Embed E-Giving Into Your Organization
May 9, 2006
By Abny Santicola, editor, FS Advisor
The first step to a successful online fundraising strategy is to make e-giving a part of your organization's everyday vernacular, says Ronald Pruitt, president and founder of OpenConsult Inc., a Kennesaw, Ga.-based e-business products and services provider.
"Throughout the organization, whether it's from that front-desk secretary that answers the phone to the CEO to the board of directors, everyone kind of has it on the tip of their tongue that you can go to the Web site and not only learn all about [the organization] but you can also make a donation," he says.
Make your Web address visible on all communications and at every touch point, along with an ask. Something as simple as adding a Web link and tag line asking for donations at the bottom of all e-mails sent by anyone in the organization is one strategy.
Commit to telling donors and the community that online giving is the most efficient, cost-effective way to give to the organization. "When someone makes a donation online, it really does cost less than if they make a phone call to the organization or if they mail in a check, just in terms of the manpower that it takes to process the donation, the speed at which the money is going to get into your [organization's] account, and, across the board, the technology costs are so little now ...," Pruitt adds.
By focusing on online giving, your organization will reach out to new types of donors, particularly donors that are cost aware and more likely to give to an organization online because they see that the organization is going to use their money efficiently, with less going to administrative costs and more going to programs the donor cares about.
An effective Web site that sells your organization's message and brands it in a positive light also is important. You can spend all the time and energy you want getting people to your site, but if you don't have a site that's easy to use and attracts visitors to make a donation, your online fundraising efforts will flop.
Pruitt says the key is to build an action-oriented Web site that combines the main drivers of the organization surrounded by positive branding. Focus on the things you want visitors to do. For many organizations, this includes donating, volunteering and spreading awareness. Pruitt says organizations should set up the navigation of their site according to these main points, with navigation icons that call them out.
"You can also be very explicit and at the top of the form say 'donate with confidence, this page is secure.' You need to reassure the donor that their information is not going to get stolen," Pruitt says. Another way to do this is to not store usable credit card numbers after a transaction.
While security should be the No. 1 focus for an organization accepting donor information online, it's often overlooked by charities. Such organizations are playing with fire. An "insecure system opens the nonprofit up to a lot of legal liabilities if something ever happens," he adds.
Make sure that your online giving system is error-free. Potential donors that confront errors when trying to make a gift online not only will be deterred from giving the gift, they will lose confidence in your organization overall. The key, as with all things in direct fundraising, is testing.
"Test all different types of scenarios. Basically try to break it, and if you can break it in any way, then get it fixed," Pruitt says.
Ronald Pruitt can be reached via www.openconsult.com