It’s available here (PDF; registration required).
There’s a ton of must-see stuff for anyone who raising funds online. Here’s just one of the many findings:
This chart shows giving over a three year period by online donors using three different venue types through Network for Good. The difference in performance among the donors is startling.
Blue line: Donors who gave through a charity’s website. These donors gave an average of 0 in their first year with a charity. After two years, their average cumulative giving had risen to 7.
Orange line: Donors who gave through a social networking site, like Facebook Causes or Change.org. These donors gave 3 in their first year, and only managed to add another over the course of three years.
Meaning: a donor’s relationship with the charity makes a financially significant difference over time. The more connected they are at the beginning of the relationship the more subsequent giving. Giving portals create a loose connection between charities and donors. Social networking sites build very little connection at all.
What does this all mean?
- Put most of your online fundraising efforts into getting donors giving on your own website. Portal and social network giving will happen, and that’s fine It’ just not where the revenue is.
- Do your best to move donors from the low-connection venues to your website.
Struggling to raise funds online? One of the big reasons it’s difficult is the false beliefs we often carry. Things that cause us to do it wrong. Or not do enough of what’s right. The Nonprofit Trends lays out 5 Myths about Online Giving:
- Older donors don’t give online
- Major donors don’t give online
- Online donors don’t give offline
- Social media doesn’t raise money online
- One donation form is all we need
All myths. (Except maybe #4, which is not exactly a myth; it’s more like an unverifiable rumor.)
The most direct method, obviously, for gathering email addresses is via all existing online sources you have. Your website is the most important tool here. It is vital that the site is well designed, up to date and informative and can easily be navigated. Bear in mind, also, that a substantial part of your constituency may be of older age, so the design and navigability of the site needs to bear this in mind.
Driving prospects to your site
Here are some tactics and strategies you can use to maximise opportunities to increase traffic visiting your site.
- Include your URL wherever you provide contact details about your charity. This means including the URL on letterheads, comp. slips, business cards, leaflets, brochures, appeal mailings, annual report, calendars, in charity shops, on raffle tickets, in voicemail or answer phone messages or if you use a call waiting message – literally every place where your address details are given – make sure that the website URL is there as well.
- Make it seem attractive to register an email address with you before people can download information from your website or gain access to valuable information on it. Consider making access to certain types of information conditional upon registration. Make the registration process easy, with a well laid out form that is simple to complete. Do not make it compulsory to register more than the minimum information you need – email address and name. The more work the person has to do, such as filling out address and other personal details (age, interests, reasons for visiting the site etc), the more likely it is they will leave it to another day. The full picture of the person’s profile can be built gradually over time and it is not necessary at the point of first capture of email addresses. However, it is important to be very clear about the compulsory registration details you require, otherwise frustration can easily set in among people who are attempting to register.
- Create and offer special benefits to promote registration. If you do not already have a stock of publications that can be offered in exchange for registration, it makes sense to create a ‘stable’ of them to incentivise people to register. The main tool here is an email newsletter that keeps readers in touch with developments at your charity. Other more specialised newsletters can be offered that feed a reader’s particular interests – in a special aspect of your charity’s work for example. Additional tools can include downloadable publications that give helpful answers to questions you know are frequently asked – because, for example, these questions are often asked of staff that operates your help lines. The key point here is to create an interesting ‘stable’ of publications and offers that will attract the interest of visitors to your site and encourage them to register.
- Give a prominent place on your home page for the offers listed in 3 above and the ‘register now’ button. It is important that free offers appear on the home page and are not relegated to the back pages where they will never be seen. The same applies to the ‘register now’ button. If it is not highly visible it won’t get used.
- Use ‘viral marketing’ to get readers of your publications to forward them to like – minded friends or to ask them for email addresses of friends who might like to receive similar information. Simply asking people in a ‘non – pushy’ way will achieve results. More elaborate viral marketing campaigns can be organised where important information is sent to your file or a selection of it, asking the recipients to forward the message to, say 5 or 10 others. If the message is strong enough and relevant they will so this. Effective viral marketing campaigns can lead to exponential growth of your address file. Email greeting cards (called ‘e-cards’) are another very valuable viral marketing tool, allowing your constituency to send something of perceived value to friends and family – all with the benefit of helping to grow your email address file.
- Have email addresses added to postal addresses by a commercial database company. If you have a good database of postal addresses which you use indirect mail campaigns, there are commercial database companies which can match their database with yours and add some of the missing email addresses. However, while this may seem like a shortcut to the problem of building an email address file, it really is no substitute for the long term ‘slog’ of building a proper, permission – based list in the ways outlined above.
Offline gathering of email addresses
Take every opportunity to include reasons to visit your website in all printed literature.
Your best teacher for online fundraising just might be your grandmother. That’s the message from Sharpe Tips, at Boost Email Fundraising Open Rates by Sounding Like Grandma.
Alan has three learnings from Grandma:
- Subject line: think of how you would grab the attention of a loved one in a letter or phone call
- Address your reader by name.
- Put your readers first, making them the star of every email.
To which I’d ad: Don’t only write like Grandma — write to her. Think about how you’d explain things to her: What she’d understand and respond to. What she’d struggle to grasp. What would be compelling to her.
You’ll notice many of those things are not at all the things that would get your attention. She isn’t you, just as your donors aren’t you. When you use your own reactions to your messaging, you often miss Grandma.
Get that key point tattooed on the inside of your brain, and you are a true professional fundraiser.