Last week I blogged about Blackbaud’s 2011 Multichannel Fundraising Report that was trying to scare nonprofits into pushing their online donors offline – stating that online donors only had long-term value when they were moved offline. See my response: Move Your online Donors Offline? You Must Be Crazy… Frankly, I’m pretty disgusted with Blackbaud for putting out such an irresponsible report.
Irresponsible in that they did not take into account the possibility that the 28 nonprofits in their study did not have, or were not focusing on, a quality online giving program and then implying that the results from a very small study of large nonprofits that had robust direct mail programs could be universally applied to all nonprofits.
The REAL Surprising Truth
For better insight as to the more-likely reason for online donors moving offline (or disappearing altogether) – check out the Kivi Leroux Miller’s post No Wonder Retention of Online Donors is So Bad.
After reading her post, I am compelled to offer up what I think would comprise a great online giving program. Like Kivi, I am also a GenXer (and if you haven’t figured out how to attract and retain GenXers I don’t know how you are going to deal well with Millennials!), and I prefer to donate online, not by writing checks. At the risk of thinking I am the perfect target market for online donors, here is what I would recommend to keep people like me coming back after an initial online donation.
1. Go ahead and send me your direct mail appeals but make them part of an accompanying email campaign so I can renew online.
2. I want to see an annual report or impact report – in any size or format that encompasses the year or ½ the year; I’d like it mailed with the direct mail appeal because I do so much reading online that I’m more likely to read it if it is in print form.
3. I LOVE getting interim short reports by email and Facebook; you should make sure that I sign up for both by including links and information about other ways to stay in touch in a thank you email.
4. Make sure I want to continue receiving your communications by giving me more reports than asks, communicate with me regularly, and give me quality stuff to read or look at – including great program photos. I love the content on Blandford Nature Center’s Facebook page. (notice the consistency, the types of posts and the great photos)
5. Let me sign up for events and other activities online; I prefer to signup up for those events on your site so I know you are getting the money quickly and with less fees dinged.
6. I would like other ways to give online; I especially like giving toward a specific piece of equipment or item, like shopping in an online catalog; when Blandford Nature Center had a whole slew of binoculars stolen, I would have loved to receive a link to the donation page with specific form field & text to help purchase whatever number of binoculars I wanted or at least a direct link to the specific binoculars they needed at an online store.
7. I also love text-to-donate options because it’s so EASY – especially suitable for smaller amounts – it just gets charged to my cell phone bill!
8. I don’t want to be called on the phone. Ever. I’m busy and I don’t like being interrupted with ANY kind of sales call so you are much more likely to get me cranky and turn me away from donating ever again.