This is a companion to the Fundraising Appeal Checklist.
Email has more technical parts, so using both will be beneficial. Feel free to edit!
This online giving form checklist is a tool to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table through a lack of functionality.
Would you have a phone line without an answering machine? We often forget about all the ways a giving form can help or hinder our fundraising results.
This list covers all the items I’ve been able to identify that will impact your bottom line.
These are basic requirements that you need to be able to securely process payments online:
The online gift experience requires not only a gift form but the ability to generate emails and maybe even actual letters. All these communications reflect on your organization and impact the likelihood of a repeat gift:
You owe it to your donors to be as efficient and effective as possible in your online fundraising efforts. To do so, you must track the results of your fundraising efforts. Online giving forms provide ways to do it effortlessly:
In the US, credit card use is prevalent. In other countries, other systems that interface directly with your bank account are in use. Whatever the case, your form has to be able to handle all the ways that donors want to give to you:
As a fundraising operation, the form needs to make it easy for you to make on-the-fly changes and have flexibility for multiple uses while implementing conversion optimization best practices:
Fundraising appeal checklists like this one have helped us consistently achieve strong results.
I collected all the best practices I’ve tested to create the one below.
On the contrary, they are critical for consistently high performance in complex environments.
Substantial parts of what software designers, financial managers, firefighters, police officers, lawyers, and most certainly clinicians do are now too complex for them to carry out reliably from memory alone.
The philosophy is that you push the power of decision making out to the periphery and away from the center. You give people the room to adapt, based on their experience and expertise. All you ask is that they talk to one another and take responsibility. That is what works.
I’ve received lots of questions since sharing the Fundraising Appeal Checklist. Here are some of the most frequent:
A: There are two types of checklists. The first is like a list of instructions (think of McDonald’s), specific steps that you need to follow. The second is like a reminder of important areas (think of an emergency room). This is the second type.
Workflow-wise, you can require every appeal to be accompanied by a checklist before publication, or you can review as a group to make sure every appeal is the best it can be. Not every box has to be checked, but at least you should have thought about it.
A: Anything you’re asking the donor to do that is not making a gift. Ideas I’ve seen include 3-question surveys, notecards for the donor to send a message to a professor, nurse, or service recipient, or checklists with a mark for every year donated and the current one blank. In non-fundraising direct mail, I’ve seen games with stickers and crossword-like quizzes.
A: Yes, please! Use this as a starting point. In fact, surgical teams have seen surprising safety and performance increases when they develop their own. Every development shop will need something different.
Email is an inexpensive and powerful communication tool but it must be used well.
In this 16-page white paper, I lay out a comprehensive guide to every aspect of email that I have found to impact fundraising results.
As a bonus, you’ll find an example of a Giving Day email sequence and schedule I have used effectively in different organizations. Feel free to copy!
This whitepaper is about how annual giving needs to change to stay relevant.
Essentially, it says that you need to leverage technology to communicate and provide meaning to people in a more human way, not less.
I was somewhat inspired by jidoka or automation with a human touch.
I have been thinking about this subject for years. I believe this whitepaper is a good first step toward understanding how fundraising is different, but still possible, in low-trust contexts.