Five Trends that Will Affect Online Fundraising in 2010

February 2010

Reprinted from www.fundraising123.org

No one can say for sure what 2010 will bring. Will there be an economic recovery? Will direct mail continue to thrive? Will more and more donors continue to turn to the Web as their preferred means of giving?

Last year the Chronicle of Philanthropy shared their “Trends That Will Affect Fund Raising in 2009,” penned by Robert F. Sharpe, a planned-giving consultant in Memphis.

In 2010 Network for Good has taken a crack at the five trends we’ve seen (with an online spin):

1. You may see a greater number of donations with a smaller average gift size. Here’s a piece of news that’s probably not news to you: Your donors are generous. They want your organization to succeed. They’re even willing to continue to give when the economy is in a bad way. However, we’ve found that people made more, smaller charitable contributions in a down economy. What this means for you: Nonprofits will have to mentally prepare for the possibility of receiving smaller gifts, and it will be on your shoulders to reach out to your past supporters (and their networks!) and grow your donor base.

2. As much as the media talks of a possible economic rebound, prospective supporters will still be wary of donating to new causes. Yes, folks will donate (as we discussed in number 1 above), but that crowd of new potential donors will need to be sold on the good works and impact their gifts can really make. They’ll be looking for transparency (i.e., the real story behind where donated funds go) and the potential for real involvement. What this means for you: You will need to work your hardest to make your mission accessible. Show where the money goes. Share the credit when your nonprofit does its great work. Make your supporters a part of the picture—not just an ATM in the background.

3. E-mail outreach will continue its upward trend, meaning more e-mail in subscribers’ in-boxes. The popular buzzword for this phenomenon is “clutter.” As more companies, schools, and other nonprofits begin to use e-mail marketing, your subscribers will be moving even more quickly and furiously to dig through the clutter and find the messages that really appeal to them. What this means for you: You need to be at the top of your e-mail game! With some stellar subject lines and catchy (relevant) copy, your messages will rise to the top.

4. Recurring gifts will be a huge portion of online giving. Here at Network for Good, we’ve seen that approximately 20 percent of all donations coming through are from recurring (regular, repeat) donations. With a one-click set-up, many donors have shown their preference for this type of giving for a number of reasons: folks needn’t remember on their own to come back and give again; it’s convenient and feels like “automatic bill-pay”; and donors can divide up a larger gift over time. What this means for you: Your nonprofit needs to make recurring giving a priority in your online fundraising strategy—not a footnote. It needs to be an option every time a donor enters a gift amount. With all of your messaging and fundraising appeals you can encourage this process.

5. As in the past, year-end gifts will account for a substantial percentage of total annual contributions. For a bit of background, December giving comprised about a third of the total dollar value and a quarter of the total number of donations made in 2009. Fourth-quarter giving comprised over half of the total dollar value and number of donations made in 2009. This is not out of the ordinary, either—we’ve seen roughly these numbers for the past five years! What this means for you: Though we’re happy to share procrastinator’s tips when November and December eventually roll around, we’re much happier to encourage you to start planning now. Start thinking about where folks got stuck on your Web site and what changes you can make during the first quarters of the year. Review the communications you sent out—which ones did well and which ones fell flat? The earlier you analyze and plan, the more successful you can be next time!

© 2010, Network for Good

www.Fundraising123.org provides free tools and expertise in online giving so that small and medium-sized charities can see bigger returns from their online marketing efforts. Fundraising123 is a service of Network for Good, an independent nonprofit organization that makes it easy to support any charity, anywhere online by offering simple, affordable, and effective online fundraising services, including donation processing, e-mail outreach, and online surveys. Network for Good has processed over $360 million in donations for more than 50,000 nonprofits since its 2001 founding by AOL, Cisco, and Yahoo!