3 steps to doubling your digital Christmas donations

by Garth Stirling
September 4, 2020

We rocketed forward 5 years in consumer adoption of digital in the eight weeks since the beginning of the global pandemic. With December fast-approaching, success in this year’s Christmas appeal requires a key focus on digital.

To double your digital donations this Christmas, you’ll need improvement across 3 areas: ad click-through rate, reach and onsite donation conversion rate.

digital donations = (reach × ad click-through rate) × site conversion rate

Reach the right audience at the right place

Key success measure: Reach

It’s no surprise—consumers of all ages are using digital as a key component of the purchase journey. Online shopping has increased across all demographics, particularly amongst over-65s, who have jumped from 16% to 43% in online shopping usage.

To maximise your Christmas digital donations, you must reach your donors on digital at every step of their journey: through awareness, research, donation and reporting.

Invest in online content at the awareness and research stages

The pandemic has brought an increase in online research for products — largely driven by the 45+ year old segment.

Graph showing buyers aged 45+ have increase purchasing online

Source: Google. 45+ year olds are researching more online

Invest in search marketing to direct users not only to conversion/donation pages, but also to pages that will provide valuable decision insights to your supporters at this stage, such as about us pages or impact stories. Your pages should answer the question: “why should I donate to you this Christmas time?”.

During isolation, Aussies are streaming videos more than ever. So consider creating videos that ‘stop the thumb scroll’ into your social media and digital strategies.

Your videos should tell a story, bring the donor into your world using emotion and impact and be fit-for-purpose in the platform it features on.

Trigger your supporters with personalised marketing

To compel your donors to give to your organisation, begin by segmenting and personalising your email marketing. Use email personalisation to build different messages for active, lapsed and high-value audiences.

Build retargeting into your strategy by generating ads for those who have watched your videos or visited your website. These ads should focus on driving conversions.

Increase click-through rate with powerful creative

Key success measure: Ad click-through rate

Christmas is the number one time Australians plan on donating to charity. This means it is a highly-competitive time for not-for-profits.

To improve your ad click-through rate, you must ensure your creative cuts through the clutter and aligns to the supporter mindset at this unique time of year.

Begin by understanding your donor’s mindset

A lot has changed over the past few months. The period of high emotion experienced across the globe will have lasting impacts on behaviour.

It’s important to stay attuned to your donor’s mindset; be aware of what they’re reading in the media, what they’re thinking and how they’re feeling.

To get this information, you must undertake some research:

  • Reach out to mid-level or major donors via phone to understand their situation

  • Understand the key issues that are being reported in the media

  • Research changes in search using Google Trends

Consider some universal trends we’re seeing, such as the move away from materialism at Christmas and toward more ‘human values’ such as purpose and self-transcendence.

Once you know the context your donor is operating in, develop key messages that resonate with these sentiments. Ultimately, your messages and creative will depend on your own supporters, but here are some things you might consider when developing creative:

  • How your messaging and creative can bring alive emotions such as gratitude, togetherness and self-transcendence

  • Positioning your fundraising product as something less ‘material’ and a more ‘purposeful’ alternative to gift-giving at Christmas

Ensure you stand out in a category of sameness

When developing your creative, avoid using cliches or calls to action that are commonly used by other charities. You will just end up blending into the crowd.

Just look at this example of ‘giving a goat’ at Christmas:

The sameness means it is difficult to know who best to support. In order to stand out at Christmas time, you need to make something unique. Something that appeals to your unique supporters, their own worldviews and mindsets. This is something that will follow from your research.

Make it easy for your supporters to donate to you

Key success measure: Site conversion rate

Now that you’ve done the hard work of getting the donor to your site—don’t let them down at the point of purchase.

Major barriers for donations include slow site speed and confusing donation processes.

In fact, 40% of consumers will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. To prevent this, ensure you keep image size on your page to a minimum and get rid of any unnecessary code.

Keep your donation process simple and do not ask for too much information before the supporter donates.

When designing your donation pages, consider the influx of non-digital natives—the 45+ group who are in the early stages of experiencing the digital world—and how they might respond to your website layout. Make your buttons, text and layout clear and accessible. Keep the most important information ‘above-the-fold’ (before the user scrolls).

Though we tend to design our pages on desktop, remember that the majority of your users will be coming through mobile. Make sure your website is mobile-optimized.

Maximise your conversion rate through testing and learning

Donation pages are a great way to test key variables for your campaign. Implementing test results will allow you to maximise your donations by providing the best experience for your donors.

If you won’t take our word for it, just see how Barack Obama raised an extra $60 million through website testing and learning.

Some things you might consider testing include:

  • The language used in your calls-to-action (e.g. Donate Now vs. Give The Gift of Life)

  • Donation amount options, or “ask strings” (e.g. $10, $20, $50 vs. $15, $20, $50)

  • Impact stories used

Here’s a list of A/B splitting tools you can use.

Remember, the journey doesn’t stop at the donation page

After the purchase, ensure you have an onboarding plan in place to delight your donors. You can download our full guide on how to grow your donors after the point of purchase here.

Continue the story through compelling emails and social media to onboard your donors to the organisation. You are selling impact, it’s only fair that you follow-up with your donors and ‘show them’ the impact they’ve had. This has become an expected element in building trust and loyalty. Don’t leave it to your next campaign.

If you’d like to learn how to put these steps into practice to have a successful Christmas campaign this year, join our free webinar on Tuesday, September 8.