International Fundraising eConference Roundup: Five Tips to Boost Fundraising Online During the Recession
Fundraising today is a mixed bag where results for some organizations are down, others are holding steady, and still others are at record highs. And falling acquisition rates seem to be the norm almost across the board.
Still, most major organizations are resisting cuts in fundraising, and many top nonprofits are stepping up efforts online — all sound reactions to these shaky economic times, said Mal Warwick, founder and chairman of direct-response fundraising firm Mal Warwick Associates, in his session "Fighting the Recession With Online Tools" last week at the first International Fundraising eConference May 12 to 14, which was held completely online.
Warwick said he knows a lot of consultants suggest organizations get more creative with their fundraising efforts to increase support, but he believes the emphasis on creativity in fundraising is overblown. Creativity equals risk, and risk is something you don't want to have in your portfolio right now. Warwick suggested the following five ways to boost fundraising without using whiz-bang techniques:
1. Stick with what works
Don't make things more complicated than they already are. Keep it simple. Warwick said even though there are many rumors afoot now that e-mail is dying, the truth is that e-mail remains the killer application — a profitable way to connect with supporters and generate funds. E-newsletters in particular are a good way Warwick recommended for most organizations to communicate with constituents on a regular basis.
Ways to make involvement work:
- devices such as surveys, polls, questionnaires;
- emphasize monthly giving;
- segment and personalize;
- widgets or charity badges; and
- constituent testimonials — donors, beneficiaries, board members and volunteers speaking in their own words from their own perspective about how the organization has helped them.
"Give people the kind of reward they crave," Warwick said. Donors don't want to be regarded as checkbooks. They want to be part of your long-term picture.
Other techniques that often work include:
- Short-term campaigns with limited goals can raise significant amounts of money — for example, a goal of $40,000 to be raised in a week, rather than a goal in the millions to be raised over the course of years.
- Chaperoned e-mails. Ask media sites empathetic to your cause to send out an appeal on your behalf to their subscribers/customers.
- Search engine optimization
- Google Grants (in USA). This gives participating organizations free access to people who search for terms related to their work.
- Customized landing pages. This is a way to bring home to the viewer the kind of reinforcing language that appeared in the e-mail solicitation, so the ask in the appeal is matched word for word on the landing page.