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  ONLINE FUNDRAISINGNathan Shaver Web Sightings

Canadian FundRaiserIntegration into programs required strategy to compete

As the New Year progresses, many organizations and nonprofits are evaluating their recent successes and the challenges ahead. With the steady increase of outlets for giving, nonprofits are trying to find new ways to expand and cultivate their base constituency.
 
For many, the coming year will be the time to exploit the trend toward online giving and relationship-building. In fact, with the growing competition among nonprofits for the increasingly scarce philanthropic dollar, some say integration of online efforts is all but required.
 
In interviews with Convio’s Vinay Bhagat and Blackbaud’s Charlie Cumbaa, we examine some of the ways nonprofits can stay competitive in 2006, using the tools 2005 has thrust into the spotlight.
 
A year ago, The Wired Nonprofit predicted that 2005 would be the year that ePhilanthropy came into its own. Indeed, in a year full of horrific natural disasters, we have seen the awesome power of online giving. Americans were able to – with one click – give to the people in the Gulf Region. The world’s citizens, en masse, supported the tsunami victims through their giving – much of it on the web, as traditional channels were perceived as too slow or not completely available in the aftermath.
 
Increasing percentage

The estimated 45% of donations to Hurricane Katrina made online was higher than the 22% for the tsunami, which in turn was higher than the percentage for any previous disaster – including 9/11. Nonprofits are taking note, and fewer will be on the digital sidelines in 2006.
 
Organizations are increasingly adopting eCRM (Constituent Relationship Management) tools to help cultivate their prospects and donors. According to Bhagat, there has been a realization that the demographic profiles of online relationships have shifted. In 2001, roughly 20% of the baby boomer generation preferred to do business online; by 2010, that number is expected to grow to 55%. As these major gift prospects become more fluent in the web and eMail, nonprofits will need to adhere to donor preference in order to retain their impact.
 
Establish branding position

Nonprofits also need to become savvier in their marketing and branding. For many, the idea of branding has been foreign – an activity of the corporate world not necessary or appropriate. But as Blackbaud’s Cumbaa points out, it is in the interest of nonprofits to achieve higher levels of communication with donors and prospective donors, a tactic that can be achieved through appropriate marketing.
 
With more organizations from which to choose, constituencies need to recognize and associate a nonprofit with a cause. There is no better way to guarantee this than with the use of the Internet.
 
Bhagat and Cumbaa see the web and eMail as vital channels in the new information age. For a long time, the web was considered a cost of doing business. Now, mass communication is a core necessity. The market has started to mature for ePhilanthropy and the masses are realizing the shift to the digital medium.
 
In order for a nonprofit to navigate the online realm successfully, a few steps are vital. First, the importance of the web as a channel to market a nonprofit has to be understood at the CEO level. It should be incorporated into a strategic plan, and have a budget established.
 
There also have to be the right human resources and the right partnerships in place to make the most of a new initiative.
 
Challenge is cultivation

The challenge is always cultivation, and how much money new constituents will cost to obtain and make loyal. Many nonprofits wonder what the appropriate level of investment is for the web. It can be expensive to enter this new field of communication. Expect to invest up front, but also to see the time for a return on investment compressed when using online tools.
 
You cannot measure the success of the web strategy by online giving alone – it needs to be thought of in terms of new relationships established and grown. Cumbaa suggests first taking baby steps – generate a list of possibilities for the web and then prioritize and test the ideas that are most important to your organization.
 
It’s important to remember that it’s a multiple-channel world. Online strategies don’t replace anything, but instead augment and work in tandem with direct mail and other initiatives. There has been a validation of online giving with the disasters of late, and they have raised awareness and increased the philanthropic propensity to donate through the web. To take advantage of this shift requires that nonprofits change, and realize that competing in 2006 may require a new bag of tricks.
 
Nathan Shaver is an Associate Director of Changing Our World, a philanthropic services firm helping nonprofits with ePhilanthropy, major gifts and strategic planning; nshaver@changingourworld.com. Reprinted with permission of onPhilanthropy (http://www.onphilanthropy.com/). © 2005-6 Changing Our World Inc. All rights reserved.

 
Canadian FundRaiser
Canadian FundRaiserSince 1991, the Canadian FundRaiser™ newsletter has been updating nonprofit managers twice-monthly on news, trends, tips and analysis of developments in the fields of fundraising and nonprofit management.

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