Increase Donations Through Storytelling

Increase Donations through storytelling, with a computer background

Are you trying to increase donors and increase donations on your site? Why not tell your story? Nonprofits need content marketing, too.

WordPress Day at the Nonprofit Technology Converence

This past Tuesday, Give attended and sponsored WordPress Day for the Nonprofit Technology Conference held in San Jose, CA,. I attended along with our Head of Support, Matt Cromwell.

“WordPress Day for Nonprofit Professionals will be a full day of content geared toward power users, content managers, community organizers, developers, and IT-decision makers who either currently use, or are considering WordPress.”

Though many WordPress folks attended, other technology companies like Salesforce and Drupal held meetings, too. Other WP folks included the organizer, Cornershop Creative, along with other well-known sponsors including Automattic, Sucuri Security, and Pantheon. We were excited to hear from everyone and even learn a thing or two about increasing donations online.

The Theme for NonProfit WordPress Day

Though there was no official theme to guide the talks, I sensed one arise. Nonprofits, like other organizations, have a story. More than simply raising donations online, that story needs to be told to generate new donors and generate more giving, more often.

An important part of the day was focused on why nonprofits should be using WordPress to tell their unique story. People are attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference from all over the nation because they know their organization needs to increase donors and increase donations online.

Most at the conference held consensus that WordPress is a scalable publishing platform, perfect for small businesses, nonprofits, blogs, personal websites, and corporate enterprise.

Scale matters when you’re fostering your mission. WordPress can provide your cause scale. WordPress also provides stability. Kyle Maurer, a speaker from Real Big Marketing, pointed out that WordPress has a core value of “backwards compatibility,” which means the WordPress Core has a mission critical goal to keep your website up and running.

WordPress also powers 25% of the websites worldwide and share is growing, despite constant competition from other “build my site easily” competitors. Different than most of the competition is a robust community of support, admin and development volunteers, and businesses eager to help. When you need support or additional functionality developed into your site, it’s relatively easy to find a WordPress developer to assist with your changes.

WordPress also empowers a nonprofit organization to focus their thinking around the notion that web properties can be used to raise money online and increase the donor base. This is where WordPress wins for your nonprofit — it empowers your content to become a storytelling engine.

Why does ongoing publishing of content online matter?

More than increasing donations online, content matters because stories matter. We connect with stories. Emotional connection is what motivates us to participate in a cause.

Many organizations and causes struggle with content publishing, so start covering what you’re really good at — community fundraising events!

Nonprofits understand events. You hold events to increase donors and increase donations. I’d go as far to say that nonprofits excel at events. Why not use these efforts to guide and shape your content?

Be your own press.

For your next event, cover it as a news reporter would. Interview the sponsors, get feedback from your participants, take a picture of a dog or two! Then write about it and publish online. Events are part of your story and with a little extra effort, your events can be repurposed as new pages on your site, a blog post, and/or social media updates. Better yet, the event can be used for every channel.

And yes, we realize that publishing is hard. But we know that there are great tools to help your nonprofit out.

“If publishing within the WordPress Dashboard is overwhelming to some of your team, then set up publishing by email through Jetpack,” says Birgit Pauli-Haack

Creating a content plan at your nonprofit will increase donors online.

Once your organization gets serious about publishing, consistency is critical.

Do you want to publish every Monday at 9:00 am? If so, write your post, proofread, add images, have someone edit it, and schedule the publish time the Friday prior. Good news! This scheduling feature is already part of WordPress and is native to the Core functionality. Adam Silver of kitchensinkwp.com recommends this method.

When building a content calendar, be honest with yourself and the organizational leadership on the volume of stories produced. Producing very powerful, impactful content should be the foundation of your publishing strategy. The web does not need more bad articles, written by folks who don’t really want to write, simply for the sake of Ms. Google.

However, take Google and search very seriously. Often, this will be the number one way new donors learn about or discover your cause. Ensure that every article is written for at least one specific keyword which your donors are searching. For instance, if you raise money to save feral cats, you likely want to write content related to “nonprofits that help cats” and put that specific and exact copy in your writing.

Storytelling and Donation Buttons

As Matt Cromwell said in his presentation,

“Your story that you tell is going to encourage people to give.”

One commonsense approach for storytelling is to share an end result of your cause. Did you raise money to end kidney disease? Find the story about a woman who was able to run a marathon because she received a kidney transplant through your cause. Go to the finish line, greet her, and get photos. Better yet, donate to the cause. As we shared before, storytelling requires planning, hard work, and a developed expertise.

Storytelling will dramatically impact donations. But to generate donations online, your organization needs an onsite donation button.

For nonprofits, beyond a great story, a donation button is critical.

And nonprofit leaders — it’s 2016. Donating online to a cause that you’re passionate about should be simple. And yes, you should own the data, pay zero commissions, and complete the transaction on your own website.

Yelena Lowenfeld from LIMIT8 LLC reminded us what so many have been doing for more than last ten years with the text-to-donate feature. She also shared that with the wide adoption of smartphones and mobile-responsive websites, donors have an expectation to give easily, directly on the cause’s own website.

Yelena reminded us further,

“64% of all adults are smartphone users and that donations on mobile devices grew 200% in 2013.”

We, at Give, believe smartphone usage is much closer to 100% than it is 64%.

Design Matters.

As for placing donation buttons on your website, they should be front and center. They need to be designed well. They need to stand out against your other content.

Your home page should clearly explain your purpose and what you do. You should have an easy way to direct your would-be-supporters to donate.

Charity: water is a great example.

During several of the talks, charitywater.org was praised for their simple, effective fundraising.

It starts with their name. It’s two nouns separated by a colon. The first noun describes their category and the second noun describes their cause. Charity: water.

The storytelling starts immediately on their home page. There are several looped videos behind the donation button. The first image is of women carrying water, moving from the left to the right, drawing your eye to the copy and donation button centered prominently. That image is followed by children playing in water and filling cups from faucets. It’s clear that their mission is about providing potable water.

The copy says:

“Give monthly.
Change lives all year long.
100% of your donation brings clean water to people in need.“

Boom. In case that didn’t do the job, under the video header, they say:

“We’re a nonprofit on a mission to bring clean drinking water to every person on the planet. And with the support of people like you, we’ve funded 19,819 water projects in 24 countries so far.”

Your storytelling reinforces your mission and how an individual can make an impact by sending a donation. You can read more about them in this article by HubSpot (link: http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-charity-water-reinvented-world-nonprofit-fundraising) .

WordPress and Community go hand-in-hand.

Of course, it’s fun to see old friends and make new ones. WordPress is a welcoming and friendly community built around a single purpose: leveraging open source software to democratize publishing.

“You or I can download and publish using the exact same software that The New Yorker uses for newyorker.com. And I think that is relatively unique in the history of the world. We don’t have access to the same printing press as The New York Times, but in the digital world we can have the same software as The New Yorker.” Matt Mullenweg


At Give, we believe WordPress is the solution to tell your story and accept donations directly on your own website. Community and nonprofits are a natural fit because they share the same core value: invest in your core community, and they’ll invest in you.

How are you investing in your community?

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