“Since 1995-96, we’ve been expecting great things from the Internet and have been consistently disappointed in terms of fundraising,” Craver added, “but it is pretty clear now that the march toward greater participation from donors on the Internet is gaining traction.
“I think mobile will eclipse the Internet,” he continued. “Six percent of donors have smartphones; 95 percent of American donors have a mobile phone. When it gets figured out how to download platforms that work on all mobile phones and when we get it into people’s minds that a mobile strategy is far more than text to give, we’ll be in for more. We’ve watched this develop in Europe. Keep alert in the fields of mobile.”
Craver then shared some trends that have been steady for the past four years:
- There’s a steady decline in the number of donors in our society partly due to the fact that acquisition rates have declined in a pretty steady progression downward, accelerated in 2008 and 2009 by the recession.
- Retention rates are also slipping.
- In the most recent index, it’s clear that at least in the last two quarters the bottom has been reached and things are starting to level out. Whether it comes back remains to be seen.
“All of these trends have evolved into far more investment made in low-level donors,” Craver said. That has led to greater competition for donors’ dollars. Craver suggested fundraisers do the following:
- Look around at what’s going on with competitor organizations.
- Get their mail, look at their websites, make a small gift in order to hear their telemarketing scripts. “It’s a great opportunity to spot things and helps avoid panic.”
- Understand best practices in the sector so when you see a benchmark, you understand what it means.
- Know where you stand.
- Find people who are donors of yours, and see who else they are giving to and how much they’re giving to those other organizations.
“As you look at these indexes, go from the big picture on down and ask yourself questions about why this is happening to me,” Craver said. “Is it happening to others? What are others doing about it? What can I do about it?”