Donor Acquisition Through Webinars?
I’m thinking of Greenpeace, which already has collected 2.4 million (and counting) e-mail addresses specifically for its “Save the Arctic” campaign. Or Amnesty International, which has had a viral hit with its “Trial by Timeline” Facebook app (which users permit to collect their e-mail addresses). It could also work very well for organizations with celebrity ambassadors who may be convinced to lend their star power to pull in reams of participants. Who would turn down the chance to interact with David Beckham (UNICEF), Angelina Jolie (UNHCR) or Colin Firth (Oxfam) live online?
Getting participants to turn up
In order to ensure a full house, it’s important that the webinar has something important to say to potential donors — that is to say that it is more than simply an out-and-out fundraising vehicle — but is informative and even entertaining as well. Consider having a major attraction such as a campaigner live from the arctic (Greenpeace). Or a released political prisoner speaking on his or her incarceration (Amnesty). Or a celebrity speaking about his or her latest visit to a refugee camp (UNHCR).
Invite people who have previously interacted digitally with the organization but who are not yet donors — thank them for their previous engagement with an exclusive invitation (let them know that places are limited) and remind people who opt to attend by e-mail and/or SMS both a few hours and a few minutes before the start of the webinar.
Keeping people interested
Since the main idea of a fundraising webinar is to turn participants into donors, it is important to make sure people stay interested until you have had the chance to inspire them to open their wallets. A strong opening three minutes and a big draw toward the end of the session are essential. Make sure there are only captivating speakers who have something to say, and change the visual format from talking heads to emotional pre-recorded videos and audience participation regularly (roughly every five minutes). Make sure that everything is geared toward creating emotional reactions that raise and answer the (mostly unspoken) questions: “Why is this important?” “Why should I support it financially?” “Why should I support it now?’”