From the Best Friends Forum:
Question from Dominique:?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
I volunteer for a shelter that does have a website that gets updated on a regular basis. I'm just curious to know what internet fundraising efforts seem to work quite well. Also interested to know how other organizations use email mailing list(s) to raise funds.
Most of the hits we get are people looking at our animals. People still seem to prefer the old-fashioned way of making their financial contributions or purchases (we do offer on-line purchase of our merchandise as well as of other items through other links that contribute to our organization, such as Igive etc). Most people also like our website because we don't loose them with "advertising" everywhere (pop-ups, links etc.). How do we try to get them more involved?
Gail Berriganâ€™s response:
If youâ€™re curious about what has worked, youâ€™ve probably already heard of Convio, which has specialized in non-profit online fundraising and has helped organizations like the ASPCA and the Dean campaign raise millions in online donations. Convio specializes in â€œcustomer relationship management,â€ which means integrating your donor mailings with your PR campaigns with your online newsletters with your recruitment effortsâ€¦ etc., and they seem to have good success at it. But, Iâ€™ll come back to Convio in a minute. First, the basics on your own site:
A quick checklist on your site should cover things like:
Does your donation form work as it should? Is it easy to submit? (ask friends or volunteers to try it and give you their honest opinion) Even if you are using a third party vendor, like Igive, test your forms.
Is your donation form easy to find? (When Best Friends simply moved the Donate link higher up on the page, it increased our online donations!)
Do you try targeted vs. general appeals? Experimenting with different categories/options of giving may prove useful. Best Friends will soon be offering online sponsorship of animals as a way to raise money, but this is just one of several avenues of fundraising.
Regarding using email lists for fundraising, I would refer you to some of the other questions weâ€™ve had about that. As you can imagine, thereâ€™s an art to fundraising via e-mail.
Back to Convio. Their fees are scalable, which makes it a nice option for small to mid-size organizations that may not have the internal resources to handle database development/management, mass e-mailings, or membership development (look for them at www.convio.com
). Even if you donâ€™t want to or canâ€™t hire them, their website is a good place to pick up on the latest trends and statistics, such as this item from a March 30, 2004 Wall Street Journal article:
Making a solicitation online costs only 20 cents compared with $1 or more for each direct-mail or telephone solicitation, according to a McKinsey & Co. study published in May 2003. Still, only about 1% of total donations was raised online in 2002, though the Internet's share probably rose to 3% or 4% in 2003, the company says.
(Read more at: http://webreprints.djreprints.com/962590279606.html.
There are lots of resources online about how to fundraise online, and you will need to do some research to really answer your question. Organizations like AdvocacyCentral (advocacycentral.com) are capitalizing on the notoriety of the Dean campaign to promote â€œdynamic online grassroots activismâ€ as the key to building both funds and membership. But I would start with a site like http://www.nonprofits.org/npofaq/misc/990804olfr.html,
which is a non-profit that compiles information on online non-profit fundraising efforts. (Note: Much of their information is dated, such as the following excerpt from 2001. Despite being dated, it is probably still instructive.)
Nonprofits that create a web site primarily to raise money should assume it may take several years before they actually recover their initial development and maintenance costsâ€¦[in a study reported in the October 2001 issue of Fund Raising Management,] 26 nonprofits had yet to raise any money and most nonprofits were finding it took at least four years before their web-based income was more than the development and maintenance expensesâ€¦the nonprofits that spent the most on designing their sites were also those who secured the most web-based donations.
The Non Profit Times is an invaluable source of news on many aspects of managing a non-profit business, including online fundraising. Their profiles of actual non-profits can be very insightful (for example, in 2002, they compared the web site development and maintenance costs of a handful of national non-profits. Useful information when you present a budget to your board!) Again, this article is old (2001), but it offers a good perspective on how diversified the world of online fundraising world is: www.nptimes.com/Apr01/sr2.html.
I hope some of this has been helpful. The number of businesses now specializing in online fundraising testifies to the expertise involved. In some cases, the solution really does lie in better organization and management of your data; in other cases, innovation combined with credibility may be the answer.