Online Fundraising and Brand-building 101: Get on the road to creating constituent journeys and position yourself to achieve up to a 300% increase in ROI

by Tom Davidson
Creative Director,
Davidson Design Co

The Harvard Business Review recently reported: A multi-channel approach may be the best way to get profitable results for businesses. Brands and non-profits that move into a multi-channel digital marketing strategy achieve up to 300 percent improvement in ROI from their advertising efforts.

This resulted from a 24 percent increase in conversion rates as more targeted customers saw a campaign’s ads on multiple channels instead of only one. It’s something our Interactive Digital Solutions team has proven for the ministries we serve year after year.

But in today’s social-savvy, interactive world, I am still surprised at how out of touch many fortune 500 companies and most non-profit ministries are with their online communication channels. Too often cause-related non-profits rush into the digital landscape without clearly defined goals and expectations. In many ways, this reminds me of the storied past of the California Gold Rush. Everyone dives in with pan in hand and is surprised when their pan comes up empty. If you want to avoid this trap, consider this advice from Steven Covey who said: “Begin with the end in mind.” In the world of online response marketing, fundraising and relationship marketing, your endgame should be in creating long-term relational value.

What does that look like?

Never take the Interactive out of your interactive digital strategy. First and foremost, your goal should be to create individualized experiences. Interactive implies you are interacting with each of your visitors in a very personal way. Make sure your site doesn’t operate like a used-car dealership or you’ll soon discover 90 percent of your visitors running for the nearest door. Start by asking yourself this question: What is their motivation for the visit? Then make it easy to fulfill that expectation.

Too often we fail to recognize this fundamental truth, and are surprised to learn short session measurements are sky high or multi-page engagements have become woefully deficient, simply because we forgot to match motivational interest with relevant content.

Know who your online visitors are: Constituents, Advocates, Curious Information Seekers, Fans, or Apostles. Once you have cracked the motivational code with engaging experiences, you may be ready to broaden your strategy through social media, digital optimization, and retargeting.

Synergize your online fundraising efforts with a fully integrated multi-channel marketing approach. Google Analytics and Digital Optimization are extremely important tools to promote a site that has cracked the emoting content code. But for the sites that are content deficient, a digital audit and “Touchpoint Mapping” will also point the way to a more robust and engaging web strategy. Implement these insights and soon you will be creating constituent journeys. Visitors care about your cause. Give them a reason to stay connected and then focus on growing that relationship.

What can you glean from these insights? A fully integrated online-offline donor-centric communication plan offers the best opportunity for new acquisition growth, maximizing donor opportunities and increasing revenue. So build a better mousetrap and provide more opportunities for engagement. Offer experiences that recognize, define, and fulfill the individual motivational needs and create content that fulfills those needs. Then share your message through an appropriate mix of digital tools including paid search, email optimization, effective use of social channels, and retargeting. Then integrate your offline and online fundraising efforts through a well-timed, coordinated communications campaign.

Thinking about incorporating a digital strategy in your overall Fundraising Plan or just want an evaluation of what you are currently doing? Contact my good friends at Douglas Shaw & Associates for a complete Digital Fundraising Audit and get on the road to “More Donors. Better Donors.”

Tom Davidson is a Creative Director, writer and lead design consultant at, working with ad agencies, consumer and business brands and non-profits.Tom has served as Senior Vice President & Creative Director for ad agencies like Leo Burnett working on advertising and brand engaging experience for companies that include: Cadillac, AAA Insurance, OnStar, Eight O’clock Coffee, Shedd’s Spread Country Crock®. In the world of non-profits, he is helping craft a unique approach to fundraising that optimizes messaging strategies, offer summits and converting innovative creative solutions into proven and tested reasons to give for a variety or organizations. To learn more about Tom, visit:

You can also connect with me on LinkedIn!