What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Social media expert Beth Kanter summarizes recent studies on how to increase Facebook engagement – it’s also a great way to find out what issues your constituents are most interested in.  Beth also outlines how to set SMART social media objectives.

To better understand how multichannel marketing works, read the recent DonorCentrics report and these write-ups from Frogloop, NonprofitTimes, The Agitator and Katya Andresen.  One step in the right direction – make sure your marketing/communications and fundraising are planning campaigns together.

How much resources should your nonprofit devote to a Twitter strategy?  Here’s Pew Internet‘s latest update on who’s using Twitter.  And in addition to having a Facebook like button on your website, you can add a Twitter follow button also.  Here’s also advice on the best days/times to tweet.

If you’re using integrated software like Convio, what stops you from using the tool most effectively?  Recent options like @ConvioHelp and live chat can be helpful, but my experience shows that issues with product usability often get in the way also.  My suggestion – make sure you take the time to train your staff on an ongoing basis.

Idealware also offers its own guideline on how to allocate your time between website, email and online outreach.

Attending Fundraising Day in New York this week?  If so, please look for me there.

New Findings About Online Giving

The recently released donorCentrics™ Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis offers many interesting insights about online giving.   Steve MacLaughlin’s blog offers  a good summary of its major findings.  My comments are below:

  • online giving continued to grow rapidly in 2007 & 2008, even though there were fewer natural disasters which stimulated past years’ contributions – many of us take this for granted, but online giving is still relatively small compared to direct mail giving.
  • online donors give larger gifts than ‘traditional’ donors but have slightly lower retention rates – why are we losing donors’ loyalty?  Is it too easy to opt out of email communications?
  • while online giving is an important source for new donor acquisition, online donors may not be cultivated to their full potential after acquisition – this is an important point;  using a ‘welcome series’ of communications works much better than simply adding someone to an email newsletter list.
  • online donors often migrate to other channels, especially direct mail – I’ve long advocated the value of multichannel marketing, but it’s still interesting to find out that many will start online than give offline.  When I asked long term fundraising expert Michael Johnston recently to predict how much longer direct mail would survive, he confirmed that it would be quite a while yet.
  • direct mail donors rarely give online – so while online donors will go offline, offline donors usually won’t contribute online?  This was a surprise for me.

Twenty-four nonprofit organizations participated in this study, released by Target Analytics.  Interestingly, the headline of a NY Times article summarizing the study read Study Shows First-Time Online Donors Often Do Not Return. Clearly, we’re still figuring out what works but CARE’s Tobias Smith offered an interesting perspective, suggesting that we be “less worried about what channels donors use and offer them a variety of channels through which they can give.”  So if anyone tells you to focus only your efforts online when seeking new constituents, remind them that it’s too early to phase out traditional methods, such as direct mail.  Personally, I rarely pay much attention to direct mail, but many of our supporters still do.