The pandemic has forced charities to cancel events and face-to-face fundraising and instead look for alternatives. Many of these alternatives involve digital fundraising and online marketing. But digital marketing is more than just boosting a post on Facebook or getting an influencer to shout you out. In fact, to benefit from digital marketing’s true colours you need a strategy or a plan of action. Below we’ve outlined a 6 step process which will act as your strategy for getting more online donations from your digital marketing efforts.

This blog was authored by Jamal Abbas, Director of CerealBox, a digital marketing agency that works with charities. The CerealBox team has fundraised over £32 million in online donations for a variety of different charities. In this piece, Jamal shares his strategies on how to get the best out of digital fundraising and marketing.

1. Promote The Right Campaign

Let’s start with selecting what project we are fundraising for. Most charities run multiple projects simultaneously and therefore wanted to promote them all at the same time. We suggest only picking one at a time to promote. This is to avoid overwhelming prospects with multiple calls to action. It also means you can focus more resources and budget on a single campaign.

So how do you pick which campaign to promote? Well, think about what your organisation’s objectives are for the year. Or think about any promises you’ve made to donors/beneficiaries. If you want to take it a step further, look at your data and see what campaigns in the past have been successful. If you need donations immediately then campaigns that have historically been profitable are probably selecting. Or you might want to favour seasonal campaigns like winter or religious holidays if it’s the appropriate time of year.

2. We Don’t Want Everyone To Donate

Before you start a campaign it’s always a good idea to identify those people who already donated to you. If you’re a smaller charity look for your top 3 donor profiles. At CerealBox we create donor profiles based on gender, location, age, donation method, donation sizes and frequency. The aim is to dissect your audiences into at least three separate profiles. This will then form the basis of the people you aim to target. It’s important to remember that your strategy will be dictated by your target audience (more on that later). Your channels and content have to align and appeal with those who you’re targeting.

Bonus Tip: You don’t want to target everyone rather just those who are similar to your current donors. It’s too expensive and wasteful to target everyone. You only want to target those people who care for you, those who don’t will never donate anyway.

3. Pick The Right Advertising Channel

We now need to think about how prospects will see or hear about our cause. There are so many channels to get in front of prospects but we can’t use all of them straight away. We advise picking three channels that are likely to connect with your audience. How do we pick what channels to use? This is where the donor profiling we addressed in the previous step comes in useful. For example, if your audience is young it may be better to use TikTok Ads or Snapchat Ads. However, if your audience is female-dominated then Pinterest ads are likely a better option.

We also need a strategy to test which channel is best. Fortunately, you can borrow a strategy from CerealBox’s Digital Fundraising package to simplify the process.

Growth Hacking Strategy:
1. Spend £1000 to test a channel
2. Measure CAC + ROI (or other important KPIs)*
3. If you’re happy with the KPIs, double your budget
4. Repeat, until the numbers no longer work for you

*CAC = Customer Acquisition Cost
ROI = Return On Investment

4. Does Your Content Work?

Content is your way of getting noticed. With over 350 million photos posted on Facebook every day, people are overwhelmed with where to divert their attention. So the challenge for creating effective content is enormous. Think about your content in three steps: to grab attention, nurture curiosity and call to action.

You’re content also needs to be optimised based on what platform it lives on. For example, if you’re using a video as a Facebook ad then you need to treat them differently to a Youtube ad. Facebook content should always be vertical and no longer than 11 seconds whereas Youtube ads can be more flexible.

This is to reflect the behavioural norms of each platform so you can get the best return possible. You can also use Google or platforms like Criteo and AdRoll to advertise with website banners which offer a huge variety of different sizes. Again be smart with what content you put there. Don’t simply slap the same content on each platform.

5. Do People Want To Donate On Your Website?

Perhaps the most important action is where the donation giving occurs. The location you send traffic to could make or break your fundraising efforts so it’s important to have a highly converting landing page. Here are a few of the best ways to improve your landing page:

  • Optimize the page for mobile users – 91% of our donations occur on mobile devices
  • A clear call to action directing traffic to donate
  • Providing multiple payment options like PayPal, Google Pay or Amazon Pay
  • Productized donation options – e.g. donate £10 to provide school books or donate £20 for school uniform
  • Create a campaign-specific landing page
  • Social Proof + Certifications like Fundraising Regulator or TrustPilots badges
  • Prompt upsell to encourage donors to donate a little extra before they pay

Bonus Tip:
If your website or landing page isn’t great and you don’t have the budget or time to develop new pages, it might be worth using a third party destination like LaunchGood or JustGiving. They have highly converting page great donations and are well known to donors so prospects trust them even if they are new to your cause.

6. Post-Donation Sequence Tips

Once someone donates to you it’s not, mission accomplished. In fact, your relationship with them is just getting started. This is the stage where you need to build a relationship with your donor to keep them committed to your charity. We want to take them from prospect to an ambassador. Now, that’s a lengthy process which requires lots of engagement and value giving. But we have provided a simple email sequence which will help build that initial chemistry between you and your new donor.

Email 1: Thank You – Immediately after donation
Email 2: How Your Donation Will Be Used – 1 day after the donation
Email 3: Our Future Plans – 4-6 day after the donation
Email 4: Case Study/Testimonial – 10-12 days after donation
Email 5: Soft Call To Action – 19-21 days after donation


Digital Marketing can be daunting whether you’re new to this form of fundraising or you’re an experienced pro. Our takeaway advice is to start small and experiment with calculated risks and don’t be put off by initial failures. If you measure your results correctly and implement our steps thoroughly you will have long term success. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in the day and despite the fast-paced nature of the digital world, the same principle applies.

If you’re looking to explore digital fundraising or want advice on how to improve your current performance, CerealBox offers free 35-minute strategy calls to all charities. Email us at so we can begin increasing your online donations.

Photo by Diggity Marketing on Unsplash

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