By Garth Stirling, Head of Fundraising and James Watkins, Senior Fundraising Strategist at ntegrity
In 2023 we’ve seen donation income recover to pre-COVID levels (JBWere NAB Charitable Giving Index, 2023). While the revenue total looks the same, there is a key difference in the channel mix with digital continuing its rise in prominence.
Latest data shows digital is still the fastest-growing channel for income, and the top channel for new donor acquisition across the sector (Benchmarking Project).
At ntegrity, working with charities of all shapes and sizes, we see those who are experiencing the best results on digital don’t see it as merely an “extension” to their fundraising campaign. Instead they have an audience-led always on approach from discovery to community building and onto donation. It’s becoming common to see a suite of digital-first propositions, and a rigorous approach to test & learn in order to tap into new opportunities and optimise results.
Here are the top 6 trends every fundraiser should be planning for in 2024…
1. MOVING BEYOND THE BASICS OF PERSONALISATION
One size does not fit all in digital fundraising.
Personalisation isn’t a fad; it has become the default standard for donors. 71% of consumers now expect personalisation and 76% get frustrated when they don’t find it (McKinsey, 2023). Personalised communications and experiences with your donors are proven to build stronger relationships, increase retention, and ultimately raise more funds.
We recommend you leverage data analytics to understand your donor base better. Collect, analyse and then personalise your products and communications to the specific interests and motivators for your different audiences. What works for one segment, will not always work for the next.
2. NEW DIGITAL-FIRST PROPOSITIONS FOR NEXTGEN DONOR AUDIENCES
It’s time for a paradigm shift from thinking about digital as an “add on” to creating new digital-first propositions, campaigns, and experiences. The NextGen donor audience, raised in the era of smartphones and social media, responds to innovation and authenticity. Craft campaigns born in the digital realm, designed for seamless online experiences. From digital-first regular giving communities to virtual reality charity events, cater to the preferences of the digital-first generation.
3. SOCIAL MEDIA FUNDRAISING 360º
Social media is not just a platform; it’s your fundraising megaphone. Over 82% of Australians are regular users of social media (We Are Social, 2021), and the not-so-new kid on the block TikTok already has 8.5 million regular Australian users. In 2023, leverage every facet of social media to amplify your storytelling, conversations and donation requests. From Instagram stories to TikTok explainer videos, consider live-streaming events, partnering with cause-aligned influencers, and creating shareable content that sparks meaningful conversations. Invest in paid social media advertising to target specific demographics, engage with your audience, and promote your regular giving program. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer robust targeting options, and sophisticated artificial intelligence that constantly learns over time, allowing you to connect with cause aligned potential new donors.
4. INCREASING YOUR VISIBILITY ON SEARCH
The journey to digital fundraising success begins with ensuring your organisation’s online presence is easily discoverable. Lay a foundation for discoverability and visibility in online searches with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEO and SEM play a pivotal role by ensuring you’re visible when donors are actively searching for the topics your organisation covers. Optimise your website with relevant keywords, meta tags, and quality content that aligns with your cause and consider the journey from each page to either a lead or a donation. And as a charity, make sure you utilise your Google Grants budget of $10,000 (more here).
5. CONVERSION RATE OPTIMISATION: TESTING, LEARNING AND STREAMLINING DONATION AND SIGN UP FORMS
Australian donors’ expectations are continuing to evolve. They have a very low tolerance for digital friction and ever increasing expectations for smooth and intuitive user experience.
Your campaign pages are the heart of your digital fundraising efforts. There is very low patience for poor experience, so ensure they are well-designed, donor-centric, and optimised for conversions. Implement clear and compelling value propositions and calls-to-action (CTAs) and provide tangible information about your cause and the impact of donations. Mobile optimisation is crucial, with 40% or more of your supporter traffic likely to be on smartphones.
And when it comes to the donation experience, your online checkout experience needs to be short and seamless: mobile-friendly, one-click donating isn’t the future. It’s now. Mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay are no longer “nice to haves”, with Australians using Apple Pay up from 11.1% in 2022 to 15.2% in 2023 (Roy Morgan, 2023). They’re fast becoming a must if you want new donors to convert.
6. BUILD TRUST THROUGH TRANSPARENCY
In an era marked by scepticism, transparency is your most valuable asset. As KPMG’s 2021 Disruptive Philanthropists report indicates, 71 percent of philanthropists place measurable impact at the top of the list when selecting causes to support. Use a range of digital and social channels to effectively communicate how donor funds are being used and the impact they’ve made. Share success stories, impact reports, videos and testimonials to build trust and demonstrate how your cause is delivering on the promises made. Preemptive Love presents their impact transparently through a dynamic and mobile responsive webpage, clearly showcasing their scale and program outcomes.
The charities set to gain the most success from digital fundraising in 2024 are those that embrace digital as a means of future-proofing their organisation. Balance the need for longer term investment in digital platforms and products, while making the most of immediate digital fundraising opportunities.