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If you’re a frequent online shopper, you know the value of a smooth purchasing process. You want to load up your virtual shopping cart, add your card information and address, and click “Purchase” all in just a few taps. Your donors are also used to this convenient shopping experience, and they’re looking for something similar when contributing to your school’s fundraisers.

Giving to your school should be easy, intuitive, and fast for your donors. Not only does this encourage more donations and make it more likely that they’ll give again in the future, but it can even deepen your relationships with donors. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of an optimized giving experience and how to improve yours.

Why prioritize the giving experience?

The giving experience expands far beyond the moment that supporters click “submit” on your donation page. Rather, think of the giving experience as encapsulating how donors feel about your cause as a whole. This means that you have the opportunity to improve that experience during each interaction you have with supporters throughout the donor journey.

For example, 99Pledges’ read-a-thon fundraising guide recommends creating online donation pages, linking to them across multiple digital platforms, and accepting a variety of payment methods. This flexibility allows donors to connect with and donate to your school in the way that is most convenient for them.

Prioritizing your donors’ experiences offers many benefits, including:

  • More donations
  • Higher donor satisfaction rates
  • Improved donor retention, meaning supporters are more likely to give again
  • Enhanced reputation
  • A greater impact on and more progress toward your school’s broader goals, such as providing up-to-date educational materials to each student

Personalization plays a significant role in creating positive experiences. Tailoring your interactions to each donor shows that their individual contribution makes an impact and that you value their support. Additionally, messaging that targets supporters’ unique giving motivations is much more likely to resonate with them and encourage them to take action.

How can your school tailor giving to its donors?

When you have dozens (or even hundreds) of donors for your school fundraisers, personalizing each interaction with each supporter can feel impossible. Rest assured that there are tools and strategies that can help you do it without eating up hours of your precious time.

To see the biggest impact, we recommend starting with the following:

Accept a variety of payment options.

As we mentioned earlier, being as flexible as possible gives your donors the power to choose the easiest, most convenient way to engage with your school. While this applies to how you communicate with them (i.e., reaching out via the platforms they use the most), it plays an even bigger role when it comes to accepting donations.

Make sure to choose software that can accept a variety of payment methods, including:

  • Major credit cards, such as Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover
  • PayPal
  • ApplePay
  • GooglePay

Additionally, you might experiment with specialized tools that make donating even faster. For example, a text-to-give tool allows donors to kick off the giving process by texting a specific keyword to a number unique to your school’s campaign.

Choose communication channels wisely.

Once you have the right technology in place, you can begin personalizing interactions with donors. This starts with reaching them through the channels they already use and prefer. While digital online marketing for nonprofits, schools, and other mission-driven organizations is generally focused on spreading awareness of a cause and engaging supporters, you should also be cognizant of how much funding you’re bringing in.

Here are some quick facts and tips to keep in mind when selecting communication channels for your fundraiser to ensure you see a positive return on investment:

  • Social media: While you may think social media platforms are used most by younger generations, this is no longer the case. Use of the top platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, is spread fairly evenly across the generations. For example, the percentage of those aged 18 to 24 and people aged 65 and older who use Facebook are 67% and 58% respectively, making it a viable platform for both Gen Z and boomer audiences.
    • Meta (Facebook and Instagram): As mentioned, these platforms are some of the most widely used (although Instagram’s user base skews younger). Your posts will perform best when you use engaging visuals, videos, event pages, and storytelling.
    • X (formerly Twitter): The standard character count limit for X is 280, meaning that this platform is best for short, concise updates and announcements. Use hashtags, multimedia elements, and the repost tool to boost your reach and engage supporters.
    • TikTok: This video platform makes it easy to create compelling, creative videos about your school’s overall mission and campaigns. Clearly communicate the purpose of the campaign and the impact more funding will have on your students.
  • Other digital marketing platforms: There are so many digital marketing platforms your school can leverage, including paid and unpaid options. Emails, text messages, paid search ads, and search engine optimization (SEO) can all attract willing donors. While each of these platforms has its own quirks, they generally work best with clear, concise, snappy writing and strong calls to action (CTAs).
  • Direct mail: Direct mail is also popular across several generations, but it’s one of the best ways to reach boomers. In fact, this generation was more likely to read marketing communications via direct mail than any other channel. If you’re looking to engage more grandparents and other older relatives of your students, consider organizing a direct mail campaign.

Make sure that the way you reach out to donors aligns with the payment methods you’ll accept. For example, if you reach out to donors via email, make sure to link to an easy way for donors to give online. On the other hand, if you promote the campaign via direct mail, you should offer a way for those donors to mail in checks or cash.

Customize your appeals.

Next, you’ll need to customize the content of your messages, using your donor data to add a personal, genuine touch. This will make donors feel like you are speaking directly to them and truly want (and need) their individual support.

Some simple ways to do this are to:

  • Reach out through supporters’ preferred channels.
  • Greet your donors by their first or preferred name.
  • Mention any past interactions you’ve had with the supporter (e.g., a donation they made to your previous fundraiser or volunteering at their child’s field day).
  • Segment donors based on communication preferences, engagement level, demographic information, child’s age level, and more to achieve personalization at scale.
  • Ask for a custom donation amount that aligns with their giving and engagement level. Aim for the Goldilocks Zone—not so high that they feel offended or uncomfortable, but not so low that you miss out on funding.

Additionally, always spread awareness of ways that donors can stretch their gifts a little further. For example, their employer might have a matching gift program in which they offer to match donations employees make to nonprofits, schools, and other mission-driven groups. This could transform a donation of $25 to $50 at no additional cost to your donor—all you have to do is educate supporters about these opportunities!

Share tailored thank-you messages.

Thanking your donors in an authentic way caps off a great giving experience, leaving them feeling excited to participate in your next fundraiser. As eCardWidget’s guide to thanking donors affirms, this can boost retention, save your school resources from not having to acquire as many new donors, and even increase the donations supporters make later on.

Customize these messages using the tips listed in the previous section. Acknowledge the specific amount the donor contributed and express how it will help your school or students. Make sure to send these messages within approximately 72 hours along with a donation receipt (hint: fundraising software can automate this process!).

Additionally, remember to thank your teachers, volunteers, and members of the PTO for going above and beyond with other aspects of the campaign.

A good giving experience involves much more than just an optimized donation page. Always consider the ways you can connect with your donors on a more personal level to convey your gratitude and encourage continued support. Treating your school’s supporters as valued members of your team from their first interaction cultivates strong, positive relationships that inspire them to make that first gift—and the second!

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