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The Science Behind Nudging Donors in the Right Direction

Nov 2023 - READ MORE

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Red string on finger to signal reminder

Picture this: You’ve sent the perfect targeted email to a prospective donor. Your punny headline sparked their interest. Your nostalgia-steeped appeal tugged at their heartstrings. They’ve clicked on your artfully crafted CTA and started filling out your giving form. But, then things hit a snag. 

Perhaps a clever kitten discovered the treat stash, an energetic child knocked over a precarious vase, or an important call flashed across their screen. By no fault of the fundraiser, their attention is taken away from your form and the donation is never completed.

Now what?  

You could cross your fingers and hope your “almost” donor has quick problem-solving skills and an impressive attention span that brings them right back to your giving form. 

Or, you could give them a nudge back in the right direction.

Using a reminder to win back a customer is hardly a new concept—especially in the e-commerce space. Many of you are probably already familiar with the abandoned cart email. 

“It looks like you forgot something in your cart!” 

And while simple in concept, these emails can be surprisingly effective. According to SalesCycle, the average open rate for Cart Abandonment emails was a whopping 50 percent in 2022. This number has been climbing in recent years, highlighting that consumers may in fact appreciate a reminder.

This same approach can be applied to the educational fundraising space. At GiveCampus, we refer to these donor reminder emails as gift nudges.

Gift Nudges 101

For each social fundraising campaign or giving form that a partner creates on GiveCampus, they have the opportunity to set up an automatic incomplete gift reminder—a gift nudge. If enabled, donors who advance to the payment form but don’t complete their gift will receive a follow-up email within 30-60 minutes of leaving the form. Partners have the option to customize their follow-up email or use the default GiveCampus email template. 

Similar to abandoned-cart emails, these gift nudges have the power to be very impactful. In fact, GiveCampus partner Dallas Baptist University saw a 5-figure donation result from the help of a gift nudge!

During DBU’s annual Giving Day in May 2023, a donor had started to make a donation online, but for whatever reason, did not complete the transaction. The GiveCampus platform automatically captured the donor’s data and generated an incomplete gift nudge reminding them via email to complete their donation—and they did! The donor appreciated the follow-up and promptly mailed a check for $50,000!

While the gift was ultimately made offline, it was clear that the automated gift nudge played a large role in securing this donation.

The ability to automatically send incomplete gift nudges was something we were unable to do before. GiveCampus clearly helped us capture a major gift that might otherwise have been lost.
Carson England Dallas Baptist University

Knowing how effective these automated reminders can be, GiveCampus wanted to dive deeper into optimizing our gift nudges. 

Timing Your Gift Nudges

One obvious area to consider was when the gift nudge was sent. These reminders are generally sent between 30 and 60 minutes after the donor has abandoned their gift. GiveCampus ran a test to see if there was any relationship between the timing of the gift nudge and whether it led to a completed gift. 

The GiveCampus data team randomized the time at which incomplete gift nudges were sent—all times were kept within the 30- to 60-minute window. The pattern was clear. The earlier the gift nudge email was sent, the more likely the donor was to complete their gift. 

While a difference of 5, 10, or 15 minutes may feel small in the scheme of someone’s day, it is clear that time is of the essence when it comes to winning back a gift.

Chart of gift nudge Conversion rate compared to mins since abandoned cart

More Gift Nudge Best Practices

Beyond the timing of your gift nudge, what other factors contribute to a successful abandoned gift reminder? Below, you’ll find more best practices to consider when setting up your reminders—whether you’re utilizing the GiveCampus platform or not. 

1. Have a Clear Call to Action 

Your call to action—to complete their gift—should be communicated clearly and be easy to spot within the email. Also, you want to ensure your CTA link takes them directly back to their pre-filled giving form. Sending them to a blank giving form they need to fill out from scratch creates unnecessary friction and puts your donation at risk of not ever being completed. 

Gift Nudge template email

2. Apply Personalization

Personalization is an effective marketing tool across the board, and gift reminders are no exception. Be sure to address your donor by name in your email and potentially include additional targeted details relevant to them such as the donation amount and designation. GiveCampus makes it simple to personalize your gift reminder emails by offering built-in merge fields that a user can simply drag and drop into the copy of a custom gift nudge email template.

Gift Nudge merge fields examples

3. Offer Easy Access to Assistance

Perhaps your prospective donor didn’t abandon their cart due to an unexpected distraction—despite how mischievous kids and kittens can be. Rather, they had an unanswered question about making a gift and didn’t know where to go for help. Short on time and perhaps patience, they abandoned their donation. Ideally, you’ve optimized your giving form to eliminate this kind of friction.

But, inevitably new questions arise and you can’t anticipate everything. Make it easy for donors to contact someone using your gift reminder email so you can address any outstanding concerns preventing them from making a gift. You may choose to include a support email or even a staff member’s phone number directly in the body of the email. 

If you’re a GiveCampus partner or curious about our products, you’ll be happy to know that these best practices are already in place within our gift nudge templates. Paired with new insights around the best time to send your reminder, our platform is primed to help turn your abandoned giving forms into completed gifts—and hopefully recurring donors. GiveCampus is always experimenting to drive more donors and dollars on our partner’s behalf. To learn more about our platform and how we can help you achieve your fundraising goals, schedule an intro call with one of our fundraising experts.

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