Getting Your Board Onboard for Online Fundraising Success
You’ve probably seen the statistics — more than 73 percent of Americans are online, and online fundraising is growing year over year. And then there’s the fact that adding online communications to a nonprofit organization’s toolkit can more than double donors’ lifetime value. But even in the face of these compelling facts and figures, you’re still behind.
Rather than focusing your dollars and resources on raising money offline, it’s time to shift your strategic focus to the online world. You see the need, but there’s an obstacle that lies between your technology investment and your strategic online initiatives: your board.
Addressing your board’s concerns
Responsible for overseeing your organization’s strategic plans and investments, your board is focused on mission delivery and financial sustainability. The business case you present to justify investments in technology, strategy and training will need to address some of your board’s main concerns.
- Increased fundraising. The opportunities in online fundraising far outweigh the risks of not investing. According to The Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark IndexTM Study, online revenue growth grew 14 percent from 2007 to 2008; and the average online gift for 2008 was $67.47, which is much higher than the average $15 to $25 given offline through direct mail.
- New donor acquisition. You need to explain how online communications will accelerate list growth and convert prospects to donors. With $13.96 as the average online revenue per e-mail address, it’s important to focus on acquiring e-mail addresses across all channels.
- Decreased costs. Although there’s an investment involved in ramping up your online communications, the return will justify the expense because you can save time and money through improved management of donors, more accurate reporting of results and less time spent on donor service tasks.
- Diversified leadership. Your board might have expertise concentrated around the mission, but they will likely need guidance from experts when it comes to successful online communications. Don’t let a shortage of in-house experience prevent you from taking the leap. Instead, show your board that this is an opportunity to leverage the expertise of others while also tapping into a new network of potential supporters.
By conveying these four points, you will be one giant step closer to securing your board’s buy-in.
Making your case
When trying to get your board onboard with online fundraising, you need to speak in terms that are relevant to today.
- Current economy. With declining revenue from both individual and major donors, now is the time to regroup and prepare for the future upturn. The best offense is a good defence. Now might not be the most appropriate time to pursue multiple asks, but it is a good time to communicate more frequently with your supporters with relevant messages. The idea is to build mind share and loyalty with existing donors so they think of helping you when they start to feel more financially secure. E-mail is a cost-effective way for your organization to deliver messages about your projects and demonstrate your ongoing need for support.
- Decline of direct mail. Donors’ preferences are changing, which means that direct mail continues to decline both in terms of dollars raised and the acquisition of new donors. The younger generation has a clear preference for online giving, and also uses new online fundraising techniques such as peer-to-peer fundraising to raise money on behalf of an organization. Baby boomers aren’t far behind. They are more likely to be multichannel donors who are comfortable giving both online and through the mail. An effort to move this latter group toward giving exclusively online would help decrease your organization’s costs and give you quicker access to donations.
There is no time for complacency when it comes to online communications. If you want to keep up with your peers, then you’ll need to take the plunge. After you’re up to speed on the benefits of investing in online communications, you can create a proof of concept, explore solutions that you could recommend and prepare an explanation of how this strategic initiative will benefit your organization in critical areas, especially fundraising.
For more ideas about how to secure your board’s support, download “Don’t Miss the Boat: How to Get Your Board Onboard with 21st Century Fundraising.”
Jennifer Darrouzet is senior product manager for Convio.