Where your online gifts are really from

It\’s a month after your latest appeal. You’re looking at the results with (hopefully) a smile, thinking—we did it, we smashed it. And look at all those online gifts! That digital push really paid off.

The Facebook ads you ran, the online piece the local newspaper picked up and the display ads you ran through Google performed incredibly.


In all likelihood, donors who donated online weren’t from paid, cold investment online or free PR. They were almost certainly mailed your direct mail appeal. Perhaps they were sent multiple waves of the appeal, an email or three, and maybe even an SMS. But primarily, your online donors were selected to be mailed your mail appeal and have the same characteristics as traditional direct mail donors. Once we start thinking of these online donors as offline donors, your online efforts will serve you better.

How do you do this?

First, ensure you have a dedicated landing page for your appeal. As well as including the URL throughout the email series, include it as an option (not the primary one however, that should be a mail response) on the response mechanism in the pack. Don’t direct donors to your homepage and make them search for the donation page. Make it easy:


Include multiple online touchpoints to support your mailing —schedule in three to four eDMs and one or more SMSs for each direct mail appeal.

To do this most effectively, we recommend working with a digital fundraising platform (in Australia, consider a service such as GiveEasy), whose focus is to make the donation process as seamless as possible for the donor.

Once you are set up with a donation platform, there are some pretty cool things you can (and should) do.

Make the online and offline ask amounts consistent across the letter, within the eDM and on the landing page. This solves the problem you face when in your letter you ask for $100, but the generic online donation form asks for $25.


Make giving even easier with pre-filled donation forms—if you have their name and email, then using a platform that allows you to pre-fill this information will reduce drop off rates, and allow returning donors to make a gift quicker than ever before.


Make it clear who is sending your email—the signatory should be a CEO or someone senior at the organisation you’re writing from. The more senior this person is, the more credibility you have. Include their name, title and where they’re from.


Keep your online content interesting with teasing subject lines and preview text, the aim being to give enough away that the reader wants to open the email, but not enough that they don’t feel they need to.


Like most great fundraising appeals, the longer the better. Sure, there are some character limits you have to adhere to, but don’t limit yourself when you don’t have to. Tell the story you want, rather than getting the length you’re after.

We all know that when we get an SMS—we rarely leave it unread for long. Donors will do the same—so text them an update throughout your appeal and then remind them to give right before your deadline.


Just remember, those online donors came from your offline efforts. Find a balance between the two rather than chasing that shiny new digital stuff.

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