Insights to Power Social Good

How to Use Mobile and Digital to Improve Fundraising Efficiency

Posted by Yosuke Carter on Jan 23, 2015 1:33:00 PM



When I was in college, I hated accounting and finance. I much preferred learning about marketing strategies and organizational psychology over balance sheets, EBITDA and COGS.

The best thing about entering the "real world" is that you learn to connect the dots. When you gain first-hand experience of how your spending impacts the success of your organization, the most boring subjects become interesting.

Here's an example of a basic calculation that measures fundraising efficiency:

Your nonprofit spends $1,000 on a fundraising widget that produces $3,500. The revenue to cost ratio is 3.5X. Conversely, if the same expense produces $500, your ratio is 0.5X.

From my experience, I've seen text donation campaigns go way beyond the coveted 10X mark. The common denominator amongst these campaign successes comes from building internal capabilities that attract potential supporters, convert strangers into supporters, and turn supporters into advocates.

How Mobile Improves Fundraising Efficiency

Although a SMS platform is a great communication tool, you have to use communications to reach fundraising goals. Here are 3 ways that a mobile giving platform can increase a high revenue to cost ratio:

  1. Text Donations - We all know that text donations are most effective via a televised text call-to-action. In fact, 60% of donors from the 2014 mGive Text Donation Study say they heard about text donations through television promotions.

    Text donations are most commonly associated with disaster relief organizations, however, you might have noticed our calls-to-actions on prime time TV for other causes throughout 2014. When paired with television, text donations have some of the highest revenue to cost ratio than any other fundraising medium.

  2. Donor Lead Generation - A text keyword and shortcode that immediately provides a link to a mobile web page for your campaign (and lead capture form) minimizes friction for acquiring new donors. 

    Leveraging your volunteer base to promote the text call-to-action can generate leads that can eventually be passed on to your development team. This approach can keep your donor acquisition costs to a minimum.
  3. Outbound Text Messaging - By constantly building your mobile database, you have direct access to supporters. Not only is it an easy and cost-effective way to solicit text donations it's a great way to capitalize on mobile moments when there's breaking news that is relevant to your cause.

According to a recent survey of nonprofit executives, mobile donations and communications remain a low priority. If they only knew how mobile can improve fundraising effectiveness, it would shape new beliefs that handwritten notes are the most effective ways to reach donors.

How Digital Improves Fundraising Efficiency

By digital, I'm referring to marketing through websites, email, online ads, and social networks. Today's donors have the ability to consume digital media through laptops, tablets, and smart phones on a greater scale than in person meetings. 

If it's done right, digital marketing reduces the cost per donation by:

  1. Increasing awareness at a lower cost - Compared to cold calling, events, direct mail, TV ads, and other offline tactics, you can raise awareness for your cause more effectively through social media and online search traffic.

    By creating content on topics that resonate with your audience and distributing it with strategic hashtags, you increase the chances of your content being shared. Keep in mind that effective digital marketing isn't just about raising awareness, it's getting people to take action (volunteer, donate, or subscribe to emails/text messages).

  2. Online Lead Generation - Digital marketing can attract donor leads if you provide a great online experience. Let's look an example of how this could work:

    You start with a landing page with a marketing offer that's geared towards major donors. It's a downloadable pdf with annual reports, case studies of the impact of large gifts, etc.

    You create blog posts on the topics your readers are interested in and distribute the content on social networks. With effective calls-to-actions that direct them to the landing page, they provide their name and email address to download the offer. Bam!  

  3. Optimizing Online Donations - Forget about the voice from Field of Dreams. If you build it they will not come. In order to improve fundraising effectiveness through digital, you have to constantly track, measure, and optimize the ability to convert anonymous website visitors into donations.

    Somthing as simple as replacing an image carousel (a.k.a. sliders) on your home page with a static image can make huge impact on click-through rates. When you continue to test and optimize the ability to turn visitors into donors, you're creating greater revenue from all of your online activities.

Let's face it. Anyone can build a website and publish a post on Facebook, but very few people are able to turn those activities into online donations. The ability to improve fundraising effectiveness depends on your ability to build those capabilities.

Your Homework Assignment

Although we may be out of school, we should never stop learning. We covered a few ways of using mobile technologies and digital marketing strategies to improve fundraising effectiveness, now let'st put them into practice.

 Here are a few assignments:

  • Calculate your revenue to cost ratio for your mobile and digital marketing.
  • Publish a blog post that speaks to a donor persona and insert a call-to-action to a landing page or donation page.
  • Test variations of calls-to-actions to a landing page or donation page to see effects on conversions.

I would love to hear about your results on our Mobile Marketing and Fundraising Group on Linkedin.

Class dismissed!

attract new supporters and increase online donations








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