Interactive Fundraising: Test, Analyze, Repeat
Never before have the barriers to online fundraising been lower. Over the past couple of years, the challenges associated with the cost and technical expertise required to deploy online fundraising programs have just about disappeared. These developments have changed the rules of the game for professional fundraisers — putting the power of online programs firmly in their hands. Getting creative and demonstrating the courage to try new things have instead become the barriers.
This phenomenon isn’t specific to fundraising, but it certainly applies. For example, online services have enabled ordinary (non-technical) people to create attractive Web sites and professional-looking online newsletters, among other things. Web sites can be hosted in the “cloud” for a fraction of the cost and resources required compared to a few years ago. More people can innovate and execute more quickly and less expensively than ever before.
These shifts are enabling fundraisers to segment their supporter bases at a granular level, and test programs to engage supporters with the messaging and media that is most appealing to them. So, what does this look like when practically applied?
Jeff Wright, associate director of development services at the University of Alberta, is on the leading edge of taking a highly segmented approach to online fundraising. He has created unique donation pages for each of the 18 schools at the university. In addition, each school has its own subset of special funds that donors can select, and special giving pages were set up for eight other specific funds. This approach recognizes that alumni from a particular school are more likely to respond to asks from the specific schools that they attended and perhaps feel a greater connection.
In this case, the development staff created the online donation pages and provided them to each school to use in their communications. There was zero incremental cost to developing these pages, and no technical resources were required. The University of Alberta saw immediate results — an increased conversion rate to donations — from this strategy.