Fundraising success is more than appeals and asks

Fundraising success is more than appeals and asks

March 18, 2021
38 minutes

Karen Hopper · Senior Data Strategist, M+R | Karen Hopper joins us to look back on a year that fundamentally changed the way we funraise. This conversation with Karen pulls out a buffet of options for nonprofits who are still finding their footing in the digital world, but circles back to one core idea: Nonprofits have gotta always be fundraising.


We're super stoked about this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit: if you've seen M+R's reports, campaigns, and content (and you have... even if you don't know it!), you know that we're talking cream of the communications crop, and getting Karen Hopper, speaker, strategist, and communications specialist, on the show, is a real win.

2020 showed us that between Doing Something and Doing Nothing... well, Doing Something always wins.

And we certainly saw that at Funraise. Heading into the pandemic was terrifying, but we saw 250% growth across our customer base, and it was due to nonprofits stepping out of their comfort zone and into the virtual unknown. Taking on new strategies, tapping into new audiences, testing pretty much every tactic under the sun.

So, Karen's emphasis on that element of communications—that there's always something else you can test, another lever you can pull—really confirms what we've seen: donors are ready to give, and they're looking for nonprofits that speak their digital language, your data is everything... when you put it in context, and social fundraising is here to stay—it's going to last past the pandemic.

And bonus! Karen recommends some rad free tools for nonprofits to use as they continue to dial into digital. Check out her suggestions and let us recommend one more: Funraise Free, your all-in-one nonprofit fundraising tech stack.

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Hello, I'm Justin Wheeler, and welcome to this episode of Nonstop Nonprofit!

Today we’ve got Karen Hopper joining us! She’s a Senior Data Strategist for M+R, joins us to look back on a year that fundamentally changed the way we fundraise. If you’ve seen M+R’s reports, campaigns, and content (and you have... even if you don’t know it!), you already know that we’re talking cream of the communications crop here.

This conversation with Karen pulls out a buffet of options for nonprofits who are still finding their footing in the digital world, but circles back to one core idea: Nonprofits have gotta always be fundraising. 2020 showed us that between Doing Something and Doing Nothing... well, Doing Something always wins.

And we certainly saw that at Funraise. Heading into the pandemic was terrifying, but we saw 250% growth across our customer base, and it was due to nonprofits stepping out of their comfort zone and into the virtual unknown. Taking on new strategies, tapping into new audiences, testing pretty much every tactic under the sun.

So, Karen’s emphasis on that element of communications—that there’s always something else you can test, another lever you can pull—really confirms what we’ve seen: donors are ready to give, and they’re looking for nonprofits that speak their digital language, your data is everything... when you put it in context, and social fundraising is here to stay—it’s going to last past the pandemic.

And bonus! Karen recommended some rad free tools for nonprofits to use as they continue to dial into digital. Check the links in the podcast summary, and let us recommend one more: Funraise Free, your all-in-one nonprofit fundraising tech stack.

Justin Wheeler Karen, thank you so much for joining the podcast this morning, how are you?

Karen Hopper I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. So I'm excited to nerd out and talk about all things digital fundraising, testing, all the good things that kind of fall into that category. But before we do, I'd love to learn a little bit more about yourself and what you do and what your work looks like in the nonprofit community.

Karen Hopper Yeah so I work at M+R. I've been here about eight and a half years, and M+R is a consulting firm that specifically focuses in on nonprofits. We only work with nonprofits specifically like progressive and groups that are looking to relieve suffering in the world. So with that, we do pretty much everything under the sun related to nonprofit marketing, fundraising, communications, social media, advertising, you name it. We have people working on it. So it's a really great space to be able to really get a full 360-degree view of what it means to market and communicate issues surrounding nonprofits and helping do that fundraising work. So, yeah, I've been here eight and a half years and in that time I've done pretty much everything from email, implementation, writing copy, doing testing, managing Google analytics, managing website presences. Like you name it, I've had my fingers in it at some point, so it's really fun to be able to jump in here and talk about, you know, all the things that we're seeing with data and insights. So let's get into it.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, absolutely. I'll start with I think it was a recent post of yours near the end of the 2020 fundraising year. And you talked about there's lots that we can learn about 2021 from how the end of year fundraising kind of shapes up for nonprofits. And so I'd love to maybe start there to get a little bit more of that analysis, what you saw, what you're thinking for 2021 as relates to nonprofits and fundraising and kind of jump in from there.

Karen Hopper Yeah. So of course 2020 was a year that no one expected and I think there were a lot of worries going into especially the end of your season, since the economic conditions in the US are a big mixed bag right now in terms of unemployment, incomes are all over the place, and of course we've seen the lines at food banks and people struggling to get on even just unemployment assistance, having lost their jobs due to the pandemic. So a lot of nonprofits were really worried that their existing donor base wouldn't be able to turn out and support their needs, especially coming into the big giving season at the end of the year. And really what we saw throughout the entirety of 2020 is that people were still turning out. We were sending regular email campaigns. We kind of got over that hump right when Corona started in the spring and decided that no, where our work is so important, our clients still have needs. They like, we all are still doing this work to make the world a better place and that doesn't just go away because we're suffering through a pandemic as well. And we saw that folks were responding to that. There's this huge outpouring of empathy and compassion that we're all kind of experiencing on a daily basis. Like really we're just all kind of sitting on our computers all the time, like in an emotionally vulnerable state. And then you'll get an email with a sad dog and a story about how animals are helping us through these times. We have our furry coworkers that are sitting here and they're always here for us. And really, as long as groups were still communicating and doing fundraising 101, like, what is the need? What is the impact? We saw stand out fundraising performance, even among groups that are not doing direct assistance for people suffering from the pandemic, whether that be unemployment or otherwise. And when it came to end of year, we saw a huge growth this year as well. Year over year, we were up both in email and in just overall revenue, ad revenue. Basically, every channel for every group had a pretty good year as long as they stuck to their regular fundraising programing...

Justin Wheeler Right.

Karen Hopper we saw performance.

Justin Wheeler With your clients, did you have to convince them to keep their normal sort of end of year programing for fundraising, or was it far enough beyond the initial shock of last March that organizations were ready to kind of get back into what was sort of the year experience in Q4 working with your clients?

Karen Hopper Yeah. So by the time we got to end of year, we had really gotten over the fear of really offending people with our asks.

Justin Wheeler Yeah.

Karen Hopper I'm sure you saw this, too, like in March and April. A lot of people were just like, it's not appropriate. Like we should be sending appeals right now. People have so much else they're dealing with. But really, once we got over that hump, there were a few groups that basically pulled all of their communication almost through the summer. And then they were like, oh, but we still have a budget that we need to be. I guess we have to keep fundraising. And yes, of course, like the word continues. The issue is that we're facing as a society don't just magically disappear because we're dealing with some other big problem. So, yeah, as long as people like we're doing that.

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. Yeah, that's the message we shared. And we saw it in 2020 across the fundraising platform. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Funraise, we are a fundraising software for nonprofits, we saw 250% growth across our customer base as it related to online fundraising. It was a big year. I mean, organizations that we're just getting started saw tremendous success. And so the question is, how do we keep up that momentum? And so what would you say from the I hate using the word now because it's overused pivot's that we saw lots of organizations make in 2020. Which of those do you think are here to stay in 2021 and beyond as a permanent sort of fixture of an organization's fundraising program?

Karen Hopper I mean, definitely all of the digital work that some groups were really ready to hit the ground running when everything went digital. And then there were others that have relied so heavily on in-person and Face-To-Face fundraising that all of a sudden you had to find a replacement for that. So really, digital is here to stay, especially if we're talking about engaging our younger donors like GenZ and even Millennials and even Gen X, like we're thinking like these are the folks that have grown up on the Internet. We have our phones, we're always connected and like figuring out how to transform what we know works for fundraising that has traditionally been in direct mail or in telemarketing and really taking those same principles and focusing in on how can we transform them for the new digital channels. That's I mean, email is not new, but in the grand scheme, it kind of is still a new channel in terms of people have only been dealing with email for a few decades now. It's not been like for the entire human existence, but that and that's SMS fundraising, social fundraising, all of those digital platforms where you can connect and transmit a message about your organization, all of that is here to stay.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, I think the conversations that we're seeing a lot of nonprofits have is how do we increase sort of what what we did in 2020, you know, whether it's putting more budget behind ads, putting more budget behind the technology that they're using to to run stronger digital plays. So I totally agree that it's here to stay. Are there any new emerging channels that you've been excited about or you've seen maybe some of your clients begin to experiment with? I was on a call with a nonprofit that I'm on the board of the other day, and they actually talked about Clubhouse as a interesting fundraising channel where using SMS within Clubhouse, putting SMS callback numbers in your profile, there was just one conversation about a thousand people in and they raised like ten or twenty thousand dollars is pretty intense by any any channels like that or anything else that you've seen that have been interesting that we should be on the lookout for in 2021.

Karen Hopper So you really hit it on the head with SMS. That is really one of the most successful emerging channels that we've seen. I'm sure folks got if they were in any sort of swing state or the election, like got tons of text messages, there are some changes coming with that. But the more we can focus in on building an opt-in SMS list in the same way that folks opt-in to receive emails, you can opt in to receive SMS class. We're really seeing that support as a supporting channel for a lot of our existing digital campaigns, as well as successful on its own. And there's some really cool, unique things you can do with that channel. I subscribe to like the dog rates text messages where you can get a cute dog at your every day and it's like, yeah, I see my dogs on Instagram, I see them on Facebook and now I can also see them in SMS. It's like a fun different channel. And especially like I will admit it, yeah, I'm a Millennial. I use SMS. Please do not call me. Send me a text.

Justin Wheeler Are you seeing within your work on the SMS side as a communication channel, like two-way communication channels? Well, or more as a broadcasting tool for nonprofits to raise funds and maybe to share updates, or are you seeing it to way what sort of are you seeing working to be the most effective?

Karen Hopper So both of them have their benefits and really strengths in different ways, so that two-way the peer-to-peer channel, like using a tool like Hustle in order to really have that one on one conversation with donors is really great for donor cultivation, especially is that you're able to reach out to a pool of donors who may be donated that same day and say like, hey, what inspired you to donate today? Like, let's talk a little bit about that and you can both get that information back into your organization to use that to tailor your future messaging. But it also just makes the donor feel like part of the community. And so that's one of the big strengths of having that peer-to-peer one on one. But of course, then it's harder to scale that. So if you have a massive program, you need all those volunteers to be able to be sending those peer-to-peer type messages, and so the blast SMS then ends up functioning more like an email, just in a different format and obviously optimized for mobile.

Justin Wheeler Yeah, absolutely. You know, the other interesting thing I think with SMS is I know it's a preferred channel for like millennials and so forth. But I also seen it be highly effective with boomers. And I think because, you know, you think about like text everyone texts, like grandparents are texting their grandkids. And so it's it's a channel that everyone understands. It's easy to adopt. It's not complicated. So we're also seeing in across our customer base, it'd be a multigenerational sort of tool that is reaching all sorts of audiences, which I think is exciting because a lot of times you see as channels emerge, they become more isolated to a specific demographic. But this one seems a little bit more widespread, which is which is exciting to see how the will continue to to leverage that across their programs. Yeah, for sure. Something in your research that you talk about quite a bit is revenue per visitor. And I think a lot of the nonprofits I talked to may not be familiar with that term. Can you define that term? Because the next several questions I'd love to dig into that a little bit more.

Karen Hopper Yeah. So revenue per visitor is a metric that we track for just the overall success of a donation form, an email blast, whatever it might be, or you're taking the total number of people who are exposed to the content, whether that be your whole website, a donation form, or were sent an email versus how much that activity generated. So for a donation form over a period of time, maybe you got two thousand visitors to your donation form and you raise $20,000. And so then your revenue per visitor would then be calculated by the number of people who saw it over the amount of money.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. Is there like an industry standard, like a benchmark that you would say is a good baseline for organizations, or is that entirely dependent sort of on volume and types of appeals and so forth? Or is there a baseline metric that is a good starting point?

Karen Hopper Yeah, there's not really a baseline for revenue per visitor because it is totally dependent on traffic and channels that are sending because obviously, like organizations that have huge content, libraries are going to be generating hundreds of thousands of visits from organic search and lots of people just coming for information. And so their revenue per visitor might be much, much lower than a group that has a much smaller audience but is raising the same amount of money. So it really depends on your organization, how much traffic you're getting, and it's really just something to benchmark for yourself. It's something that we use, especially for test analysis, because when we're evaluating a test, we might have something that will impact conversion rate, but then also might impact average gift either up or down. And so in order to really determine, if that test was successful, we say like what was the overall revenue per visitor? And did that dip in conversion rate get overtaken with an increase in average gift or vice versa, where like we have a higher conversion rate and a lower average gift? But overall, because we had more people donating the overall amount of money, in this period of time is higher.

Justin Wheeler That makes sense. And so if the ultimate goal here is obviously as much revenue as possible, which lever would you focus on pulling? Is it the average gift size or is it the conversion rate? Which one, or is it you have to do both in parallel.

Karen Hopper So I know this is audio-only and you couldn't see the face I made when you mentioned the average gift. And that's largely because I think the average gift is misleading and almost a fake metric for us to be tracking, because really that metric gets swayed so easily with one or two large gifts in a data set. And if you're looking at performance campaign over campaign and you have like one in five thousand dollar gift and one and not in the other, your campaign overall performance, if you're just looking at average, if I looked at that second campaign as a failure when in fac,t like your average gift might be just fine. So I really like looking at instead like the mode, like the most common gifts, like are people selecting the lowest amount in your ask, or the middle amount, like what is the actual most commonly given amount and then going from there to help that inform your ask strings and how much you're asking people for, on these forms. Rather than focusing so hard on average gift as just a calculation of total revenue divided by total gifts. So there's my little welcome to my TED talk on average gift and how much I hate that we focus on that metric so much.

Justin Wheeler That's good.

Karen Hopper Going back to your original question. Yeah. Which levers we should be pulling. The long and short of it is that most donation forms are only recording between a 15% and a 20% conversion rate, which means that 80% or more of your visitors are clicking through, some ask that you're putting in front of them, they're getting to your donation form, and then they're abandoning it for one reason or another. And so it's our job to really figure out what we can do to help either ease the friction of that donation experience or do a little bit of extra legwork in convincing that user that, yes, now is the time to donate. We've been doing a lot of testing, especially around donation form content, whether that be imagery, cases for giving, success stories, stories of need, really just focusing in on what a donor needs to feel comfortable and secure in giving, like pulling out their credit card and starting to make a donation. So, of course, there are those emotional levers like using eye contact in your imagery, making sure that you have really emotional appeal, but also just being really upfront with this is what our organization is doing. This is what your dollars will go to to support.

Justin Wheeler That makes sense.

Karen Hopper So obviously, it's a huge wormhole once you get into it, because there's just so much, so many options.

Justin Wheeler So the common thing that one of our products is, is a pretty robust giving form. And users can configure it to add all sorts of different inputs to collect from the donor and which obviously the more you add, the more friction it creates. So one of the things that we've seen it, for example, is that we encourage our customers often is not to ask for a phone number because we see conversion go down pretty drastically when you're asking for a phone number. Not sure if that is in line with sort of your guys' research. Are there other things like that that you would say do not include this on a giving form because the friction, it'll create so much friction, that you will see a severe loss of revenue. Are there other things like that that you'd recommend just keeping off your giving forms?

Karen Hopper I don't know if I would say to keep information off of giving forms, but making things not required. Like thinking through which things are absolutely necessary to conduct a transaction. So for credit cards, you know, that's usually just zip code and the credit card information. You don't need a mailing address to process a credit card. And yes, I understand that for nonprofits, you want that mailing information so you can add them to your direct mail file. But in the moment, if you want to really get that initial gift and then follow up with those donors later, and ask for that information, that might be a better way to go. I know that there's been some research lately on making things like mailing address and even phone number, just an optional field on the form. And that actually has been OK for conversion rates. And then you actually see conversion rates go up. We have done a lot of testing. We talked a lot about SMS earlier and collecting that information at the point of a donation or an action has actually shown, like we haven't seen a drop in conversion rate, adding that to our donation forms and our advocacy forms, because, again, it is an optional field and folks who are interested in that channel are giving us that information. So it's working to both build our interested user bank for that channel, but not harming initial conversion.

Justin Wheeler Got it. That makes sense. In regards to channels to focus on here in 2020 one. We've talked about SMS. You had mentioned wanting something to go back to about how email is still actually a relatively new channel for organizations. But I still see a lot of, I feel like a lot of nonprofits are tired with email and maybe that's just they're not running the right programs. But talk to us a little bit about the effectiveness of email, the types of campaigns or programs that you think should be a high priority for a nonprofit of any size as it relates to email programs.

Karen Hopper Yeah, the email is not the conversation. I think I have probably once a week with folks. The fact of the matter is there are three point nine billion daily users. That's billion with a B of people that are logging into their email every single day and using that as a communication tool, whether that be for work or personal. It's like I know I have my two inboxes that are open all day, like literally all day just chillin. So email as a channel is definitely not dead. And what we need to do is just focus in on how we're using it and why we're contacting folks. And so when we're talking about people being tired of email, it's probably because the only thing you're sending to your audience is appeals. And yes, people will get sick of only getting appeals and asks for money from you. And so when we're talking about building out a successful email channel, an email program, it really is a mix of messaging. It should be cultivation. It should be a two way communication channel where you're asking for input from your supporters, what they care about, what they're interested in, how they're reacting to the work that you're doing, constantly surveying them and asking them even to respond to a real human. Yes, it is possible to set up a reply inbox and just ask people to write in and say. Like what has inspired them that week, but I think the long and short of it is that it is really hard because the volume is also really high. Like you get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of emails every day, unless you're not like me and haven't signed up for everyone's marketing emails. But I guess that's maybe a occupational hazard being in the field. Yeah, but... You have to cut through the clutter.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. There's, there is a ton of noise especially on like the...

Karen Hopper Oh go ahead. I'm just, I'm just meandering about email now.

Justin Wheeler No, it's good. It's good. What I was saying is as you've noted, there's there is a ton of noise, especially during high traffic kind of giving days and so forth. But that said, I think the right campaigns really stand out. An organization that I think just has one of the most brilliant email campaigns is Innocence Project. Their email game is so strong. I mean, there's a good amount of appeals in it, but it's not always for them. They're actually do a lot of fundraising for different projects or other or smaller organizations. So they have that community sort of fundraising focus, but then they just offer so much value, so much education in their programs as well. So I think for those listening, I'd recommend checking out Innocence Project, subscribing to their list, because it's it's a powerful email. Are there any other sort of like top nonprofits, email campaigns, that you think would be good for people to subscribe to, to learn from?

Karen Hopper And I feel like I have a little bit of bias. Also helped write a lot of these programs, but check out the Feeding America list.

Justin Wheeler Okay.

Karen Hopper Check out the Feeding America list. I'm helping writing those emails these days. I also neglected to mention just what a huge portion of revenue is still being attributed to email, and that's not even just direct revenue. So last year, I believe our benchmark said that the average nonprofit for 16% of their total digital revenue come in directly attributed to email. So that's in response to an email. But when we actually take a step back and look at the revenue that's generated by people who are on your email list and receiving your email, that number grows to over 50%. And so what we're saying is that people are receiving your email, they're reading your email, they might not be clicking through your email, but they're finding their way back to you eventually. And so I think we're going to start seeing some more attribution modeling come from the ad side into the email side, or we're saying like, is email more of a view through channel now as well, where you get an email and then you open up a new tab, Google the organization, poke around their website a little bit and make a donation.

Justin Wheeler Yeah. And actually that begs the question, bringing up attribution, something that obviously attribution, it's it's a beast in of itself to be able to attribute donation dollars to the right source. On the ad side, I've seen organizations that invest in ads and then they'll do their analysis and I wasn't great. Could that be because the attribution modeling is is broken or in some cases is just hard to? For example, you see an ad and you may not click it, but you may come back later on a different device and it's going to look like organic traffic. What's the relationship between organic traffic, paid ads in the nonprofit sector and especially as it relates to fundraising?

Karen Hopper Yeah, so attribution is a big hairy mess and it's really, really difficult to do it correctly and to do it well. Essentially, you have to have enough tracking set up to track individual users across platforms. And that is something that is still to this day, really expensive to do and requires just a lot of technical know how to be able to actually connect a user who saw your Google ad as well as a YouTube video and maybe a Gmail ad, and then eventually click through an email to donate to you. Like, how do you actually drive all of that, that revenue to the right, give the credit to the channels that may have helped that gift along. So I think this is something that nonprofits will continue to struggle with for a while just because we're still trying to make the investment just to get channels up and running, let alone doing all of that really deep tracking. So we have yeah, we've been trying to do some, we have a couple of reporting platforms that we've built ourselves to try to address this, where we're pulling in information from all of these different ad platforms into a single system where we can actually start setting attribution models and saying, OK, we'll give 10% of credit to display and we'll give 50% credit to a search ad. And then like whatever was left clicked that gets the remainder. So it's it's a mix of things. And I think every organization has its own set of advertising platforms, their own set of advertising strategies. And so there is no one size fits all for attribution models.

Justin Wheeler Totally. And as you mentioned is, especially as you go into multilayered attribution, that becomes even more challenging. So I'd love to get your thoughts on where you think fundraising is going over the next several years. From your analysis and your perspective, what can we expect?

Karen Hopper I think that we're going to start seeing some different experimentation with creative and just audience discovery. I think the 2020 really like reckoning with white supremacy culture and how nonprofits play into that sort of white savior ism has started to really change the conversation on what makes effective creative. So, you know, you're like trying to get that gut punch, trying to get that the person on the other end of your communication to feel something to donate the money. But is that actually helping the community that you're trying to serve? Are we upholding dignity for those folks? So I think we're going to be doing a lot more work and ethical creative, not just effective creative, but ways that we can make our work ethical in this space and really reaching out to new audiences. The research on who is the average nonprofit donor, it's like they're generally a little bit older and they're generally a little bit whiter. And so if we're trying to expand our audiences and expand our appeal, especially to younger audiences, we have to be writing and communicating in a way that resonates with those people. And so that means identifying our place in the system, dealing with systemic issues. And really, when we're talking about our theory of change, that theory of change is going to have to include systemic changes as well, whether that be policy, whether that be societal, like we have to really draw those connections because that's what the new audiences are looking for.

Justin Wheeler Very interesting. Yeah, it reminds me of, actually Vu Le from Nonprofit AF. He wrote a great post on this, talking about just white fragility in the in the fundraising landscape. Brilliant post and wanted to promote that and totally agree. I think that, this is an area that I think we're going to see a lot of transformation over the next decade or so. So thank you for bringing that up. Definitely appreciate that. In regards to underutilized tools, because we talked a lot about different channels. What are tools that are being utilized? Maybe there there's free opportunities out there. What would you recommend in nonprofit tools to really be exploring in 2021?

Karen Hopper Yeah. If you are interested in doing testing and we really have glanced on the testing conversation during this podcast, but that's my my bread and butter is a lot of AB testing on this specially donation forms. There are free tools out there that you can and should be using. So Google Optimize is a free tool. You can set it up directly through your tag manager or onto your website and then it connects straight into your Google Analytics platform. So then you can just read out the data from those tests right in the same place that you're hopefully reading out other information about your website. And so this is one of the things that it's hard to get over that initial hump of, like we want to test something. Where do we start? How can we do this? What are the technical hurdles? Really, just get the the platform installed. It's really easy to use. Has a little wizy-wig editor where you just click into different text fields and change the text. And then if you want to make different changes for like desktop and mobile, you can do that right there. And then just like let the test run see what happens. It might surprise you. So once you've run a few, it really is a lot easier to build momentum towards an ongoing AB testing strategy.

Justin Wheeler On the sample size, like what's a good sample size of data to look at and to analyze? Like, I mean, obviously you want more than five visits. What would you say is like a good sort of starting point in regards to like that initial sample size of data?

Karen Hopper Yep. So this is another messy statistical conversation. We use a tool to help us determine minimum detectable effect, which is some, of course, messy statistical language. But essentially it relies on both how many people you have available to test on versus your baseline conversion rate. Because if you have fewer people but more of them convert, you'll be able to detect a change more easily than if you have a few people and only a couple of them converting. So it's really just a balance of can you reasonably detect a pattern like a statistical change in a set of folks over a period of time? So I'm going to send some links that will put in the notes. Optimizely has a great little calculator that's easy to play with. You can just pop in your baseline conversion rate and just see how the audience numbers change. And then you can see if you're like, if you have like a 20% conversion rate, then you might only need two thousand people to come through your test. Whereas if you have like a 5% conversion rate, you might need more like a hundred thousand people to come through your test.

Justin Wheeler Got it. Super interesting. So the leads me to my last and final question. The nonprofit sector is doing incredible work addressing the biggest challenges of our time. Why do we hear this all the time? Like, why do we need to care so much about our website, why we need to care so much about the conversion, the user experience, and from your perspective on someone who's analyzing this on a daily basis, trying to optimize, why is this so important for the nonprofit community to get right?

Karen Hopper Oh, so many reasons. I feel like this could be a whole separate podcast. But yeah, the website is your way to communicate who you are to the world, to anyone who cares to look for you, whether that be people who are interested tangentially in the work that you do, the issues that you have like work on, or fixing, allowing those people to find you through organic search is really, really important. We see the average nonprofit gets about 44% of their traffic from organic search. And when those people come to your website, you want to show them your best self. You want to say, like, this is who we are. This is what we're doing. This is why you should care. Also, sign up for email right now, get them into the door, get them into the stream right away. Don't waste time thinking that they're going to come back on their own, because guess what? They probably won't. You want to you want to hook them right away. And then, of course, like donation forms we should absolutely be caring about because that's where folks are making their gifts. We saw this in 2020 and it's going to continue on, that those offline channels are starting to fade a little bit. And where are those people coming? They're coming to your website. They're coming to donate and a lot of them are coming on their phones. We saw mobile donations go up quite considerably this year, even though most people were sitting on their laptops at home most of the time. But we're still seeing mobile donations increase so that mobile experience becomes even more important, especially on your donation forms.

Justin Wheeler So true, so true and very good insight and to kind of end it here, I love I've said this a couple of times now. But on the onset of the pandemic, Dan Schulman, the CEO of PayPal, he talked about how we're moving into a digital first economy. Right. And there's really no turning back. And for organizations, as you mentioned, websites, it's their storefront. It's that entry point for so many new users and potentially new donors. Prioritizing digital is absolutely an effective way to scale your revenue. And it's something in fact, I would go as far to say, as if you're not investing in digital, it's going to be hard to scale in the twenty first century. You're a nonprofit organization.

Karen Hopper That's a really great point about it's the digital storefront. And I think the thing that nonprofits need to remember is that people are not experiencing their communication in a bubble. Like the same people who are receiving your email, who are going to your website, who are checking out through your donation form, they're also using websites like Amazon. They're shopping for their stuff on Etsy. Like they have certain expectations for how easy the online shopping and online browsing experience should be. And so we need to take a hard look at how easy or hard it is to be navigating throughout our website and completing forms, especially while on our phones. I feel like I come back to this again. But those mobile payment options, PayPal, Apple Pay, like being able to just swipe through with a fingerprint and make that donation, like it's going to become more and more important as the digital economy picks up even more steam.

Justin Wheeler Totally. That's such a good point. It should not be easier for your supporters to buy something on Amazon than it is to make a donation on your website. Like that behavior has to be the same, has to be familiar. Material donors don't make buying socks easier than making a life changing donation. Yeah, I think that's such a good point and a great priority for 2021 for any organization who doesn't have an optimal sort of giving experience on online. Karen. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate it. Keep up the great work. We'll continue to love to follow your work and your research and thank you for all the work you're doing in the nonprofit community.

Karen Hopper Yeah, thanks for having me.

Justin Wheeler Absolutely. Have a good one.

Karen Hopper Yep.

Justin Wheeler Bye.

Karen Hopper Bye.

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