A guide to new donor acquisition on digital

Since the pandemic, we’ve seen an irreversible shift in how Australians discover, research, make decisions and purchase products. 

Today digital is strong across every stage of the purchase journey…

  • 39% of Australians discovered a new brand via search (no. 2 source after TV), 27% via social media ads, 23% by ads on websites (GWI, 2021)

  • 84% of Australian adults researched a product online. 64% via search engine, 42% product website, 35% social networks (GWI, 2021)

  • 75% of Australian adults made an product purchase online (GWI, 2021)

  • The fastest-growing segment in using digital channels has been the over 60s group (Google, Mintel, 2021)

This shift to digital is impacting giving behaviour, too. 

During the pandemic 45% of Australians said they gave online (McCrindle, 2021). While the top three channels used for donations by Australians are #1 Email, #2 Social Media and #3 Website (Giving, 2021). Digital is now the #1 channel for new donor acquisition, and the fastest growing channel for fundraising. 

So the question isn’t ‘why digital’ anymore, but ‘how to maximise digital’ for your not-for-profit. 

Here’s our top 4 tips for driving new donor acquisition on digital…

1. Reach the highest performing digital audiences

Performance across digital, like all channels is relational to how well you’re targeting. 

And when it comes to new donor acquisition we want to target the highest ROI audiences first. These high ROI audiences often leverage your first party data, or target supporters who have already taken a non-financial action. 

Examples of high ROI audiences:

  • 1st party data lookalikes - Use first-party data (e.g. your email list, previous donors) to build these lookalike audiences to target. 

  • Retargeting previous visits - Retarget visitors to your website, or specific pages (e.g. donation page). 

  • Use brand keywords - Capture would-be donors with a high search intent using branded keyword campaigns. We recommend running these as always-on campaigns, either using Google Grants or paid search ads.

  • Target social engagers - Look to the people who engage with you already on digital channels (e.g. those people who comment, like and share your content). 

Once you’ve exhausted these high ROI audiences, you can then target medium and low ROI audiences using affinity and demographic targeting techniques that help you widen your reach.

2. Choose the channels where your audience are

A basic rule: The more channels you use, the more effective your campaign. 

But this doesn’t mean you should spread yourself too thin. That’s why it’s important to have an understanding of where your audiences are, then choose your channels according to their behaviour, and your budget.

We’ve provided a scale, depending on your budget… 

But above all remember: Effective digital should include a balance of always on, brand-building, and campaigns (like your new donor acquisition campaigns). Without adequate always-on activity, your campaigns will cost more and be less effective. With it, they’ll perform better and have greater return on investment. You’ll also be able to roll in the outcome of tests from your always-on campaigns to your appeals.

3. Develop a value proposition that cuts through

Never underestimate the power of creative. 

The average person scrolls through 300 feet of mobile content every day (Oglivy 2021). That's equivalent to the size of the Statue of Liberty - so you’re going to need some thumb-stopping creative to catch the eyes of new donors.

Forget about what works for your current donors on direct mail for a second and put yourself in the shoes of someone who isn’t a donor yet. 

To catch attention use: 

  • Tangible gifts, dollar handles and links back to impact

  • Matched giving to increase the perceived impact by the donor

  • Giving days to build a sense of momentum and community

  • Urgent, time-sensitive, count-down or emergency campaigns so people can act on their desire to give and contribute

  • Interactive elements that grab attention and set you apart. 

4. Finally, establish journeys that connect

“Closing the deal” can be the trickiest part of new donor acquisition and is not to be overlooked!

The best-planned campaign leading to an un-optimized landing page won’t deliver results. In fact, your donation page might be the single most valuable asset of your entire campaign.

Average attention span is 8 seconds (Microsoft)

40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load (Google)

79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance are less likely to return (Google)

We recommend:

  • Designing a high-performing landing page

  • Optimising page speed for your site

  • Eliminating daunting donation forms and replacing it with a simple 3-step flow

  • And doubling your conversion rate on mobile with one touch donation

This may mean relying on third-party platforms to develop campaign-specific landing pages rather than using your site’s donation forms if they can’t be improved. 

To maximise donor acquisition our focus is on finding and reaching the highest-value audiences, choosing the channels they’re most likely to use, an where they’ll be most receptive to a donation ask, developing a value proposition that connects specifically with those new donors, and then establishing a journey that connects with them all the way through to a donation. 

If you want to learn more about how to optimise your donor journey on digital to reach new donors, get in touch.