One Small Change That Can Have a Major Impact on Digital Revenue

Digital fundraising has accelerated at lightning speed thanks to the pandemic. In 2021, having a digital strategy in place is a necessity – not a trend.

However, I understand that there are organizations who are limited by budget or resources.

Don’t fret. You can still boost your online revenue on a limited budget! 

That begins with a few strategic optimizations to what you’re already doing now – and I’m going to share one small but powerful one here with you in this blog. 

Cover the fee

You know that little check box you can add to your donation forms? The one that asks donors to increase their total gift amount by a small percentage to include credit card and processing fees?  

It may sound surprisingly simple, but adding this tiny optimization to your donation forms can make an incredible impact on your long-term digital revenue. 

In fact, when we examined data from our clients who have added cover-the-fee check boxes to their donation forms through our Donor Marketing Cloud, we found some impressive results:

  • 51.04 percent of donors chose to cover the fee with their regular donation
  • 1.84 percent of total digital revenue raised came from donors covering the fee

That’s a significant amount of revenue that could have a major impact on your organization’s bottom line over time.

Not sold yet? Here’s another example:

The SPCA of Texas has been using a donation form that allows cover-the-fee. In just over a year, they saw these returns using the feature:

  • 79 percent of donors opted in to cover the fee
  • This led to a 2.7 percent lift in revenue that generated nearly $65,000


Our tips for making this strategy work for you

Now, this can’t just be a set-it-and-forget-it type of deal. With any effective strategy, it takes some testing and monitoring to make sure it’s working for you. I always recommend that organizations test the following when implementing the cover-the-fee strategy:

  • Pre-selected boxes: Does your success rate change if you leave the box pre-selected on your donation forms? What about when you leave it unselected and allow donors to opt-in? In my experience, donors are more likely to cover the fee if it’s already checked, but testing to see what works best for you is always a smart approach. 
  • Fee percentage: Does 3-4 percent cover all credit card fees? Should it be more or less? It’s important to make sure what they’re giving you is actually enough to help impact your bottom line. 
  • Messaging: Does the message itself have an impact on whether or not donors opt to cover the fee? Play with different wording and tone to see what works best. 

By conducting these tests, you can find the sweet spot for your donors and achieve the best results. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to simple and cost-effective digital optimizations organizations can make on a tight budget. Luckily for you, we’re hosting a webinar to spill some more of our secrets on Thursday, May 13. I’ll be joined by digital fundraising experts at Humane Society of Missouri and Louisiana SPCA in our upcoming session, Digital Revenue: Small Changes Can Make A Big Impact. Hope to see you there!

This is the second is a three-part Future-focused Fundraising series geared towards animal welfare professionals who are looking for ways to bring in revenue.  Also register for the other sessions:

Next Thursday, May 6: Stewardship: Breaking Free from the Ask-And-Repeat Model 
Wednesday, May 19:  Virtual Events: Lessons Learned in a Year of Chaos


Jenn Thompson

Jenn Thompson is Vice President, Digital, at RKD Group. She has decades of experience working alongside nonprofits to create integrated digital strategies that lead to multichannel growth and high-value donors. She has been with RKD since 2010, and she provides the digital plan of attack for dozens of animal welfare organizations across the U.S.


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