Improving Online Fundraising: 4 Steps to Use Analytics to Raise More Money
So you’ve created an online donor page. Awesome! Now what?
First, define your biggest goal.
Obviously, your goals are about donations in some form or another. But which of these metrics is most important to improve at your organization?
- Number of donors
- Average gift amount
- Number of NEW donors
- Donor Lifetime Value (how much money gets donated by an individual throughout their relationship with your organization)
- Cost Per Donor Acquisition (how much a donor costs you to gain in employee hours, marketing, etc.)
Once you have identified a key metric as a team, you can start to measure improvement.
Now when you make changes, you’ll be able to see if you improved. If you make a change and you increase your average gift amount, great! Keep it!
If you make a change and the cost per donor increases, scrap the change!
If the change is minor, measure it over a month or two to make sure your first result isn’t a fluke.
Then you can see whether your changes affect your most important metric.
But that leaves the question: What should you change? How can you determine what parts of your online fundraising are effective at getting more donors?
Glad you asked…
To figure out how to make changes that improve your key metric, you need to analyze your donor journey through your website.
We need to figure out what happens before donations to figure out how to increase them.
It’s unlikely that donors arrived at your donor page by typing the exact URL into their browser window. How did they get to your donor page in the first place?
Here are some questions you should use analytics to answer:
- Where did the donor first arrive on your website? What was their “landing page?”
- Where did they go after that? Directly to the page? Somewhere else?
- Do a lot of visitors who end up donors land on a certain kind of page?
- What keywords did donors search to find your website?
- What landing pages do visitors land on and leave instead of finding your donor page?
Analytics can provide answer these questions.
Once you know these answers, you can begin to get a picture of what attracts your visitors.
If a certain page gathers a lot of traffic and many of those visitors end up donating, note what makes that page different from your pages that are less effective, then go change them. In the next few weeks, do those new changes improve your results?
If yes–hurrah! You’ve improved your key metric and are closer to your goals!
If no, don’t worry. That’s ok!
Knowing what DOESN’T improve your results makes you one step closer to figuring out what DOES. Instead of guessing, you now know what doesn’t work.
So if no–hurrah! You’re only a few tests away from improvements.
Once you’ve analyzed what happens before your donors get to your donor page, you’re ready to look at how donors engage during the donation process.
Questions to ask:
- What’s my abandonment rate (do donors start to donate and then leave)?
- What’s my conversion rate (how many visitors donate once they’re on my page)?
- If a donor abandons the donation process, how far did they get? What made them quit?
- What information do I really need to gather from donors?
- How can I make it as simple and easy as possible for my donor to donate?
It may be hard to believe, but it’s not usually lack of interest that makes donors abandon your donation page.
Usually, it’s because the donation process is inconvenient.
The more forms your donor has to fill out to make a donation, the more likely she is to say “maybe later” or “never mind” and leave your page.
And there’s no guarantee she’ll ever come back.
Test and figure out how well your donor page succeeds at converting visitors into donors. Make it as easy as possible for your donors to donate.
You’ve set a goal, analyzed out your donors’ journey through the website, and improved the donation process to reduce abandonment. Well done!
But your donor doesn’t disappear into the ether after you’ve received his donation.
You’ve created a relationship with your donor. What happens after they’ve donated online?
The average nonprofit loses 70% of their first time donors. That’s a huge attrition rate – and directly affects your key metrics!
Here’s some questions for AFTER your donor gives you money online:
- What’s the next step for this donor?
- How can I continue to nurture and steward this relationship?
- What’s the Lifetime Value of my donors? How can I increase it?
- Does this donor have characteristics that make them an ideal candidate to nurture into a long-term donor?
- What’s my donor retention plan?
For-profit companies understand that the people who have already purchased services from their company are the most likely to purchase something in the future.
Read that last sentence again. It’s important, and often neglected.
The most difficult part of any transactional relationship is getting the first transaction: getting noticed and then building the trust required to get a commitment from the prospect.
Why would it be any different for your nonprofit?
While you can attempt to track your donor relationships in something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet, if you want to do it well long-term, you’ll need a donor database (also known as a CRM).
Bloomerang is an example of a nonprofit CRM tool. With a database, you’ll be able to easily determine your donors’ lifetime value and keep your first-time donors much longer.
Your donors are in a relationship with you. Respect that relationship.
Work to grow the relationships you’ve worked so hard to create.
In time, you’ll be able to raise more donors online–and in turn, raise money to better help the people you’ve pledged to serve.