An ever increasing number of people all around the world have become reliant on the internet to live and work. It has changed everything we do from how we keep in touch with our friends to how we learn new skills. Inevitably, the effects of an always online world are having an increasingly powerful effect on fundraising, something that good causes around the world rely on to survive and support their beneficiaries. In the new world it is vital that NGOs understand the changing landscape and learn how they can use online tools to raise funds and connect with supporters.
To start us off, a few quick facts about how the internet is changing peoples behaviour in relation to Non-Profits:
- 47% of Americans learn of causes through social media
- Animals, Children and Health are the most successful online causes
- 55% of those who engage with nonprofits via social media have been inspired to take further action.
- In an average peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, 15-18% of donations are referred directly from Facebook.
- The average social media donation is $59 and growing each year.
- Using Twitter during fundraising events can result in 10X more money raised online.
- $2.7 billion dollars was raised through crowdfunding campaigns in 2012 alone, nearly doubling in growth from the prior year. That number is only expected to grow and could quite possibly double again in 2013.
Whilst the share of donations across the US in 2012 was still just 2.1% on average, some organisations such as the American Lung Association reported that 30% of its gifts are made online. A survey of over 100 leading Non-Profit organisations in the states showed that three quarters of them had targeted for online fundraising to account for more than 10% of their overall fundraising within the next few years whilst one in five predict that online donations will account for more than 20%.
Julie Taylor, Director of Donor Information at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation says “Giving online is just where people are these days, that’s how they’re comfotable giving now. The Hospital Foundation increased its online giving by more than one third in 2011.
Non-Profts around the world have found particular success in raising funds through regular gifts online, whether it is monthly, quarterly or even annually. The same survey mentioned earlier showed that some organisations earned as much as half of their their online giving totals from people who committed to recurring withdrawals from their accounts in support of their chosen cause.
“You talk to any nonprofit organization that relies on fundraising, and they’ll tell you online monthly giving is the most reliable giving,” says Scott Nilsen, vice president for development services at Young Life, a Christian charity that serves teenagers, “They’re the least likely ones to stop giving.”
Any Non-Profit with a website and a Facebook page can now reach a huge audience, an audience that simply would not have been possible to reach before the web takeover. These new opportunities have created some surprising new developments such as the prevalence of major online donations. Major donations had previously been secured through years of cultivation, wining and dining wealthy guests in the hope that they may bestow your cause with a lifechanging gift.
Today we see individuals making huge donations of over $1m, often anonymously, to organisations they have only read about online. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center reported that its largest gift online was $1-million, while six other organizations said they had received at least one gift of $100,000 or more online.
Although not every organisation can expect a donation that big, most are reporting larger contributions from donors online than they would likely receive from more traditional fundraising appeals such as direct mail.
The Environmental Defense Fund reports that its first-time donors online make gifts that are roughly twice as large as those who give for the first time through direct-mail solicitations. New donors typically give $40 to $50 online, versus $20 to $25 through direct mail, says Sam Parry, director of membership.
Non-Profits are increasingly targeting young donors under the age of 45 who they can connect with cheaply online whilst sharing a wealth of information about their cause. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit raised $1-million online in 2012—roughly twice as much as it had raised the previous year — by focusing on donors 45 years old or younger.
How your NGO can take Advantage
Creating a website is increasingly affordable wherever you are in the world. Sites now offer a year of hosting for less than $10 for a relatively simple website at the same time as offering complimentary customisable templates that ensure that your organisation looks professional. It is getting easier and easier by the day to create and maintain a website meaning there is little excuse. Almost every donor will look at an organisations website before donating funds, whether it is a government organisation or an individual at home. If you’re interested in targeting domestic audiences with your fundraising it may be beneficial investing a little more money in a mobile optimised site that will enable people to visit your site with their mobile phone. All you need is some basic information: What do you; Why do you do it; Who do you help: How do you help; Pictures; Contact Details. That’s it. It doesn’t need to be complex and often keeping things simple is the most effective strategy.
The next step your NGO should take is to get on Facebook. Wherever you are in the world the platform is either already hosting a huge population of your countrymen or it is in the process of doing so. It is an incredibly powerful tool that connects people from all over the world making it the place you need your organisation to be. Social media doesn’t need to be complicated, just treat it as a social outlet by sharing what you are doing, who you are helping, the problem you are trying to solve along with any quotes, videos, pictures or facts that support your cause. You’ll be amazed how many people discover your organisation if you invest just a little time and effort.
The penultimate step in propelling your organisation to a new generation of online donors is through an e-newsletter. These are the same as your typical printed community newsletter apart from they are delivered directly to your followers email inbox. It is a effective tool at highlighting news stories and developments, sharing information and directing traffic to your website, which neatly brings us to the final task to start generating donations online for your NGO.
Receiving donations online remains difficult for organisations in many countries around the world. Rules and regulations vary widely from nation to nation with some making it exceptionally easy whilst others make it all but impossible. PayPal.com is the option of choice for a large number of Non-Profits, especially in the developing world whilst Ammado.com is another service to consider which currently enables online donations in over 76 different currencies. If you’re lucky enough to be able to use one of these services then all you need to do is setup a donate page on your website and you’re ready to start raising funds online. If you’re not so lucky, money transfers are often possible where services like PayPal are not but receiving funds is likely to remain difficult for organisations in certain countries for at least the next couple of years.
Has your organisation received donations online? Are you considering trying to raise money through the internet? Let us know in the comments.