Give Your Fundraising a Digital Boost

Brian GaworVice President of ResearchSeptember 3, 2020

This fall is different at colleges and universities. No athletics, no homecoming, no in-person activities that typically provide a big fundraising boost—that’s the norm for the foreseeable future. You can’t meet with donors in person, and you’re certainly not going to gather for an alumni event at a bar or restaurant.

With that in mind, here’s the big question fundraisers are asking: How do we maintain engagement when we can’t physically be next to our supporters?

It’s an important question, because gifts, especially those that support immediate needs, have never been more important. As we’ve shared, even with tight budgets, fundraising goals are not decreasing.

The answer to this question is to lean into the change we’re all experiencing. Our lives are more digital, many of us are working remotely, and most of our social engagement is online. That’s also how we need to meet donors.

How digital provides a major fundraising boost

Brian Gawor: Give Your Fundraising a Digital Boost

You’re still going to be sending direct mail, email, making calls, and holding virtual donor meetings this fall. Normally, these would happen alongside with in-person engagement: events, athletics, the arts, and in-person advisory board meetings. The engagement that those events provide is gone for now, but you can boost your appeals online with key digital tactics such as:

  • Digital advertising across platforms. Your ads and messages support your appeals and appear when and where your donors go online, across thousands of websites and apps.
  • Social media. Messages appear to your donors across key platforms like Facebook and Instagram to keep your institution top of mind.
  • Retargeted ads. The donors who come to your campaign or giving pages without donating can immediately receive focused ads to draw them back to your site and complete their gift. This tactic supports giving and virtual event registration—the same way key commercial platforms like Amazon do for us, every day.
Retargeting ads like this one from the University of Missouri provide an extra fundraising boost.
Top-performing digital retargeting ad from the University of Missouri

Talk with our fundraising experts

Let’s talk about how you can level up donor engagement and connect with donors in a smartphone world. Ask for a free consultation with our experts.

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Digital donor engagement works to drive results now

The key is to focus on immediate action. The campaigns we run for our clients using RNL Digital Boost are micro-campaigns that leverage custom, audience-matched groups and retargeting. They run for a specified timeframe, and their strategy and calls-to-action are hyper-focused on immediate actions.

We’ve found that when you combine digital bosting tactics like targeted advertising, retargeting, and optimized giving pages, the response to all appeals rises. Why?

  • First, your donors are receiving thousands of messages a day, and a supporting digital campaign gives you additional opportunities to break your message through and grab their attention.
  • Second, by providing the online opportunity to give, you’re just making it easier for donors. With everything we have going on right now, from economic pressure, to homeschooling our kids, to trying to stay safe, they appreciate the ease of giving.

You can watch the results of your digital engagement in near-real-time with live dashboards. This lets you plan strategy, be agile in your appeals and messaging, and see what’s most engaging to donors.

Analytics like those provide by RNL's SmartView dashboards can measure the fundraising boost of your digital outreach.
Example of performance data from RNL SmartView dashboard for RNL Digital Boost

It’s not about just buying Facebook ads and it’s not just posting on social media. Boosting your digital messaging requires targeted strategy, with your message appearing across platforms: websites, social media, and apps. These are the places where your donors are spending time today.

Use digital boost tactics to amplify your fundraising appeals and see immediate results

Giving your donor engagement a digital boost is a high ROI, germ-free way to succeed in the coming months and stay present with your donors and supporters. We’ve tested key tactics to accomplish this, and we’re ready to share the best practices and new technology that you can put to work immediately.

Contact us now—digitally—and we’ll show you how a digital boost can keep your donor engagement moving forward when you need it most.

About the Author

Brian Gawor

Brian Gawor’s focus is research and strategy to help propel both alumni engagement and fundraising results of RNL clients. Brian has 20 years of higher education experience in student affairs, enrollment management, alumni engagement and...

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