Online donations are fast-becoming a major way to generate money for causes; in 2013, charities such as the National Christian Foundation and Habitat for Humanity International reported an individual online donation of $100,000 or more, and the University of Michigan noted that Internet giving rose an astonishing 296 percent.(1) Not bad at all.
While other methods like face-to-face interaction, mail-in forms and social media promotion are still in use and serve as helpful extras to complement a fundraising effort, giving over the Internet –if these examples are any indication– are proving to be effective and well-worth exploring.
If you’re familiar with typical retail sites such as Overstock, then you’re on your way to understanding how it can work for you. Quite simply, you create a storefront, which is essentially a web site, with an appearance similar to Overstock or Best Buy. Just like them, you’re showcasing what you wish to drive interest in. The main difference is that the affiliate links will be displayed, so everyone gets credit where credit’s due.(2)
Ready to jump in? Take these key points in consideration before creating your affiliate storefront.
Tips to Create Effective Affiliate Storefronts for Online Fundraising
1. Keep Affiliate Storefronts Separate from your Blog
Keep your blog a blog and your storefront a storefront, housing it on a well-designed, quality web site. Use your blog, if you have one (you really should), to continue establishing your expertise and involvement in a particular area and to drive your audience to your affiliate storefront. This way, people will be more inclined to want to visit your storefront since they already have the awareness that you are truly dedicated to the cause and not just a fly-by-night person who suddenly got into it for the month.
Just don’t leave it at that.
Even if you are established through blogs and social media outreach, trying to just make mention of it in one blog post and call it a day won’t be nearly as effective as if you have an entire storefront devoted to the fundraiser. Lead them to the storefront through your blog, but don’t rely on your blog as the one and only way to generate interest.
2. Create a Web Site That is Visually Appealing
While it may be OK to have a somewhat plain-looking blog, when it comes to engaging would-be philanthropists, spending time to create a professional site is worthwhile.(2)
Think about it: would you be inclined to donate if you landed on a storefront that looked bare with hardly any images and content that seemed only to have a “click here to donate” button? It works the other way around too. Too much clutter can be offsetting, coming off as too in-your-face, desperate and sloppy.
Find a professional middle ground that matches the look and feel of the cause at hand (you know if your cause can go slightly on the funky side from a design standpoint, or if it’s best to stay conservative). Take the time to really consider your audience including demographics and previous feedback from any surveys you may have done in the past.
3. Do Away with Banner Ads or Graphics
When it comes to generating interest in a particular fundraiser, it’s advised to provide a clickable link within the content, in text form, rather than using a banner ad.(2) The reason is simple. Increasing amounts of people are becoming more savvy about banner ads and research has shown that eyes tend to avoid them and instead, go directly to the copy.(2)
Of course, if you have other reasons to benefit from leaving banner ads in, leave them there, but don’t necessarily count on them to be the source that gets the audience to type in their credit card info. Simply reference the affiliate link within the copy and hyperlink to the desired area. To that end, while it may sound obvious, test the link to ensure that it works. Hey, you’ve gotten people to the point of donating. A 404-error can be the difference between someone trying to see if another link on your storefront works, or pushing them off the fence entirely and moving on to another charity.
4. Be Up Front
While you may have made plenty of mention on your blog or on social media that you’re involved with affiliate marketing, be sure to do it again on your storefront. Such disclosure is always wise, especially when non-profits are involved, as it makes others aware that you are 1) passionate about the fundraising effort and 2) that you receive a commission.(3)
As always, provide a way for people to contact you.
Keep it professional and engaging and don’t stray from your established interests and audience.
Have fun and good luck!
Sources for this article include: