Guest Post: The #1 Mistake Online Fundraisers Make

There is nothing more frustrating than not hitting a goal you’ve set. Especially when it comes to fundraising.

You start dreaming big and thinking of all the things you’ll do with the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ll raise.

Then when you miss that goal, you feel like you’ve failed. Worse yet, you feel like you’ve let down the folks who actually did donate.

That’s not a good feeling.

Many times, missing a goal comes down to one thing: setting unrealistic goals.

What’s Realistic?

The most successful online fundraisers have two things going for them: strong online assets, and a plan to promote their campaign using those assets.

Through my job at WeDidIt, I’ve been able to look at the lots of successful crowdfunding pages and their traffic statistics.

I learned that a campaign’s performance is predictable. I can look at a page’s traffic and give you an idea of where each of those visitors came from (email, Facebook, Google, your organization’s website, etc).

Better yet: I can tell you how much money it probably raised.

It’s a great party trick. If the party you’re at is full of nonprofit people…

How I Do It

It’s all about averages.

By taking the total amount raised and dividing that by the total traffic a page received, we can get a dollars per visit value (how much, on average, each page visit is worth). This figure works out to $9/visit (it’s actually more, but I round down to be conservative).

We can reverse engineer this to figure out how much traffic your page needs to generate to raise a specific amount.

Want to raise $1000?

$1000 / $9 = 111 visits to the page. You’ll need at least that much to make it happen.

On average, here’s where that traffic comes from:

  • Email: 56%
  • Facebook: 25%
  • Your website: 10%
  • Search: 5%
  • Twitter: 3%
  • Other: 1%

Right away, you can see email is the biggest driver of traffic.

It makes sense then to set your goal based on how healthy your email list is.

If your email list is small or has a low open/click rate, setting a huge crowdfunding goal is not realistic.

For example:

If you want to raise $15,000, you’ll need about 1670 visits. 56% of those have to come from your email list, or 935. That means 935 people on your email list have to open the email and click the link to the page.

If your email list is 10,000 addresses strong, you’re in good shape!

If it’s 500 addresses…you get the idea.

Just as you would run a 5K before taking on an IronMan race, setting realistic crowdfunding goals helps you experience more success and have something to build on.

If you’re interested in those crowdfunding stats, I put together a handy little tool I call the Crowdfunding Calculator. It allows you to plug in how much you want to raise, then breaks down how much traffic you’ll need, where it needs to come from, and gives you an idea of whether your online assets are strong enough to support that goal.

I offer it for free to the nonprofit community, all I ask for in return is that you tell me what your biggest fundraising headache is (so I can get ideas for a my next tool to make!). Click here to check it out!

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Written by Andrew Littlefield

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Andrew is a marketer and nonprofit fan for WeDidIt, a startup based in Brooklyn, New York dedicated to helping nonprofits raise more money and reach new donors.

Connect with Andrew via:
Twitter |  WeDidIt Blog

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: The #1 Mistake Online Fundraisers Make

  1. Do you have any data on how much traffic a direct mail (the printed, sent by Canada Post kind) can generate? I’ve been hearing that direct mail is a great driver for online donations.

    • Great question Paul! We actually had a client who did exactly that in an effort to move some of their traditional, check writing donors to online donors to save costs. I don’t have the data on the response rate from those emails unfortunately. Tracking that data does present some problems: when someone types in a URL to visit a site (as one would do if reading it off a mailer), it gets grouped into “direct traffic” in many traffic analytics programs. Direct traffic is often a “catch all” for several types of traffic, so it makes it difficult to get reliable numbers.
      Some paid programs, like HubSpot, offer the ability to make tracking URL’s, so that when someone visits via that URL, they appear as “Direct Mailing Visits” or whatever you name them.

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