Raising Money Online: Dizzy Pace but Big Benefits for Savvy Nonprofits
Yesterday I opened a fat envelope from Donors Choose, an innovative, education-funding nonprofit I’d given to earlier this year. The contents -- a dozen photos of giddy fourth-graders painting on canvases I’d paid for and delightful, hand-scrawled “thank you” notes from the class. That’s Ms. Bolling’s class.
When developing a plan to raise money online, you’re not likely to find a better lesson plan than this offline example, courtesy of Ms. Bolling and Donors Choose. They nailed it.
Nothing has changed
No doubt the Web is a powerful tool for raising money. That’s why I’m an Internet strategist and not, say, a telephone strategist. But the same skills -- creativity and authenticity -- that we used to raise money before the Web are equally essential today. Forget about technology for a minute and look at the folks at Donors Choose.
They prioritize, connecting emotionally with me, the donor. They recognize that deep donor satisfaction comes from getting the full story:
* beginning -- “We want to do art but don’t have canvases.”
* middle -- “Wow, thank you for the canvases!”; and
* end -- “Look what we did with your canvases…”
They know that if they tell that story well I’ll become a true believer and evangelist. I have. And though Donors Choose is basically a virtual organization -- its Web site connects education donors with local education projects -- it understands the power of touching me offline.
Everything has changed
Yet the Web has changed everything about how we connect and how we communicate. What donors need to hear and see is the same, but the communication tools have changed radically -- and this is transforming what is possible for people doing good in the world.
We can now touch our donors faster and more frequently at marginal cost. The storytelling power of video is virtually available to all. Our messages are a click away from the vast networks of our supporters, the media and influentials.