Online Fundraisers: Time to Aim Higher
Most organizations fail to use Internet communications to cultivate and engage middle and major donors — an expensive omission. That’s the key finding from a landmark study of the “wired wealthy” released last year by Sea Change Strategies, Edge Research and Convio.
The study arose amidst concern that organizations’ online fundraising efforts too often resembled digital direct mail, a stream of solicitations aimed at acquiring small gifts, with little thought or effort going to more generous donors.
In all, 23 nonprofit organizations participated in the study, which sought the views of donors who had given at least $1,000 to one of the participating groups. More than 3,400 surveys were completed.
Among our principal findings:
→ The wired wealthy are an important source of donations. While they represent only 1 percent of participating groups’ donor files, they donate nearly a third of the money raised from individuals. Donors report giving a total of roughly $10,000 away each year.
→ Cluster analysis shows that wired wealthy fall into three distinct psychographic groups:
- Relationship Seekers (29 percent of donors surveyed) demonstrate a keen interest in connecting online — they are amenable to a high frequency of communications and are interested in a range of online activities (notably video);
- All Business (30 percent) are the opposite: they want minimal online contact with groups they support; and
- Casual Connectors (41 percent) represent the swing voters — they want at least some engagement with groups they support.
The relative proportion of these three clusters differs from vertical to vertical. For instance, groups in the environment and animals vertical have a higher proportion of Relationship Seekers, while health charities have relatively more All Business donors.
→ Wired wealthy donors are underwhelmed with the quality of most nonprofits’ Web sites and e-mail communications — fewer than 10 percent of surveyed donors find charity Web sites or e-mails inspiring.