Online Giving: It's Still About Relationships
It's one of my great frustrations that technology gives us the chance to make the act of donating dynamic, compelling and intimate — yet we rarely take advantage of that fact. Too often, we treat the online medium like a direct-mail appeal or an annual report. Our websites are information-delivery systems rather than relationship builders. And our appeals are sterile when they could be engaging.
Here's what people want when they donate online:
- To give quickly and conveniently.
- To make a difference.
- To feel personally connected to something greater than themselves.
- To feel useful.
- To get the warm glow of giving.
And yet here is what people get:
- A lot of pages to navigate in order to donate.
- A tax receipt.
- Statistics, facts and figures.
- A newsletter.
- An appeal to give (more) money.
Our study shows how important it is to close this gap — and with technology we really have no excuse not to. It costs so little to have a branded, intimate giving experience online. Photos and videos are easy to share. It's very little effort to segment our e-mail lists so we can connect with groups of donors according to what they most value. And it's simple to include one great story with a thank-you.
But while we're improving our supporters' online experience, remember that it's not something to do in isolation. We need to build our relationships online AND offline, together, with the same donors. Online relationships are often deeply affected by offline connections and cultivation. It's increasingly common for donors to switch among channels. They might get converted via telemarketing, then renew their gifts online, then perhaps respond to an offline appeal. Donors who give both online and off are the most loyal and valuable, and multichannel cultivation that blends online and offline elements is the best cultivation.