How to prepare your nonprofit website for #GivingTuesday

Save the date!

It’s the time of year when every nonprofit starts planning their end-of-the-year holiday giving goals. Running a targeted #GivingTuesday campaign is an effective way to get more donations to your cause over the holidays. If you’ve built your website with WordPress, you already have powerful tools available to maximize this campaign.

The 92nd Street Y started #GivingTuesday in 2012 to help get the word out about worthwhile causes and to encourage more generosity during the holiday season.

But in order to successfully run a campaign like this, you’ll want to choose a compelling story, tell that story to build anticipation, build an effective donation landing page, and network with the #GivingTuesday organization. Let’s go through these items step by step.

Step 1: Choose a compelling story

The first and, arguably, most important step is choosing your main story. You won’t be turning any heads if you promote “Give to us on #GivingTuesday.” Instead, you need to tell a compelling story on your #GivingTuesday page.

It’s also important for your #GivingTuesday campaign to have a sense of urgency.

Campaign urgency will generate more donations and increase donors.

 

By making the campaign unique, focused and time-sensitive, your donors have the ability to prepare and participate.

You could easily promote that you need $50,000 to pay your staff, but that’s not a particularly motivating story. Instead, look for stories that can have an immediate and dramatic impact for your cause.

This is a great time to look through old emails or files for all the projects you wanted to launch but never got around to. Perhaps there’s a building project that just needs $10,000 to finalize. Maybe you’ve always wanted to create an online education course for water conservation but never had the resources. Now’s the time to find those ideas and put a number on them for this campaign.

In this case, let’s say you are a Health Awareness Organization. You’ve always wanted to provide the homeless shelters in your neighborhood with a MedKit for daily hygiene and cleanliness. You’ve calculated that 2,000 MedKits would go a long way in your city. Each kit costs $25 to create, so you set a goal for $50,000.

The story becomes about the people that your MedKits will help. If “x” amount of dollars are raised, 2,000 people’s lives will be improved immediately. That’s a story worth telling.

Step 2: Tell that story and build anticipation

Building and pricing MedKits is relatively straight-forward, but those are just the details. How are you going to communicate how important these MedKits are?

Two of the major strengths of WordPress are powering your content and updating that content with ease. One way to generate anticipation and participation for your #GivingTuesday campaign is through your blog. You can create content in a series that is strategically planned to end on the campaign day.

Let’s call the MedKits blog series “Smiles for San Diego.” Each blog post will just contain a picture of a person at a local homeless shelter with a short story of who they are and how a MedKit would improve their quality of life.

Naturally, you’ll only be able to help all these folks in need if enough donors give on #GivingTuesday to fund all of the MedKits. Wrap up each article with a piece of standard copy on your #GivingTuesday campaign, with a link to the #GivingTuesday landing page, that tells all about the campaign, but doesn’t have the Donation form yet.

Step 3: Build a distraction-free donation page

If you’re like me, content creation and associated marketing ideas come relatively easy. But building an effective and beautiful donation page is a bit more challenging. Luckily, there are some great tools available to you to make this happen relatively easily.

Here’s a few to get you going.

Beaver Builder

#givingtuesday beaver builder

Beaver Builder is a free plugin (with an optional Pro version) that allows you to create complex page layouts. It’s a great tool for creating one-page landing pages and, specifically in this case, donation pages.

Beaver Builder is a great tool for creating donation pages on a WordPress website.

 

One feature of Beaver Builder that is particularly useful is their templates. Templates allow you to have control of the entire page. In the case of our #GivingTuesday campaign, controlling the whole page grants us the freedom to remove navigation, the sidebar, or other page elements that might distract from this page’s giving goal.

Page builders like Beaver Builder are amazing tools, but don’t get carried away. It’s easy to start throwing a lot of things at the page when you have this kind of control. Instead, focus on your content and a couple striking images or a video. Keep it simple — but bold.

Most importantly, keep the distractions to a minimum so that your donors are led directly to the call to action — the donate button.

Give donation plugin

#givingtuesday give donation plugin

Your story is what compels people to donate. Generating awareness about your campaign, communicating a clear reason to donate, and gaining your donors’ trust, comprises 90 percent of your campaign’s success.

Now that you’ve done all that work, you want to send your audience to the donate page and be able to donate without a second thought or a single hiccup. That’s where Give excels.

Full disclosure: I’m one of the co-creators of Give and Head of Support, so I do have a bias. However, based on my experience with Give, I recommend it as the most intuitive, full-featured tool for creating donation forms and managing your donors in one place.

Simplifying a complex thing is a challenge, but that’s exactly what your donors will expect you to do and that’s exactly what you need to pull off in order to track your progress and manage your donors well.

For a #GivingTuesday campaign like this, here’s what I would recommend:

Use a premium gateway like PayPal Pro, Stripe, Authorize.net, or any of the other top-tier products. You want your donors to donate directly on your page instead of finalizing their decision on a third-party website they were redirected to.

Create what’s called a “multi-level” form. This will allow you to suggest donation amounts and label how many MedKits each amount provides. So you’d be able to suggest the following amounts:

  • $25 – One MedKit
  • $50 – Two MedKits
  • $100 – Four MedKits
  • $250 – Ten MedKits
  • Custom Amount

Integrate your email marketing program to allow your donors to opt-in to your newsletter during their donation process. This could be a big campaign for you with a lot of new donors. Take that opportunity to start a relationship with them and keep in touch.

Use the Form Field Manager Add-on to add custom fields to your form. In this case, I’d suggest just one: “How did you hear about us?” Again, this campaign is a good chance to get to know your donors and get valuable feedback.

Between creating a striking landing page and a full-featured donation form, you have everything you need for your #GivingTuesday campaign landing page.

Step 4: Reach out to the #GivingTuesday organizers

Now that you’ve got your campaign theme, content marketing, and a compelling donation landing page, it’s time to network.

The #GivingTuesday community is very large and has many resources for you to take advantage of. Here’s a short list of ways you can leverage their reach immediately:

Don’t lose sight of the purpose of #GivingTuesday

While these steps are intended to make a #GivingTuesday campaign as straight-forward as possible, I fully recognize (and embrace!) that this is a lot of work. #GivingTuesday is a great opportunity but it can take a lot out of you and your staff if you let it.

The important thing is to keep perspective. Focus on the GOOD you are doing with this campaign. Make your goals achievable and realistic, but with just a little bit of a stretch to reach toward. I believe that the new interactions you’ll make through collaborating with the amazing #GivingTuesday community will be enriching in itself. Through it all, keep those “San Diego Smiles” front and center in your mind — that’s the motivation and purpose.

Image by: seaternity via Compfight cc

Matt Cromwell
Matt Cromwell is Head of Support and Community Outreach at WordImpress. They are the creators of the Give Donation plugin for WordPress. Matt also heads the Advanced WordPress Meetup in San Diego, CA, and is one of the lead admins for the Advanced WordPress Facebook group, which now has 22,000 members. Matt blogs regularly at mattcromwell.com.