Debunking Five Myths of Online Fundraising
Today’s challenging economic times mean a lot of nonprofits are looking for new ways to raise money. Many organizations realize the Internet presents a huge opportunity, but most have achieved limited success. If your organization, like many others, has yet to experience strong results raising funds online, the coming year provides an ideal window to experiment with new approaches. A good first step, however, is debunking some myths about online fundraising that might stand in the way of your success.
Myth No. 1: Online fundraising isn’t as effective as offline techniques.
In the 2007 Philanthropic Giving Index report published by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, only 34 percent of nonprofits surveyed reported success with online fundraising, and participants ranked online giving as the least successful fundraising technique in the survey.
The reason for these lackluster results is that organizations have not applied the same focus to their online efforts as they have in other areas. Most donors expect professionally printed mailings that include good stories and related giving options. But too often when they go online, they find gray, generic giving forms with no associated content. It’s not surprising, then, that donors give so little online and fundraisers conclude that online giving doesn’t work. Organizations end up setting lower expectations and focus even less on their online efforts — which leads to more bad results, and the cycle repeats.
The truth is, online fundraising can and should be far more effective than other, “offline” fundraising techniques, in terms of response rates, dollars raised, cost per dollar raised, and connections with new and younger donors.
Set high expectations and focus on achieving better results in 2009. Start by evaluating whether you are committing a comparable amount of resources — people, time and planning — to your online initiatives. Keep in mind that since online fundraising is almost always more cost effective, your financial investment won’t need to be as high as other efforts.