A funny thing happened on the way to last year’s elections. Using sophisticated online techniques that wedded advanced social media with emotional email marketing, huge amounts of money were raised.
The success of those campaigns caused many nonprofit executives and boards to take another look at how–if at all– they raise money online.
Online giving to nonprofits soared 11% in 2012, according to the Blackbaud Index, which tracks approximately $8 billion in US-based charitable giving to nonprofits. Overall giving to nonprofits was up only 2%.
Although digital fundraising still represents less than 10% of total giving, the trend is accelerating. Where only 4% of Americans gave online in 2002, in 2012 it rocketed to 65 % of the population.
No wonder a recent survey of nonprofit leaders revealed that for almost half “rethinking revenue model & income generation” is a top priority.
Here’s why. According to Blackbaud’s 2012 Charitable Giving Report, medium-sized nonprofits saw a year-over-year increase in online donations of 14.3% in 2012, followed by small nonprofits (up 11.8%) and large organizations (up 7.2%) bringing up the rear.
Online has also become the channel of choice for donors in response to natural disasters. The Salvation Army, for example, raised $3 million online to assist the victims of SuperStorm Sandy, out of a total take of $3.4 million.
In the Toolkit
Which of the many online tools do you need for a successful online fundraising effort? Here is a quick list of key elements.
- An attractively designed, up-to-date website that is fully integrated with social media and incorporates Responsive Web Design that automatically adapts to a wide range of devices (desktop, smartphones, pads) for easy reading and navigation.
- An email list of supporters. Most of your donations online will be generated by email solicitations. So, if you don’t have a quality list, then you need to start building one right away using social media petitions, call-outs and other techniques.
- An email service provider (ESP). There’s a wide range of providers and choosing one depends upon your budget and the size of your list.
- A double opt-in feature for new list members that require them to click on a link sent to their email box to provide consent and prevent spam.
- Analytics to track and measure open rates, click-throughs, and actual giving. These measurements, along with a technique called A/B split testing, allow for detailed analysis of what works and what does not.
Writing an email message is a combination of the science of testing and analytics, as well as the art of emotional appeal. Frequency and types of messages, and subject lines must be carefully considered.
As I’ve written before, social media works great for creating and building brand awareness through exposure, influence, and engagement at the top of the sales funnel. But when it comes to building an enthusiastic base and making direct fundraising appeals, what works is email.
If you haven’t started a sophisticated digital fundraising program yet, what are you waiting for? By not focusing online, you’re leaving money on the table.
Need help with your digital fundraising program? Contact me right now at 202.630.8014 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation.
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