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Kelly ONeal 4 min read

Recession Obsession – What Does The Future Hold For Online Fundraising?

I can’t stop thinking about it and no one will let me. Turn on the TV, read the paper, listen to NPR, it’s all gloom and doom. What does that mean for nonprofits? Past behavior is an indicator of future actions, but that’s not likely the case this year. What can you expect in 2009? What should you do? Well, you can start by reading some of the most recent studies by Blackbaud, Donor Digital and M+R Strategic Services with 2008 year-end highlights, and smart tactics to deploy in these hard times. (BTW, I just did something that was suggested I not do - mention the state of the economy.)

Below is a list that highlights the major takeaways.

  • Things didn’t end so bad in 2008.
  • Average donations are down. Lower gifts decreased by 20% to 35%. Big donors ($500+) drop off contributed to the lower average.
  • Total number of gifts went up – One study showed a 4% increase of “white mail” (unsolicited gifts via main donate page).
  • Standard practices apply but don’t expect the same results.
  • Don’t be discouraged. Now is not the time to throw in the towel. Keep growing your list.
  • Don’t be shy. Ask for money. Test. Ask. Test. Repeat. This goes for emails, landing pages, home page, splash pages, videos and more.
  • Put on the thinking cap. Be creative. Use everything you’ve got - even the kitchen sink.
  • Stick with what works. Focus on a specific and timely campaign. Make it urgent. Set realistic goals.
  • Don’t be a downer. Let’s not remind people we are in a recession. One organization tested two email messages. One appeal mentioned the state of the economy against one without. The message without the economy reference performed the best.
  • Size and color do matter. Bigger donate buttons helped convert more donors and seasonality and vivid color choices helped boost conversions.

Read the Articles:

The Ups and Downs of Online Giving in a Down Economy. M+R, Jan 30, 2009

Weak Economy, Strong Campaign. M+R. January 30, 2009

Donors Steady, Average Gifts Down. Donor Digital, Feb 2009

2008 Online Giving Trends. Blackbaud, Jan 5, 2009

How did your organization's online fundraising program do in 2008? Did you see similar trends?

*This article was written by Kelly O'Neal, Online Marketing Consultant.

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