From Buttons to Blogs
With nearly 63 percent of its donor base older than 55 and a static Web site driven primarily by technical staff, the organization recognized the need to diversify its pool and make a serious investment in online fundraising.
Partnering with Internet software and services firm Convio, the IFCJ addressed myriad concerns — starting with e-mail.
“Like most organizations, we’ve seen direct-mail acquisition decline in recent years as people have gotten so overwhelmed by the amount of mail they receive,” says Pamela Barden, vice president of development for the organization, which just this year has fetched an average gift of $80 with direct mail while drawing $113 online.
“The neat part about e-mail is, of course, that we can send messages out to 1,000, 10,000, even 100,000 people, and it really costs us the same,” she explains. “It’s an opportunity to cultivate, and do it in a very cost-effective way.”
The organization now segments its e-mail address file and sends personalized appeals based on constituents’ giving patterns. For example, IFCJ recently dropped an e-mail to everyone on its file, notifying them of an upcoming trip to Israel. Those who previously had indicated an interest in the trip through responses to an online survey received a personalized version of the message.
“Once the tour to Israel happened, we started posting daily updates on our site from participants,” notes Web site coordinator Brad Duff-Hudkins. “We actually had a writer go on the trip and help journal what was going on.”
Barden is quick to mention that some people who initially expressed interest in the trip but didn’t go later regretted their decisions, for they were afforded a glimpse of “what they were missing” in daily e-mail dispatches. And the new features of IFCJ.org gave travelers’ loved ones a virtual window into activities.