I’m not a big fan of writing long, fancy strategy documents because in my experience nobody sticks to it.

Digital fundraising strategy

To me, an action plan with 3 clear objectives and some channel focus is far more useful.

As marketers we’re taught to KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. But we forget.

A digital fundraising strategy that will work

When I write a strategy, it’s a starting point and a way forward. But the beauty of online is that it’s in real time, it’s live and dynamic. So if the strategy or plan isn’t working, we can change it. We can tweak and improve and test the plan, the messaging, the creative, the calls to action. We can change lots of things so as to make it work better – to make it achieve the intended objective set out at the onset.

I am very results focused.
I am proud.
I want my strategies to succeed.
But it doesn’t always happen in the first instance. And too many organisations aren’t prepared to stick to the strategy and make it work. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work, it just means that you need to massage the content or tweak the ask or reconsider the template.

Digital fundraising objectives

Of course there is a time when you need to evaluate and call it quits if there are other channels that are performing better, but you need to wait until all the data has been analysed.
And sometimes that’s after 12 months, not after 12 weeks.

We’re often hired to help acquire new (regular monthly) donors, to diversify acquisition fundraising and to reduce reliance on face to face. But they’re 3 different objectives.

  • Using online we are diversifying – tick.
  • Building new supporter lists for acquisition of new donors – tick.
  • Reduce reliance on face to face – tick
  • Get new regular giving donors via online channels – not yet
  • Increase donation revenue online – half tick.

For the charities that are focusing on the retention and conversion of their new supporters, we get a tick. But sometimes that revenue is coming sometime in year 1. Not immediately after acquiring the lead. What we’re seeing from donors generated through online channels is that they are retaining at a 50% stronger rate at 12 months. So that needs to be factored into the ROI and the cost you’re prepared to pay to acquire them.

Stick to the plan (don’t change the goal posts)

But then over time the goal posts change. What the client really wanted was to reduce cost per acquisition. To get higher volumes. And to increase the revenue.
But they’re not the initial targets set.

I, the non-profit sector and Online as a channel definitely hasn’t figured out how to get donors to sign up to regular giving online – yet.

We need to stick to the original strategy (digital fundraising plan) and keep nurturing our online supporters and put some effort into converting them into donors. Not everyone who opts in to Diversification is needed. We need to keep testing and finding ways to build our lists and drive more revenue online – but it takes time.

The online industry changes every 6 months.
Consuming behaviour changes faster.
The uptake of technology and rate of change is huge.
We are still figuring it out. Stay the course – it’s working, but it can work better.