Technology Leading the Way
August 30, 2005
By Abny Santicola
Associate editor, FundRaising Success
In his session, "New and Emerging Technologies for Fundraising," at the 2005 New York Nonprofit Conference at the Waldorf-Astoria two weeks ago, Mike Johnston, president of Ontario, Canada-based online fundraising consultancy HJC New Media, discussed the unique impact that last year's tsunami in Asia had on online giving, the changing face of online fundraising and some keys to online fundraising success.
Many of the powerful new online fundraising techniques Johnston mentioned put the job of fundraising in the hands of supporters and donors. Some that have gained steam recently include:
- Social network fundraising, put into action by the Howard Dean campaign last year. It consists of giving individual supporters the tools to do peer-to-peer fundraising.
- Blog fundraising, in which people with Internet blogs (self-published diaries) post fundraising appeals within their blogs and links that connect visitors to the organization's online giving page.
- Using cellphone text messaging to contact potential donors. Johnston gave the example of how MSF/Doctors Without Borders Austria first sent a text message asking previous donors for a donation, then another asking if the donation amount could be automatically withdrawn from the donor's account on a monthly basis, a third that thanked them for their donation, and a final e-mail asking if it would be OK if MSF Austria calls them on the phone. The results: 60 percent of those contacted said yes, and 50 percent converted to monthly giving.
- Individual online fundraising pages. Johnston gave the example of JustGiving.com, a Web site that allows individuals and corporations to set up their own fundraising pages and raise money and sponsorship for causes they believe in.
In addition, Johnston made note of his Top 10 keys to online fundraising success:
1) Build a fundraising-friendly Web site. The initial goal of your Web site should be to "catch eyeballs," Johnston says, in much the same way as supermarkets putting displays at the average eye level of shoppers. Plus, the fewer click-throughs required on a Web site, the higher the gift, he adds.