Give Good to Good – Our Gift this Holiday Season

 

After any new administration comes into the White House, everyone begins to wonder what will change.

As a consulting firm that services many in the government sector, we also provide consultancy to myriad non-profits.

We say what we mean on our website- that we love and are passionate about non-profits. Non-profits help the disadvantaged, they work to make a better life for at-risk youths.  Non-profits work behind the scenes to create and persuade policy that impacts the poor and the homeless. They fundraise to improve the quality of life and find cures for those faced with life-threatening and/or life-altering diseases.

Non-profits work to clean up and sustain the vital resources that our planet provides. And they identify ways to provide nourishment to the 842 million people around the world who don’t have enough to eat.

We could not be more proud of the work we do for our clients such as the Center for Law & Social Policy, LeadingAge, and the Childhood League Center. Nor could we be more inspired by the missions they strive to fulfill every day.

And we could not be more proud to work with our amazingly creative as well as genuinely good-hearted partners at Kardia Design Studio.  We shine all year round because of our work with them.

With the new presidency, we know that numerous government programs could be impacted through budget cuts and downsizing.  We also know that this means that many Americans will need to rely on non-profits to obtain the vital services they need.

With the new presidency, we know that numerous government programs could be impacted through budget cuts and downsizing.  We also know that this means that many Americans will need to rely on non-profits to obtain the vital services they need. The ability for a non-profit to make positive change only occurs when they are able to inspire supporters to give their time and money.

Our hope is that in response to the election, many will give to deserving, honest charities that make positive, tangible impact in our world. Those that care about creating a fun diversion for children with cancer, those that help ensure equal rights for individuals – no matter the sexual orientation of who they love or want to marry.

But we also know that some may be reluctant to give because they don’t know what will happen to the economy.

We also realize that some non-profits may be fearful of spending precious donor dollars on necessary materials such as a robust website, wireframes to plan the direction of their site, or the necessary digital strategy to bring in donations and inspire potential volunteers.

And that’s where we may be able to help.

We offer a program called Give Good 2 Good.  Through Give Good 2 Good, we provide pro bono web/digital strategy consultancy to deserving non-profits.

Interested? Submit your non-profit for consideration using our contact form

Black Lives Matter, White Lives Matter, All Lives Matter. Latino Lives and Asian Lives Matter. The lives of Jews, the Lives of Muslims, the Lives of Christians, Matter. Again, All Lives Matter. All people, regardless of skin color, their wealth or lack of, their disabilities and abilities- have a meaningful life

Caught in the Web Consulting would like to wish EVERYONE Joy and Peace at the Holidays and throughout the New Year.

Top 10 G’s for Your End of Year Giving

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-multi-ethnic-hands-holding-word-give-group-people-s-arms-raised-letters-form-image39119464

Fall is my favorite season. Why? I love the cool, crisp air. The feeling of leaves crushing beneath my feet. Cooking with all things pumpkin and apple (I make a mean pumpkin roll and a yummy apple crostata), hayrides, and yes—football season! Oh yeah, I binge-watch football from Thursday–Monday. But I also love the excitement and anticipation surrounding end of year (EOY) fundraising for my non-profit clients.

Here are our top 10 G’s for you to remember when asking people to give back to your organization.

10.) Get started early.

By August- your organization should have its end of year strategy in place. End of year giving is not just about the month of December.   After people return from summer vacations, you want to get them reacquainted with your organization and its mission. It’s also the time to get new or prospective supporters signed up to your email list. November can best be used for not direct fundraising, but for a non-financial engagement activity that does two things:

1) Lifts the energy and interest of existing names on your email list prior to the relatively heavy-handed year-end fundraising period.

2) Adds substantial numbers of new people to your list in advance of the December year-end fundraising push. The month of December, specifically the final week must include:

  • Promotion across every channel
  • A campaign with a very strong deadline and sense of urgency
  • A holiday brand that is included on every channel (Facebook, YouTube should have the same treatment as the Web)

9.) Get an EOY website upgrade. Your website is the face of your year-end campaign and it should look that way.

  • The homepage should include compelling imagery that provides an emotional appeal.
  • The website should include several emotional appeals to both increase overall awareness and raise money for the mission which can be done with a more personal feel to the website.
  • Ensure that your donation pages have been optimized for year-end giving. Here are our tips on how to do so.
  • Imagery used for the campaign should reflect a holiday, winter feel but be non-denominational in nature.
  • Make your story front and center.
  • Consider an all things EOY page. This should include overview copy, a photo gallery, video from the show/teasers, social media links, and of course- the ability to give.
  • Donate now should be much more prominent on the site. If possible, the main graphics for the campaign should link to a donation page.
  • If this is not already the case, consider making Donate one of the main navigation headings so it can be on every page of the website.
  • With the launch of every EOY campaign email, the website should have a graphic on the homepage that is in sync with the messaging- providing a call-to-action to key elements (donate, share, etc.) from the effort.
  • Social media icons should be much more prominent, encouraging individuals to follow the holiday effort via Twitter and Facebook.
  • Don’t forget to add this treatment to all of your EOY campaign channels including your emails, blog, social media channels, SEM efforts, etc.

8.) Get creative.

Everyone knows to send good emails for fundraising, but what about stepping outside of the email box?   The USO offered holiday cards with combat boots instead of stocking hanging from the chimney to sell during the holiday season. Consider allowing users to be a part of an EOY holiday wall that allows them to share a video with their friends and family asking them to give with them.

7.) Go find your story.

Your holiday campaign should stand out from, yet stand with your mission.   When thinking of your focal story for your EOY of year campaign, consider the following elements:

  • What is/are the problem (s) we want to solve?
  • What is the solution our organization can provide with your support?
  • Why is this urgent? Why does the gift need to be received before the end of year? 

6.) Give options.

Current and prospective donors want to see what your organization is all about before just opening their wallets.   To encourage audiences to test drive your message in the weeks leading up to your core fundraising effort, give them a few options such as:

  • Signing up for an email for more information on how your organization works
  • Simply liking a campaign on social media
  • Watching a video
  • Reading a story 

5.) Get new emails.

We all have different views, but we tend to have family and friends that share our beliefs and likes. One of the easiest ways to grow your audience in time for critical year end fundraising is to ask your audience to become your brand evangelists. To encourage participation and to allow your followers to be involved, ask them to ask 3, 5, or 7 people they know on social media to share your message. From there, ask them to sign up to read your campaign.

4.) Go mobile.

People not only read and shop via their smartphones, they also expect to give this way as well. Make sure that your donation pages and appeal emails are optimized for mobile. Read this great article from Mobile Cause to see how. Don’t forget to consider a texting campaign.

3.) Give deadlines.

In order to encourage a sense of urgency for your campaign, there has to be set deadline. The average non-profit raises nearly 70% of their annual fundraising dollars in the month of December. It is the time of year when people are feeling more generous, and when they are eager to earn last-minute tax deductions. It’s OK to share with your audience that not only do their donations help your organization, but they too can benefit from tax deductions from their charitable act.

  1. Your organization should consider how end of year factors such as the weather, travel, or the holidays can support your message. Or, is it more feasible to have a more specific campaign asks at another time of year that your organization ‘owns?’
    For example: all eyes are on conservation and environmental organizations during the month of April surrounding Earth Day.  
  2. Consider that #GivingTuesday has a shelf life of 24 hours, so you must give today.
  3. An organization that provides resources to low-income families should highlight the immediate impact of frigid temperatures on those they serve, and should also position their message and opportunity for amplification at this time. 

2.) Get a matchmaker.

The end of the year is the perfect time to make a matching gift push because most matching gift deadlines are right around the New Year. Be sure to recognize the donor (even if anonymously), share a transparent look into where those donated funds will go (restricted or unrestricted), and why it’s important for your donors to give to enhance the depth of the match.

1.) Give thanks.

Yes. It’s that simple. Be sure to thank your donors and mission evangelists on your website, via social media, and email at the end of the campaign. Consider having your CEO, Executive Director, or Development/Fundraising lead star in a video that simply says thank you. Here is a great example from the 2011 year-end campaign I worked on with Conservation International.

Need help with your end of year fundraising efforts? Contact Caught in the Web Consulting, LLC today.

Best Practices for Online Donation Pages

Year End

End-of-year fundraising is critical time for most non-profits and there are many factors that contribute to the tremendous increase of donations by your supporters. The layout and content of an online donation page can have a dramatic impact on conversion. Below are some best practices and guidelines designed by Caught in the Web Consulting to optimize conversions for your non-profit during your end-of-year fundraising efforts.

Layout and Design

The primary considerations for the layout of a donation page are bringing the form elements to the top of the page, keeping the form as simple as possible, and separating the form from the rest of the page content.

In addition to a simplified form, the key elements to a successful fundraising page are:

  • A strong, action-oriented headline
  • A photo or graphic that echoes the branding or messaging established in the email or web page that drove the visitor to the donation page
  • Two or three supporting sentences that present a clear value proposition — the case for making a donation, including the concrete impact it will have

We believe that a two-column page layout is the most effective, with the left column containing persuasive content and the right column containing a simple donation form.

Consider your mobile audience: Use one main column for your organization’s text. A second right column should be added for an image and call-to-action.

Page Copy

Donation page copy should follow many of the best practices used in email marketing campaigns.  However, the copy on a donation page should ideally be no more than a few sentences.  The two key elements to page copy are headlines and the value proposition:

Headlines

The headline of any donation page is the most important piece of copy, because it will often be the only text that is read by a potential contributor. As such, it is crucial that the headline be:

Action-oriented — emphasize active statements, e.g. “Support Our Youth”

Direct — don’t hesitate to ask for a contribution, e.g. “Make a Donation Today to Support Our Youth”

Urgent — echo any deadlines that are in effect, e.g. “Make a Donation before Midnight on December 22nd to ensure each child has a gift this holiday.”

Instructive — if there is any action the supporter should take on the page beyond making a donation, include it in the headline, e.g. “Watch the Video and Make a Donation Today”

 The Value Proposition

The copy below the headline should be a short and concise value proposition — a set of statements that ask for a donation and explain why it will make a difference.

The value proposition should:

  • Present a clear argument for why a potential donor should make a donation.
  • Echo or restate arguments presented in the email or web page that caused donors to click through to the page.
  • Explain where contributions are going, how they will be used, and who will benefit — the more concrete the outcome, the better.
  • End with clear instructions for how and where to make a contribution, e.g. “Please make a donation of $25 or more using the form on the right.”

The value proposition should not:

  • Introduce new content, except when the expectation is that the page will present a video, slideshow, or some other type of media.
  • Include links to other pages, unless absolutely necessary.  If external links are necessary, they should always open in a new browser window.

Form Elements

Donation forms should always be as short and straightforward as possible, with the minimum number of fields required to acquire necessary information. Every additional field, no matter how well intentioned, can have the effect of reducing conversion. Here are some key best practices for donation forms:

  • Minimize all non-required fields — do not ask for any information unless it is necessary to complete the transaction
  • Whenever possible, match donation amount options to a supporter’s donor history.  If this is unknown, test first time donation amounts for non-donors and establish an ideal conversion point.
  • If possible, include all form elements “above the fold” on the donation page — that means that the user should be able to complete the form without scrolling the page vertically.

Do you have more questions about online fundraising for the holiday season or your year-round efforts?

Contact Caught in the Web Consulting to kick start your campaign. Happy Fundraising!

And Now, a Word from Our Sponsors and Partners

Many websites have them. The infamous partner page. Partner pages are typically full of logos and little else. Recently, a client contacted me to deliver content strategy and information architecture for a new campaign website. They wanted the site to be highly engaging, interactive, and deliver emotionally-compelling content.

The conversation ended with the client stating that they would need to include a partner page. I then asked, “Tell me what the experience should be.” My clients stopped. It was clear that the request took them by surprise.

I asked them to tell me about their partners.

Why do you work with your partners?

They begin to tell me all of the wonderful things that they do for their organization. That their partners have years of expertise and offer a wealth of knowledge to the programs that they offer to their clients. They also shared that their partners are able to provide locally-based supports to their providers.

How do you select your partners?

My client explained that they select their partners based on their expertise as well as their true commitment to the mission shared by their organization as well as by the donors, members, and volunteers. They were expected to be just as passionate about the work that they do.

How do you work with your partners?

There are so many web users who visit a partner page and just see a logo. What does that mean? What does it mean to be a “partner?” Websites should go beyond a logo and show and share the work that your organization or company does with your partners. Take advantage of building rapport through association.

The organization, Conservation International, does a wonderful job of going just beyond logos. They instead integrate and highlight how they work with partner corporations to create solutions to problems, and to help fulfill their mission throughout their website.

It’s almost end of year fundraising season. Stay tuned for our next blog to see how you can optimize your fundraising donation pages this holiday season. Non-profits, are you ready for EOY?

Contact Caught in the Web Consulting, LLC to get started
with your holiday campaign efforts.