But while nonprofits still are exercising variations on the same five basic steps, the donating public’s online habits and expectations have changed a lot. Seventy-five percent of the American public now are Internet users, but online fundraisers should focus attention on the fact that more than half have migrated to “always-on,” high-speed broadband connections in the past few years.
The proliferation of high-speed Internet access is widening the gap between online fundraising and its older sibling, direct mail. Broadband households use the Internet very differently than dial-up households. Broadband users are more likely to use the Internet on any given day, much more likely to log on several times a day — and they’re far more likely than dial-up users to get political news; engage in financial transactions; download or upload photos, audio, and video; and read or write blogs.
The real distinction between a broadband connection and a dial-up connection isn’t speed; it’s the sophistication and comfort level of the person sitting at the keyboard. Broadband users can contribute more — and expect more — in an online relationship with a charity.
Here are five techniques that are successfully prompting them to donate money to a wide variety of charities:
#1 Emergency response
Relief charities certainly rose to the occasion when natural disasters struck in recent months and years, but an honest appraisal reveals much of the traffic and donations were driven by media coverage rather than appeals from the charities themselves. But that’s not the case for organizations such as the Humane Society of the United States, which had to stretch to connect its mission to Hurricane Katrina in the public’s mind — and raised $18 million to rescue abandoned pets along the Gulf Coast.
The clock is ticking down to the next incident that will underscore your organization’s value. Get yourself ready to move at a moment’s notice to place contextual ads with Google and Yahoo; revise your homepage copy and creative; and get the word out to your supporters, the media and “new media” such as bloggers.