Advancing Philanthropy

Sponsored Content: Fundraise Up—Nonprofits Aren’t Fully Connecting With International Donors—Here’s Why

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With more than 10 million nonprofits worldwide, people looking to give have a plethora of charitable organizations to choose from. In terms of generosity, there is definitely plenty to go around—Americans alone collectively gave more than $484 billion to charitable causes in 2021.

If you think the generosity of Americans is steep, the U.S. actually ranks 24th in a long list of the world’s most generous countries in donating money—with Indonesia, Myanmar, and Australia leading the way—according to the “CAF World Giving Index 2021.”
Nonprofits that aren’t fundraising abroad are missing out on the opportunity to tap into this worldwide generosity. International fundraising allows nonprofits to expand their reach beyond the U.S. to cultivate donors who have the capacity and affinity to give to their mission. However, without the right strategy and useful tools in place, efforts to communicate with international donors can often go overlooked.

To help your nonprofit better connect with its international donors, we’ll be looking at:

  • Why nonprofits aren’t effectively communicating with international donors;
  • How your nonprofit can bridge the gap to international donors; and
  • What your nonprofit can do to provide a high-converting donor experience.

Understand Why Nonprofits Aren’t Fully Connecting With International Donors

Language is the main reason why most nonprofits are unable to fully connect with donors abroad—whether it’s irrelevant content, language barriers, or language inconsistencies and errors. The truth is, nonprofits struggle routinely with providing positive donation experiences for their international supporters. Many nonprofits are using donation platforms that show languages and currencies without taking into account the donor’s browser language setting or location, which could lead to the mistake of displaying a language that isn’t preferred by the donor.

So, how can nonprofits solve this dilemma to better communicate with their international donors?

Bridge the Gap to International Donors

Before you even consider taking your mission abroad, your nonprofit’s mission needs to resonate with those who live overseas—like SPCA International’s mission of advancing the safety and well-being of animals all around the world.

spca donate pageWith that being said, a worthy mission isn’t the only thing that matters. What’s equally important is ensuring your visitor’s website experience isn’t disrupted by a language barrier. Too often nonprofits that are fundraising internationally provide donation experiences that are limited to single languages, and these organizations are frequently forced to manually update and hardcode webpages that take up much-needed time, money, and expertise. Even when nonprofits invest in a solution that is able to convert giving amounts to the donor’s local currency, donors are often forced to navigate through a page that is either poorly translated or not in their preferred language.

While this can be a slippery slope to navigate, localization is the missing piece of the puzzle that can make a big difference in reaching more international donors.

The Role of Localization

The biggest misconception about localization is that it’s just basic translation, but localization’s capabilities go so much deeper than that. According to Eriksen Translations, localization is the process of fully adapting content to the cultural and linguistic preferences of a specific place, which includes the translation and cultural adaptation of websites and multimedia. More importantly, localization creates an experience that looks and feels as if the product or service was created for and created by a target market, regardless of the native language, cultural preferences, or geographic location.

Localization also takes into account important web design features that are unique to specific countries—like structuring copy right to left for Arabic or Hebrew or avoiding the color green in China or Indonesia because of its negative connotation.

At Fundraise Up, we like to refer to this immersive donor journey as internationalization, which takes the idea of localization but evolves it into a more comprehensive experience so that when someone visits a nonprofit’s website, there are absolutely no interruptions in their experience. With internationalization, the website is already set in the visitor’s native language and in their home currency, with country-specific payment methods displayed at the donation checkout (e.g., using Bacs for Direct Debit in the UK. vs. using Plaid for Instant ACH for U.S. residents).

Provide a High-Converting Donor Experience to Attract International Donors

Online giving continues to remain steady year after year. Along with the growing number of nonprofits saturating the sector, nonprofits now have to think beyond having a good mission to attract new donors—they have to work even harder to create a seamless and optimized giving experience to ensure their donor conversions continue to grow over time.

Implementing quality internationalization practices will give nonprofits the competitive edge they need, allowing them to broaden their reach and cultivate new donors from all over the world. If your website is not translated or designed for the visitor based on their browser preference or geographic location, you’re forcing them to figure out how to translate the text to their preferred language on their own.

global food bankWhile likely unintentional on your organization’s part, this can disrupt the donation experience and cause donation abandonment. Instead, employ internationalization to create a new and improved experience where all of the website elements match their cultural preference.

Take a look at the example below. The Global FoodBanking Network uses internationalization to provide a unique experience for its Spanish-speaking donors. The language is automatically updated when the visitor enters the website—identified through the visitor’s browser preference.

Create a donor experience specific to each one of your donors regardless of where they live by:

  • Customizing messaging throughout your website, donation checkouts, and emails to match languages for every country you serve (e.g., English, Spanish, Canadian English, and Canadian-French if you work in the U.S. and Canada);
  • Accepting local currencies that are automatically adjusted based on the visitor’s geographic location;
  • Offering region-specific payment methods; and
  • Sending country-compliant receipts.

Comply With International Tax Regulations

A rising concern for accepting international donations is understanding and complying with country-specific tax regulations. Because rules and regulations for tax-deductible donations vary from country to country, it could be difficult for nonprofits to stay compliant with each one, especially if they don’t have a legal specialist on staff.

As a rule of thumb, if someone is interested in making a gift but wants confirmation that their gift is tax-deductible for their resident country, nonprofits should never make any promises unless they are familiar with the tax rules of that country. Instead, nonprofits should suggest that the donor seek legal guidance on tax deductibility. However, while you can’t promise that their gift is tax-deductible, you can take measures to ensure that they receive country-compliant tax receipts.

To alleviate any of the headaches of manually sending your donors—including the international ones—individualized tax receipts but still ensuring that you’re providing all of your donors with a top-notch giving experience, send country-compliant tax receipts to all of your donors.

International fundraising is no easy feat, but with time, thoughtfulness, and the right set of tools, it can take your nonprofit to new heights. If your nonprofit is able to effectively reach donors around the world, you will be able to multiply your fundraising revenue and create even more impact toward your critical mission.

Nhu TeNhu Te is senior content manager at Fundraise Up, the AI-powered online donation platform for enterprise nonprofits. In her work, she focuses on helping nonprofits create more impact through personalized donor relations, digital fundraising, and thoughtful use of technology. Contact her at nhu@fundraiseup.com.

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08 Aug 2022 President's Perspective Blog
01 Aug 2022 President's Perspective Blog
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