6 strategies to grow your digital fundraising income

Finding a way to make digital fundraising work is more important than ever during this pandemic. Whether we like it or not, with the lockdown and social distancing, we are all using more digital tools to communicate, learn and solve daily problems. 

Growing the digital fundraising income for your charity can be an uphill struggle.

The pace of change is so rapid and there are pitfalls to beware, so increasing your online fundraising income is far from easy.

In a recent episode of the Fundraising Bright Spots podcast, Rob Woods spoke to Emily Casson, the award-winning Digital Marketing Manager at Cats Protection

Emily explains why her overarching approach and team motto – ‘Think big, start small, scale quickly or fail fast.’ – has helped the fundraising teams in her charity to embrace this way of working, rather than keeping digital fundraising activity only for her specialist team.

To bring her strategy to life, here are six practical strategies to help you grow your digital fundraising income.

  1. Have a motto and make it ambitious

Emily believes that all the best teams have a team motto. Hers is ‘Think big, start small, scale quickly or fail fast.’ This is a carefully thought through distillation of the beliefs and approach that are most likely to help you succeed in digital fundraising. In working with a variety of causes, and small charities as well as her own, she has found that these principles hold true if you want to achieve growth.

  1. Experiment, but learn from the data

Start small means start with pilots. Try something with no or minimal risk and then learn from it by looking carefully at the data. She believes that this data-driven approach, combined with a relentless expectation that growth is possible, are at the heart of her success.

  1. Create a simple testing plan

Have a plan for what you’re going to test. Eg If you are a small organisation, each month pick a different variable (eg age of supporter you target or colour of cat in the picture) or and test each one in five different ways. But just do one variable per month, to keep it manageable. By the end of the year you’ll have learned 12 amazing things that help your conversion rates.

  1. Set a direction, not a destination 

Emily works with each team in her charity to help them make use of digital, applying her over-arching philosophy of thinking big but starting small and testing. The journey never ends, it’s always possible to keep expecting more, learning something new to improve results even further. This is different from many people’s mind-set and approach, so you may have to work hard to help others understand its possible and worth the effort.

  1. Lead with examples

To influence / create culture change internally, work with the ones that show most interest. Help them get results and then you’ll find the others become more hungry to get involved.

  1. Involve your team early

To help teams that support fundraising, which are crucial, be sure to talk to them early in the process, so they have time to adapt.

Key Quotes from Emily

‘Think big, start small, scale quickly or fail fast.’ – Emily Casson

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‘If you’re not failing, you’re not innovating and you’re playing it safe. Whereas in digital, you can’t play it safe. There’s always something new…Absolutely do not be afraid to try new things that might not work.’ – Emily Casson

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‘Pick 12 things you’re going to test over the year. It might be something really simple like subject line, creative etc. By the end of the year you’ll have learned 12 amazing things that will improve your conversion rates.’ – Emily Casson

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Further Resources

If you’re looking for more advice like this, check out Episodes 10 and 11 of this podcast for lots of advice from the excellent Lesley Pinder about how to gather insight into your supporter’s world, which in turn helps you improve your fundraising results.