By: Aidan Augustin at Feathr
If you’ve ever planned an event like a charity auction or gala, you know how important it is to follow a planning process. Not only does planning the event from start to finish make it run more smoothly, but it also ensures you end up with the greatest possible ROI. One way to maximize this ROI is to incorporate strategies to boost donations.
Recapturing the donors who don’t end up completing their donation forms or event registration forms can help your organization raise more and expand its donor pool. Donation form abandonment can happen for plenty of reasons, such as the supporter getting distracted and forgetting to complete the form or giving up due to a long, complicated donation process. If your nonprofit struggles with high donation form abandonment rates, you’re not alone — many nonprofits see abandonment rates as high as 50 to 70%!
While this problem can be discouraging, there are ways to combat it. In this guide, we’ll discuss how you can maximize revenue at your next event by incorporating tactics to recapture donor support:
- Optimize your donation pages.
- Engage the right audience.
- Retarget supporters to your website.
- Encourage continued support during and after your event.
To make the most of each event and retarget donors who abandon their event engagement forms, you may need to invest more heavily in tools that enable you to launch nonprofit ads and email campaigns. Let’s get started by discussing how to develop your donation appeal strategy.
1. Optimize your donation pages
When supporters first consider getting involved with your upcoming event opportunity, they’ll likely register to attend, contribute to a campaign for the cause, or even sign up to donate their time as a volunteer. For most events, this all takes place on your organization’s website.
The first step to address donation abandonment is to prevent it from occurring in the first place! By optimizing these conversion pages, you’ll capture as many of your passionate supporters as possible and limit the logistical challenges they’ll encounter while trying to get involved. Not to mention, you’ll create a stronger appeal that captures the audience you’re looking for.
These tips can help you improve your appeal strategy to reduce the chance of donation form abandonment in the first place:
- Use donor data. Do your research before choosing your approach to soliciting donations. Look for information like past giving behaviors so you know how much to ask for as a registration fee or an additional donation. For example, you might offer a series of suggested giving amounts on a donation page that supports your event campaign.
- Make the process convenient. Keep convenience in mind as you design your donation and registration forms. Keep these forms as simple as possible to avoid supporters getting bored or distracted during the process. For example, you might provide suggested giving amounts to make it easy to choose the gift size to contribute to your cause.
- Use compelling storytelling. Tell a story that will pull on your donors’ heartstrings or one that engages them and prompts them to get involved. For example, you could highlight a past success story that follows a family that was positively impacted by your organization or discuss the amazing event activities from last year.
- Keep donation pages short. Avoid creating donation pages that are long and tedious — donors may end up abandoning the page if it takes too long to complete. Keep unnecessary questions out of this form, sticking to only what you need to know to complete the donation process. If you decide to use images, stick to only one to keep the page from loading slowly or cluttering the form.
An optimized donation or registration page will also make your association’s marketing strategies more impactful. For example, let’s say your marketing efforts are perfectly tailored to your audience and lead them to your donation form. You’ll want a donation page that is quick and easy to complete so your marketing efforts are more likely to result in a conversion.
2. Engage the right audience
Imagine you see an online ad for an event that looks like something you’d enjoy — an event featuring gourmet food, an auction, and even a talent show. However, once you click through the page, you realize that the event is meant to be for families with young children. Since your children are now in high school, you decide it would be inappropriate to join and exit the page.
This story shows how strong, engaging marketing can lead supporters to registration and donation pages. But, it also illustrates why effectively targeting the right audience is so important to combat donation form abandonment. Conducting an audience analysis before rolling out your marketing efforts can help you direct ads to the right people, increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
To reach audiences who will want to register for your events and contribute to your cause, consider the following strategies:
- Get to know your audience. Ensure you’re reaching the right people by researching your audience and their interests, hobbies, and reasons for giving. Demographic information like age, gender, and household income can also tell you more about them so you can direct your message to the audience that is most likely to complete your donation form.
- Segment donors. Most mission-driven organizations’ audiences can be segmented into several groups based on similar characteristics. For example, you might create segments based on psychographic differences like your supporters’ motivations to give. Then, you can target them with donation appeals that match their personal values or reasons for giving, leading to higher conversions.
- Use social media marketing. Take advantage of your audience’s screen time with social media marketing strategies like working with nonprofit influencers, paid ads, and Facebook and Instagram retargeting campaigns. For example, you might ask your keynote speaker to promote your event on their social media account. When their followers click through (and if they abandon the registration page), they can then receive retargeted ads reminding them of the opportunity. These methods can effectively target niche audiences, leading people who are already interested in your cause to your registration and donation pages.
- Make use of your email list. With email marketing, you can reach out to existing supporters directly to remind them of your event. Since these supporters already submitted their email addresses to your nonprofit, they are likely very invested in your cause and willing to donate or attend your event. You can even take things a step further by launching an email mapping campaign that matches the emails in your database to cookies that allows you to target these same people with ads.
Getting the initial word about donation opportunities out to your nonprofit is crucial. By marketing to interested donors from the get-go, your organization can decrease donation form abandonment. Focusing on discovering the right audience and the appropriate ways to reach them helps you find attendees and donors who are the most likely to register or donate.
3. Retarget supporters to your website
Sometimes all donors need is a reminder to prompt them to return to your website and complete the form. After all, 60% of potential donors abandon the form with the intention of coming back to it later.
Retargeting is one of the most effective ways to combat donation form abandonment. According to Feathr’s guide to nonprofit marketing ideas, retargeting ads allows your organization to reach the supporters who previously visited your website with targeted ads. These ads help guide your supporters back to your site, picking up where they left off with a donation or registration form.
With this campaign, you can retarget members of your current audience with ads across the web. Your nonprofit can choose specific segments of your audience to target, including those who visited your website without completing their donation form. Or, you could target those who visited your events page but failed to register.
The ads your audience sees will appear on the websites they choose to visit. So, while they’re reading a news article or looking up a recipe for dinner, they’ll also see an ad for your nonprofit. Use these ads to remind them to return to your website and complete their donation or registration form so you can recapture the donors who may have gotten distracted or simply forgotten.
Social media campaign
If you use social media, you know just how easy it is to start mindlessly scrolling through your favorite app. Your donors are no different, and chances are many of them have been pulled away from your donation form or registration page because of social media. However, with a social media retargeting campaign, you can remind your supporters to pick up where they left off.
This retargeting strategy is similar to a web retargeting campaign, but its ads appear on your audience’s Facebook and Instagram feeds rather than the websites they visit. Remember to confirm that your audience regularly uses these social media platforms before launching a social media retargeting campaign.
These techniques are very effective for decreasing donation form abandonment, but they can also benefit your nonprofit in other ways. Retargeting ads can also promote events, webinars, and online fundraising campaigns. You can even drive traffic to specific pages, like the catalog for your upcoming online auction, to drum up excitement for those events.
4. Encourage continued support during and after your event
While expanding your donor pool is important to growing as an organization, don’t forget to think about your long-term goals, too. For example, you may win over a new supporter with an engaging event or persuasive ad. However, without making efforts to keep them coming back, you might find that your hard work bringing them back from abandoned donation or registration forms only had a short-term impact.
Making efforts to steward and retain your supporters for the long haul can create a base of loyal donors who never miss a chance to attend an event or make a donation. Here are a few ways to engage and retain donors for long-term, loyal support:
- Note highlights from your events. Denote the high points from your events. You can include these in follow-up emails, social media posts, and end-of-year marketing. These highlights can remind attendees of the fun they had or show supporters who didn’t attend what they missed out on.
- Encourage donors to become monthly supporters. Recurring monthly donors enjoy a high retention rate of about 80% after year one. After you’ve drawn supporters back to your site and they’ve given to your cause, encourage supporters and event attendees to join your recurring donor program. This creates a sustainable revenue source and encourages higher retention rates.
- Send appreciation messages to your supporters. Email marketing is a great way to make donation appeals, send out event invitations, and, of course, show your appreciation by thanking donors. Showing your appreciation will encourage donors not just to come back to your registration page for this event, but to continue returning to future events that your nonprofit hosts.
While garnering new supporters is exciting (and important), don’t underestimate the power of your existing donors. Strategies like following up after events and showing supporters that you appreciate them make them feel valued and keep them coming back to make donations. When your organization is near and dear to them, they wouldn’t dream of abandoning their donation form.
Aidan Augustin is the Co-founder & President, Feathr
Aidan Augustin is the co-founder and president of Feathr, an industry-leading tech company building marketing tools specifically tailored to the needs of associations and event organizers. Feathr has helped over 800 associations and 5,000 conferences, trade shows, and virtual events grow attendance, member engagement, and digital sponsorship revenue. Based out of their Gainesville, FL headquarters, Aidan leads the sales and marketing functions of Feathr and spearheads industry engagement. He is an actively involved member of both ASAE and IAEE and a regular speaker on the topics of digital marketing and event/association technology.
Aidan Augustin is the co-founder and president of Feathr, an industry-leading software company making digital marketing more accessible to nonprofits and event organizers. Feathr has helped over 800 nonprofits and thousands of events know, grow, and engage their audiences. When he’s not steering the ship at Feathr, he’s playing strategy games, singing karaoke, or reading books about people who changed the world.