The Real Costs of E-philanthropy: There’s No Such Thing as a Free Donation
What are the real costs of e-philanthropy? Coming from a direct-mail background, my experience has taught me that every, single component has a specific return on investment and is measured for value. Unfortunately, the words “return on investment” ring hollow in many development conference rooms these days. If one more person says, “Just send an e-mail — it doesn’t cost anything,” I’ll scream. Wake up and smell my energy drink — it costs plenty.
As I started to pull my notes together for this article, I went to what was safe — let’s see — five costs that every fundraiser needs to consider for e-philanthropy. The list was obvious, quick and yet painful to make.
1. A powerful e-commerce platform fully integrated with your database of record.
2. A creative team that can create copy that sings, images that move and video that streams.
3. A production department that inherently knows Gmail still sucks and needs to standardize its e-mail rendering.
4. A list of online prospects that not only agree to talk to you but to also, eventually, send you money.
5. And finally, consultants and analysis that provide actionable recommendations.
Then I started to talk to colleagues at other nonprofits and realized there are so many other hidden costs that are more interesting to dive into than what was on this list. Don’t get me wrong — each one of these pillars of your e-mail program deserves its very own article. The amount of resources I have seen groups put toward an online platform, consultants, writers, artists, third-party list buys and back-end analysis is amazing.
But that’s all expected — and it’s what makes a solid foundation to any program. Here, then, are the five (other) costs you really need to consider as part of your online endeavors: