Innovation. Integration. Immediacy = Online Success for HRC
“Pushing that ‘send’ button when you’re sending to 850,000 people is one of the most difficult, sweaty moments you can think of,” Grams says. Crowley adds, “And it’s not just 850,000 people. Those 850,000 have the ability to forward it to however many people they want.”
“Of course, that’s also the beauty of it,” she says. “The extension of audience is much greater with e-mail. If someone has a letter, they might show it to someone, but they probably aren’t going to show it to 10 people.”
The emergence of e-mail as a solid fundraising and advocacy vehicle also means that the e-mail team must be more intimately involved in the politics and programs of an organization because there’s less time for research than when the direct-mail pros are working on their mailings.
Like most organizations, HRC has its own set of mission-specific challenges when it comes to fundraising. First off, its core list is inherently limited. Turning to street and door-to-door canvassing helped alleviate the problem since a majority of the people brought into the organization via face-to-face fundraising, Grams and Crowley believe, are straight. But sexual orientation isn’t the easiest demographic to measure.
“The closet is a very strong entity in a person’s life,” Crowley explains. “If they’re not out yet or are only out to certain folks, then even if we ask, are they really being honest? So we take our best guess based on different components.”
HRC fundraising/friendraising also has a strong “tell-a-friend” component, which encourages its target audience (the GLBT community) to forward messages to friends, family members and coworkers who, statistically, are more likely to be straight.
And in order to make all of this mesh more seamlessly, HRC slightly tweaked its self-description, changing its verbiage from “the largest GLBT organization” to “the largest civil rights organization working on behalf of GLBT Americans.” It’s a small change, but one that stands a better chance of resonating with those outside the immediate community.