In a recent story, I had shared with you the importance of personal touch in fundraising. Personal interactions are also playing a greater role in the times of a pandemic. “A random sampling of about 4,000 Bloomerang customers found that those who reached out to donors personally (phone, email, text, in-person) in March and April 2020 saw significant year over year increases in revenue compared to those who didn’t.
Another noteworthy data point is that 42% of Nonprofits avoided the personal email interactions and their revenue was down by 27%. While 58% of the largest percentage trusting the medium saw an uptake of 10% of revenues.
Email Marketing is one of the most important tools for an NGO when it comes to community building and investing in owned media. While I understand that there are quite a few aspects that play a strong role in convincing an online user to become a donor. But it finally boils down to how good is your Online Donation Experience. Obviously the post-Online Donation Experience is also important.
In the last few months, almost every other NGO has invested in digital advertising for COVID19 online fundraising campaigns.
NGOs, like the rest of the businesses, have been hit hard. For the longest time digital has been a supplement to mainline channels. Fundraising in India is driven by offline, and in the US it has been direct mail(recently told to me by a marketing head of a Nonprofit agency). With extended lockdowns, NGOs had no choice but to go digital. Since most of them had never invested in a community building so the easiest way was to bombard online audiences with ads and run Facebook fundraising with celebrities. Akshaya Patra, GiveIndia, SaveTheChildren India have completely milked it.
Coming back to my original question if everything falls primarily on the Donation Experience for online fundraising. How do I understand the online fundraising experience of Indian NGOs? The answer was to simply test them as a donor.
2 weeks ago I clicked on four random Instagram mobile ads from Indian NGOs asking for donations.
I invested a total budget of ₹5000 to understand the online and post online donation experience. I waited for 15 days to see how the NGOs communicate post the donation.
Please find my learnings shared below:
Cry India and Care India
Instagram Ad: Cry India was running a carousel ad on Instagram with a simple copy, backed by a complementing visual. The Donate Now button did the job. But I fail to understand the reason for having a logo in the visual when your name and logo sit right on top of the ad.
Donation Experience: On click, the ad landed on the donation page which shared the details – how it is helping the marginalised communities who have been affected by the lockdown. After the quick introduction of the campaign, I had the opportunity to make my donation.
The page provides the option to do a one-time donation with listed choices or an amount of your wish. Neat and to the point.
The page also has elements like a visual representation of CRY’s impact in 2019-20, Donor Testimonials, About CRY, and Email subscription widget.
The job of the donation page is to provide details about the campaign, enabling a smooth transaction, details on how the money will be used and how secure is the process. Don’t confuse or increase anxiety by providing unnecessary options.
Additionally, most NGOs want to grab all your personal details in the name of a better donor understanding. Do you really need to know my complete address, state, city, pin, pan, etc? What if I give you a random data? How are you going to check that? Please don’t be an idiot.
For some reason, I chose not to donate to Cry India and decided to go with Care India. I was expecting a better experience but Care India has a never-ending list of details about the COVID19 campaign with a long list of required personal details. See screenshot below:
Why do you need to know “Source of information”? Nonetheless the payment process was pretty much straight forward.
Post-Donation Experience: Once the payment was successful, Care India triggered the Thank You page that had a vanilla message. Besides the NGO was interested to tell me more about itself by providing details about their social profiles, and asking me to subscribe to the newsletter. This is just lame.
The job of a Thank You page:
- To thank the user for her donation and not to blow your own trumpet.
- Inform how her money will bring an impact to the cause.
- And finally, provide sharing options so that you get the reach of her social community.
Email Communication: After the donation exercise, Care India shared a Thank You email for the contribution. The email had a pretty generic message on how the donation will help the cause, the translation details, and links to follow the NGO on social media. Pretty lame.
I was told that the 80G certificate will be sent later but I am yet to receive it. Besides, it has been 2 weeks since the NGO had any communication with me who is a Donor now. If you don’t interact with your donor in a week’s time then you are out of sight and mind.
Save The Children India
Instagram Ad: The Instagram ad was just perfect – simple copy, perfect visual, and clear call to action. Besides, it had no logo in the visual.
Donation Experience: On click of the ad, it lands you on the donation page that provides different choices of donation money stating how it will be useful for the campaign. For instance, a ₹1200 donation will provide a Hygiene kit for a high-risk population which includes sanitizer and mask. Additionally, you have a choice to make your own contribution.
Once you click on the Donate Now button the NGO is collecting the below listed data. Better than Care India but do you really need all this data?
However, the donation page is focussed on making the donation process simple with less anxiety. The payment process is neat.
Post-Donation Experience: Once the donation was successful, Save The Children India triggered the Thank You page. The page needs better formatting for mobile.
Email Communication: In the last two weeks, the NGO has sent me two emails – First the Thank You email and thereafter the NGO shared the Tax Exemption Certificate. Pretty neat and simple, especially the thank you email.
However, there has been no communication from the NGO in the last two weeks about the campaign. It is strange that the NGO has been actively sharing the campaign progress on social media but not with their Donors. Maybe the NGO is yet to realise the powers of Email Marketing.
Instagram Ad: Sometimes a simple line and an impactful visual does the job. Come to think of it that is how Instagram works.
Donation Experience: We/Can provided one of the best donation experience. The landing page tells you the objective of the campaign with a simple but hard-hitting short story. The NGO has options for one time and monthly or recurring donations. The amount that you donate tells you how it is is going to help the migrant lady. The Donate Now box is minimal and does the job.
Once you click on the “Donate Now” button it won’t trigger another instance or page for data collection. Everything happens in the same instance. Such a relief especially when you are doing the process on mobile. Clearly the NGO has invested money and talent on the tech.
Additionally, the NGO is only collecting three sets of the most required and important user data – Name, email, and phone number. You provide the details and the payment transaction is performed. Simple and sweet.
The donation page also showcases recent supporters of the campaign – a great way to add trust to the campaign.
Post Donation Experience: Once the donation is over the NGO triggers a simple and beautiful thank you message from the CEO. Even an automated message can be personalized if you have the intent.
Email Communication: In addition to the Tax Certificate, the NGO did send a thank you email. The note told me how my money will impact the lives and it was neatly done. Again the best communication out of the four Indian NGOs.
However, it has been two weeks, I am yet to receive any donor communications from the NGO. We/Can like Save The Children India has been active on social media sharing progress about their work.
For instance here is the story of Asha Birhor. She has started her grocery shop and earns a daily profit of ₹100 on average. We/Can says that because of supporters or donors, her two sons have been re-admitted to school.
Sharing on social media is required but why won’t you share these stories with your donors who have given money for your cause?
Maybe some might start the donor conversations in the coming weeks under the excuse that COVID19 has impacted the way the NGO has been working all the while. We are all about our choices.
My learnings from the simple experiment:
- Make the Donation process simple and enable a smooth transaction. We/Can is a brilliant example. Don’t make it a data-gathering exercise.
- Thank You screen is a great way of acknowledging and building communication, don’t ruin by a lame message. Automated messages can be made interesting, see the work of We/Can
- And finally, your Email conversations with the donor is the start of a beautiful relationship to build a community and turn some of them into brand advocates. With digital the way forward these advocates can do the peer to peer online fundraising for you and even some can convert into monthly donors. It all depends on how you communicate and nurture them. Won’t happen in a month but it will happen if you have defined the donor journey and have patience.
P.S. Did the article give value to your time? If yes then can you do a one-time donation to my ongoing fundraising campaign for COVID-19. Donation Link. If no, then I will keep trying. I don’t give up easily. Thank You!