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Digital Fundraising Strategy

Getting started with top-of-funnel strategies

In this article we’ll cover a few areas with the goal of giving you confidence as you begin your top-of-funnel digital fundraising strategies. We’ll cover questions such as:

  • Why do I need to worry about top-of-funnel efforts?
  • How do I set goals for top-of-funnel campaigns?
  • How do I know my top-of-funnel campaign is effective?
  • What do we do with this audience next?

Why do I need to worry about top-of-funnel efforts?

We get it: it’s a hard sell to use your fundraising budget on an audience that is expected to produce no immediate revenue. It is likely that you’re being encouraged to include acquisition goals into your digital fundraising campaigns. However, approaching previously unengaged audiences with a “give now” call to action often leads to a high cost per acquisition and a low return on ad spend.

Reaching top-of-funnel audiences on the right network, with the right message and the right call to action, can lead to increased engagement rates. When they engage with your ads, you’re able to cookie these visitors for future fundraising ad targeting. Those ads may be donation asks or may be higher up the funnel for lead generation, advocacy, or volunteer asks.

 By not engaging top-of-funnel, your middle and lower funnel audiences will shrink in size and decrease in quality.

How do I set goals for top-of-funnel campaigns?

Because your top-of-funnel audiences are not ready to give, your goals should not be financial. Don’t worry: if you’re taking a full-funnel approach, you will see the revenue arrive through other campaigns. Consider this comparison: to raise $X, we need to send X people to the landing page. Given a clickthrough rate of X% on my ads, I need X people to see my ads.

Your top-of-funnel KPIs are impressions and clicks, with your clickthrough rate and cost per click being closely monitored.

How do I know my top-of-funnel campaign is effective?

Your impressions and clickthrough rate work together to indicate the quality of the audience that you’re reaching. This new cookied audience, or prospects lists if you’re running a lead gen program, will be added to your conversion campaigns for revenue generation. The higher the quality of your top-of-funnel activities, the better those audiences will perform.

Consider the following results from a client where the return on ad spend for top-of-funnel audiences is less than $1, but when those audiences are retargeted, they produce as much as a $15 return on ad spend.


What do we do with this audience next?

The answer is “it depends on what top-of-funnel efforts you’ve deployed.”

  • Lead Generation: Send them through an email nurture series and digital ads.
  • Brand awareness: Test digital fundraising ads to see which offer performs best. Serve them lead generation ads.
  • Content marketing: Offer a lead gen magnet on the page. Cookie them for digital ad targeting.

Effectively nurturing this audience is key to the overall success of your digital fundraising programs.