[Year-End Fundraising] Light Boxes Work!

National Parks Light BoxYou might find nothing more annoying than a light box (the form-based box that pops up over a website with a call-to-action). But they work.

They especially work well for year end giving, special campaigns, and capturing subscribers.

Here’s why.

Your conversion rate goes up with a light box because more people are seeing your call-to-action … and they’re seeing it very clearly. They can’t help but notice your call-to-action, because you’ve put it right their faces.

But here’s the thing — pop-ups really do push people’s buttons. They just get under people’s skin so we recommend using light boxes on a limited basis for your really important campaigns.

Is there anything more important than your year-end giving campaign?

Now is not the time to be shy. So let’s do this.

First, do no harm

Minimize your reader’s annoyance with light boxes by:

  • Using one of your best images–better yet, use an image consistent with your year-end campaign
  • Carefully phrase your call-to-action with a high value result (feed a family of five this Christmas, your gift is 100% tax deductible, your gift will be matched)
  • Make the “X” or “Close Window” option easy to see for people who want to skip past the light box
  • Code your light box to only pop up once per day per visitor. Many off-the-shelf solutions like Popup Domination allow you to time the frequency of the light box to each visitor

There are alternatives to light boxes

Before we get into examples of some current stunning light boxes, if you really really really don’t want to code and use a light box, consider this:

  • Use (really) prominent donate call-to-action buttons embedded on your homepage. There are great places to put large call-to-action buttons on your site that really stand out. Two great examples are:
charity: water skips the light box issue by making their homepage a fantastic year-end landing page, reflecting their current campaign. Pretty straightforward and effective if you ask us.
charity: water home page

CARE.org is currently offering their web visitors both a prominent “Donate” call-to-action on the homepage and a light box.

CARE Homepage
  • Consider a delay in pop-up timing. Most pop-up software will let you customize when a pop-up will appear. You can create a pop-up donate ask that will appear only after a reader has been reading your content for a set period of time. For year-end, we suggest having your pop-up timed right away, but you can test and play with the timing if your bounce rate spikes or you are fielding complaints.

Here’s who’s getting it right, right now

We just showed you CARE’s homepage with a prominent DONATE call-to-action. Here’s the light box they are also using.

CARE Light Box

One of the best examples we’ve seen of a year-end campaign is HSUS’s campaign around Ricky Bobby and Stella. These images are consistent with The Humane Society of the United States’ current email campaign and ad campaign. Check out how they are rotating forms as part of the campaign. They will find out which light box performs better: the light box with an embedded form and trust logos or one with the narrative.

Are you thinking that the Humane Society is a big organization, with a great staff, and puppies and kitten (which is all true) so they can do this but you can’t? All of this can be done for your mission at a very low cost and still look “high production.”

Cheseapeake Bay Foundation does a great job distinguishing the light box and showing value with a match campaign.

Getting it done

Using a light box is easier than ever. There are tutorials on how to code light boxes on YouTube. You can run a Google search on “light box” or “pop up box” that will give you both resources and code. There are highly affordable plug-ins and off-the-shelf options that you use on your website, depending on the platform. At this late date, it might be hard to find a develop to custom code a light box for you, but it’s worth it if you can find one.

We don’t code light boxes here at ConnectedNonprofit, but do know folks who do this every day, so call us if you need a referral.

[Year-End Fundraising] Series

We’re running a series of strategies and tips you can put to use immediately to have your best online year-end fundraising campaign ever. You can see all the posts here:

This series will wrap up in the next few weeks with:
  • List segmentation
  • Using social media to boost your year-end revenue
  • Split A/B testing – what’s important to test and how to test it
  • Any other topics YOU ask us to cover. Click Let’s Ask Mandy to submit a question.