How Your Organization Can Benefit from Online Giving - dummies

How Your Organization Can Benefit from Online Giving

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

Online giving, or e-philanthropy, refers to the concept of charitable organizations raising money from online donations. An evolving concept since it first came in vogue in 2000, online giving is no longer simply a means of asking for money over the Internet. In the past few years, online donations have skyrocketed following natural disasters in locations across the globe.

Whether the catastrophe is an earthquake, a tsunami, or a tornado, the Internet has not only allowed organizations such as the Red Cross to collect much-needed donations but also served as a way to spread awareness and increase the generosity of giving offline, from clothing donations to blood drives. Online donations have had a powerful effect and are quickly becoming accepted as a mainstream fundraising method.

For those reasons, online giving is now a recognized strategic tool that you can — and should — use for your nonprofit. This method of marketing touches all outreach initiatives and specifically encompasses these six areas in an organization:

  • Awareness building: An effective online presence targets your internal (or existing) membership base and your external (or potential) audience. You can increase awareness for a specific campaign or for your overall mission.

  • Donor development: You’re using the Internet to not only target one-time contributors but also build long-term donor relationships.

  • Membership retention: The combination of targeted e-mail communications, a useful website, and active social media accounts is a proven means of generating membership renewals for your nonprofit.

  • Volunteer and client recruitment: Your organization thrives on financial contributions and the support of volunteers. Fortunately, your site can serve as a recruitment tool for both entities. Additionally, if your nonprofit is service based (such as debt-management or tax-preparation assistance for senior citizens), an online strategy can help you reach the audience most in need of your services.

  • Board outreach: Although your board members are technically part of your volunteer base, you should consider board outreach and development to be a distinctive area in your organization. A fully integrated and well-maintained Internet initiative is an increasingly important method for keeping your board committed to your cause.

  • Grassroots activism: The Internet is increasingly used as a way to elicit action at the basic level. From online petitions to e-mail campaigns, response rates are rising among the masses, and the effort is paying off.

These are the key areas in which online initiatives should be regularly infiltrating your organization. Consider how each segment provides additional benefits to your cause, and then take a closer look at what your organization gains when it actively solicits online donors.

Savvy e-philanthropists have three characteristics in common:

  • Generosity: Current research indicates that online donors are twice as likely to give to your cause, and they typically give twice as often as offline contributors.

  • Curiosity: Online donors seek out information; they’re eager to learn about your organization and its activities. Most important, these Net donors turn to the Internet for facts, figures, and general information before making their final giving decisions. In return, a donor who makes an informed decision takes the first step in forming a lasting bond with your organization versus a one-time random act of giving.

  • Loyalty: The members of your nonprofit with whom you stay in touch over the Internet are highly likely to not only stick around but also make more (and larger) donations over time. Therefore, if you’re fostering the relationship, chances are good that your multiyear renewal rates will increase.