Sure, raising money online is a bit more complicated than renting a mailing list and testing various packages on the names to see what works and what doesn’t. For starters, in the spam-challenged online world, you need donors’ permission to continue communicating with them. And to be sure, your organization can raise serious cash online without sending a single e-mail, particularly during December when many donors seek you out. Heck, you can even raise a few dollars (but only a few) on Facebook these days.
But eliminate all the jargon and the steady stream of innovative ideas, and you’ll find that acquiring donors online boils down to five key steps.
Secure the technology
There’s little point in acquiring donors online unless you have the tools to build enduring relationships with them. Fortunately, several companies provide the tools you need to send e-mails, create donation forms, manage Web sites and host events (among other things). Linking these functions is a central database that captures every action your members take online with you.
Why is such software critical? It enables you to build relationships with your supporters online in a way that maximizes their lifetime values — by delivering timely, relevant e-mails that are likely to be of most interest to your supporters and persuade them to respond. If you’re a national group that lobbies at the state level, for example, you can e-mail everyone in a particular state to call their legislators about an important bill. If you know that one of your donors has made several gifts over the past two years on a specific issue, you can try to convert her into a monthly supporter around that same issue. By basing your e-mails, including appeals, on past actions a supporter has taken, you’ll stay relevant to her and boost your donation income.