Why Pop-Ups Should Be Part of Your Online Fundraising | npENGAGE

Why Pop-Ups Should Be Part of Your Online Fundraising

By on Feb 22, 2016


online fundraising

Are you annoyed by those pop-up boxes that suddenly appear on some websites? Probably.

Are your constituents? Likely.

Does that mean your nonprofit website should avoid them? No.

Everyone knows to raise money, you need to ask. And simply having a donate button on your home page isn’t a strong ask.

With so much to see on your home page, the donate button is one of several things competing for attention.

But to convert more website visitors to donors during a campaign, a strong ask is needed. And that’s what a pop-up delivers—it asks your website visitors, point blank, if they’ll make a donation.


Pop-ups—also known as lightboxes or shadowboxes—are especially popular in December. A few nonprofits I work with tried pop-ups for the first time this December. It gave their online giving an extra boost, supplementing their email and direct mail campaigns.

Maximizing Each Channel

To increase online giving, nonprofits often crank up their number of fundraising emails. According to the last two Luminate benchmark reports, 72% more fundraising emails were sent two years ago and 17% more fundraising emails were sent last year.

The report also indicates only about 1 in 2,500 (0.04%) who receive a fundraising email typically donate to it. So while email remains a strong generator of online gifts, other channels need to be maximized.

Pop-ups can help convert more website visitors to donors during online campaigns. Whether it’s a year-end, matching gift or seasonal campaign, it puts the campaign ask front and center.

Worried that pop-ups will drive visitors away?

While I haven’t seen data on nonprofit ligthbox performance, Dan Zarzella found that lightboxes doubled subscription conversion rates without increasing the bounce rate (i.e. people who immediately leave a website).

So does this mean a pop-up will definitely help your campaign? Of course not. Like anything, it’s best that your nonprofit test it and then compare the traffic patterns and conversions to historical metrics.

But they’ve become popular enough that nonprofits should consider them. And in my opinion, I think visitors to nonprofit websites are a little more understanding of pop-ups – after all, most nonprofits do need donations to survive.

Does this mean you should always have a pop-up on your home page asking for donation? Probably not. I’d use them just when you’re running giving campaigns.

During the other times, though, you might use an email signup lightbox to grow your email list. That’s another call to action that often needs to be elevated within a nonprofit website.

While online fundraising campaigns have become more and more multi-channel, the home page can often be an afterthought. It shouldn’t be.

Strange as it may sound, the website is still an untapped area for some fundraising campaigns. Pop-ups can help—just be prepared to hear internally that “they’re so annoying.”


Mike Snusz brings 18 years of fundraising experience to his role as a Senior Team Lead on Blackbaud’s Professional Services team. He leads a team of digital consultants and works with nonprofits to improve their digital fundraising, monthly giving, email marketing and peer-to-peer fundraising programs. Prior to Blackbaud, Mike managed the turnaround of the Ride For Roswell from 2003 to 2005 in his hometown of Buffalo, NY. When he’s not contemplating fundraising, Mike enjoys hide and seek, tag, and dance parties with his two kids.

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