Donation form abandonment happens when your nonprofit supporters navigate to your donation page and start filling it out, but end up navigating away from the page before the contribution is complete.

Abandonment doesn’t necessarily mean the supporter had a change of heart. They may have been distracted by a phone call, lost internet connection, or realized they were late for a meeting. No matter their reasoning for abandoning the cart, they haven’t completed the gift, which means your organization doesn’t receive those valuable funds as a part of your online fundraising revenue.

However, if you’re able to recapture these donors, you have the chance to significantly increase fundraising revenue and garner more support for your mission.

To recapture supporters who have momentarily abandoned their gifts, your nonprofit needs well-organized nonprofit marketing strategies to remind these valuable donors of their interest in your cause. The campaign you’ll use to recapture their attention is called a cart abandonment campaign.

In this guide, we’ll discuss some of the common questions associated with this type of campaign and strategies your nonprofit can leverage for a successful cart abandonment campaign. We’ll cover the following questions:

  1. How do cart abandonment campaigns work?
  2. Why are cart abandonment campaigns so successful?
  3. How expensive are these marketing campaigns?
  4. What are some tips for campaign success?

Ready to master the art of cart abandonment campaigns? Let’s dive in.

1. How do cart abandonment campaigns work?

As a consumer, you’ve probably run into cart abandonment campaigns in the past. Maybe you were considering purchasing a pair of shoes from a retail store but didn’t make the purchase for one reason or another. Then, the next time you logged in online, you saw those same shoes pop up in the margins of the news article you were reading.

Retail businesses use cart abandonment campaigns to drive additional sales in their online stores and have been very successful in doing so! Some studies found that e-commerce sites can recover 33% of shoppers who abandoned their carts through effective cart abandonment campaigns.

So why shouldn’t nonprofits also take advantage of this effective marketing strategy?

Essentially, these campaigns follow prospective supporters who have found your donation form but left without completing a donation. You can leverage your marketing software to remind these supporters about their interest in your mission by retargeting them with advertisements.

In the same way that you may have run across an ad on a news website for the shoes that you almost purchased, retargeting ads for your nonprofit show up as your supporters navigate through different websites online. Your ad will appear in the margins of other websites, reminding supporters of their abandoned cart.

Few people navigate all the way to your donation page out of pure curiosity. They do so because they’re engaged in your mission and care about your cause. A simple reminder through an advertisement may be all they need to convince them to return and complete a gift.

2. Why are cart abandonment campaigns so successful?

When someone arrives on your nonprofit’s website, they are usually directed there by a social media post, an email campaign, or another marketing campaign that you use to acquire new supporters. At this stage, they’re likely exploring your organization’s other materials, learning more about your mission and vision statements, projects, and various programs to learn more about what you do. Then, they navigate to your donation page to provide support for that mission.

This means you’ve made a good impression and they’re interested in what they’ve seen so far, making them a good candidate to become a donor and potentially a long-term supporter of your cause.

This is all a part of the donor journey. According to re:Charity’s guide on donor relationships, your donor journey describes, “all the steps a donor takes from the moment they first become aware of your nonprofit to the point where they hit submit on their donation form. But [it] doesn’t stop there as you will continue your relationship-building efforts to encourage another donation.”

When someone drops off their donor journey by abandoning their cart before making that first donation, you don’t only miss out on those initial funds, but the entire potential lifetime value of that donor.

Cart abandonment campaigns are successful because they capture those supporters, re-engaging them and returning them to their personal donor journey with your nonprofit.

3. How expensive are these marketing campaigns?

Recapturing your donor’s attention is important, but be sure you don’t bombard them with ads and information about your organization. This can have a negative result and actually drive these important supporters away.

This means you should actually make sure you’re not spending too much on these campaigns. While it may sound counterintuitive, you should limit the number of ads your supporters see and spread them out over time, making the campaign less expensive.

Define your organization’s budget for the cart abandonment campaign upfront. Then, you can consider how many times supporters will ideally see your ads each day or week. See how these line up and make adjustments to your campaign accordingly so that you continue to grow your audience without overspending.

After you’ve determined your price and ideal frequency for your campaign ads to appear, place a frequency cap on your campaign to limit the number of times supporters see your ad. Plus, remove users who have donated within the past month, showing that they did in fact return to their cart and contribute a gift. This strategy helps in a couple of important ways:

  • It prevents your organization from coming across as greedy or pushy to gain donations from your supporters.
  • It prevents your organization from overspending on this campaign and helps you get the best return on your investment.

After you’ve set these parameters, determined your marketing channels, and launched your campaign strategy, you’ll want to re-evaluate your campaign after a set period of time to make sure you’re meeting your ideal goals. Then, you’ll evaluate this campaign after a set period of time against your ideal goals. Feathr’s digital marketing guide explains how you can readjust your campaign and strategy depending on how your campaign stacked up against your preset goals. In this case, you might adjust your frequency, budget, or other elements of the campaign depending on how your first iteration went.

4. What are some tips for campaign success?

Cart abandonment campaigns provide ample opportunity for your organization to recapture the support of prospective donors, driving them to their first donation on your website. But you need to make sure your campaign is well-optimized to address the needs of your supporters.

Our first tip for a more successful campaign is to address the major reasons supporters tend to stop short of making their contribution.

Oftentimes, supporters fail to complete their contribution for one of two main reasons: either they didn’t have enough knowledge about your organization’s mission or they ran into a problem with time (they were too busy, got distracted, didn’t have their wallet, etc.).

Therefore, craft your advertisement and email subject lines to address these needs specifically, using text like:

  • “Learn more about you can make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
  • “It only takes 5 minutes to make a difference.”
  • “Learn more about our [project name] campaign.”

Our second tip is to make sure your donation page is simple and easy to fill out.

The longer and more complex your donation page is, the more likely people get distracted and end up navigating away. Following donation page best practices will make sure your form encourages trust in your organization and makes the giving process faster. Some best practices to follow include:

  • Simplify your donation form, only asking the questions you need to help your supporters complete their contributions. This speeds up the process, taking less of your supporter’s time.
  • Brand your donation page to your nonprofit organization. That way, supporters will know they haven’t navigated to a third-party or scam website.
  • Provide payment options to make the donation process convenient for supporters. Offer credit/debit card payments, ACH transfers, and other forms of payment to choose from.

When you implement your organization’s cart abandonment campaign, you want to maximize the results. Directly addressing your supporters’ reasons for leaving and respecting their time with a well-designed donation page will help you capture as many of those interested supporters as possible.

Supporters who abandon your donation form most likely didn’t lose interest in your cause. Chances are, they want to support your cause, but something else called them away. Now that you know how cart abandonment campaigns work and how nonprofits can use them, you can launch your own campaign! Capture your prospective supporters but also take time to build that relationship as these first-time donors may continue to invest in your mission for decades.

About the Author

Aidan Augustin

Aidan Augustin is the co-founder and president of Feathr, an industry-leading software company making digital marketing more accessible to nonprofits and event organizers. Feathr has helped over 800 nonprofits and thousands of events know, grow, and engage their audiences. When he’s not steering the ship at Feathr, he’s playing strategy games, singing karaoke, or reading books about people who changed the world.

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