2 New Must-Do Steps for Taking Your Fundraising to the Next Level
Recently, in the “Blast From the Past” series, FundRaising Success republished a 2010 article, “The Not-So-Great Divide,” and for good reason. This piece made the case for integrating online and offline fundraising efforts “now and for good,” explaining that donors don’t define themselves as living on “Planet Online” or “Planet Offline,” so fundraisers shouldn’t treat them as if they do.
The author called on nonprofits to take five steps:
- Reorganize internally so people managing online outreach are coordinating with those working in the offline realm.
- Integrate e-mail and direct-mail lists in a centralized database for a single view of donors.
- Plan donor-centric campaigns with a consistent message, look and feel across channels.
- Ensure that online and offline calls to action refer to and reinforce each other.
- Monitor results to learn what combination of online and offline efforts works best.
But a lot has changed in the past three years, so it’s time to add two new steps to the list. Nonprofits today also need to:
- Optimize online fundraising because it’s become critical for acquiring the best donors.
- Adopt an omnichannel fundraising strategy to build the deep relationships that inspire donors to give generously throughout their lifetimes.
The business case for adding these steps to the “must-do” list has never been stronger:
- More new donors now are recruited online versus offline, and they are proving to be the best donors, especially those who are engaged across many channels. Online donors who use more than one channel have a two times better retention rate in the first year. Those who give and share a nonprofit’s mission across multiple channels have the highest lifetime value.
- Online fundraising experienced double-digit growth in 2011 and again in 2012, while offline fundraising remained relatively flat. No doubt, broader adoption of social media across all age groups, including those over 45, is helping to drive some of this growth. There are more than 460 million Facebook users and 165 million-plus on Twitter. Not coincidentally, nonprofits using social media have increased fundraising results by 40 percent. Skyrocketing smartphone usage, including among those between 45 and 65 and older, also is a factor: 10 percent of traffic to online fundraising pages now is from mobile devices.
- The online channel can inspire large donations. Increasingly popular online giving days have resulted in multimillion-dollar gifts. And an impressive 84 percent of nonprofits have received at least one online gift of $1,000 or more.
Given these trends, here’s some 2013 “now and for good” guidance.
Optimize online fundraising
The data is irrefutable: When it comes to attracting and retaining high-value donors, all channels must be strong and online channels must be super strong.
- Increase — don’t just maintain or, worse, reduce — your investment in online channels, even if you have not yet achieved the results you envisioned. You’ve honed your direct-mail programs over decades, but your online programs are less mature. Keep growing and refining them.
- Establish a clear goal for your landing and donation pages. Is it to get the most gifts at the highest amount, maximize the number of new donors at any gift level to get their e-mail addresses for future marketing, verify the effectiveness of your communication program or something else?
- Provide a superior donor experience to prevent website abandonment. Take this simple 20-question, self-scored survey to identify potential problems with your donation processes. If needed, implement simple changes to improve Web traffic, conversions and average gift size. Then perform regular A/B testing, optimize again and repeat the cycle.
Adopt an omnichannel fundraising strategy
Go beyond the transactional, multichannel model to attract the highest-value donors and build the deeper donor relationships that lead to continuous giving, lifetime loyalty and bequests.
- Enable donors to experience your brand seamlessly across all channels. Conduct campaigns that drive offline donors to go online and vice versa to spur ongoing interaction and engagement with your organization. Remember that you’re competing heavily with other nonprofits for donors’ attention and dollars, so it’s critical to maintain a strong presence in their lives.
- Make sure that all interactions communicate with impact to donors about how your organization is using their contributions to make a difference. This is key for strengthening the donor relationship and engendering even more passion for your nonprofit and its mission.
- Fully leverage and benefit from the multiplying effect of new media — integrated, of course, with traditional channels. Incorporate social-media, online, peer-to-peer and team fundraising components into your campaigns. Optimize your website’s landing pages and donation forms for mobile devices, and instead of costly text-to-give campaigns, which also are burdensome to donors, implement more effective and less onerous text-to-pledge campaigns.
With more channels to manage, higher donor attrition rates, and greater competition for new donors and those precious donor dollars, a lot has changed over the past few years. Along with the five steps recommended in 2010, now there are two more that nonprofits should add to the list: optimization of online fundraising and adoption of an omnichannel fundraising strategy. Yes, it’s more to do, but the return on investment will be high while the cost of ignoring these steps will be even higher.