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A Practical Approach to Fundraising Online

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Andrew Mosawi - IATS/Tickemaster and ePhilanthropy Foundation

  • Currently only 3% (approx $5bn) of giving is online - but this percentage is growing
  • Direct mail still largest source of donations
  • 1/2 of online donors are new donors, therefore not just cannibalizing existing donor base
  • Average donation amount from online donors is higher - average gift through Network for Good is $100
  • Online donors are slightly less loyal (why?)
  • 50% of offline donors research the charity online before sending a donation - your website's messaging, visual impact matter!
  • Xigi - social network with maps that show how donors are connected to causes
  • ePhilanthropy is about the relationships, not the technology!
  • Use Google adwords to drive traffic to your website - you only pay for the clickthroughs
  • Google grants: adwords for nonprofits for 3-4 months. Amnesty International got a $40K grant, got 300 new donors through the grant
  • Seach Engine Optimization (SEO) - helps your website show up at/near the top of the list of search engine results. You can do some of this yourself, there are consultants who do this too, but beware the snake oil salesmen
  • Use preferential web-only special offers to drive traffic to your website. Calgary Zoo had a 50% "Bad Weather" discount coupon that they would only display on their website on snow days, their website would get more traffic on these days!
  • Put website address on all of your materials (marketing, communication, brochures, letterheads, business cards, emails)
  • Limit what can be done offline. E.g. Seattle University sent out a letter that all changes to donor/member info would now be handled online through their website
  • Communicate to donors that they are doing you a favor by giving online and using the website (because it reduces your administrative costs). Knowing this makes donors more open to going online. E.g. Junior League of Nashville used this approach
  • Go paperless - send donors a PDF letter as a gift acknowledgment
  • Keep website content fresh and current. E.g. for WWF-Canada's CN Tower Climb, event registration is solely done online, event participants update their personal page with new photos and frequent posts
  • TechSoup.org provides technical assistance to orgs that want to use technology for online fundraising
  • Website should have multiple links to online donations - visitor to your website should never be more than three clicks away from entering their credit card number!
  • Security of online donor information is important - by next year, PCI compliance will be mandatory
  • Encourage members to engage in peer-to-peer viral fundraising solicitation using Kintera, Vancouver-based GiftTool. E.g. International China Concern and their Walk the Wall event - participants get a personal webpage to share with family/friends where they can upload photos, see a fundraising "thermometer" showing how much they've raised
  • Use viral marketing - "word of mouse" (audience groans :)
  • Consider growing your database of email addresses for use in future campaigns - in the short term, expanding the mailing list may take precedence over direct fundraising activities
  • Ratio of emails sent to donations received is 1000:10
  • Book: The Mercifully Brief, Real World Guide to Raising Thousands (if Not Tens of Thousands) of Dollars with Email by Madeline Stanionis of Watershed, a nonprofit consulting firm - book highly recommended by speaker and an audience member
  • Interesting side note re: email: one audience member mentioned that her 23-year-old daughter communicates with her friends through Facebook instead of email
  • Build community, build brand. E.g. Harley Owners Group website
  • Joslin Diabetes Center
  • Personalize your message. E.g. one school creates content for parents with customized event listings and academic info about their student
  • ASPCA - finds out whether a member is a "dog person" or "cat person". Then when sending out email appeals, the message will contain dog photos or cat photos, depending on the member's preference.
  • Choosing an online community - choose one and run with it. Don't spread yourself thin.
  • Nonprofits and blogs - blog readers and writers are a good demographic to target for campaigns
  • 80/20 Pareto rule and the Long Tail of Philanthropy: 20% of the donors give %80 of the money, but online fundraising helps you capture the remaining 20%, with relatively little outlay needed
  • Summary: Path to fundraising online:
  1. Prioritize
  2. Don't go it alone - get buy-in from others in org
  3. Strategy documents - include your online fundraising strategy in your org's strategy documents
  4. Set resource requirements
  5. Dive in!

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