6 Ways to Optimize Online Platforms for Donor Engagement

Learn more about how you can leverage your online platforms and digital tools for donor engagement.

Your nonprofit uses a variety of online communication channels, platforms, and tools to streamline your operations and raise funds. But are you using your online tools effectively enough to connect with donors?

Nonprofit technology offers a wealth of opportunities to support your donor engagement efforts, largely thanks to the data you’re able to collect and use to drive your decision-making. When used strategically, tools can be used to enable you to keep your digital strategy both donor-centric and data-driven.

In this guide, you’ll learn a few basic ways to ensure your nonprofit takes full advantage of its online resources to engage supporters. We’ll cover these five tips for optimizing your digital platforms:

  1. Clean up the data in your nonprofit CRM.
  2. Use a fundraising dashboard to visualize data analytics.
  3. Segment your email lists.
  4. Leverage social media engagement data.
  5. Secure and simplify your online donation page.
  6. Make giving as convenient as possible.

Taking the time to make these improvements now will allow you to easily implement new communication and marketing strategies in the future as you learn more from your data. Let’s get started.

1. Clean up the data in your nonprofit CRM.

To successfully engage donors, you need a capable and dedicated constituent relationship management (CRM) system.

Your CRM houses your donor data, and with donor data, your nonprofit can tailor outreach to supporters in personal and meaningful ways. Manage your entire support base, including donors, volunteers, sponsors, and other constituents, all within your CRM. When you have a comprehensive view of data, you can more easily make decisions on the best marketing strategies and involvement opportunities to offer.

If you haven’t evaluated your CRM or cleaned up your data recently, doing so can make a major difference in your capability to engage donors. Follow these tips to optimize your CRM:

  • Conduct a data audit with the help of experts. Meyer Partners’ nonprofit data analytics guide suggests getting an audit from professionals who can help you identify gaps in your data entry processes and implement data hygiene best practices. From there, these experts can work with you to craft data-driven donor stewardship strategies.
  • Consider updating your CRM system. If you determine you need to fully replace an out-of-date CRM system, develop a tech plan to break down the steps of the replacement and implementation processes.
  • Prioritize data security. Cultivate trust by taking donors’ privacy seriously and taking steps to protect their personal information. Ensure that your donor data stays secure and centralized in an accessible location, and only allow authorized staff to access your CRM.

Once you’ve cleaned up the data in your CRM, you’ll be in a better position to segment donors effectively, create tailored outreach strategies, and build relationships with donors based on trust.

2. Use a fundraising dashboard to visualize data analytics.

One of the best ways to effectively manage and visualize your nonprofit’s data analytics is to use a fundraising dashboard. This tool provides a comprehensive view of your entire fundraising process, from incoming donations to overviews of current campaigns. Many CRM systems include built-in reporting dashboards, but you may also use a separate online fundraising platform to analyze results.

A fundraising dashboard will let you see the big picture to understand your supporters and their actions. In just one glance, you can gain insights to improve donor relationships.

For example, eCardWidget’s guide to donor retention explains how trends in donor data can reveal which donors are at risk of lapsing. If you see a donor’s involvement or giving consistently decrease over time, you can send personalized messages to reengage them before they lapse.

To leverage this tool effectively, make sure your fundraising dashboard can:

  • Showcase your real-time donor retention rate
  • Display a “to-do” list you can interact with
  • Access reports
  • Review accounts
  • View engagement levels of each donor

The best fundraising dashboard will not only showcase how your engagement strategies are performing but also suggest improvements and actionable steps you can take to improve them.

3. Segment your email lists.

Now that you have multiple data collection and analysis tools in place, it’s time to use that data to improve your outreach through segmentation.

Segmenting your supporters not only helps you cater to specific audiences but also increases the chance that your messages will resonate with readers. When emails are personalized and relevant to individual supporters, they’re much more likely to feel valued by your organization and engage.

Some common ways to segment your donors include grouping them by:

  • Giving level: Different donation amounts warrant different kinds of thank-you emails, campaign updates, and fundraising appeals. As a starting point, create segments for major donors, mid-level donors, and minor donors.
  • Giving history: After creating segments by giving level, divide those groups further by their giving history. This could look like segments of long-term mid-level donors, first-time major donors, or minor monthly donors. You can also create segments of lapsed donors, those at risk of lapsing, and those you’ve recently re-engaged.
  • Involvement history: Consistent volunteers are key supporters that you should communicate with differently than those who’ve never volunteered. Create segments of long-term volunteers, board members, and peer-to-peer fundraisers.

Along with these main segments, you can create groups of donors based on trends you see in online engagement data. For instance, say you note that many website visitors have started filling out your online donation form but have not gone through with the gifts. Segment those supporters and send them a specific email following up.

4. Leverage social media engagement data.

Social media isn’t just a tool for acquiring new donors, it’s a far-reaching digital communication platform that can be highly engaging for your current donors. Whether you use social media to post urgent updates or to monitor how your supporters are doing, however, you need to leverage data to use it effectively.

Pay attention to social media engagement metrics like the number of likes, shares, and click-throughs each post receives. This data can reveal which types of content your audience prefers to engage with. Then, analyze how much of your website traffic comes from your social media account. How many users are actually taking action on your site because of a social media post?

Use this data to guide your social media strategy. Create content based on supporter preferences and the type of posts that drive conversions.

5. Simplify and secure your online donation page.

None of your engagement strategies will help you raise funds online if donors don’t trust or can’t navigate your donation page. Take steps to optimize your online donation process so that donors feel safe inputting their personal information. This means providing a seamless experience for your donors from the very moment they visit your website to finally pressing that donation button.

Consider taking these steps to optimize your donation page:

  • Customize your donation form. Don’t turn donors away with too many questions, a cluttered web design, or an overly complicated form. Customize your online giving form so that you only ask what’s necessary.
  • Embed the form into your website. To keep the process streamlined and encourage donors to make a gift, embed the form within one of your site’s pages for ease of use.
  • Automate supporter profiles. As soon as someone makes a gift or signs up to volunteer, your online donation tool should automatically create or update that individual’s record. If possible, integrate your donation tool with your CRM so you can easily access updated contact information.

An optimized, secure online donation page is crucial for building relationships with supporters. Donors don’t want to risk their financial information, so it’s important to invest in an integrated payment processor that prioritizes the security of your donors’ information.  Your payment tool should be a seamless step within the online registration process that doesn’t send supporters to a third-party page to fill out their financial information.

6. Make giving as convenient as possible.

Supporters who land on your donation page have nearly completed every step in their giving journey. Remove as many hurdles as possible in this final stretch by making your giving process convenient, straightforward, and optimized. 

A few ways you can improve the final stages of your donation process include: 

  • Provide multiple ways to give. Donors give online through various means, including credit cards, Apple Pay, Paypal, ACH checks, and other methods. Use a donation processor that can handle the most popular payment methods so your supporters can give however they’re most comfortable. 
  • Use suggested giving amounts. Many first-time donors may not know how much they should give to your nonprofit. Eliminate choice paralysis by providing them with suggested giving amounts. Research on the psychology of donating reveals that low suggested giving amounts can encourage more gifts from new donors, whereas high amounts discourage new donors but can help nonprofits earn more from loyal supporters. 
  • Use a matching gift database. Help your donors feel more accomplished when they give by making it easy to double or potentially even triple their impact through matching gifts. Matching gifts are donations employers make that usually match their employees’ gifts at a 1:1 ratio. By adding a matching gift database search tool to your donation form, you’ll empower supporters to look up their match eligibility in just a few clicks. Some of your donors may even qualify for matching gift auto-submission, which can automatically complete the entire matching gift process for them.

You can monitor how convenient your donation form is by using web analytics tools and monitoring your form abandonment rates. If you notice numerous supporters exiting your donation form at the same point in the process, that’s a clear sign to reassess, collect data, and make targeted improvements. 

Bonus: Incentivize giving through your donation page.

Once you’ve created a trustworthy giving process for donors, it’s time to make some improvements to actually encourage them to make a contribution. There are several ways you can use your donation page to boost giving, including:

  • Specifying the impact of donations. 97% of donors consider the impact of their gift to be a major deciding factor when they support a nonprofit. Therefore, it’s important to include details as to how donations will make a difference on your donation page. For instance, a nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans with PTSD might highlight that gifts will go toward training and pairing a service dog with a veteran in need.
  • Including attention-grabbing images. An eye-catching image can go a long way toward convincing a donor to take action. Consider featuring your beneficiaries or volunteers at work, so potential donors can get a glimpse of what goes into fulfilling your organization’s mission and why you need their support.
  • Adding eCards to your confirmation page. It’s no secret that promptly thanking donors is key to maintaining strong relationships with them in the long run. eCardWidget suggests offering post-donation eCards for supporters to send to their loved ones when they make a gift. This is a wonderful way to show that you appreciate their contribution while providing them the opportunity to bring more donations your way.

By creating both a secure and engaging donation process, your nonprofit’s supporters will be confident and eager to make a gift toward your mission.

It’s always smart to take the extra steps to ensure all your processes are optimized to enable you to better connect with donors. If you find yourself needing additional help on the technical side, a tech consultant can provide customized assistance to meet your nonprofit’s unique needs.

About the Author: Bonnie Meyer, Principal & Executive Vice President at Meyer Partners

Photo of Bonnie Meyer

Bonnie brings to her role at Meyer Partners more than 30 years of fundraising experience, with a special emphasis in multimedia approaches to new donor acquisition and development. Her expertise encompasses several facets of direct response fundraising, including copywriting and creative direction, market research, strategic planning, and comprehensive results analysis.

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