The Importance of Digital Fundraising Strategy: 5 Factors to Focus On

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Digital-Fundraising-StrategyNonprofits have wrapped up their #GivingTuesday campaigns and end-of-the-year fundraising pushes and are hitting the ground running in 2019. But before you move ahead, take a beat to examine your digital fundraising strategy.

Practically every organization has some sort of online presence, but small tweaks and additions to your digital approach could produce substantial returns in both engagement and fundraising capacity.

So what does a digital fundraising strategy include? More than you might think. Of course, there’s your website—including your donation process and search engine optimization (SEO)—and your social media account(s). While these are critical components, email is still a valuable digital channel and mobile optimization is a must-have.

The importance of these five elements cannot be overstated. Let's take a look.

Online-DonationRefining the Online Donation Process

When thinking about how best to structure your online donation platform, think about how you prefer to complete similar transactions online.

Do you get frustrated when a process takes too many clicks? Have you ever been distracted by extraneous links on a checkout page that might take you away from the purchasing process? Have you ever tried to find a button on a page to no avail?

These are the bumps and obstacles that donors, much like customers, experience when trying to donate to an organization. Implement an online system that you would be comfortable with, and the odds are, your donors will be more comfortable, too.

For more tips, see our post outlining three steps your organization should take to boost online fundraising.

Search-EngineImproving Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

To put it simply, search engine optimization is how organizations improve their unpaid (also called organic) visibility on various search engines. The better your SEO, the higher you will show up on a “search engine results page.”

Given that Google sees about 2 trillion searches per year (that’s 63,000 per second),[1] it’s critical that your organization can be easily found using a wide variety of search queries. The more optimized your site is for search engines, the more exposure your nonprofit gets and the easier it is for people to find you when they’re interested.

While there are a number of ways to improve an organization’s SEO (including how to optimize for voice search), many involve nuanced adjustments to your website’s code or structure that an SEO expert can help you implement.

On your end, work to create website content that is relevant to your visitors, feels trustworthy, and communicates authority on your subject matter. Google and other search engines prioritize high-quality content that answers visitor’s questions and shares valuable information.

In general, respected websites rank higher on search engine results pages, and receive more “backlinks” (links to your website from other websites). Backlinks are another important aspect of SEO.

Overall, you should focus on creating a website experience that satisfies your supporters—and better SEO will follow. 

Social-Media-StrategyOptimizing Social Media for Fundraising

Everyone knows that social media is a great way to connect and engage with supporters and donors. But nonprofits often see social media as a supplementary part of their marketing and communications strategy, when it should be considered an integral part of the fundraising plan.

Recognizing the importance of visuals is a critical piece of understanding social media as part of a digital fundraising plan:

  • Content with relevant images racks up 94% more views than content without images.[2]
  • Compared to purely text content, posts with visuals are 40 times more likely to be shared.[3]
  • Video can be even more powerful, generating 1200% more shares than text and image content.[4]

Regardless of the type of content you publish on social media, you should have a defined purpose for each of your social media accounts. It’s more effective to have one strong account than to have weaker accounts on many different platforms. Only maintain accounts that your team can actively manage.

Facebook and Instagram are the most heavily used and usually the best to start with, followed by Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The platforms you choose may vary based on where your audience is most active.

Keep in mind the 20/80 rule of social media fundraising: 20% of your posts should be fundraising-oriented, 80% should be content sharing.

Email-StrategyLeveraging Email to Reach Donors

Email is the best way to reach your donors and subscribers directly. In general, there are a few main goals to keep in mind when thinking about your email strategy. You want your organization’s emails to have high open rates (the rate at which subscribers open your email), high click-through rates (the rate at which subscribers click on a link in your email), and a strong variety of content.

In 2019, people reading emails want content that feels personalized. According to Nonprofit World research, of the emails sent during Q2 of 2017, just 2% incorporated some degree of personalization in the subject line of their email, yet these emails generated a 50% higher open rate than the other 98%.[5]

The smallest changes can often produce the most substantial returns. For example, writing emails that begin with addressing the recipient by their actual name, as opposed to something like “Dear Subscriber” represent just 21% of nonprofit email communications[6]yet this is one of the best ways to draw your subscriber’s attention.

See our post on calls to action and email strategy for more information.

In addition to increasing your open and click-through rates, it is also critical to have a diversified email content strategy. Break up your fundraising asks with updates about your organization, opportunities for deeper involvement, or stories about the communities you serve. This gives your email subscribers a break from the solicitations and reminds them why they care without ulterior motives.

Mobile-OptimizationReaching Donors through Mobile

In 2018, Google changed its algorithm to a “mobile-first index,”[7] meaning websites without an optimized mobile version will appear lower in search results than sites that are optimized for mobile. Mobile optimization is now a nonnegotiable component of your digital fundraising plan.

In 2018, 63% of web traffic was generated on mobile devices, a 6% increase from 2017.[8] With the proliferation of smartphones, you always need to be thinking about how your online content (including emails) will look on a mobile device.

In 2017, 46% of people said that they would not purchase from a brand if they had an inconvenient mobile experience—the same is true for donations. Reducing frustrations for potential online donors increases the likelihood of receiving a donation.

Finally, most content management systems make it easy for organizations to have an optimal mobile experience. Make sure your website is set up on a platform that allows this. If not, consider making this important transition. 


If your organization is not taking advantage of the full spectrum of digital fundraising, you are not alone. Demand for guidance in this area has grown over the past year—so much so that Campbell & Company has developed a Digital Fundraising service line for our clients.

By understanding the constantly evolving best practices around digital fundraising and using the collective knowledge and innovation of the firm, we can help nonprofits develop their online presence, reach wider audiences, and maximize their fundraising potential.

Contact us to learn more about how we can work together.

[1] https://searchengineland.com/google-now-handles-2-999-trillion-searches-per-year-250247

[2]https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/2015-04-06/content-relevant-images-gets-94-more-views-infographic

[3] https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/2015-04-06/content-relevant-images-gets-94-more-views-infographic

[4] https://www.responsiveinboundmarketing.com/blog/video-marketing-statistics-for-2019

[5] Ansbacher, P. (2018, Apr). Email mistakes that could be damaging your fundraising efforts. Nonprofit World, 36, 4-5. Retrieved from http://turing.library.northwestern.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.turing.library.northwestern.edu/docview/2048455457?accountid=12861

[6] Ansbacher, P. (2018, Apr). Email mistakes that could be damaging your fundraising efforts. Nonprofit World, 36, 4-5. Retrieved from http://turing.library.northwestern.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.turing.library.northwestern.edu/docview/2048455457?accountid=12861

[7] https://www.1digitalagency.com/why-mobile-optimization-will-be-more-important-in-2019/

[8]  https://monopolydigital.com/why-mobile-optimization-is-key-for-2019/

online fundraising, Blog, Fundraising Tips, Fundraising

Maddy Fisher

Maddy Fisher is a Marketing and Business Development Intern at Campbell & Company. Maddy works to improve our client experience, create thought leadership content, and streamline our firm processes.

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