Online fundraising is a numbers game, which I discussed in another Frogloop blog post about how many fundraising emails it might take per year to achieve a significant online fundraising program.
Having worked on nearly 450 digital campaigns for both nonprofits and impact-oriented brands, such as Abe's Market and Fetzer Wines, a common challenge I see across organizations is just inadequate tools for planning.
I've often encountered organizations with boards who throw down unrealistic growth goals for staff, but without arming staff with the proper resources to do their jobs.
And in the midst of a vast array of choices, technology, and a rapidly-shifting digital landscape full of tempting "gold rushes" and shiny new toys, there is some basic back of the envelope planning we can and should do first, to see what's possible before we rush off on a fools errand to try and recruit 1 million members on Facebook or Twitter without a proper strategy.
As Care2 our working theory of change is to engage the largest audience of conscious consumers and caring citizens likely to donate to nonprofits and support their causes as activists and volunteers. That creates economies of scale and efficiency we can then pass along to the nonprofits. We save staff the costly effort of acquisition by accelerating growth and seeding campaigns. This frees staff up to cultivate relationships with donors and raise money.
But this tool (and the others we've developed at Care2) are a totally objective template that you can manipulate with your own assumptions. I just try to give you a starting point based on industry benchmark data and my experience.
So try this theory out. I challenge you. It's a smackdown.
You'll likely find that given the realities of traffic conversion rates will require a massive staff effort to drive significant enough traffic through earned media to grow your email list (and thus your lifeline to multi-channel grassroots fundraising or sales), with any sort of scale at a net cost that can beat well-tested, targeted, permission-based email acquisition.