From Buttons to Blogs
The obvious first step was to enrich SeattleU.edu while reducing costs associated with more traditional, offline mediums. SU opted for Blackbaud’s online-community building tool NetCommunity, which works in concert with the Internet software and services firm’s fundraising-management tool The Raiser’s Edge.
The goal was to provide an interactive, customized experience for each visitor with opportunities to register for events held in their area — not to mention make online donations. By leveraging a single donor database that combines online and offline data, SU gives its graduates a true personalized experience.
“We’ve heard from our younger alums that prefer e-mail, some even saying that they don’t want any communications other than e-mail,” Hulten notes.
Since SU went live with NetCommunity in January, SeattleU.edu has logged roughly 8,000 new alumni e-mail addresses.
“Some alums have responded to our e-mail [appeals] by donating online, but it hasn’t been a huge response,” Hulten says. “We’re trying to gently break into soft solicitations. We don’t want people to opt out of our communications.”
UPDATE ON THE STATE OF E-PHILANTHROPY
By Vinay Bhagat
E-philanthropy has evolved greatly in recent years. In 1999, less than 15 percent of the 1,000 groups I researched had a Web presence, and most were just brochures.
Online fundraising was negligible — some groups could accept online donations, but few were running proactive appeals. While dotcom hype generated tremendous interest, it also led to unrealistic expectations of money flowing in by just placing a “donate now” button on a Web site.
While online giving still accounts for less than 2 percent of total funds raised by U.S. nonprofits, people today are much less skeptical about the importance of the Internet. Convio estimates that $3 billion was raised online in 2004 and, although success varies, some organizations are beginning to raise substantial funds online. Success correlates by type of organization and fundraising model: