Last week I gave a workshop session to an Arts Access Aotearoa Forum. During the discussion, following the previous session, the perennial topic of fundraising emerged. The sources of funding for not-for-profit and community organisations is getting tighter while the need for resources is continuing to rise. This has put many community organisations into a spin and the discussion revealed how desperate many groups are to secure new sources of funding.
Online fundraising provides the chance to raise funds that can grow and repeat every month. But some community organisations seem tempted to rush into it without a plan and sometimes by abandoning some tried and tested conventional methods.
How the new works with the old
Offline fundraising can be described as fundraising involving anything outside of the internet, email and social media.
One of the biggest impacts of online fundraising that we have observed is the way it assists and interacts with offline fundraising. This is backed up by a Blackbaud report from the US, which is part of their Target Analytics Internet Giving Benchmarking study (PDF download available).
Here is the evidence we are seeing in our work:
- Online is the ideal way to incrementally gather new donors because it has the capacity to cost efficiently gather together large numbers of latent supporters in behind a cause.
- Donors may start by making donations online, because it is easy, however many if not most, graduate to offline donating such as direct mail.
- Offline techniques, such as direct mail, tend to assist the value and retention of the online fundraising activity.
The lesson for any online fundraising campaigner is to treat all the activity in an integrated manner. In other words, each part has the capacity to reinforce and support the other.
What the above evidence shows is that online fundraising is powerful in attracting new donors, with some useful mechanisms to keep them involved through active engagement. But it hasn’t replaced many other methods, particularly those that provide tangible proof that the cause has value, which translates to people making commitments for the longer term.
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