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Nearly half of charities are only receiving 20% of their donations online.

By comparison, only one in five SMEs get the same percentage of their payments online. One in three actually get all their payments online.

In other words, businesses are way better at accepting online payments than charities. Online fundraising is falling behind.

While business and charities are of course very different kettles of fish, it’s still an alarm bell.

What is holding online fundraising back?

Not enough resources

This is a big one. There isn’t enough investment internally in the long projects that boost digital fundraising capacity.

Not enough charities have posts or teams devoted to digital fundraising. Not enough budget goes into testing and UX, to see what online audiences respond to. There isn’t enough investment in email marketing, which accounts for a third of online fundraising.

Devote more resource, and you get more return.

Lack of scientific rigour (like DM has)

Talk to any direct marketing manager worth their salt, and they’ll be able to reel off CPA figures by campaign, results of latest split tests and best performing demographic targeting.

Where is this scientific approach in online fundraising? Not enough charities can reel off figures like:

  • CPA figures for donors via PPC compared to organic traffic
  • the lifetime value of the average email subscriber
  • which Google ad split tests recruited the most challenge events participants

Without this scientific approach, we cannot demonstrate ROI.

Without ROI, we cannot attract more investment.

Without more investment, online fundraising cannot grow.

Lack of knowledge on platforms

As I’ve written about before, campaigns like ice bucket challenge are great for the charities they benefit.

But for the other 99.9%, social media may still be important, but it isn’t usually a big fundraising tool.

Email however, can account for as much as a third of online fundraising. PPC is a big fundraiser acquisition channel for the big charities. Investments in SEO and UX are the best long term ones you can make to grow your online giving.

You need to know what all digital platforms do (not just the famous ones), and what’s good for what.

Thinking the platform is all you need

Just having social media feeds or a website does not make you sorted for online fundraising.

The route to market is not enough. You can’t get from London to Leicester simply because the M1 exists – you need a vehicle to get you there.

You need great content to go out on those channels. You need good copywriters and creative minds who can make it. It needs to inspire and move the people who see it enough to make them want to give there and then.

Donors are going increasingly online, every day. We need to invest to keep up with them.

What else do you think is holding back online fundraising?

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