Fundraising's New Synergy
For the most part, fundraisers no longer believe online marketing is competitive with offline marketing. Most understand that you need to incorporate both into your marketing strategy and that they should be coordinated in order to realize synergies. Many fundraisers, however,
struggle with determining how much to focus on and invest in online marketing, and how to drive coordination between online and offline channels.
With the exception of a few specific segments of nonprofits — disaster-relief groups, public radio stations, and heavy users of gift catalogs or
volunteer-led special events — a majority of direct-response, fundraising-driven organizations still raise less than 10 percent of funds online (although that figure’s escalating rapidly). This low percentage mistakenly leads many direct marketers to focus less on their online marketing efforts relative to traditional channels. To determine the appropriate investment allocation, fundraisers need to think through some new “integrated math.”
Case in point
In fall 2003, the Brady Campaign, a national, non-partisan, grassroots organization working to prevent gun violence, grew its e-mail list from 38,000 addresses to 175,000 addresses via a micro-site that was followed by petition campaigns focusing on urgent federal legislation. A vast majority of these constituents were non-donors. Throughout two legislative battles in 2004, the Brady Campaign sent a series of appeals that included a link to contact Congress, a “tell-a-friend” option and a strong ask for funds that often included examples of specific print or TV ads. Typical responses ranged from 0.19 percent to 0.37 percent, and average gifts ranged from $24 to $46. This compares to typical e-mail acquisition response rates of 0.1 percent. New donors to the Brady Campaign via the Internet grew from 311 in 2002 to 3,244 in 2004. It acquired these new donors at a very positive return on investment, since sending an e-mail appeal doesn’t have marginal costs once the software’s in place.