This week I attended the quarterly get together of the Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table, chaired by long time leader David Milner. As usual, discussion was lively covering topics such as:
- Google Analytics – use scheduled reports often to get colleagues to look at data but make sure they understand some of the basic terms – e.g. page views, visits etc.
- Surviving a website redesign – David suggested an ‘outside in’ approach to consider what site visitors are looking for rather than ‘inside out’ – where you spend most of your time getting feedback from others in your organization. Another interesting point – when selecting a developer, remember that the firm that creates the design doesn’t necessarily have to implement it.
- Content management systems – While CMS products offer the potential of allowing staff through a nonprofit to update web content, many of us have had mixed success in actually achieving that goal. Bill Swersey of the Asia Society (thanks for hosting the meeting) showed us a wiki which includes an internal style guide as well as tips on how to create online content. Another idea mentioned was to revise job descriptions to include responsibility for website updates
- Donate now – Is it really important to put a prominent button throughout your website? My take – you want to make sure that those who are ready to contribute can do so easily – and can get through the process without having to fill out a lot of information – and are not distracted by extraneous links to other website pages
- Facebook ads – Bill commented on the amazing targeting capability available within Facebook so your ad can display to a very selective audience
If you’re in New York, please join the conversation at the next meeting in December. If not, consider joining our LinkedIn group.
Depending on how you interpret the 2009 statistics, online giving is the greatest thing since sliced bread or is over-hyped and still represents a small piece of overall donations. Today’s Agitator.net post challenges us to think beyond the numbers. Some major points:
- Are new online donors simply moving over from other channels, or are they really ‘new’?
- What’s getting in the way of some nonprofits that are not seeing increases in online giving?
- If your organization has experienced a jump in online donations, do you understand why?
- Are you taking advantage of integrated strategies to coordinate your online and offline appeals?
- Can new online donors be ultimately upgraded to higher levels of engagement – as you would normally want for offline supporters?
- If some donors are contributing because their friends or family asked, can you expect them to have a relationship with your nonprofit directly to encourage future support?
- Are you doing enough testing of online messaging, as carefully as you would do for offline?
Online fundraising isn’t a magic bullet, as those who simply add a donation button to their web site without any further effort soon learn. Similarly, if you send out regular email marketing messages but don’t analyze who’s opening and actually reading them (and who unsubscribe), you’re missing the boat. Regardless of your 2009 online numbers, you can probably do better in 2010 by taking the time to answer some of these questions.
For more online fundraising tips, download this new Online Fundraiser’s Checklist, review 25 Tips for Better Fundraising Copy and note the recent boom in mobile fundraising (hint – this channel won’t only be effective after earthquakes). More people are online, but fewer are using the traditional desktop of laptop computer. Apple’s new tablet is coming soon to add yet another option.
If you’re planning to attend, please consider participating in the two sessions I’ll be participating in:
- The Joy of CMS: Implementing Sustainable Content Management Systems (The Painless Way to Keep Your Web Site Current). I will ask three experts in building web sites how nonprofit organizations can build a culture which supports up to date online content.
- Tug of War or Pulling Together? Building Teamwork for Better Online Campaigns. We will discuss how departments can work together within a nonprofit organization to develop and implement online strategies.
Nten’s Annual Nonprofit Technology Conference, expected to attract over 1,000 nonprofit staff members, consultants and vendors from across the United States, will take place in New Orleans, LA from Wed, Mar. 19 – Fri, Mar. 21. It is always a wonderful event., Hope to see you there.
In addition, here is a useful resource on creating online donation pages and forms
Does online fundraising offer a huge opportunity for most nonprofits? Yes. Does this mean that the more traditional direct mail methods should no longer be used? No! Many other bloggers recently discussed this issue:
Chronicle of Philanthropy - Direct-Mail Appeals Suffer, New Survey Finds
Sea Change Strategies – Mark Rovner - A Little Fundraising Rant
Seth Godin - I Gave at the Office, as well as his latest book, Meatball Sundae
A useful summary of the issue is provided in The Agitator’s Baby and the Bathwater.
I agree with Seth’s point that online fundraising clearly is not meant to replace direct mail fundraising. Some people may always respond best to direct mail, while others enjoy doing everything online. The real challenge, as Seth points out, is to convert the donor to an active supporter of an organization’s cause, or who encourages others to get involved. Whether a donor gives offline or online, getting someone to get and stay engaged has the biggest benefit for our organizations.
In the recently released American Express Charitable Gift Survey, there are some surprising insights about online fundraising.
Through a two week sample of donors in September 2007, the survey analyzed how much people give to charity in single donations and the differences between online and offline donations. Below are some of its major points (withmy comments in italics):
- about 2/3 of Americans gave to charity in the past year, but only 6% gave online. This is much lower than I would have expected, but surely this will continue to grow rapidly.
- convenience or speed is the top reason for giving online. This is why it’s so important to make the online donation process as simple as possible, e.g. not having too many steps and not asking for too much information.
- most contributions are below $100, regardless of the method of donation. While many nonprofits focus on major gifts, it’s clear that small donations play a critical role.
- on average, the online gift is about the same amount as offline gifts. This is the most surprising conclusion. At most presentations I’ve heard on this topic, online gifts are always described as being higher than offline gifts.
- the most frequent response for not donating online was not having a computer or Internet access. This will change as Internet connectivity becomes more universal.
- although people under 35 are more likely to make online gifts, the greatest share of Internet donors (50%) are between 35 and 54 years old. This also is a surprise, but the survey explains that more people in this age range give to charity than any other age group.
- there is little difference between the percentage of men and women giving online, and little difference in the types of charities they support. This suggests that segmenting constituents by gender may not be helpful in stimulating online giving.
Thanks to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, the Innovative Research Group, American Express Merchant Services, and Ted Hart, founder of the ePhilanthropy Foundation and now head of the Hart Philanthropic Services Group for preparing this insightful report.
Why do people give? I found these ideas on a blog post entitled Fundraising 101:
- They believe you are making a difference in a cause they care about.
- They value your work
- They see it as an investment
- They get something in return
- They feel good about themselves
- Returning a favor
- Solving a problem
- Sending a message
- Receiving quality information
- Aligning with peers
- Bringing justice to the world
To encourage constituents to support our organizations, we need to appeal to one or several of these motivators. A compelling story with a rationale of why the donation is needed will show better results will always show better results than a general appeal.