Monday, January 24, 2011

Why aren't charities doing more digital fundraising?

The cynic in me could answer with the following:

- Online income is still a small portion of all individual giving.
- No-one really knows how to/where to start.
- They are, but its unreported (attributed to other channels).

The above points all have some merit.

But for me, specifically related to recruiting new donors online (I'm not talking about retention, integration, optimization), I've noticed that the following rings true, for most organizations:

A lack of genuine understanding about the online targeting landscape.

Not enough depth of knowledge about how to buy media online. Either none, or limited understanding of how to use paid search. And similar lack of inventiveness around how to move cold/tepid online audiences to become supporters.

Let's take online media.

Think about when you last went online. You're browsing your favorite news site and you see an advert for flights to Mexico.

Whilst you didn't think much of it at the time, in retrospect ask yourself:

- Have you recently searched for any travel online or clicked on a travel related advert?
- Have you recently used any terms in Google/other search engines related to Mexico or other central American locations?

I'd be surprised if you didn't answer yes to the above. Use your own recent experience and work backwards in terms of how that ad may have been placed in front of your eyes.

Now think back to the organization you work for.

How can you apply this thinking? If you're:

- An environmental org: you can reach out to those offsetting some carbon.
- Helping animals: you can place your message in front of someone who has searched for a pet adoption agency.
- Helping the homeless: you can locate find those who have signed a petition online to increase the number of housing shelters in your areas.

I'll be writing more on this. But next time you're playing around online, don't just ignore the ads being places in front of your eyes. Or on the right of your screen.

Think about how can apply the same intelligence to help you find more generous supporters online. People whose behavior dictates they are in the mind space to consider supporting your cause.



Laurie said...

Partly, because consultants spent the last 2 years telling them it was a waste.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Laurie

Thats a shame. It's easy to pick on certain aspects of digital and indicate they're a waste of time - done it myself - but to say the channel is not worthy of time and effort isnt right. The pie is still small, but growing. Can't argue with the data. Last year through benchmarking we saw that whilst the chunk of the overall pie is still relatively small, it did in fact grow last year, from 4.9% to 6.8%.

My point in the main is that there is a plethora of stuff out there available to fundraisers about how we can more effectively find new supporters online that arent being used. Ironically I learned about them from commercial digital marketers.

Thanks for sharing.

charity said...

Hi Jonathon, Completely agree with what you're saying. We are a digital agency who have been spending the day creating a website where people can easily and safely donate their money to multiple charities. We are promoting this mainly through online. There is so much potential in the digital landscape (and it tends to be a lot cheaper than TV, print or door-drop advertising)for charities to reach and engage with people. A lot of charities are doing a lot online, but could do more. Lets hope more catch on in 2011!

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Thanks for your comment.

As you say we should be doing more. It is still the new frontier of our sector, and the learning curve has been slow.

As I said in my post, its one area we need to look outside more to bring the insight and knowledge from our friends in the commercial world.