D.C. Nonprofit Conference Roundup: How to Effectively Engage Donors Online
Chances are, your donors and prospects are spending a lot of their time online. According to a Nielsen report released last month, global consumers spent more than five and half hours on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter alone in December 2009 — an 82 percent increase from the same time last year when users spent just more than three hours on social-networking sites.
For nonprofits, engaging an audience online can be an effective and relatively inexpensive way to strengthen relationships with both donors and prospects. At last month's DMA 2010 Washington Nonprofit Conference, fundraising experts presented strategies to actively engage constituents online at a session titled, “Engaging Your Donors Online: Cultivation, Engagement, Advocacy and Cross-Marketing.”
Jennifer Donahue, membership director, NARAL Pro-Choice America, described how her organization used the Internet to respond to the murder of Dr. George Tiller, medical director of a Wichita, Kan., abortion clinic who was shot and killed by an anti-abortion activist last May. In the wake of Tiller's death, Donahue said, donors and advocates looked to NARAL to take the lead in responding to the tragedy.
NARAL quickly created the “Trust Women” campaign — Tiller always wore a pin that said “Trust Women” — which included several online components. The organization also produced wristbands that said “Trust Women,” which donors were sent in exchange for donations; the higher the gift, the higher quantity of wristbands they received. Anticipating distributing about 6,000 wristbands, NARAL actually has distributed more than 36,000.
NARAL provided donors and advocates with many options for participating in the campaign online. For example, to show support for the campaign and represent their geographic location, they could register to appear on a virtual map of the United States on NARAL's Web site, which also provided the nonprofit with a way to collect names. On Flickr.com, supporters were encouraged to take a photo of themselves wearing the “Trust Women” wristband or holding up a “Trust Women” sign and post it to the photo-sharing site. And, 19,170 supporters signed an online vigil NARAL created for Tiller.