Earlier today, Allan Benamer wrote a very interesting blog post, “Who Won the Giving Season…” on his Non-Profit Tech Blog. In it, he compares year-end web traffic data of four players in the online giving/lending space. We’re one of those four, so i thought I’d just add a little bit of additional data to the mix.
From our perspective the real winners of the giving season are the people who live in struggling communities around the world, whose lives may be a tad better because of the nearly $800,000 of donations that came through the GlobalGiving platform in December. About half of that came through our website, or the special “co-branded” site we created for the Parade/Case Challenge that Allan refers to. The data don’t lie – our traffic went up in December. And in November. Here’s what we know worked in generating traffic at year end:
- Banner Ads. Through the generosity of a number of corporate partners, we had banner ads running on a bunch of websites. We also bought a tiny bit of “sponsorship” on NPR. Those ads kicked in at higher levels right after Thanksgiving, and account for about 30% of the traffic increases.
- The Parade/Case America’s Giving Challenge – which accounted for some of the velocity but not all, and accounted for ~11% of traffic in December. (The real story on this is January…stay tuned)
- Repeat traffic from visitors who know of us through word of mouth (consistently 50+% of traffic throughout the year)
- Our own online marketing strategies – via Care2, StumbleUpon, blog outreach about our gift card, and of course search marketing
- PR – we actively pursued print and radio earned media that resulted in over two dozen traditional media stories that Allan duly noted and linked to
- Our own email marketing efforts (One e-comm/week, each segmented in various ways) and a “tell-a-friend” campaign we ran in early December.
Having said all that, the giving season story for us is always more about conversion rate than traffic. This chart shows the story in stark relief:
For most of the year, unless we are running special campaigns/incentives our conversion rate pretty consistently hovers between .75% and 1%. In December, it was 2.7%. This is due to higher conversion rates for the Parade Challenge, to be sure. People are more highly committed by the time they get to us via Parade.
But it’s more about how philanthropy works – year end, year end, year end. Gifts and tax deductions. People literally tell us in post-checkout surveys that “I remembered reading about you in Nick Kristof’s article in the NY Times in the Spring,” or “I heard an NPR story in the summer.” And this year we launched a physical, biodegradable gift card. It was a hit. We “sold” about 1,800 them. People knew what they were coming to buy.
So, we drove more traffic, we saw higher conversions. More projects get funding. A good giving season all around.