Four ways charities can drive more online donations

Four tips for charities looking to boost donations from social media

Chloe Green | 30th Jan 18
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Social media has become an important platform for charities to raise awareness of their cause and gain supporters – but turning those likes and follows into donations involves more than just posting to social media and hoping for the best.

Here are four ways charities can ensure they get better results out of their online fundraising efforts and get more donations from social media.


1. Understand your supporters

“Instead of viewing social media as a direct means of attaining donations, it should be seen as a means of creating and sustaining relationships with supporters,” says Ian Jukes, Digital Strategist at Reason Digital.

“One of the benefits to creating a sustained relationship with supporters is also the two-way nature of that relationship: rather than seeing a social media presence purely as a way to generate leads, it can also be seen as an opportunity to hear and learn more about your supporters – what their interests are, which campaigns or causes chime with them, how you could be helping or motivating them more.”

Social listening can be a powerful way of building a picture of who a charity’s supporter base are, where they interact, and what kinds of content and messages interest them most. This knowledge can be used to make digital fundraising campaigns more effective, by starting to build content that an audience actually wants to engage with and share.

There are a number of free and low-cost social listening tools that charities can use to monitor different social media streams and keep an eye on the impact of their own content.



2. Be authentic

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that Facebook is changing the algorithm for its newsfeed, with the aim of shifting the balance of content people can see on Facebook towards more posts from friends and family, preventing businesses, brands and media “crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

Zuckerberg hopes to “prioritise posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people.”

Facebook is the dominant social media channel for charities, and this might seem like bad news for the charities and non-profit organisations who have spent money and effort building their brands on the platform. While you may have to work a bit harder to be seen, Vinay Nair, founder of charity digital agency Lightful argues that with the focus on more meaningful content, this could actually play to charities’ strengths.

“Charities have a unique relationship with their supporters,” he says, “so therefore having people engaging and sharing organically is actually what the new algorithm will support.”

“Social media changes all the time. Your best bet is to stay authentic and true to your charity’s voice. Focus on quality over quantity. Spend time crafting post and ensuring it is what your audience wants.”

Another tip is to take advantage of the ‘Groups’ feature on Facebook, as these can be an easy way for like-minded supporters, fundraisers and event planners to keep in contact, spread awareness and spark new ideas. All this can be done with minimal time and effort from the charity, as supporters can be left to run the groups themselves.

Emma Humphrey Digital Marketing Executive, St Catherine’s Hospice in Crawley explains how it’s done on the JustGiving blog.



3. Know when to follow up

Once someone has given you their details, reward them for their support in the right way. The relationship with that person needs to be nurtured both before and after they visit the site and interact.

As Florian Engel, CEO at charity digital agency more onion explains, sending out automated emails can be a powerful way of personalising interactions. Make sure you have a welcome journey planned out for any subscribers, which puts your supporter at the centre of communications and allows them to shape the email communications through their actions.

“Supporters can receive a set of emails introducing them to the organisation,” he says. “The timing of these emails can be the exact point where the supporter signed up, which makes those messages much more relevant, and those messages can respond to their previous activity, acknowledging what they’ve already done, sending reminders or follow-ups if they don’t respond to a particular ask.”

Automations also allow you to standardise and reuse sequences of emails that you have tested with your list and that you know work really well. You can also create meaningful and engaging asks that grab people while you still have their attention.

“A donation ask on an action thank you page can be really effective for example,” says Engel. “People are still involved in the process, asking doesn’t seem intrusive, and it offers them a chance to follow through on the commitment they’ve just made by taking a campaign action, for example.”

More onion provides a free PDF guide to designing a successful supporter engagement journey via email, including when and how to ask your supporters to take action.



4. Reduce your website’s bounce rates

Think you have great social media engagement, targeted online advertising and well planned follow-up emails, but people still aren’t donating online? It could be your website is confusing or not clear enough.

You’ve put all the hard work in to drive people to your website. Once they’ve reached your website, don’t let that be the weakest link. A charity can have a wonderful social media campaign, but if the user can’t find the donate button, can’t easily figure out where to sign up to support them once on the website, or are otherwise put off by poor design, it will all go to waste.

Our recent feature explains how better website design help reduce ‘bounce rates’ – the percentage of visitors to a website who leave without visiting a second page or clicking on anything.

It’s also vital to ensure that your site works equally well across the different devices that people are likely to use. Recent analysis from Reason Digital estimates that charities could be missing out on £1.5bn a year due to high bounce rates on mobile devices.

Despite 68% of visits coming from mobile users, the study found that 79% of them navigated away from the websites after viewing only one page.

“Consider how your content will be consumed in a different format,” advises Ian Dukes. “Long, wordy pages will appeal less on a smaller screen, for example.”

Redeveloping a website can be a costly business, so you will want to do it as infrequently as possible. That is why it is a good idea to thoroughly future-proof your site when the opportunity arises.

“Use making your website mobile-optimised as an opportunity to update content, conduct an audit of your SEO strategy, test and update your information architecture and, if necessary, re-brand.”