Neil Pauksztello: Make sure your communications don't scare off potential donors

Having a multichannel approach to fundraising will help charities maximise their donations, writes the head of charities at the technology company Ve

Neil Pauksztello
Neil Pauksztello

Charities appeal to our heart-strings but they can also inflict anxiety. Whether it’s dodging bucket-collectors in the street or ignoring cold calls, you have to wonder: are these traditional methods still effective in securing donations?

Charities need to be conscious that they don’t conform to the "chugger" image either off or online, but create marketing campaigns that persuade people to donate without interfering with their day to day lives.

Getting people to stand outside a tube or rail station and shake a bucket at passers-by remains an effective and consistently used engagement method. The problems arise not out of the method of campaigning itself, but from how charities choose to hire street campaigners to begin with. Too many charities make the mistake of outsourcing to third party companies and call centres that have no affiliation with the brand itself. If people are going to part with their money, they need to understand exactly where it’s going and why; if the campaigners show real knowledge and passion about the cause itself, we are much more likely to listen and engage.

So how should charities manage their online interactions to prevent them from being deemed intrusive?

Considering the majority of donations are collected online, charities need to be wary of replicating the ‘chugging’ effect online by flooding their prospects’ inboxes with too many badly targeted emails. Having a multichannel approach is key - tactics range from:

  • Onsite overlays to target customers when they click away from their donation basket
  • Re-engagement emails that are highly targeted and sent at the right time and frequency, which encourage readers to return to their donation
  • Data-driven display advertisements that appeal to the customer’s donation preferences based on previous online behaviour

These tactics need to be as persuasive as possible without the risk of intimidating or pushing away potential prospects. Charities that are currently doing this well include Unicef, the British Heart Foundation and WaterAid.

The key is to test out various online communications methods in order to see what gets the best results. There are a handful of digital tools available that are designed to help win customers back at every stage of the process, encouraging them to make that all-important donation. As technology gets more advanced, new easy-to-integrate technology platforms offer customers a chance to return to incomplete donations via overlays that are well-designed, helpful and most importantly unintrusive. Many providers offer different marketing technologies to attract and secure more online donations and when communicated with in the right way, people can be very receptive to online marketing campaigns.

Ve’s own data reports that cart abandonment is lowest for charitable donations when compared against online spending in other industry sectors, suggesting that online conversion and re-engagement tools are really worth the investment to help increase donations.

Furthermore, those charities that manage to strike this careful balance between being persuasive and intrusive when communicating with potential donors are guaranteed to see the best results from their fundraising campaigns - both online and off.

Neil Pauksztello is head of charities at Ve Interactive

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