Fundraising's Changing Face
There’s widespread agreement among direct-marketing professionals that the industry will continue to change dramatically over the next few years. Now, new research from Forrester Research Inc., an independent research firm, confirms it: Direct marketing is being transformed before our eyes.
The Forrester Trends report, titled “Five Predictions for the Future of Direct Marketing,” focuses on commercial direct marketers, but the findings easily can be applied to fundraising. Here’s an overview of the significant Forrester findings.
1. Online search marketing will surge in popularity and help the acquisition process. We’ve all used Google or another search engine to find information online. Paid search — contextual listings, paid inclusion and search-engine optimization — grew by 33 percent in 2005 over 2004, according to Forrester estimates, and will continue to grow at a rate of 10 percent each year, “powering search to more than $11 billion by 2010.”
What does this mean for fundraisers? People searching for the latest information on cancer research or a natural disaster are prospects prequalified to become donors. If they’ve taken the trouble to search, you can assume these searchers are prime prospects to receive your paid, online ads designed to nudge them over to your Web site where they can put their interests into direct action. Paid search enhancements now can be targeted to specific demographic attributes, behavior and even previous search inquiries. This means that fundraisers can deliver text, audio and video messages with increased sophistication online.
2. In four years, 13 percent of all consumer retail and travel dollars will be spent online. Forrester estimates that online commerce will total $329 billion by 2010. Already, 40 percent of U.S. households have made purchases via the Internet. The Forrester research also shows online buying is surging. What does this mean for fundraisers? Forrester reports current usage statistics that can be easily translated to the fundraising enterprise. For example, of online consumers today, 42 percent have e-mailed a customer-service inquiry, while 33 percent have tracked a package, 28 percent have searched for free offers and coupons, and 22 percent have visited comparison-shopping engines. These online behaviors translate into donor-service inquiries, contribution tracking, matching-gift offers and “where best to give my money” inquiries. Today’s trend-setting fundraisers are developing online tools that will empower their donors to do all of these things quickly and easily using the Internet.