Search Engine Optimisation helps your website perform better in search engines like Google.
SEO is important because good SEO practices improve the usability of your web site and your visitor’s user experience. You’ll get discovered by the right people more often, allowing you to grow your base of supporters and donors.
Users trust search engines – if your site is in at the top of a search for the keywords used by your visitors, they will have more trust in your site.
Many small charities face 2 problems – not enough website visitors and the ones who find you are not engaged enough to stay.
So how can you improve your SEO?
The higher your google ranking, the easier your website will be to find. You’ll attract more visitors and persuade them to donate and support you with an interesting and attractive, navigable site – easy!
The Rule of Social Proof: ‘If others are doing it, it must be the right thing to do.’
92% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from friends and family above all other forms of marketing. People care about what others think and you can use that to attract new donors and supporters.
Tell the stories of your beneficiaries and supporters in text and pictures. A good story will spark emotion and empathy in your reader and persuade them to answer the call to action on your donate page. Images in the online world increase engagement by 313%. Not everything can be expressed with words, but nearly everything can be explained with visuals. Pictures help us relate to content, which will increase credibility and trust in your cause.
Use numbers on your website donation page. Show the number of people who have already given or who have fundraised for you to motivate visitors to donate. Tell your readers your total so far if you have a target amount to raise, this inspires them to help you reach your goal.
If you’ve received positive mentions from credible media sources, influencers or publications, put them on your website as well as key quotes from experts. Don’t forget to include social media buttons on your website pages to demonstrate broad support for your organisation and so people can easily share your content.
The internet has made social proof a powerful way to influence social behaviours. By building and increasing the visibility of social proof for your cause, you more clearly demonstrate the value of your organisation to prospective donors and fundraisers.
Why is it important for charity sector organisations to have a learning culture?
When resources and volunteer numbers are tight we must find ways to be more efficient and effective with what we have. By continuously learning we can find out what we should be doing, what others are doing, how we can do things better, and learn how to measure your impact to show you’re making a difference. VSNS Spring training kicks off in March:
There are lots of other ways to learn new skills through webinars, podcasts and blog posts from a wide variety of organisations – here are resources I use on a regular basis:
Did you know that thanking someone for a donation within 48 hours makes it 400% more likely that they will donate to you again? Research shows not being thanked continues to be the most common reason people give for not making further donations to an organisation.
You spend a considerable amount of time and budget finding donors – shouldn’t you spend as much time making sure they stick with you?
Thanking donors should not be a chore, it should be a genuine recognition of their gift. Lack of appreciation is bad manners and a waste of an excellent opportunity to start a conversation. This is your best chance to tell your story, explain what the donation will mean for your beneficiaries and build a relationship with the donor.
NCVO survey found that 70% of donors felt that the thank you was important but that many acknowledgements were dull and predictable. What a shame!
There are lots of great examples out there but the principles are:
Treating donors as long-term partners who share your passion for the cause will go a long way in securing further support and hopefully repeat donations.
Have a look at an excellent example from Charity: water
You may be suffering from fundraising fatigue after Christmas but now is the time to set yourself up for 2020 fundraising success by planning ahead and making sure you’re communicating properly with your donors.
Make your donation asks at the right time. Coincide campaigns with national and international awareness days that capture your supporters’ attention, and avoid events that could overshadow your campaigns.
Online awareness days are a great opportunity for you to be seen on social media and to inspire a new audience. You can build momentum towards the day and plan content in advance. National days often have ready made resources – hashtags, videos, images and themes for you to use in your messages.
If the awareness event covers a number of days, plan social media content with a different focus for each day. Decide what your key messages are and stick to them eg. attracting more volunteers or raising funds.
Last year we successfully used national Befriending Day to kickstart a volunteer recruitment and awareness campaign for our own befriending project Time to Talk. Our week-long campaign highlighted different aspects of loneliness and isolation in our community. The call to action asked local people to get involved in the project and to share our information and stories on different social platforms to target different audiences. If you can’t find a day that fits your mission – why not partner with other local charities and create your own?
Download the cause awareness wall planner from Blackbaud and get cracking!
The UK is becoming a cashless society. Britons spent £6.9billion a month on contactless cards in August.
Barclaycard found that on-street giving is in decline and 39% of charities see strong signs of this. Almost three-quarters of charities say this type of collection is waning because people carry less cash and Barclaycard also report that 54% of the the public agree that contactless technology makes donating easier.
For those of you relying on voluntary donations – where cash is the way to give – this is cause for concern. Contactless card and mobile payments are becoming the norm so it’s clear that we need to be prepared to offer our supporters a cashless payment option.
There are a number of options available to buy or rent – here are a selection for you to investigate:
Donors don’t always have allegiance to a specific charity which means you must compete for their attention and money in an information overloaded society.
This is where storytelling comes in. Stories are a great way to inspire action and spread your message. They can help you attract new supporters, donors and increase your reach.
But what do you do if your story is not a soft sell – about children, the elderly or animals? Not every cause is created equal and some issues don’t get the attention because they don’t have appeal. Cute causes attract donors but often appeals for mental health, addiction, domestic violence, asylum seekers and ex-offenders face challenges.
Charities have an ability to create change and fight on behalf of people who don’t otherwise have a voice. Make your story about impact. It may not be a photogenic cause but tell your audience about the life and community changes that your work helps to bring about. If you are helping offenders, tell your story about the positive outcomes of your support for the offender’s children and families. Storybook Dads is a great example – the charity enables parents in prison to record a bedtime story for their children. The website images and stories concentrate on the children and the positive outcomes from staying connected to their incarcerated parent.
‘For many families, these story discs are a lifeline, helping to heal rifts and build vital family relationships. It shows the children they are loved and missed. It helps prisoners to feel valued as parents and gives them the opportunity to have a positive impact on their children’s lives.’
Talking about a sensitive subject can help to normalise it and dispel myths. The more you talk about what your charity does and the impact of your work, the more solvable the problem seems. What would happened to your community if your charity didn’t tackle the unpopular cause? Encourage your supporters and volunteers to promote your organisation and give them the information to be able to do it with confidence. Give talks locally wherever possible – by giving your beneficiaries a voice it will make your charity more mainstream and acceptable.
We shy away from telling stories about the hard truth and social stigmas make those vulnerable less likely to receive donations but aren’t these the groups that need it most?
Match funding is a straightforward concept. It involves a funder agreeing to match, or partially match an amount of funding already pledged to a charity project. It’s an attractive option for funders because it gives assurance of the nonprofit applicant’s capacity to raise adequate funds.
There are two types of match funding: “actual” and “in-kind”.
Actual match funding is hard cash.
In-kind match funding is non-cash funding of free goods or services, such as volunteer hours, that can be given a value and be included in the project budget. If you have a shortfall to reach the neccessary match funding amount and you can offset some of your project costs with volunteer contributions this could be an option.
If your funder will accept in-kind match funding, you can claim the value of volunteer hours providing you outline how you will keep accurate records and provide evidence of the costs and include in the breakdown of expenditure on the application form.
Your funder may have their own rules of how to measure the economic value of volunteer hours and services. If not, make your own calculation by multiplying the total volunteer hours by an hourly wage rate, either using the national minimum wage or median hourly wage. The minimum wage probably underestimates the value, while the median wage may overestimate it. Calculate both and decide on a reasonable figure between the two.
Create a plan showing volunteer activities e.g. role description, hourly rate and work schedule detailing timescales and volunteer hours. Use your volunteer cost and plan to make an accurate and realistic in-kind contribution for your applications.
Often for larger capital projects, funders will only grant funding when other applications have been successful and the project looks likely to reach completion. Using goods and services in-kind contributions will reduce the project balance and make the finish line seem more achievable and therefore more attractive to other funders. In-kind contribution/match funding also shows your commitment to the project by documenting community and volunteer involvement and and your ability and potential for hard work to make the project a reality.
Even if match funding is not a requirement, document pledged volunteer hours and free products and services and include them in your application – every little helps!
We know that December is the biggest month of the whole year for donations. 30% of annual giving occurs in December and 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year. Hopefully your campaign will be ready for the 1st which is now only a month away – no pressure!
Since 54% of donors prefer to donate online, your Christmas campaign planning should include work on your website and smoothing your donor journey.
When was the last time your website was updated? A Christmas campaign will bring new and old visitors and your site must look fresh and current so that new visitors are engaged and old friends are reading something new.
Hopefully you understand the importance of storytelling for your organisation. It’s kind of the defining element of your online work. The most basic and usually most effective approach is the story of one individual and how your organisation helped them. Make your site all about human stories – especially at Christmas – it’s a great time to tug heartstrings and gives urgency to your fundraising.
Smooth your donor journey
Let’s hope all your planning has been rewarded with lots of people visiting the donation page on your website. How easy is it for them to make a donation? Have you tested it? What about donating using mobile or tablet? These are really important considerations since 24% of all online donations in 2018 were made using a mobile device.
Make it easy. Don’t distract visitors from the action of donating. Reduce the number of steps involved, the less clicks, the less chance your donor will bounce. Make your donation page only about donating and the key information needed to complete the transaction. Remove any other calls to action like newsletter sign-up forms or volunteering information and ask for as little personal information as possible with the minimum number of fields to complete.
Check the speed of your website – slow speeds kill conversions. 47% of visitors expect websites to load in two seconds or less — and 40% will abandon a page that takes three or more seconds. This means that if your site takes more than three seconds to load, you lose almost half of your visitors before they even arrive on your site.
In November, December and January there’s typically a 19% increase in online donations compared to other quarters of the year so make the most of your end of year fundraising by getting ready and getting it right!
Some reading for inspiration: