What You Are NOT Doing CAN Hurt You

Submitted by Brett on Mon, 11/02/2009 - 8:06am

Meg Murphy, Convio

[Ed. note: This article is part of NTEN's Member Appreciation Month spectacular. The most popular pieces will be featured in our newsletter. You can read all the details here.]

Do these statements sound familiar?

  1. "I don’t have enough resources to do online fundraising and marketing", and
  2. "I’m not sure I can afford to invest in online fundraising."

Those points are common in the nonprofit sector despite the growing number of studies and reports that show that online fundraising continues to grow — even during the tough economy. Last year, Convio clients raised more than $777 million online and 2009 looks to be even better. The fact is, you too have the resources and you can’t afford NOT to get into the online game.

Despite the facts and the data, organizations small and large that are spending huge amounts on direct mail and telemarketing are reluctant to move spending to the online channel — even when the data clearly shows that integrating online with offline campaigns makes the overall program more successful.

Do you need help getting your leadership or board on board to make the move to a more robust online fundraising program? Organizations of all sizes can get into the game, you just need a playbook. You can’t afford to wait any longer!

In 2008, Convio pioneered a new program called Convio Go!™ , which is designed specifically for organizations that have a website and know they need to do more online, but were reluctant to invest in Internet tools. Whether it’s a fear of not having the right staff or the expertise to make them work, this type of guided program reduces the risk of introducing technology into the organization and also provides access to seasoned online marketing and fundraising professionals. Think of what you could achieve by working with a team of experts that will guide you through the first year of an online program, and get it all at a lower cost. 

Here’s what your peers were able to achieve with a first year investment of from $12,000 to $16,000, and approximately 25-30 hours per month — results that yielded an average of $90,000 in online revenue. Peers at 40 organizations in the program experienced these results:

  • Raised an average of $90,000 each online
  • Built total housefile of 4,312
  • Representing housefile growth of 41 percent during the program
  • 8 percent of file are donors
  • Newsletter open rate of 19 percent, click-through rate (CTR) of 3 percent in their last quarter in the program
  • Executed year-end, housefile building, and sustainer giving campaigns

Most of these organizations have one to three staff members, some are small affiliates of larger entities, but all had similar personnel, time and financial constraints — probably very close to the challenges you are facing.

When looking at options to enter the online fundraising and marketing world, make sure you partner with an organization that has a great deal of online marketing experience behind the products and that allows you to leverage staff time, create campaigns using templates, best practices and lessons learned from a community of peers and organizations that have had proven results. With your staff member’s many priorities, it is important that the program help keep you on track with measureable results, metrics and plans.

There is no time for complacency when it comes to online communications. If you want to keep up with your peers, then you’ll need to take the plunge. Now that you’re up to speed on some of the benefits of investing in online fundraising, now is the time to start this strategic initiative which will benefit your organization in critical areas, even beyond fundraising. Now it is easier and more cost-effective than ever. 

You’ve probably seen the statistics. According to Pew Charitable Trusts more than 73 percent of Americans are online. Last year, we teamed with Jupiter Research, a Forrester Research Company to survey online consumers about their plans to give online during the holiday season. According to the results, 89 million online consumers planned to give online with giving estimated at $3 billion. No matter your size and your resources, the time has never been better to invest in the online channel. As you can see your peers are seeing significant results from a minimal investment. Starting now and having the right approach will set you up for success in 2010 and beyond. With optimism growing that 2010 we’ll see a stronger economy and that donors and other supporters want to be engaged online; the cost of NOT having an online strategy is much too high – it can and will hurt you. 

Now more than ever the resources are there and the price is right - what are you waiting for?