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8 min read

10 mistakes to avoid in an online fundraising campaign

In today's digitally philanthropic world, launching an online fundraising campaign proves to be an extremely effective strategy for charities. To maximise their fundraising efforts, it is essential that charities take advantage of the digital levers available to them. However, to maximise the success of your online initiatives, it's crucial to avoid certain common mistakes. In this article, we explore 10 mistakes to avoid when launching an online fundraising campaign:

1. Lack of planning and undefined campaign goals 
2. Not using a suitable online donation platform
3. Not opting for a multi-faceted marketing approach
4. Ignoring the timeframe of your campaign
5. Neglecting innovation in fundraising
6. Forgetting to thank donors, or doing so too late
7. Limited follow-up & communication post campaign
8. Neglecting optimisation for mobile devices
9. Forgetting the importance of analysing data
10. Ignoring the security of online transactions

 

1. Lack of planning and undefined campaign goals 

Launching an online fundraising campaign requires careful planning and execution to maximise success and avoid unnecessary costs. 

Not planning well enough or ahead of time can result in a disorganised campaign. Developing a comprehensive plan is important. It should outline strategies, target audience, communication channels, and backup plans in case of an unexpected event or emergency.

Failing to clearly define fundraising goals can lead to confusion and lack of direction. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to guide your campaign. For a breakdown of SMART goals check out our article on how to prepare your year-end fundraising plan.

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2. Not using a suitable online donation platform

Using a customised online fundraising platform makes donating easier and is crucial for fundraising success. If you are already using an online donation tool, ask yourself whether it is suited to your needs. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your online donation platform intuitive and responsive? A smooth user experience (UX) is essential!
  • Is your online donation form easy to find on your website? Does it make it easy to make a donation, with just a few clicks? The donation process must be simple, intuitive and fast!
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✅DO ❌DON’T
  • Show all stages of the donation process on a single screen.
  • Forget to include a reassuring text on your donation form. For example: "Your donation helps us maintain our financial independence and guarantee our operational freedom".
  • Use fundraising “widgets”, or extra features like “the most popular amount”.
  • Forget to indicate the donation equivalents on your form. For example: "A donation of €20 can fund 200 malaria treatments".
  • Offer several donation options: one-off donation, monthly donation, etc.
  • Overlook suggesting recommended donation amounts. By presenting various donation amounts on your form, you provide donors with a scale to guide their generosity.
  • Offer quick payment methods, such as Apple Pay, that can even auto-fill forms for your donors.
  • Request mandatory and unnecessary information, making the process lengthier.
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  • Does your fundraising solution allow you to launch donation campaigns while respecting your graphic identity? A white-label solution not only provides a seamless experience for donors, but also builds credibility for the charity. 
  • Does your solution allow you to deploy different types of campaigns simultaneously? Think crowdfunding campaigns, peer to peer campaigns, and more. Thanks to them, you have access to a wider base of supporters, who can see the progress of your fundraising initiatives in real time.

 

3. Not opting for a multi-faceted marketing approach

A successful online fundraising campaign is not based on a single platform. Organisations should adopt a multi-channel approach to reach a wider audience. Using social networks, email, fundraising events and other channels allows supporters to engage in a more holistic way.

By adopting a multi-faceted presence, you can increase the number of touch points with your supporters and better respond to their preferences.

fundraising strategy-online-donation-formIn addition to adopting a well-rounded approach, nonprofit organizations must recognise the important role of strategic marketing planning across these channels. Each channel, whether it be social media platforms, email, or others, serves as a unique way to connect with diverse audiences. 

Properly planning and tailoring campaigns for each channel amplifies the reach and impact of your message. This strategic alignment ensures that your fundraising efforts resonate effectively, capturing the attention of supporters and fostering a deeper connection with them. By integrating thoughtful marketing strategies, you not only expand your reach but also cultivate a more effective fundraising campaign.

 

4. Ignoring the timeframe of your campaign

The success of an online fundraising campaign often depends on timing. That's why organisations need to take into account the annual calendar and key national and international events to maximise their visibility.

The iRaiser fundraising calendar is an essential tool that allows you to plan campaigns in sync with the most opportune times, and to get plenty of ideas for seasonal fundraising. By taking the calendar into account, you can create campaigns that resonate with your audiences and increase your chances of success!

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5. Neglecting innovation in fundraising

"It’s estimated that an adult in a metropolitan area may see anywhere from 50 to 400 advertisements per day. This includes ads and brands seen on TV, online, billboards, social media, and more."* 

To stand out in an increasingly saturated digital landscape, organisations need to put innovation at the heart of their fundraising approaches.

*source: 75media.co.uk 

The use of AI, gaming and the creation of interactive and engaging campaigns will stimulate donors' interest and increase their commitment. To find out more about fundraising trends in 2024 and apply them to your appeals to collect donations, read our article: 8 key trends to boost your fundraising in 2024.

 

6. Forgetting to thank donors, or doing so too late

Expressing gratitude to donors is crucial and often underestimated. That's why charities need to put strategies in place to thank and show appreciation to their donors. As well as personalised thank you notes, consider putting in place a follow-up plan, which will ensure that you maintain a connection with your donors. You can ask these supporters to join your future campaigns or donate again in upcoming initiatives.

You should address your Thank You message systematically and personally. It can also be done publicly, like on a thank-you wall.

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7. Limited follow-up & communication post campaign

This brings us to campaign follow up. After the conclusion of a fundraising campaign, it's crucial to go beyond a simple thank-you message. Many charities make the mistake of neglecting post-campaign communication, missing out on the opportunity to strengthen donor relationships

A successful follow-up strategy involves expressing sincere gratitude for donors' contributions. Showcasing the tangible impact of their support, and keeping them engaged in your organization's mission is key. Continuing communication strengthens positive contribution and builds transparency and trust.

By sharing success stories, providing updates on how the funds are being utilised, and involving donors in the journey, charities can foster a strong connection and encourage continued support for future campaigns. Remember, communication is the key to building a community of dedicated, loyal and possibly life-long supporters.

✅DO ❌DON’T
  • Adapt your thank you message to suit the type of donor. Make sure you don't thank a new donor in the same way as a major donor, for example.
  • Send your thanks 3 days later. It's important to send a thank you message quickly, right after the donation has been made!
  • Personalise your thank-you notes: in your emails, insert personalised fields with the donor's first or last name and refer to the amount of their donation. "Thank you Mrs. Petit for your donation of €70".
  • Use a cold tone in your thank you notes: opt for a warm "Thank you" instead of a more formal "Donation confirmation".

You can rely on digital platforms dedicated to charities, which allow you to send out automatic emails after each donation made to your organisation, for even stronger links with your community of donors!

8. Neglecting optimisation for mobile devices 

In the age of smartphones, 28% of donations are made via a mobile device (mobile and tablet combined)*. So it's vital to optimise all aspects of your campaigns for mobile devices. 

Ignoring this aspect can lead to a significant loss of potential donors. So make sure your online donation form is responsive and adapts to all types of devices, providing a seamless experience for mobile users.

*source: iRaiser Benchmark 2022 vs. 2021

✅ DO (On Mobile):
  • Limit the scrolling time of your campaign page as much as possible.
  • Make your donation form short and straight to the point! It should have the minimum number of words or information requested.
  • Use an autocomplete tool for certain fields to save your donors time!

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9. Forgetting the importance of analysing data

Fundraising data is crucial to understanding the effectiveness of your campaigns and adjusting your strategies accordingly. Ignoring data analysis can lead to a loss of optimisation opportunities and, in the long term, potential revenue. You can analyse your valuable data using management software, such as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool.

We recommend that you use a CRM software dedicated to charities. Assess the performance of your campaigns using KPIs, make data-driven decisions and strengthen your relationship with your donors.

fundraising calendar

10. Ignoring the security of online transactions

The security of online transactions is a major concern for donors. Not using appropriate security protocols can lead to a loss of trust. It is therefore important that you ensure your digital solutions, and particularly your online donation platform, use robust security measures to protect donors' data.

In conclusion, the key to a successful online fundraising campaign is the judicious use of technology and appropriate digital solutions. These will enable you to raise money effectively online and gain a better understanding of your audiences and supporters.online fundraising strategy-3

By avoiding these 10 mistakes, charities can strengthen their impact and work more effectively towards achieving their missions. Learn how to easily adapt your fundraising to mobile devices in our article: 5 practices for optimising your mobile fundraising strategy.

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