How to pull in last-minute online donors

Gail Perry
Gail Perry

Gail Perry

Did you know that 40 percent of online donors give in December?

Even more interesting, the last two days of December, you can expect your online gifts to spike up.

It’s not too late to design the right kind of e-fundraising effort that will actually touch the hearts of your online donors right there at the end of the year.

Can’t you just imagine all those e-gifts streaming into your account right there at year-end? What a sack of presents to greet you and your wonderful cause.

Remember: The psychology of online giving is quite different from donors who give through the mail.

Attention spans are far shorter. Copy must be lively. Web sites need to be alive, and get updated often.

And just getting your folks to open your email is an art form that you need to study carefully.

What will it take to be ready for this onslaught? Here’s how to craft a sizzling email campaign to reach those donors.

Offer a matching or challenge gift. Study after study show that matching gifts inspire donors to give more and to give within a specific deadline.

Especially in these times, donors are responding to the appeal of a matching gift that will double or triple their own investment.

Create multiple e-appeals that build on each other. Plan your emails for the last week of December according to a schedule like this:

  • December 23: a “holiday support” email
  • December 29: an email emphasizing tax-deductible giving opportunities
  • December 31: a final “last chance to donate” email

Make your call to action clear and specific. Let your donors know exactly what you need, how much money you are trying to raise and how it will be used.

The more specific your result, the more money donors will invest. If you let them restrict their gifts, they will give more.

Create an extra large “Donate Now” button. And plaster it on your homepage – especially in December.

A recent study showed that buttons draw more “click-throughs” than simple links. So go with the button.

Change your homepage to a donation page just for year’s-end. Many smart organizations are replacing their regular home page with their donation page just for the last few days of the year.

Why not? Most people visiting your site during this time are either researching gifts or wanting to make a gift. So make it easy for them.

Put that call to action and that “donate now” button right up front.

Add a heartwarming picture to your donation page. Studies continue to show that emotion tugs at heartstrings and opens wallets.

When someone visits your page to make a gift, a lovely heart-rending picture will reinforce your message, and assure your donor.

Streamline your donation process. If there’s only one thing you do to prepare for year-end giving, do this:

Make a $5.00 donation to your own cause and see for yourself what your donation process feels and looks like.

Just like any online shopping cart, your donors may be abandoning your donation page at astonishing rates.

Why do they leave the page? Because the process is cumbersome, keeps rejecting their data for trivial reasons, or is frustrating to the donor.

Check it out. You’ll never know this unless you walk through the giving process yourself.

If you follow all these steps, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised when the end of the year comes around. Get started now and you’ll be glad you did.

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