5 steps to writing an awesome non-profit crowdfunding pitch

Girl Writing

Every day we get a whole heap of crowdfunding pitches from non-profits and social enterprises, which vary from the very good to the very crap. We’ve seen it all, from the three-line-’people-will-get-it’ pitch to the boring-10-page-grant-application pitch (hint, both miss the point).

To make it easier for you, we’ve broken down crowdfunding pitches (and any non-profit pitch, really) into these 5 steps and given you an example from a real campaign:

1. Context – Set the scene Zoom right out and set the scene for your audience. Many of them will already know this, but it moves their brain into the right frame to introduce what you’re doing. In 2010-11 Australia had 54 396 applications for refugee status, mostly from conflict-torn areas,
2. Issue – Explain what the problem is in the current context 


Normally there’s something broken in the current context or there’s an opportunity – whichever it is, tell people what the issue is, before you tell them how you’re going to solve (or take advantage of) it.

But we take forever to process their applications – more than five years in some cases. This means five years in limbo with nothing meaningful to do, and five years of vulnerability, without family and friend support networks.
3. Solution – What are you doing to solve the issue? 


This is where you talk about what you’re going to do. Keep it simple and specific. Avoid non-profit buzzwords that no-one really understands (seriously, don’t do it).

We are building a rooftop garden for these refugees to volunteer at.
4. Impact – How will what you do change the world? 


Here’s where you talk about how what you’re doing will make a difference.

Our rooftop garden will grow more than food; it will grow opportunities. Opportunities for refugees to participate in familiar activities and grow traditional foods. Opportunities for meaningful activities during periods of uncertainty. Opportunities to increase self worth.
5. Ask – How much do you need and what are you going to spend it on? 


And always end with an ask. Be clear on how much you want to raise and what you’re going to spend it on.

We need $15,000 to build the garden and we’ve got some awesome perks for those who help us raise the funds.

And that’s it. You can use this same flow for your pitch video too. Simple.

How to increase your donation page conversion by 1500%

Girl looking at ipad

We’re obsessed with conversion metrics at Chuffed. Seriously, we A/B test everything. Colours/sizes/positions of buttons, call to actions, payment flows – they’re all constantly being improved and a result we’ve increased conversion 15 fold. That’s not a typo. And we don’t mean 15%.

Here’s how we did it and how you can apply it to your own donation page:

1. Don’t make people create an account before they donate

You know that thing when you click ‘Donate’ and you get redirected to a ‘Create an account with us’ page.

If you’re doing it, stop. Right now.

Ok, confession time: when we first started, we copied every other crowdfunding site and made account creation compulsory before you could donate. Big mistake. When we redesigned the site in October 2013, we completely removed the account creation step and conversion dramatically improved.

Turns out that this new flow:

Donate -> Enter your payment details -> Thanks for donating

Works several times better than this flow:

Donate -> Create an account -> Enter your payment details -> Thanks for donating

(Actually most crowdfunding sites use this flow, which is even worse):

Donate -> Confirm donation -> Create an account -> Enter your payment details -> Thanks for donating

Oh, and we still create accounts for people, we just do it while their donation’s being processed.

2. Make the donation button red

Ok, so there’s nothing magical about red, what’s important here is that your donation button should stand out from the rest of the page. If people are looking for it, don’t make it hard for them to find it. The easiest way to do this is with colour contrasts – make most of the page a dull colour, and make the donate button a bright colour.

We tried a range of colours on our page and we found that red increased conversions by about 50% from our original green.

3. Be transparent – tell donors where their money’s going

I sometimes think we’ve been so smashed around about administration costs in the NFP sector that we’ve taken to talking in obscurities about where money is going to be spent.

One study* that we came across said that only 4% of charity websites actually tell people what their donations would be spent on.

We strongly believe that telling people at the point of donation what percentage of their money is going where actually helps conversion. We believe in it so much that instead of hiding fees seven levels down on our website or in some obscure section of our Terms & Conditions, we decided to make it clear on the payment page what goes to the charity and what (if anything) goes to us.

Here’s a shot of what it looks like:

A final note

Every page is different and it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going to increase conversion on your page, so it’s absolutely critical to guess, test and update (and then do it over again). We use Visual Website Optimizer to do all our A/B testing but there’s other great tools like Optimizely and Google Content Experiments that have relatively cheap plans.

*Source: Donation Usability: Increasing Online Giving to Non-Profits and Charities, Jacob Nielsen

Is your not-for-profit boring on Facebook?

Chuffed.org Workshops

The setup: I was sitting down with a friend who runs a $10m not-for-profit the other day talking Facebook. He knew they needed to be on Facebook, he said, but what exactly was he meant to do when he got there.

“Is it just about pushing out our content? How do we get above the noise of all the other stuff online? And is it an awareness tool or a fundraising tool?”

The challenge: Review 400 Australian not-for-profit and community fundraising pages and figure out what the good ones (and the crap ones) did.

The answer: So first we had to figure out what our definition of “good” vs “crap” was (hint: it’s not number of likes). We decided to go for an engagement-driven metric, what we called “The Facebook Engagement Ratio (FER)” which is:

(Head down to the bottom of this post if you want to see if your Facebook page FER is any good)

And then we looked at the top 10% and the bottom 10%. Here’s what we found out:

1. Entertainment and news trump information

Pages with content that’s entertaining and news(y) kill pages that are full of information. If I’m going to find out what first aid I need if I have a snake bite, or how to improve my cardiovascular health, I’m not going to go to your Facebook page. Sorry, but Google works fine for that.

If I want to find out the latest about a detained Greenpeace protester, or get cuteoverloaded with pictures of endangered orangutans, Facebook’s the perfect medium.

2. It’s not about you, it’s about them (and what they care about)

Pages that served up content about the issue people cared about, rather than about their own organization won every time. The truth is people care more about the issue than they do about you, so stop serving them up stuff about you.

The guys at The Animal Welfare League of Queensland get this (https://www.facebook.com/AWLQLD) . They get that their audience cares about animals finding new homes – so they post up stories about …. animals finding new homes:

3. From a person, not an organisation

Pages that had posts that sounded like they were from a person, rather than sounding like they had been filtered through “corporate communications” speak worked much better.

Like this:

Not this:

And finally, how good is your FER?

If you’ve calculated your FER, and want to know if it’s good or bad, here are the stats:

  • Average FER: 6.5%
  • Range: 0% – 57%
  • To be in the top 10%, you needed an FER higher than: 13.5%
  • To be in the bottom 10%, you needed an FER lower than: 0.76%

And just in case you’re wondering, higher likes correlates with lower engagement:

Quick note: ‘people talking about this’ moves pretty frequently, so maintaining a high FER takes ongoing effort i.e. you can’t like-farm your way to an engaging Facebook page

And that’s a wrap on our first blog post and we’d love to know what you think. Please leave your comments below.