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Nonprofits can run abandoned cart campaigns too


It can be awkward to remind well-intentioned people that they never completed the online donation process. This kind of outreach feels impossible for a nonprofit because nonprofits run off the charitable giving of the public. It doesn’t scream grateful when you call someone out for *almost* donating. When done poorly, abandoned cart campaigns lose significant sums.

Usually, the reasons surrounding abandoning donations are… 

  • “I am just taking some time to learn more about the organization before committing to supporting” 
  • “I don’t have the time to donate now but I PROMISE I will later” *forgets* 
  • “My wallet is alllllll the way across the room”  

Here are some tips to target those abandoned carters without risk of offense.

First – What is an Abandoned Booking Strategy?

what is an abandoned donation? 

An abandoned donation, cart or booking is a website visitor that entered your purchase page or started the donation process but never finished. That means these website visitors went all the way to the final step of the donation process but somehow fell off the wagon. We have no idea if they plan on returning later to finish, or if they have not yet been fully convinced they should support the cause. All we know is that we missed the chance of a donation.

Why should you be targeting abandoned donations? 

Because they work. Here is an example of a traditional abandoned cart campaign run by Nike. This ad features the exact product I considered buying a few days ago. I have seen it about once a day since I abandoned my cart.

Have I put my money where my mouth is? No. But does this ad keep this cute shoe at the top of my mind? You bet it does.

This group has shown explicit interest in financially supporting your organization – enough to start the donation process. For much of this audience, one small push in the right direction will be enough to complete a donation. Maybe all they need are a few reminders or one more interesting fact about the charitable cause. You can do both of these things with abandoned donation retargeting.

How can you target nonprofit abandoned carts? 

Create targeted social media campaigns that reach out only to the part of your audience that has abandoned the donation process.

In targeting terms, this includes all website visitors who landed on your donation page or hit a ‘Donate Now’ button. Once you have that group, you exclude all individuals who completed the donation process. The group leftover is your abandoned donators.

To accurately set up an abandoned cart campaign in any industry, there are steps you have to take first. You need to have a Facebook pixel present on your site, and you may need to have specific Google Analytics goals. This all depends on the setup of your site. Once the tracking and goals are in place, you are open for business and ready to reach out.

Understand who you want to target  

Who to target is mainly based on the size of your following. Is your organization large enough to have a sizable pool of abandoned donations? Run a proper abandoned booking campaign that targets only those who started donating but excludes finished donations.


Do you have a smaller audience? You may run into issues with your abandoned cart audience being too small to target. Do not fret – we have a plan B. Run a more general retargeting campaign for individuals that visited any page on the site, but did not donate. This can also include visiting any branded social profiles to increase the size of your audience even more.

For Abandoned Donations, Copy is KEY 

Nonprofits don’t have the luxury of using copy like retail companies (We saw you likes our brown boots – go back to our site to finish the purchase!) Coming from a nonprofit, that copy would sound insensitive, desperate, and ungrateful.  To craft great abandoned donation copy for nonprofits, let’s go back to our possible reasons for abandonment: 

“I am just taking some time to learn about more about the organization before committing to supporting” 

Strategy: Offer additional info on what good the organization does. Include links to personal stories, case studies, or any info that helps donors in the research process justify the donation. 

“I don’t have time to donate now” or “My wallet is across the room” 

Strategy: Highlight how little time it takes to donate. “Help our cause in under 2 minutes.” Or, “In just 2 minutes, you can help children like Maya.” 


Don’t make the targeting strategy obvious 

Don’t point fingers or let on that you know they abandoned the donation page. This will come off as insensitive or greedy – the exact opposite of how a nonprofit wants to look. 

Don’t overplay the guilt trip 

Stay positive and gracious with your messages. This is a section of your audience that was already moved by your cause, so reach out with support and empowerment over guilt.

Don’t over-target 

Timing is key and is just as important as the actual content of the ad. This audience shouldn’t see your ads multiple times a day. Make sure you understand the size of your abandoned donations and budget accordingly – you could be spending less than a dollar a day to limit the times your audience receives the ad. 

Want to learn more about the intricacies of abandoned cart campaigns? Reach out! 

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