Building an Integrated Online Fundraising Strategy
A key difference between online and offline channels is the approach to fundraising vs. cultivation. Many organizations send out eight to 12 offline donor appeals a year. Online, you need to make sure you balance your e-mail communications with donors. Everything does not and should not have an ask. Online communication allows organizations to create stewardship pieces, updating donors on how their gifts are making a difference. Don’t forget that in e-mail fundraising, “opt-outs” are forever!
2. Renewing your donors
It is important to remember there are key differences between donors who give through different channels. Online fundraising cannot live in a box by itself; organizations need to synchronize media, coordinate consistent messaging and tailor content to each appropriate medium. Recent studies show that if you have an e-mail address on file for a donor, it makes a positive difference in his or her giving.
Online giving is certainly tilted toward year-end giving with two-thirds of income raised in the final months and days of the year. The ability to create a sense of urgency lends itself to the immediacy of the online environment. Many organizations have found great success with online “matching gift” campaigns, which allow an organization to create an artificial deadline. The best results come when you synchronize your campaign with offline fundraising efforts (e.g., direct mail, telemarketing).
The ability to be nimble is a key component of an effective integrated strategy. Timing is everything when it comes to integrated fundraising. You can start a campaign on your Web site, send an e-mail about an urgent news item (e.g., natural disaster, food shortage) and follow up the campaign with a direct-mail piece. You can test messaging online with immediate results, and then roll out the winning results through other channels. Don’t forget about your homepage when you launch a new campaign. Many studies show offline donors check out your Web site before making a gift.