Online Fundraisers: Time to Aim Higher
Applying the research: Conservation International
Conservation International (CI), one of the world’s largest global conservation groups, sought to apply the wired wealthy findings in its online fundraising efforts this past year end. The results were encouraging — online donations grew nearly 20 percent over 2007.
Strategic principles guiding the CI year-end efforts came directly from the study recommendations: Give donors more control over communications options so All Business donors could opt out; treat donors as serious program partners; maintain a high proportion of cultivation communications (as opposed to solicitations); establish and follow a disciplined narrative arc uniting communications into a coherent dialogue; and use multiple Internet channels, including video.
The theme of CI’s campaign was “Lost There, Felt Here” — the intimate connection between conserving tropical forests and slowing climate change. Every acre of forest preserved reduces enough greenhouse gas to be the equivalent of taking 20 cars off the road for a year. The campaign included text, pictorial and video updates reflecting the general Lost There, Felt Here theme from multiple perspectives.
Communications were substantive and rich in detail and facts, yet also emotionally compelling and visually stunning. More than a third of the year-end e-mails were pure cultivations. During this period, CI launched three new videos and also unveiled Team Earth, a visually spectacular digital magazine that serves also as a substantive program update.
One objective of the effort proved elusive: we were unable to segment donors by psychographic cluster, and we did not have time to offer the nuanced subscription options the wired wealthy study suggests donors want. We plan to roll these enhancements out over the course of 2009. The CI efforts lend concrete experience to the clear message of the study: Any group that ignores middle and major donors in their online efforts could be leaving a lot of money on the table. In these perilous economic times, that could be a costly mistake.
Beth Wallace is vice president for digital marketing at Conservation International. Mark Rovner is a founding principal at Sea Change Strategies. The full Wired Wealthy study report can be downloaded free at www.SeaChangeStrategies.com.