Fundraising 2010/WMDE Lessons Learned

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Following are my thoughts and Lessons learned from the previous fundraiser. Most facts are based on numbers, others rely on communication with donors and general feelings. To give an good overwiew I summarized our findings into the Top-10-Lessons Learned from WMDE.

Have a good campaing-landingpage[edit]

WMDE had a one-click-landingpage during the fundraiser, meaning that every donor out of Germany would get directed to our page directly after clicking on the banner. We enhanced the landingpage with very essential elements, so the donors knew right away who to contact with questions, how the donations are used and how you can donate. Personalizing the website was very important to us, so we set up an extra-page, on which I explain how we use the donations. For donation options we offered direct debit, bank transfer, credit card and mobile SMS. We bought extra server-capacity to handle the traffic load, which comes along the one-click-mechanism and which worked very good. And we had very few exit-links on the campaign-site.

Capacity, capacity, capacity[edit]

We had two full-time-employees during the fundraiser plus technical expertise. In order to manage a campaign like ours this is the absolute minimum. Next time we will have more capacity especially at the beginning of the campaign. We were a little bit surprised by the mind-blowing beginning, therefore we had to work ourself down from this mass of request in the following weeks. So be sure to have a enough capacity to respond.

Answer Emails as quickly as possible[edit]

A fundraising saying is: always answer before dawn. We received more than 2400 Emails during the fundraiser. Our claim was to answer the same day we received the respective email. For answering this mass we set up about 15 OTRS-templates. Fundraising is about the donor – answering emails quickly is an essential integral part of fundraising. No response, no trust.

Offer periodical donations[edit]

Even though we already offered monthly/yearly donations last time, we had a significant rise in periodical donations. For the time of the fundraiser we received 1221 yearly and 287 monthly contributions.

Have a solid banner-management[edit]

We basically ran our own banner management, meaning that we implemented the banners including banner messages, testing methods, appearances. We worked closely with WMF but did not rely on WMF. That gave us the autonomy that we seeked for.

Work more with different banners and appeals[edit]

We had three different Jimmy-Banners, two community-Banners and one Pavel-Banner. The white Jimmy-Banner with the urgent message did the best, generating most donations, the highest donation sum and the most commentaries. But we have to keep in mind that the urgent-Jimmy-Banner was up right before Christmas. The 2nd best banner was the green Jimmy-Banner, followed by the black opener-Banner. Pavel did pretty good with a 1,26 % conversion rate, coming in as 4th, while our two community banners, which we ran early January, had a conversion rate right above 1%. Since we were not able to beat the Jimmy-Appeals, we focused on the Jimmy-banners/-appeals while localizing the campaign-landingpage (e.g. we emphasized the importance of Germany for the financing of Wikipedia). Also bear in mind that the donation numbers we are talking about here only include direct debit payments and CC. Therefore the explanatory power of conversion rates is highly afflicted.

Ask more for community-involvement[edit]

Even though we have some really dedicated community members for the fundraiser from Germany, we had to deal with low community involvement in our fundraising. We communicated the fundraiser in general and its specifics pretty good and early enough, but we were not able to receive more than three workable community-appeals. We need to find ways to better engage the German community in order to receive more engagement, since I think it is a super and expendable way to communicate what Wikipedia is about. The same deficit goes for translating. We had a bumpy start with translating the first appeal. Since we did and will note use every appeal that appears on meta, we need to find a better solution for communicating what we exactly want to get translated.

Test the landing page[edit]

Due to technical and capacity bottlenecks we were not able to test our landing pages extensively. We did some minor but important modifications for usability during the fundraiser though. We have to test a lot more next time - especially regarding the donation form. We did get a lot of good hints through remarks from donors concerning usability. Use that: it is free counsel! We need to get started with testing a lot earlier than last time. This again means for us: capacity, capacity, capacity as well as access to banner statistics.

Ask for donor stories a lot more[edit]

While modifying the donation process we changed the commentary-box. We ask the donors questions about their engagement and highlight the importance of their story for communicating our vision. By helping the donor formulate a commentary through these rhetorical questions, we were able to receive a lot more commentaries than last year - I would guess every third donor made a public comment.

Send out donation receipts with membership applications[edit]

We send out donation receipts to every donor with a donation above 25 Euro by postal mail. This is pretty common in Germany. 33.000 people received a donation receipt along with an membership application form. We have received 430 membership forms back, meaning a more than 50 % growth of Wikimedia Germany in terms of memberships and a high amount of periodical membership fees.


You can find a overview of all donations right here. Here you can see the weighs of the different donation methods. If you have any questions, go ahead.