Fundraising has changed dramatically in the past decade, and 2019 will be another year of new ways to ask for donations. The focus used to be on direct mail appeals. You’d collect a mailing list of people and mail them your appeal. That method is slowly being replaced by online appeals for two reasons.
The first is online appeals are dramatically less expensive. Mailing a letter would cost you around a buck and change, while an email usually costs less than a nickel.
The second reason is ‘return on investment’ or ROI Non-profits – especially ones with smaller fundraising budgets – find this new approach to be more successful. You can send 2,000 emails for the same price as it would cost to send a single letter. More requests equal more donations, and fewer costs mean more money back into the mission.
How You Can Start an Online Appeal Today
With nearly everyone (including your donors) streaming the internet these days, your website is one of the best resources for asking people.
Websites, however, have experienced a paradigm shift in recent years that most Catholics may not be aware of.
Just a few years ago, the focus was on providing loads of information to a generic and large audience. That focus has now shifted. Today, rather than seeking information, people search for content that communicates with them, not at them. Web design has responded, making content that more easily and efficiently interacts with the user.
Your website should be designed to do the same. This will allow the hundreds of people who do visit your site to connect (and give) to you. Once that connection is made, asking for a donation is much easier and results in more donors.
Here are the 3 ways to increase your success with online appeals
1- Publish content regularly on your website
Blogging has become the rave in recent years. What the world doesn’t recognize is that priests have been blogging for 2,000 years! Catholics are natural ‘blog readers’ and want to stay up to date with what is going on.
So, publish content because Catholics enjoy hearing what you have to say. They can then forward it to a friend or family member. If someone visits your website, they can read your content and engage with what the priest is preaching about on Sundays.
Not sure how to build a website or how to improve yours? Check out this step-by-step article I wrote on how to do just that.
2 – Replace the donate button with ‘Prayer Intentions’
Let me explain why through an analogy. When a person places a donation in the basket or collection box in church, it’s connected to a prayer. The person is engaging both spiritually and physically with the parish.
The same should be for your website. People come to your website for two reasons: to learn more about you and to connect with you. Why not display this as a button that says ‘Prayer Intentions’ rather than ‘Donate’? If for some reason a prayer button doesn’t match your mission, consider one of the following: ‘light a candle,’ ‘free guide’, ‘helpful resource’, ‘free booklet.’
I can go further into why this is prudent and walk you through the numbers.
(Remember: facts don’t lie)
I walk you through the math of how to actually use buttons on your website in this article so that you do raise significantly more funds.
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3 – Track your website traffic
There is little reason to have a website if no one is visiting it. Today, a website is one of the most effective methods for reaching out to people. Knowing how many people visit your site (‘web traffic’) can help you understand if you are reaching people. It’s very similar to tracking your ‘foot traffic’ in your church.
With a website, people don’t have to physically see you. They can ‘come in’ from the comfort of their home, their work, and even the local restaurant. By tracking your website statistics, you can know how well you are doing to attract people.