The Nonprofit Hero Factory: Episode 28

Digital Fundraising Strategies, with Steve Daigneault

In this Episode:

The world of fundraising and giving is evolving rapidly. Online fundraising has been growing at 20-43% annually over the last three years. As of 2020, it accounted for 13% of all donations, far outpacing the growth of giving overall. As the landscape and tools develop, so do the strategies for best engaging and converting donors.

Steve Daigneault has spent nearly two decades leading digital marketing, fundraising, and advocacy programs for nonprofits. He joins Boris this week on the Nonprofit Hero Factory to discuss some of the emerging trends and best practices in online fundraising; breaking down how nonprofits can incorporate them into their campaigns and overall development strategy.

Listen to this Episode

[00:00:17.930] – Intro Video
Welcome to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, a weekly live video broadcast, and podcast. Where we’ll be helping nonprofit leaders and innovators create more heroes for their cause and a better word for all of us. Da-Ding!

[00:00:19.460] – Boris
Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the nonprofit Hero Factory. I’m excited to share this episode with you today. We’ve been talking a lot about fundraising strategies, storytelling strategies, digital storytelling strategies and where the three intersect. And today’s guest is going to fit right into that. If you are wondering about how you can improve your end-of-year giving campaigns or pretty much any donation campaigns that you might have out there, including the more passive ones on your website. Today’s guest is an expert in those things, and I’m excited to have him as I said.

[00:00:53.450] – Boris
His name is Steve Daigneault. He is the founder of Daigneault Digital. Steve has spent nearly two decades leading digital marketing fundraising advocacy programs for some of the world’s greatest causes, including Amnesty International, Audubon, Natural Resources Defense Council, American Cancer Society, Red Cross, UNICEF and many others. Steve describes his superpower as building and growing digital fundraising programs that generate record-breaking results. Sounds pretty good to me. Let’s bring him on the show to tell us more.

[00:01:26.110] – Steve Daigneault

[00:01:27.550] – Boris
Hey, Steve. Welcome.

[00:01:30.040] – Steve Daigneault
Thank you.

[00:01:31.560] – Boris
It’s really exciting to have you on. I just read your bio. I know there’s even more impressive stuff about you. Why don’t you tell us your story? What’s your background? How do you come to this world of digital fundraising?

[00:01:42.460] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah, it’s great to be here. Thanks for inviting me. I started working with nonprofits in the ’90s, doing communications work, which kind of more into digital communications work. Worked at a company that was bought out by Blackbaud in the early 2000s and led the digital fundraising and advocacy team at Amnesty International. And then for the last twelve years or so, I was an SVP at M+R doing digital fundraising, advertising and advocacy there.

[00:02:15.810] – Boris
Very cool. And so now you’re out on your own?

[00:02:19.340] – Steve Daigneault
Yes, I am. And I did that just to really do more client work, was wanting to switch things up and really love the one-to-one work I get to do with clients and so just wanted to do more of that.

[00:02:34.980] – Boris
Very cool. And I’m sure your clients are happy to have you doing more one-on-one work with them. So we were talking a little bit earlier, you and I, and with your focus on digital fundraising and all of the year-end campaigns that are now coming up, and I don’t think anybody, any longer, they did this as long as they could, but nobody can deny now that digital is the primary fundraising source for most organizations these days, or the primary mode, I should say, modality. So it’s clearly going to have the biggest impact for most organizations this year and moving forward.

[00:03:12.230] – Boris
What’s working and not in 2021 when it comes to digital fundraising? What are you seeing out there?

[00:03:19.960] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. One of the interesting things that we have seen at M+R and then with some of my clients, the just sort of longer content, more content to make a case for giving. We… just one specific example of a client that we set up a paid search program, and we just were not getting very good return on ad spend. You know, paid search should be immediately positive on your return on ad spend. And it wasn’t. And we tried pretty much everything to optimize and fix that paid search program, changing audiences, bid strategies, keywords, keyword matching strategies, and nothing really moved the needle.

[00:04:14.480] – Steve Daigneault
And then we looked at the landing page that we were driving people to. And it was a very optimized, single-step donation form, something that really most organizations that are testing their donation forms are testing into this kind of form. And we just really didn’t even think twice about it. And we decided to try something a little risky, which we thought was risky at the time.

[00:04:35.930] – Steve Daigneault
And it was driving search traffic not to a donation form, but driving them to a page that—what we call an interstitial page that—talks about who is this organization? How do they make an impact? What are some examples of the impact they’re making? What is the problem they’re trying to solve? And it really has a lot of additional content on this page and make that one switch improve the return-on-ad spend ten times.

[00:05:03.650] – Steve Daigneault
So we went from like a 25 cent ROAS to $2.50 regularly. And so it really opened our eyes to like, wow, this long-form content, which is counterintuitive to our thinking about, you know, streamlining the funnel, really making that conversion as easy as possible.

[00:05:25.360] – Steve Daigneault
It’s just so counter to that idea that we really started to kind of rethink what we were showing to different audience and testing longer form content and find a lot of success with it. So, yeah, that’s a big new kind of interesting finding.

[00:05:43.160] – Boris
Let’s talk about that for a minute, because there’s a few parts that I think are really fascinating and worth exploring. The first, I just want to be clear to anyone who’s listening doesn’t know the term ROAS. It’s a return-on-ad spend, right?

[00:05:55.700] – Steve Daigneault

[00:05:55.700] – Boris
So on Google Ads, you’re paying, or maybe you’ve got your grant, but you’re still bidding on ads for a certain amount. And you’re saying that the return should be greater than the investment, which seems pretty logical. Although I know that there are some campaigns where you’re not really looking for the straight donation, they’re are longer cultivation campaigns.

[00:06:11.420] – Boris
Clearly, what you are trying to do here is drive donations. So, I mean, personally, I don’t find it too surprising, but there’s a lot of things that are happening here. There’s my favorite quote by Daniel Kahneman is, “no one ever made a decision based on the number. They need a story.” And so when you’re driving ads directly to a donate page, if there’s no story there that people could really hook into. I could see why maybe they’re turning away. Is that basically what you’re saying when you’re saying you need a page first in between and between step?

[00:06:45.000] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. I think, like, obviously there was something missing. Like, people were not getting the information, the story that they need in order to make the gift. They just weren’t convinced. And they had unanswered questions. And obviously this page and this content filled in the gaps for them and made the case that needed to be made.

[00:07:12.080] – Boris
Right. So when I use story, I mean it in a kind of broad sense where we need enough information and enough things to connect to, to resonate with us, if you will, in order to really feel like, yes, this is something I care about. And in this case, something I want to support fiscally, financially.

[00:07:29.070] – Steve Daigneault

[00:07:30.270] – Boris
Did you mess around too much with how much information you put on this page, or is it really just once you were able to frame the work into what I call a story structure, whether everybody thinks of it that way or not, was it enough just to do that? Or did you wind up having to play around some more with how much content was on there?

[00:07:50.340] – Steve Daigneault
Our first draft of this page killed it. It worked really well. I mean, we did… part of where we got the idea, I mean it’s not a new idea, honestly, like you said, but I just think, in direct response, we can go focused on streamlining the conversion process that we kind of forget other pieces of content that actually are needed. But we got the idea from for profit commerce, digital commerce, e-commerce, stores and products. People selling products. You often see this sometimes when, you know, long, long landing pages with lots of, I mean, it almost feels like… it’s almost like you’re watching it’s like QVC trans—a landing page that’s kind of translated from what you see on QVC. And we’re like, we should do this for nonprofits. So we studied a couple of these pages to try to understand what are these pages actually doing? And we also thought about how, you look at the value of web traffic, we often find visitors to the About Us page have high value. And what is on the About Us page? It’s the mission, it’s some of these other things. And so we combined some of these ideas that we were seeing and came up with a landing page and it worked right away.

[00:09:24.450] – Steve Daigneault
Now, we did… we have, since then, adjusted it based on certain incentives. We had, like, a T-shirt offer, and COVID obviously happened. And then once COVID happened, we wanted to make sure we were shifting the message to kind of be relevant. But we haven’t really tested it because the landing pages just worked really well.

[00:09:44.100] – Boris
So that landing page, the QVC-style that you’re talking about. We usually call them sales letter copy, basically. It comes from the old days when there would actually be multi-page letters that people would send out—that marketers would send out. And it would tell these stories and bring people in and make it personal. And they worked, frankly. Not always very, let’s just say, above board. They were often not used for good. But in the case of a nonprofit, I’m sure your clients are using it for good.

[00:10:14.090] – Boris
And that’s really the power of that kind of long form story. When I used to build websites years ago, and I still do, but when I first started building websites for nonprofits, it was actually fairly common. It was one of the schools of thought that was prominent at the time was to have a multi-stage donation, multipage donation process, actually. So first, it was, you click on the donate button and there’s a page with a lot of information about the impact and the work that’s being done and how money is being spent.

[00:10:43.950] – Boris
And then the second page would be a more streamlined form. Since then, I feel like most organizations, at least, and the ones that I’ve been dealing with, and it sounds like the ones that you’ve been dealing with have kind of gone away from that.

[00:10:56.440] – Boris
And that is because of this philosophy, which I think is also valid, that once someone has decided to make a donation, basically get out of their way, remove all points of friction, make it as super easy as possible.

[00:11:11.470] – Steve Daigneault

[00:11:12.640] – Boris
So what’s the difference between the two? When is one better versus the other?

[00:11:19.540] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. You’re right. That the streamline conversion funnel, I mean, the landing page does still work. And what we found, because since we tested into this interstitial page, probably two years ago for the Dave Thomas Foundation, that was the first client I was working on. But there are a couple of other organizations that tested into it at the time. And since then, a bunch of other clients at M+R had tested it across different channels, different advertising channels.

[00:11:52.860] – Steve Daigneault
And what I found is that certain audiences, like existing donors that are active, where you’re trying to ask them to make a second gift. Maybe they’re a sustaining donor. You’re asking them to make a special gift on top of their money gift. Those audiences often do better when you just give them that streamlined donation form. I also have seen that certain organizations have really well known brands where it’s very clear what they do—Natural Resources Defense Council was one of them—they, you know, they see bad guys, they sue the government to make sure they protect species. It’s a very clear theory of change. People really get it really easily, and their brand is pretty well known within, you know, the population of people who support environmental organizations.

[00:12:51.820] – Steve Daigneault
Well, those interstitial landing pages have not always worked as well as a streamlined donation form. I do think that they still work well for prospective audiences. So people who are not yet donors, not yet supporters or activists that are still kind of in the consideration phase. They’re curious about which organization could potentially solve this problem that we’re seeing out in the world, and that letter-form content for that audience, I think, is, we are still seeing it work better, even for the big brands.

[00:13:26.280] – Boris
I think you touched on something absolutely critical there, which is, what stage is this potential donor or a potential repeat donor already in? I have this slide that I use when I’m working with organizations where it’s this ladder, right? This staircase, almost. And it starts from somebody who’s completely unaware to somebody who’s already a supporter or champion of the work that you do. And there are several steps in between. And when I talk about avatars, which is what we call—as you well know, but in case audiences don’t know—we call these potential heroes these target marketing personas.

[00:14:02.760] – Boris
When I talk about potential avatars, I really encourage organizations, if you can, to break them down into multiple levels of even the same person of how aware they are, of what you’re already doing. So that you could streamline the experience for them and not feel like you’re over explaining to them, but also now feel like you’re just dropping them into something and saying, donate. Right?

[00:14:25.240] – Steve Daigneault

[00:14:26.350] – Boris
And this strength of brand thing that you’re talking about is absolutely pivotal. So it could be strength of brand in your particular community. So people who already know you and have a great association with your brand, which is the story they tell themselves about your organization when they think of it. They’re one type of person versus someone who has never heard of you. And most organizations don’t have the fortuitous platform that some of the more established names, like you just said, or Red Cross after an emergency response. So those are some impulse, urgent situations where people know. “Okay. I’m going to turn to this organization.” But for most organizations, that’s not the case.

[00:15:08.580] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah, that’s right. I think the third factor to consider is oftentimes there’ll be—an organization’s issue will be in the news for some reason, whether it’s a natural disaster or some other political event. And in those moments, if it’s clear that the organization is directly tied to what is in the news or in that moment, that also is another time when a really streamlined funnel may work better—probably will work better than a longer form interstitial page.

[00:15:43.180] – Boris
The other time that I’m thinking of a couple of weeks ago, we had Kathleen Murphy Toms, the director of digital strategy at GivingTuesday.

[00:15:52.270] – Steve Daigneault

[00:15:53.280] – Boris
Yeah. She’s awesome. And she is very keen on that optimized mobile, specifically—

[00:16:03.930] – Steve Daigneault

[00:16:03.930] – Boris
Not landing page, donation page specifically. And I think in her case, in the case of GivingTuesday and campaigns like that, there’s a common misconception that she’s on a crusade, if you will, to overcome; which is “GivingTuesday is when the people are going to just discover us and magically donate” versus GivingTuesday’s a time to activate our current supporters and get them to start their donations for the end of the year.”

[00:16:33.600] – Boris
So in those cases, and if you’re trying to do both, you might have two landing pages. Do you ever advise to organizations, to have more than one sort of donation funnel on their websites?

[00:16:45.980] – Steve Daigneault
You know, I think this gets at the heart of decision making for digital fundraising and organizations, which is how complex do you go? And it really depends on how large the program is, how large the audience is, how much of a payoff you’re going to get from adding that complexity.

[00:17:07.160] – Steve Daigneault
I do think that at a very basic level, having, treating existing supporters differently than prospective supporters who don’t really know you is a very basic first step that almost any organization of any size can make. And so, yes, I do think that it makes sense to think about those two audiences differently, and, in fact, try or test these different donation funnels based on the audience type.

[00:17:42.620] – Boris
So. There’s another thing that you had mentioned to me previously, which kind of falls in line with the same kind of question of how much do they already know about us before we ask them to donate? And you were talking to me about cultivation and campaigns that do that some more. Can you tell me a little bit about that and what you were running?

[00:18:05.240] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. I mean, this sort of related to the interstitial page, which is, you know, how much information do you need to give people? And I think a question that a lot of nonprofits have is what is the value to fundraising of cultivation content? It’s not only, you know, and sometimes people think it’s the thank you messages. Like, aside from the thank you messages, thinking about content like that doesn’t have a call to action. It’s primarily meant to inform, inform the reader of what the organization is doing or even what’s happening in the outside world that the organization is working to solve.

[00:18:47.920] – Steve Daigneault
And so an interesting example, this is again from Natural Resources Defense Council, but we’ve had a couple of other clients at M+R test these, which is testing content through paid advertising and through email, that really just shows the impact that the organization has had. Or speaks in more sort of lengthy formats about something that’s happening right now that the organization is working on, for example, the NRDC, is working on clean water in Flint, Michigan. What’s the latest on lead in water in Flint? And there’s all kinds of stories about people being impacted by lead in water there. There the history of that work there. And it’s not really making it into giving.

[00:19:42.730] – Steve Daigneault
So we tested every week for twelve weeks. We tested sending an additional message that was just cultivation we did, and a complementary ad that kind of spoke to it, used that same content. We were mostly pointing people to a blog post, but really putting a lot of the content in the message. They didn’t need to click to read the full content or to get a lot of it. And what happened, over twelve weeks of giving everybody weekly additional cultivation content to the behavior of the people who saw that content, and we found for—it varied, now it really varied by audience. But one of NRDC’s largest segments are people who take online action, but then don’t give. You know, lots of people point and click, send a letter to Congress. You know, “please protect the Endangered Species Act,” and then that’s all I do. They never give again. And those people who received additional cultivation content we saw over a 100% increase in revenue from that audience. And it didn’t come from the cultivation messages, it came in other events when they were then asked in an appeal at a later time, or they just found NRDC on their own or converted through a paid ad in another area.

[00:21:10.980] – Steve Daigneault
But yeah, it was really, really impressive just to see how additional content that’s really cultivation-focused supports fundraising.

[00:21:22.040] – Boris
I love everything about that. About what you just said and the fact that you guys were able to study it and quantify it in at least some cases. The first part of that is a donation doesn’t need to be your primary call to action in so many circumstances. Most organizations that I come across the just ask donate, donate, donate at every chance they get. And sure, if you don’t ask, nobody will give that’s fully true.

[00:21:53.380] – Steve Daigneault

[00:21:53.660] – Boris
But if you keep asking, then people just think all you want is my money. Whereas what you’re saying is: first give them value, give them value, give them value, give them value. Twelve weeks of that in your case. And then in some way or other, when it’s time, ask them for something back. And that goes back to the philosophy that I espouse all the time, which is, nobody donates as a thank you so much as an IOU. It’s not a tip for the work that you’re doing.

[00:22:24.960] – Boris
It’s gratitude for the work that you’re doing. It’s a feeling of indebtedness. And so the more you can make them feel indebted by showing them all the value, by making them aware of things and giving them tools or whatever it might be, including knowledge, the more likely they’re going to want to pay you back for that. Right? And then I’m sorry you wanted to say something. Go ahead.

[00:22:46.620] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. I think that’s a good way of seeing this. Where they’re getting something value. I think another part of it is that in a way, an organization’s mission is to get people to care. And how do you get people to care? You don’t get people to care by a fundraising message, you get them to care in other ways. There are stories. There are statistics. There are things that happen that they may not be or know about, and it’s your job as an organization to kind of lift up that content that really inspires people and moves people.

[00:23:28.180] – Steve Daigneault
And I think you can move people without asking them to give. You can move people in a lot of other ways with other content.

[00:23:35.580] – Boris
Yeah. Those are the stories, right? That’s what I go on and down about ad nauseum, some might say. But those are the stories. You share your stories, your constituents’ stories. And you show how good is being achieved in the world. You show what the issues are. You establish the villains and the heroes of the situation. And over time, you then create a stronger bond with the person that you’re talking to, and they’re more likely to contribute. The other part of that that I wanted to really emphasize because you said it, but it didn’t sound as important as I think it is just in your sentence, which is that you don’t have to ask for donations all the time, but someone who gave their support in another way, by example, signing a petition, they are still a really valuable contributor. They have already identified themselves by doing that, as someone who cares about your cause. So now it’s absolutely your job to go and cultivate them. You go and you thank them, and then you share these stories. You drip out that cultivation campaign, however it works. Because since they identified that they’re interested but they’re not quite ready to donate to you, it’s your job to show them why a donation would amplify their impact in the world.

[00:24:55.710] – Steve Daigneault
I almost like to think of these online actions are very easy to take, and a lot of organizations do them. I like to think of them as like, hand raisers. These are people that say, hey, do you care about the world? “Yeah, sure.” Now, do you want to make a gift? I mean, “whoah!” You went from like, do I care, to that? There’s a gap. There’s something missing. And that it’s fillable. You have an opportunity with these people to kind of move them along. So, yeah.

[00:25:29.420] – Boris
You know, a lot of people use the dating analogy in the modern day I equate it to I just swiped right, and you’re asking me to marry you.

[00:25:38.840] – Steve Daigneault

[00:25:40.100] – Boris
I’m interested. There’s something about you I like. So, I love to raise your hand analogy. I use it all the time. I’m raising my hand and saying, I’m interested in this. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to give you my life.

[00:25:50.920] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. Exactly.

[00:25:52.770] – Boris
So figuring out the intermediate steps and maybe there are no calls to action. I always say—it’s hard for me when someone says “no call to action.” I always say there should be some call to action, but it doesn’t need to be “give.” It doesn’t need to be anything like that. It could be just, hey, dig deeper into this issue or check this out for more information. Or watch this video. That’s a call to action. You’ve got to layer those in.

[00:26:19.060] – Steve Daigneault
That twelve week content… the call to action was just learn more, read more, watch this video. That was it.

[00:26:25.550] – Boris
Perfect and I’m glad we teased that information out for people. There’s one more question that I wanted to ask, and I want to be considerate of time here, which was: in both of these cases you talked about, you were running ads to these types of campaigns. What do you say in a Google ad, for example, when you’re trying to get someone directly to a donation page or to a donation funnel of any sort? What kind of headlines are you using there to get that traffic in the first place?

[00:27:01.410] – Steve Daigneault
Well, the ads that we used for the cultivation tests were only on Facebook, and we use Facebook because that’s where we were able to match the emails—you know, we matched our email file in order to run ads targeting people that we’re already on our file, receiving the messages and email and all.

[00:27:21.650] – Steve Daigneault
But to your question on what do you say on paid search ads? These are, I think it depends, but we… I always think you want to try to get your brand search campaigns to work well. And those are terms that are directly related to your organization’s name, and they should be very basic.

[00:27:49.570] – Steve Daigneault
Let’s just stick with NRDC… you know, “donate to Natural Resources Defense Council.” And then we associated terms that are related to just their mission, which is protect the environment, solve climate change, save endangered species from extinction. They’re very basic, you know, terms and phrases. They’re not really complicated. But brand search, I think is the first kind of campaign I would try to make work in paid search before expanding into some of the other types. I’m a fundraiser, so that’s where I approach this. Does that answer?

[00:28:37.580] – Boris
Yeah, it does. And I think it answers it really well because I have seen a lot of organizations want to run paid search campaigns to donate. And it is often a folly, I think, because they don’t have the brand recognition, they don’t have the context. The audience, I should say, doesn’t have the context by which to recognize, “yes, I am interested in this. I will go donate.” So spending a lot of money, whether it’s Google grant or actual money out of your own budgets on these types of ads is often not fruitful.

[00:29:21.980] – Boris
I like that you also mentioned that there are mission-related terms that people might be interested in, like preservation of some sort or other, or things that your organization is working on. You could be getting people in on that. But again, and please tell me if you disagree with me.

[00:29:41.670] – Boris
I think if your brand recognition is not that strong, then maybe you’re better off driving people to content about that cause, and they might trust your organization to deliver that as a nonprofit, not as someone trying to sell them something and then nurture them again.

[00:29:56.820] – Steve Daigneault
Brand search is based on—it only works if there’s demand for people searching for your organization. So if no one really knows who you are is not searching for you, then paid search based on your brand is not going to work. And in that case, the best thing to do is to try to use your Google grant or whatever to improve your awareness. And you can do that by bidding on terms that are related to your organization and driving them like you said to your website, to content that helps drive awareness and traffic to your organization. You need to build an audience and people who know who you are and what you do.

[00:30:44.700] – Boris
Yeah. Content that provides value and probably answers a question. Right.

[00:30:48.630] – Steve Daigneault
Exactly. Yeah.

[00:30:49.620] – Boris
Because every Google search is actually a question whether it has a question mark on it or not, you’re wondering something.

[00:30:53.938] – Steve Daigneault
Yes, that’s right.

[00:30:54.940] – Boris
You answer the question well, I’ll like you, I’ll trust you, I’ll thank you.

[00:30:57.600] – Steve Daigneault

[00:30:58.680] – Boris
Awesome. Steve, what are some tools and resources that organizations might want to look into on any of these topics? What do you recommend they go check out?

[00:31:10.000] – Steve Daigneault
Well, I think about, when I think about a digital program, it’s really good to have a baseline understanding of your metrics and how it stacks up against peers. And M+R’s Benchmark Report is great, because if you participate, M+R will create a custom benchmark analysis just for you based on your data that no one else will see that you’ll have delivered to you. It’s sort of a thank you that they do in exchange for you submitting your data to be part of the benchmarks. And the report is really helpful.

[00:31:50.450] – Steve Daigneault
And so I really encourage organizations to participate in that because it’s free. It takes time. But it is free. And the other resources that I found really helpful as an email marketer, fundraising is obviously a big part of the email programs… digital email programs, and Nerdy Email as a listserv that I think is a very vibrant and interesting discussion of a lot of some of the best email marketers in the industry for nonprofits. And so I always learn things, and I always appreciate the conversation there, but those are two that just came to mind.

[00:32:32.260] – Boris
Awesome. I’m going to check out Nerdy Email because I actually hadn’t. Most organizations at this point are on MailChimp, that I come across anyway, and it works really well. But I’m always interested in other alternatives. Mailchimp has gotten a little bloated. Sorry MailChimp if you’re listening and is trying to do too many things and is in the e-commerce space now. And I think nonprofits need something a little more tailored and streamlined.

[00:32:58.100] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah. And just to be clear, Nerdy Email is a discussion group, basically. It’s how to use email. It’s not a technology or a piece of software.

[00:33:05.980] – Boris
Okay, great.

[00:33:06.920] – Steve Daigneault
It’s just a discussion group forum of strategists talking about email strategy.

[00:33:12.610] – Boris
Yeah. Well, the MailChimp. I apologize. I take it all back.

[00:33:17.470] – Steve Daigneault
I’m sticking with you.

[00:33:20.050] – Boris
I actually am. My stuff is still on MailChimp, although I’m always considering, are there better options? Steve, this has been awesome. If organizations want to learn more about what you do or connect with you, what’s the best way that they could do that?

[00:33:31.860] – Steve Daigneault
Yeah, sure they can connect with me on my LinkedIn, which is… I’m there as SDaigneault. And then my website also has a contact information, which is

[00:33:48.300] – Boris
Perfect, and we will link to both of those as well as some of the other things that we talked about in our show notes for this episode. Steve, it’s been totally fun chatting with you about all these things and brainstorming on why things work and how to make them work better. Thank you so much for coming on today.

[00:34:04.700] – Steve Daigneault
It’s been a pleasure. Thanks for asking me.

[00:34:06.930] – Boris
Awesome. And thank you everybody for listening in today. I hope you learned a lot from Steve and from this conversation. If you enjoyed it, please, please, please subscribe and leave us a review so that more people can discover what we’re doing here on the Nonprofit Hero Factory, helping you create and activate more heroes for your cause. Thanks everybody.

[00:34:46.650] – Outro Video
Thank you all for watching and listening to the Nonprofit Hero Factory, we hope this episode has given you some ideas and strategies for creating more heroes for your cause and a better world for all of us. Please be sure to subscribe to this show on YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Spotify, or your favorite podcast platform and let us know what you think, by leaving a review.

Concepts and Takeaways:

  • Longer form content converts better in ad-driven campaigns. A streamlined donation page is often not enough to convert visitors into donors. (3:20)
  • Including more of the story before asking for a donation increased return on ad spend by 10x. (4:47)
  • Borrowing a page out of QVC’s playbook, longer-form content about the organization and mission helps increase conversions.(8:36)
  • Once someone has decided to make a donation, your goal is to make it as easy and distraction-free as possible. (10:56)
  • Your donation funnel should be optimized for the people that you’re targeting and based on how well-known your brand is to that audience. The more they already know about you, the less you need to convey in your funnel, and vice-versa. (11:52)
  • If you can, segment your campaign avatars by their stage of awareness and readiness to support your work. Different stages require different approaches. (14:02)
  • How and when to use cultivation campaigns which don’t just ask for donations. (17:43)
  • Sharing stories and insightful content without directly asking for donations can actually increase donations, particularly from people who have raised their hand to say that they care about your work, but have not yet donated. (19:42)
  • The more value you provide, the more people will feel indebted to you and want to repay you for that value. An organization’s mission is, in part, to get people to care. That doesn’t come from asking them for money, it comes from sharing stories and demonstrating value. (22:42)
  • People who support your cause in other ways besides donations are raising their hand to say they care. They are just as valuable as donors and, with proper nurture, can become donors. (24:02)
  • Cultivation ads and brand-search campaigns. Brand search campaigns on Google Ads are the first type of ad you should consider, but they only work if people are searching for your brand. Cultivation campaigns on Facebook work best as remarketing ads to people already on your email list in one way or another. Those should largely drive to content about your work. (27:01)
  • If you have content that answers that people might have, that’s another opportunity to use Google Ads to drive traffic. (29:21)

Action Steps: What Now?

  • Resource Spotlight

    In this episode, the following resources were mentioned:

    • M+R’s Benchmark Report – A great resource to see trends and compare your digital efforts to others in the industry. Plus, if you participate in the benchmark survey, M+R will create a custom benchmark report for you, based on your data.
    • Nerdy Email – A discussion group of great nonprofit email marketers.
  • Start implementing!

    1. Check your campaign conversion rates
    2. See if you can include more of your story in your donation funnels, especially for new donors.
    3. Consider creating or revising your cultivation campaigns to include more stories and provide more value before asking for anything in return.

    Connect with Steve: Visit Daigneault Digital’s Website or directly connect with Steve on LinkedIn.

About this week’s guest

Steve Daigneault

Steve Daigneault

Founder, Daigneault Digital

Steve has spent nearly two decades leading digital marketing, fundraising, and advocacy programs for some of the world’s greatest causes, including Amnesty International, Audubon, Natural Resources Defense Council, American Cancer Society, Red Cross, UNICEF and many others.

Connect with Steve Daigneault