2020-21 has been a challenging period for most nonprofits. With the shift to online, many organizations struggled to keep up and evolve their fundraising initiatives. As we near the year-end, if you’re still trying to meet your fundraising goals, know that all is not lost. You can still turn things around with a technology-driven and online-based year-end fundraising campaign that is not only easy to implement, but also provides a high return on investment (ROI).
Did you know?
12% of annual giving is done in the last 3 days of the year, from December 29 to December 31 and that 31% of annual giving is usually done in December alone.
The Christmas spirit inspires togetherness and support. So, it’s no surprise that this is one of the most important periods as far as fundraising is concerned. In this article, you will learn the importance of utilizing technology for fundraising and how it can help your nonprofit prepare for the perfect year-end fundraising campaign.
Benefits of virtual fundraising
The internet proved to be an indispensable tool during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing nonprofits to raise money despite lockdowns and social distancing.
According to a OneCause study, 62% of nonprofits that converted to a virtual fundraising event saw success and are more likely to be raising at or above their original fundraising goals. These results have proven that the internet will continue to be an important fundraising tool, even as people slowly inch back to their ‘normal’ lives.
There are many ways to raise funds online; however, none are as engaging and attractive as gaming-based fundraising which involves virtual events such as 50/50, Catch the Ace and Sweepstakes. These are run over several days or months and they give donors/participants a chance to win money or prizes in return for their donation.
One of the great perks of online gaming-based fundraising is that it can help your nonprofit increase engagement, drive acquisition and retain donors. With the pandemic still raging among us, don’t expect people to attend in-person events as they did before. Online charity raffles allow people to participate in the event without ever leaving their homes.
Additionally, due to the online nature of these events, they help reduce operational costs and increase ROI, all while providing access to real-time reporting and analytics. For any nonprofit, this is certainly an avenue of fundraising that is not only recommended but imperative for success.
How to prepare your tech for year-end fundraising
When it comes to year-end fundraising, historical trends suggest that it’s always a good idea to start early—ideally, between July and October. However, even if you miss this window, it’s not too late. The good part about running an online gaming-based fundraiser is that it’s quick and easy to implement since it is mainly based on a technology platform.
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Here are some factors to consider as you prepare to run an online raffle or lottery:
1. Identify all tech touchpoints
Technology is the engine of any online charitable gaming event. So, ensure that all the tech points are set up and working properly. First, decide on the type of event you will run. This will point to the kind of tools you may need. Will it be a 50/50 raffle, Catch the Ace or sweepstakes?
Here is a list of the tools you may have to set up to make the event a success:
- Lottery/raffle platform
- Raffle/lottery landing pages
- Payment processor
- Email marketing tool
- Social media channels
- Analytics software
2. Do test/pilot runs of all your tools
Every major online charitable gaming event means stringing various software and sequences together. For example, if someone enters your 50/50 draw, you need to have automated emails go out telling them about this and providing proof of purchase. As such, your lottery platform and email marketing program should be communicating with one another. Depending on the type of tools you use and the processes you define, there is always a chance for mistakes to occur.
This is why weeks before launch, it is advisable to do test runs and fix any bugs. The last thing you want is to launch, get plenty of people to the raffle landing pages and discover payments aren’t getting through.
3. Offer an engaging user experience
People have now come to expect great experiences on the web, not just from business websites, but nonprofits as well. Having the user go through five clicks before they can make a purchase is not the best thing. So, ensure that you have optimized your website to reflect the best user experience.
First, consider navigation. The most frequently visited pages—home, donation, about and contact—should be easily accessible. You must also ensure that the whole website loads fast—Google’s recommendation is under 2 seconds as studies have shown that 57% of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.
Also, ensure all text is easy to read and have website backgrounds that contrast well with the text color. Don’t forget to refer to web accessibility guidelines. Additionally, you must ensure that the message on your website is engaging and that you are using eye-catching, relevant imagery.
4. Ensure donor emails are segmented
Another important element of any virtual campaign is email marketing. It’s the preferred form of communication because it’s personal and makes it easy to measure effectiveness. The most important rule about email is to segment your donor database.
The average person receives 121 emails per day. That’s a lot. So, you need to ensure that your emails are relevant and you are saying what they need to hear. This is why segmentation is important. It will increase your open rates, which will in turn increase the click-through rate, ensuring people take you up on your Call to Action (CTA).
Donor email segmentation makes it easy to share targeted messaging. You might have a segment of people who have shown interest in entering the raffle but did not—so you can send them automated emails persuading them to enter the draw. And there may be another segment of people who have entered the draw—whom you can email with a request to share the draw and increase their entries. Segmentation can also be based on location, age, engagement and other factors.
5. Decide on the tools to measure and analyze data
It’s always important to set goals for your online charitable game. These are your Key Performance Indicators (KPI). And you need to figure out the tools you will use to collect the right data (and measure it). Again, ensure you test these tools prior to launch and that they are well-integrated with your campaign. Some of the KPIs you should set as you prepare for your year-end fundraising campaign are donor retention rate, donor lifetime value, average gift size, donation growth rate, recurring gift percentage, fundraising ROI, website page views, landing page conversion rate and email click-through rate.
The past year and a half has most certainly been a tough time for nonprofits. But if you plan well for your year-end fundraising event, you can not only aim to meet your fundraising goals but exceed them. A full-lifecycle services vendor like Ascend can help you with implementing the technology platform and planning a strong and engaging recurring donation campaign.