Innovation. Integration. Immediacy = Online Success for HRC
In 2004, when President Bush was preparing for a press conference to address the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would define marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman and take the power to allow or disallow gay and lesbian marriages out of the hands of the states, the Human Rights Campaign was on his tail.
HRC, the country’s largest nonprofit that advocates the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans, was ready with an e-mail that would drop as soon as the press conference ended. When it did, the impact was immediate and astounding: 400,000 responses that brought in $600,000 overnight to fight the president’s proposal.
Flexibility and quick reflexes have been the hallmarks of HRC’s development strategy, which has garnered some of the most significant numbers for online fundraising and support that the nonprofit sector has seen since Donate Now buttons became de rigueur on organization Web sites.
Dane Grams and Ann Crowley, HRC’s respective online strategy director and membership director, have become something of a dynamic duo when it comes to online fundraising — not to mention the darlings of the conference circuit. They talk enthusiastically about the organization’s strategies both online and off, but they’re quick to agree that much of HRC’s fund- and friendraising success — along with its political victories — is the result of being at the right place at the right time.
“Some of our biggest successes have come about from making the most of opportunities,” Crowley says. “We have a direct-marketing plan; we know step by step what we’ll be doing in the next fiscal year — but our absolute biggest successes have come about from finding out that XYZ is going to happen and asking, ‘What are we going to do about that?’
“We’ll continue to take advantage of these things that come out,” she adds. “We don’t know what the next opportunity will be, but we’re going to make the most of it when it shows its face.”