fundraising

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SEO to increase website visitors and donors

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?

  • Regularly updated, quality, relevant content
  • Identify and use your target keywords
  • Use Google Search Console
  • Use Google Analytics
  • Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
  • Use a plugin like Yoast
  • Fix 404s

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!

https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/course/6

https://truenorthsocial.com/seo/how-to-choose-seo-keywords-for-your-business/

https://search.google.com/search-console/about

https://www.quicksprout.com/best-seo-plugins-for-wordpress/

https://www.classy.org/blog/7-seo-tips-nonprofit-cant-afford-ignore/

https://charitydigital.org.uk/topics/10-essential-charity-seo-tips-to-get-your-website-found3-6168

https://whitefuse.com/blog/7-steps-mastering-seo-your-charity-website

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Use Social Proof

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.

https://zapier.com/blog/power-of-empathy/

https://www.globalgiving.org/learn/listicle/photography-tips-for-fundraising/

 

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More Than Just a Thank You

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:

  • keep it short
  • make it personal (use their name)
  • be quick (less than 48 hours)
  • thank them for something specific (ideally the amount £)
  • tell a short story on how the donation will be spent
  • include your website link
  • close with another thank you

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

https://www.sumac.com/how-to-write-a-great-donation-thank-you-email-with-examples/

https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2019/11/13/seven-steps-to-turn-one-time-donors-into-repeat-givers/

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Digital Donation Boxes for Charity Fundraising

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:

https://www.goodbox.com/contactless-payment-technology/

https://thyngs.net/solutions/charity

https://www.nationalfundingscheme.org/tap-donate/

https://www.tapforchange.org.uk/

https://www.payacharity.com/

https://www.libertypay.co.uk/donation-boxes.html

 

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Telling Hard Stories

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?

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Match Funding and In-Kind Funding

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!

https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/library/fundraising-focus-match-funding/

https://funraise.org/blog/all-your-nonprofit-needs-to-know-in-kind-donations/

 

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Your Christmas Donor Journey

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.

Your website

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:

https://www.lightful.com/blog/social-media/charity-christmas-campaigns-2018/

https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2018/10/24/7-tips-for-planning-your-charity-christmas-email-campaigns/

https://www.charitydigitalnews.co.uk/2019/10/28/christmas-in-october-the-most-memorable-charity-christmas-campaigns/

https://my.virginmoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Knowledge-Takeaway-12-days-of-social-v0.3.pdf

 

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Legacy Fundraising for Small Charities

Legacy income increased to £3bn last year. Charities are now focusing their efforts on legacies because of the UK’s ageing population. According to the Office for National Statistics, 11.8 million people in the UK were 65 and over in 2016, representing 18 per cent of the population. That figure is projected to grow to 20.4 million by 2066.

However, 60% of adults don’t have a will and although 35% of over 40s in the UK 'would be happy to' leave gifts to charity, but only about 6 per cent actually do so. This is a huge opportunity for local charities to explain what the work they do and inspire people to leave them a gift for a community cause they care about.

Writing about legacies on and offline can be daunting. Knowing what to say, getting the tone right and knowing where to put the messages on your website or in your literature is challenging. This is where Google is your friend! Look online at how the big charities tackle legacy fundraising – legacy visions, language used, stories, how legacies are spent, information on will writing and the downloads they offer to supporters.

Another important consideration is making sure everyone in your organisation (staff, trustees and volunteers) know about your legacy giving program and are confident to talk about making legacy gifts as a way to support you. Presentations (internal and external) should include a slide about how you would spend a gift from a will. Repeat the message little and often by telling stories to help normalise the idea of legacies as a way to support your organisation. The more people who are confident talking about legacies and including them in their wider work, the greater reach you can achieve with your message.

Finally, know the law. Approach a local solicitor to talk through the legalities of accepting legacies and put together the information a potential legacy donor and their will writer might need. Helpful information is likely to include your official name, address and registered charity number.

For many larger charities, legacies are a major source of income but being a small organisation shouldn’t stop you adding legacy to your fundraising strategy and seeking funds through gifts in wills from your supporters.

Before getting started I strongly recommend you read:

Institute of Fundraising https://www.institute-of-fundraising.org.uk/guidance/fundraising-with-individuals/legacies/#introduction

Code of Fundraising Practice https://www.fundraisingregulator.org.uk/code/specific-fundraising-methods/legacies

Charity Commission https://www.gov.uk/guidance/wills-and-charitable-legacies

Remember a Charity https://www.rememberacharity.org.uk/making-a-will/

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Payroll Giving - a great way to donate to charity

Payroll Giving is a scheme run through HMRC which allows employees to make simple, tax-effective donations to any UK charity or good cause. Employees can give to any organisation recognised as charitable by HMRC.

As a charity, Payroll Giving provides an unrestricted source of regular income for your cause, and when you receive donations through Payroll Giving there is no need to apply for Gift Aid, saving you money and time. As opposed to Gift Aid where donations can only be increased by 25% regardless of the donor’s tax bracket, Payroll Giving allows charities to receive the full tax relief. This is particularly beneficial for donations from higher rate tax-payers.

For a donor, the advantages of making a donation to charity through Payroll Giving are:

  • charities get more of your donation because giving comes out of your salary before tax (after National Insurance). This means that you get tax relief on your donation which can be passed onto your charity.
  • charities can rely upon regular donations.
  • reduces administration for charities because donations are made before tax, charities don’t have to claim gift aid.

Employers who pay employees or pensioners through PAYE, set up a Payroll Giving scheme through a Payroll Giving agency, using the list of organisations approved and monitored by HMRC to set up a scheme. Deductions are made each time payroll is run by the employer, with the donation taken from employees’ pay before tax (but after National Insurance). The donations are then sent to the Payroll Giving agency who pass them on to the chosen charities. Some agencies charge an administration fee, although the employee can opt for the fee to be deducted from their donation.

As an employer, most corporate organisations realise how important Corporate Social Responsibility is, both for their reputation as a responsible business and a good employer. By having a payroll giving scheme, businesses can offer a genuine employee benefit and boost their CSR at the same time. Choosing a charity for the whole organisation to support each year can also be a great employee engagement activity, with additional fundraising events from time to time building team spirit and pride in the organisation.

And finally the good news from HMRC is that employers can deduct any costs of running the scheme from their business profits before tax.

Details on the HMRC website

 

 

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Fundraising with Facebook and Instagram

Many of you have active Facebook pages, I see you online every day, but a surprising number of you are not using the fundraising capability that Facebook offers registered UK charities. There are lots of reasons why you should:

  • It’s easy!
  • All the funds raised on your page are all yours - no fees.
  • Facebook has one of the largest online social communities where you can reach hundreds of your supporters and potential supporters every day.
  • Your supporters can set up a dedicated fundraising page to promote your cause and rally their friends around a fundraising goal.
  • Donors can make a donation without leaving your Facebook page.
  • You can sign up to receive donations automatically through Facebook Payments and get paid biweekly based on when donations are received.
  • Use Facebook ads for relatively small fees to target your campaign to a particular location - especially useful for small local charities.
  • Learn about who is making a donation to your cause by accessing contact information of donors who have opted in.
  • Use Facebook Insights to analyse and engage better with your audience
  • Make Facebook donate button an addition (not a replacement) to your fundraising strategy

It’s worth noting for those of you with an Instagram platform, on May 1st, 2019 Instagram in the US followed in the steps of its parent Facebook and added a way for users to easily donate to nonprofits. Similar to Facebook’s donation button, Instagram covers 100% of credit card/processing fees for nonprofits that are officially US registered charities approved by Facebook.

The date of the UK Instagram donate launch has not yet been announced, although its rumoured it will take place later this year.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/signup

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