Farrah Rooney On How To Improve Your Donation Process

 Farrah rooney driven

You put a lot of work into finding donors, but what about your donation page? 

Just because a donor has made it to your donation page, doesn’t mean you have their donation. There are still things you can do to improve your page and increase donation rates. The design, images and text copy are all important factors that affect your donor’s decision. 

Driven’s Director of Partnerships, Farrah Rooney has been in the industry for over 15 years, working as a consultant, strategist and events manager. Having worked closely with our clients to improve their fundraising experience with our donor management software Farrah knows what goes into the donation process. 

If you want to get in touch with Farrah and get her help improving your donation process, reach out at trustdriven.com/contact. 

Farrah’s Tips On Creating A Donation Page

  1. Optimize for Mobile: This goes beyond having a page made for mobile. It’s ensuring all of the pieces make sense, are the buttons big enough to press? If they need to fill out a phone number, does the number keyboard pop up? 
  2. Don’t Overcomplicate Your Forms: Beautiful images and videos are nice but it’s often best to keep your donation page simple. Some images and content are great but you don’t want your donor getting distracted to the point they don’t complete their donation.
  3. Keep Your Branding and Messaging Consistent: All of your content in your integrated campaigns should align. This means both the branding and look of the ads along with the message behind them, so if you are promoting a specific campaign create a page to match! 

Our Favourite Quotes 

[4:35] First and foremost, I sound like a broken record, but, making sure that it's mobile-friendly is number one. And it feels crazy to still have to say that in 2021, but you still see it. And being mobile-friendly doesn't necessarily just mean that when it goes down on a mobile phone that the buttons are big or whatever. But also like think about. How complicated that form is, how easy it would be for somebody to go in and enter their information on a phone.

[15:54] I think that I mean, as an integrated marketer for many years, I think that it's essential. You know, it's funny because you hear with digital obviously growing and it's going to continue to grow fundraiser's thinking that things should scale back their acquisition or the direct mail programs. And the fact is, if actually look at the numbers, direct mail is still a powerhouse for fundraising. People respond to it

Podcast Transcript

Today, we talk with Driven's very own Farrah Rooney on how to improve your donation process.

Hi and welcome to Driven's Fundraising Superheroes podcast, I am your host, Sabrina Sciscente and here Driven we love to discuss data. If you want to get the most out of your fundraising platform, we are here to help you unlock the true power of your data while saving hours in data management. We know how hard it is to keep track of all the information you have in your database, and we want to help by being partners in your success.

So to talk more about your data and how you can get the most out of it, please give us a visit at trustdriven.com.

Keeping your donors happy is important, both boosting retention and improving your relationship with them. You have to be consistent with following up with your supporters and creating positive giving experiences that make it easier for them to give. Today, we are going to learn about how you can improve your online giving experience for your donors while keeping them happy and hopefully encourage them to continue to support you. I am so happy to have Driven's very own director of partnerships, Farrah Rooney, on the show again.

She has been in the industry for more than 50 years, working as a consultant, strategist and events manager and having worked closely with our clients to improve their fundraising experience with our donor management software. Farrah knows what needs to go with the donation process in order to make it work. Thank you so much for joining me on the show.

Hi, glad to be here.

So when the donor enters an organization's donation page what is the first thing they should see? How forward should nonprofits be not only with their donation page but also their actual page advertising their donations?

So, I mean, really, when somebody kind of enters in their donations or an organization sort of landing page, they really can see a couple of things. One, really compelling content, even better, if it's topical alongside a really compelling call to action, very much recommend a big "donate now" button that's very prominent that can get that donor as soon as possible to that donation page.

And then also, depending on what the priorities or the type of organization or charity, there could be another really important call to action that you also want to make prominent say, like Greenpeace, you might want to have like a big take action or a button that leads you to a petition or something like that. Or if the organization is really focused on acquisitions, they might want to have a big sign up for our newsletter or even have like embedded newsletter sign-ups right in the front as well.

Or if they're running a big PR campaign, they might have a big sign up for our event prominent.

So it's really sort of thinking about what's kind of going on with the organization, what are their priorities, but really just having a bold, big call to action and in addition to or exclusively that donate now button as well as having really compelling content that's also timely that that's and related to, you know, things that are going on with charity in the world, I think can be really impactful.

Yeah, I know when covid started. I noticed that a lot of nonprofits would put like a covid help banner. And I think that was a really good example of what you're saying. Like, don't be afraid to update your page to make sure that it's current.

Yeah, absolutely. Or, you know, if you're an aid organization, like when Yemen was really big in the news, we saw a lot of aid organizations making that a priority or even things like you know, when you're running your holiday campaigns, don't be afraid to put your holiday message, your holiday campaign upfront as well. So it's just really being timely with your impact, what are your supporters caring about?

What are they looking for as well as how can they get involved and how can they take action.

When they enter that donation page? How crucial is the actual format? What are the biggest things that you hope to see when you enter donation page?

Yeah, the format is everything. And first and foremost, I sound like a broken record, but, making sure that it's mobile-friendly is number one. And it feels crazy to still have to say that in 2021, but you still see it. And being mobile-friendly doesn't necessarily just mean that when it goes down on a mobile phone that the buttons are big or whatever. But also like think about. How complicated that form is, how easy it would be for somebody to go in and enter their information on a phone.

The number of deals that you have, all of those sorts of things, even things like this, is something that we did early on when I was helping to build up donation forms is having the code of the donation form set so the keyboard opens up depending on what type of field it is.

So if you have a phone number that making sure that the number keyboard opens up, it's Friday afternoon versus say, the alphabetical keyboard opens up. Just thinking through things like that, though, definitely that, you know, also thinking about so strategically.

Having the least amount of field, but still being able to capture the information you want, so it's not necessarily about just asking three things or stripping everything out because it's OK to have some of your donation form do a little bit of heavy lifting and doing some sort of acquisition, acquisition work or asking some additional questions, but making sure that it's strategic, it's not over, it's not overloaded, and it's the right sort of balance.

One thing that I see that sort of is the problem is really around designations of funds and being overcomplicated and asking like, where do you want your funds directed?

And so you have like this campaign and then this fund and this piece and this piece. And it can get really it's almost like you're asking your supporters to think like a fundraiser.

Often your donors don't necessarily care where it's being directed to. They're like, you know, the best. And they don't necessarily understand what's a campaign and what's a fund and what's all of that as well. So, you know, really think about, again, who you are as an organization. Is it important to have designations? You know, what kind of questions do you have? Like, how can you make this as simple as possible but still be relevant to your organization?

Something like Red Cross? Right designations are really important to the Red Cross.

So they definitely do have designations or versus say something like that's a maybe an animal charity or a smaller community organization where somebody just wants to get to where there's the greatest need. And at the end of the day, those unrestricted funds are sort of the gold standard.

We'd love those unrestricted funds as fundraisers. So that is definitely some advice I would give you have.

Simplicity always seems to be key because you don't want people to get distracted. Like it's really nice to be interested in something, especially in the donation page if you have a really beautiful video or a photo. But if you're linking to too many things, if you're giving them the options, might get a little sidetracked.

Yeah, exactly.

But also the flip side, you know, don't be afraid if there is some relevant question or something you're trying to find out don't be afraid to put that on your donation form and ask that question as well. So it's it's about it's a balance.

Are there any really big photos that you've seen that hurt those conversions?

Yeah, I mean, as I was saying, I think the designations for sure I've seen as a faux pas and I think just kind of going back to that, it's almost like as a fundraiser, you sometimes you get sort of wrapped up in thinking about, again, like funds and campaigns and all of these pieces. And so you want to put all those options on the donation form, but your supporters don't really even know what that means. They don't know what a fun means versus whatever.

So if you are doing designations, making sure that there's a good reason why I think is one, the other faux pas I've seen is if you are running an integrated campaign in the market or if you're having your donation form be tied to a direct mail piece, is not having that content all be related. So you have a direct mail piece to say something about Snow Leopard, and then you go to the URL that you've been indicated to go to donate online.

And it's a completely different, different message. So not having those messages aligned and not having your integrated campaign all tied together nicely is definitely a faux pas, because as a supporter, you're kind of get confused. You kind of get off track.

You want to hook someone's passion on your message and on your specific call to action. And then you want to take that right through and you want to continue that timely, urgent message to donate now sort of throughout the campaign and on the landing page as well.

Do you think that it's productive to have if you're having a really specific campaign to go, for your example, about snow leopards and usually you fundraise for general wildlife conservation, would it be smart to make a separate donation page just designated to that specific campaign?

Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely. For lots of reasons. And one, just for measurement. Right. So, like, you want to know now that the easiest way to sort of measure the success is having a unique URL that landing page. So if you want to know how many people donated digitally off of a direct mail piece having a unique URL that's like donate now/Snow leopard, you'll be able to measure with some, you know, I mean, it's it's not necessarily something you might just land there, but you can actually measure the success of their digital conversions off your direct mail piece if you have a unique URL.

So definitely that's just like one reason right there. And also just having that again, you're getting people who are inspired. You're doing all that work telling the story of the snow leopards. You want to continue that, especially there are more snow leopards are disappearing. We need you to donate right today. Here it is. And they can go to that landing page, that digital landing page and our digital donation form and see that same message. And so they're still inspired to donate and convert.

Oh, OK. Yeah, that's great. So this way you're still getting that or in traffic, maybe people who visit your page regularly and then you can really just isolate that little campaign and track the success there.


How soon should organizations be following up after a donation? Should it be right after? Should be a little bit after.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it should be right away. So there should be an automatic, if you can, an automatic electronic thank you. With the tax receipt attached to it. It's really important that the information with that thank you also be actually related to the donation of the donor. So again, if there's a campaign in the market, so again, go back to the snow leopard example if you're talking about snow leopards, the thank you and the tax receipt should have a thank you and should talk about the campaign, talk about snow leopards, or talk about the impact that this donation is going to have towards that, and then follow up with the tax receipt. It should be attached. So things like if it's a monthly donation of a monthly donor, make sure to call the out versus the one time even just to make sure that the donor knows that they're a monthly donor now.

I mean, I became a monthly donor to an organization recently, and the email that I got back didn't indicate that I was a monthly donor at all. And I was like, Dinham Demidov is my donations coming up monthly? I hope so, but that's what I want to be. So that or you can also have additional calls to action in a thank you if you send it out immediately because when these people are like they're feeling that donor glow.

Right. They're most excited to support you. So ask them to share on social media that they just supported you and if possible, have a to through right on the page to there to be able to sort of share also. Hey, why not? If they're a one-time donor, why don't talk about the benefits of being a monthly donor? Maybe you can get them to convert to monthly right there. So it should go up right away.

It can do lots of different things and the tax receipt absolutely should be attached. Yeah. And if and if they don't have an email address and they have to send it in the mail. But I would. Look at having as fast as you can get in the mail, so, you know, 48 hours, 72 hours, but really get that up to them as soon as possible.

Is it better to always keep that receipt with the thank you? Because I know I've read in some places. They recommend setting your receipt and then setting like a follow-up email just dedicated to thanking and showing gratitude. Is there one thing that works better than the other is more like case by case?

I mean, yeah, I always send out I would always send out the tax receipt with the thank you. I mean, if nothing else, like come tax time, which is sort of going through this right now, I don't want to be searching through and looking for tons of different emails. I want to just have it there. That being said, there's definitely something to be said for follow-up thank yous. To show full of gratitude, a welcome series I'm always a fan of.

So bringing someone on talking about who they are, welcoming them to your community of supporters, making them feel like they're part of something that you're very grateful.

I love the idea of community and sort of stewarding them and talking to them and letting them know that they're going to really learn about the impact of their gift throughout the year, I think is important.

But yeah, I put the toxicity with that email. Don't make them go searching for it. But it was me. I haven't tested it. So but yeah, I would definitely go back to keeping it simple. Exactly. Keeping it simple. Yeah.

So online giving has undoubtedly been so popular not only because of covid, just because we're becoming more and more digital each day, but how can non-profits use their direct mail with their online strategies. I know we touched on it a little bit, but you give it a little more about it. Yeah, absolutely.

I think that I mean, as an integrated marketer for many years, I think that it's essential. You know, it's funny because you hear with digital obviously growing and it's going to continue to grow fundraiser's thinking that things should scale back their acquisition or the direct mail programs. And the fact is, if actually look at the numbers, direct mail is still a powerhouse for fundraising. People respond to it.  

But when you scale back your direct mail program, typically your fundraising program declines.

So it's really it's so important to have direct mail. And it's just been proven time and time and again that having a digital component that just increases it just increases engagement and encourages conversions. And that can it can be it can look like a couple of different things. One, even just doing like a pre-email saying, hey, for those records that you have, all those conditions that you have both email and as an adult for sending a little email saying, hey, I'm really excited to tell you the story.

It's going to show up in your mail, looking forward to your feedback about it. Can't wait to connect with you. And then sending a post email after it's dropped saying, hey, I don't know if you've had a chance to see this yet, but, you know, is a really important story. And we hope we hope we can hear from you.

And then actually attaching a donation for an online donation form to that, as we're sort of talking about tying it all together and actually just looked at some stats before because I was curious to get the latest stats around version of digital. We attach digital to direct mail. And so if a campaign has one digital touchpoint so like that through your post email, if it shows an and percent higher response rate versus direct mail only.

So that's significant. And as well, donors are three times more likely to give online in response than to a direct mail piece than by mail. And who has stamps? Right. So although it's always good, as always, a good plan to have postage paid, but that's not always the case. So really having those options is just been proven time and again that it shows like a significant better response, better conversions when you have that digital fees tied to them and people who frankly are just comfortable, like there's so much more comfortable giving and they're just giving online or in doing online transactions or online shopping, especially at a culvert now where we just all just online shopping has just floated.

So people maybe are a little bit more uncomfortable doing that. There are a lot more comfortable doing it now, so. Absolutely, it's important.

Yeah, the most I know you mentioned with the conversion, but it also must help with retention because it really takes them on that journey. I know my partner is really in love with this organization he supports because he's a big guy train in trade cooperation. And whatever he gets mail from him, he gets so excited, he waits.

And they also said, we're going to send you this, we're going to give you that. And I think that heads-up really adds to the excitement of receiving the piece and then following up with the call to action.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, upgrading is your upgrade. Email is always a really important piece that happens every year. And you send it out to those you know, those one-time donors are supporting you and they ask you to convert to monthly. That's a huge you know, that's a huge topic for charities that tend to do really, really well for sure.

The other thing, actually, I also just want to touch on that.

I realize I haven't I look back on what I think is worth considering is thinking about fundraising programs and tying them all together is really thinking about integrating your legacy program into your donation forms as well.

And that can just be as simple as, you know, going back to saying, OK, what kind of questions or what kind of where the balance of having a little bit of additional information on the application forms versus still making them simple.

I mean, I'm always interested to explore putting a question or two at the end around legacy and saying, have you put us in your will? Have you considered putting us in your will? Do you want us to send you more information? If so, can we reach out to you and really sort of looking at weaving legacy questions and your legacy program into some of their sort of direct response marketing the charities that have done that, of really, really great response and have been able to really grow their legacy programs and find those legacy donors they didn't even know were there.

I mean, a lot of times you don't even know your legacy donors until unfortunately, they already passed and you're getting in, you're getting parts of their estate. So definitely something to think about. And you're in your digital strategy, your donation strategy for sure.

That's the thing I didn't even think to mention. That's a great piece of advice. Yeah. Yeah. Lastly, how crucial is management to help automate the giving process? What are the benefits that having all this can give to your nonprofit and your donors?

By having a CRM?

I mean, it's essential, right. Like you can't do you really can't do this work.

You can't really roll out a program like this unless you have a CRM that's tied to an online marketing platform. Right. So, you know, having a really having clean data, being able to track your data, being able to track your constituents and your supporters, you know, who's that? You can run on your elbow. You can read your other reports and your last report and look at all of your different segments and understand, you know, who you can look within, who you can renew and who like all of the things we've talked about.

And you can't do that without a CRM. It's just I mean, I wouldn't even know. Also, just being able to automate a lot of the stuff is so important because you can't really it's so hard to scale these programs if you're sitting there having to write things up by hand or having to track things with an Excel sheet.

So really having a CRM and having those proper marketing and communication tools, like having your email tied to it, having that connection, you know, better yet, it's purpose-built. So you don't worry about third-party connection or some integration or something that might break. But having everything in one place, having that data is absolutely essential.

And you can do a lot for not a huge investment.

And it really will pay off even just with your return on investment with staff time. I was talking to somebody today and he was just thinking about all of the possibilities that a new CRM could bring in. He's like, you know what I like at the end of the day, like all of the automation's and all of the efficiencies would really be worth the extra.

A couple hundred bucks a month even for a smaller charity, so especially as they're growing, so, yeah, centralizes everything.

We talked about simplicity for your donor, but it also needs to be simple for you, right? Because you don't have time to, like, go and buy things. Very nice of yourself.

Yeah. And just even like audit time. I mean, if you don't have a good time, if you don't have a system that's managing your donations, that can just be a total nightmare. 

And that is all for today's show. Thank you again for coming onto the podcast. It's always nice to have other people from Driven on to talk with me.

And if you're listening and you want to get in contact with Farrah, you can go to trustdriven.com/contact and reach out to us there to learn more about donor retention, data-driven fundraising or anything else you need help with. We would love to speak with you. You can also follow us on social media and subscribe to the show in order to be updated when new podcasts are live and to get other free podcast and fundraising resources. So I also link those in the description box.

As always, thank you so much for listening and we'll see you next time on Fundraising Superheroes.

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By Trust Driven on

Podcast Jun 30, 2021, 12:00 AM

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