlihy noted that most prospects from a digital lead generation campaign will become regular givers during their initial phone contact with an organisation (a primary conversion). However, some other prospects will decide to convert at a later date, after subscribing to a charity’s emails or following its social media account (a secondary conversion).

Get more digital fundraising insights at the Fundraising Forum

Want more digital fundraising inspiration? Then you can’t afford to miss the 2019 Fundraising Forum on 21-23 August, which will show you all the leading thinking, practice and evidence around digital fundraising. Don’t miss out! Click here for more information and to register.

Unfortunately, many charities fail to take these secondary conversions into account when they calculate the ROI from a digital lead generation campaign.

Herlihy urged fundraisers to take these secondary conversions into consideration when calculating the returns from their online campaigns.

“The primary conversion rate is what we convert in the initial phone conversion campaign from that lead acquisition, and everything else is a secondary conversion,” Herlihy said.

“What fundraisers aren’t doing now is factoring in secondary conversions for [digital] lead generation. They’re treating it like face-to-face, for example, where you either get the conversion or you don’t.”

“With [digital] lead generation, you build a community who do convert to regular givers over the longer term, and those secondary conversions should be fed into your projections and ROI evaluations if you are going to get value out of it.”

4. Virtual reality can give powerful first-hand insights to potential donors

Along with the masterclasses, Digi.Raise featured a host of sessions detailing how charities are deploying cutting-edge technologies and best practice techniques to raise more money online.

In one such session, The Shepherd Centre revealed how it had created a virtual reality experience that gives parents and potential donors a first hand experience of what it’s like to be a child with hearing loss.

The case study was presented by Jo Wallace, Senior Communications Manager at The Shepherd Centre, along with Nick Hunter, Executive Creative Director and Principal at Paper Moose.

During the session, Wallace and Hunter revealed how the VR experience is now being used with major donors, foudnations and bequestors, at donor thank you events, and for community fundraising and lobbying government for grants.

“The Shepherd Centre’s main challenge was communicating to people what childhood hearing loss is. We decided the best way to do that was through VR, to put people in the shoes of a child with hearing loss so they can understand what the isolation of that can be,” Hunter said.

“The primary audience here is to educate parents and donors, so we’re primarily using it in a conference environment or one-on-one, so that was our focus. But [because not everyone has a VR headset], we made sure the content was viewable through 360-degree video and on a microsite as well.”

5. Don’t waste your limited resources on the social media platforms that few people use

Along with the masterclasses and case studies, Digi.Raise provided practical advice on effectively deploying digital technologies in fundraising and numerous thought leadership sessions.

In one such session, Joshua Crowther, Executive Director of Dunham+Company Australia, shared his comparison of where nonprofits put their social media efforts compared to the platforms most Australians use.

Not surprisingly,  Facebook leads the pack with 15 million unique active users in Australia each month (monthly active users or MAUs) has seen 99% organisational uptake by Australian nonprofits.

Unfortunately for many fundraisers, Crowther’s figures showed that many nonprofits put too much effort in some platforms and not enough in others.

For example, Youtube has 15 million MAUs (as many as Facebook) but just 91% uptake by nonprofits, and Instagram has 9 million MAUs but just 76% uptake.

On the other hand, Twitter has 88% uptake with 4.7 million MAUs, LinkedIn has 70% uptake for its 4.5 million MAUs, and Pinterest has 26% uptake despite only having 290,000 users in Australia.

“If you take one thing from this, create [Facebook] groups that get people engaged,” Crowther said.

Want more digital fundraising inspiration? Then you can’t afford to miss the 2019 Fundraising Forum on 21-23 August, which will show you all the leading thinking, practice and evidence around digital fundraising. Don’t miss out! Click here for more information and to register.

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