Online giving is skyrocketing, thanks in part to the many different ways donors can now give online -- nonprofit websites, donation portals, social networks, mobile.
One thing remains true: the reasons people give online are not that different from the reasons they give elsewhere. Just like offline, the strength of your donor relationships will ultimately determine your success as a fundraiser. Here are a few tips to help cultivate those relationships.
7 Principles for Building Better Relationships Online
1. Be Interesting. Create great content. Think of new ways to tell your great stories, like using video instead of a written testimony. Try to inject humor if it's appropriate. Engage your supporters and create conversations. This should not be a one-way street.
2. Be Interested. In your supporters. Make sure their online experience is easy and built for them. Personalize and segment your communications. Don't send an email about volunteering for an event to a donor who lives in another state. Let them know you care about them and their lives.
3. Be Generous. Focus on what you give your supporters, not on what they give you. Give them the chance to do extraordinary good through your organization. Give them credit for the good that happens. Give them memorable stories about the difference they made.
4. Be Honest. Share both your successes and your failures. Make your financial records easily accessible. Transparency should not just be a buzz word.
5. Be Clear. People need to know what to do when they get to your site. Make it easy for them to sign up for a newsletter or donate or contact you. Provide actual contact information and not just a contact form. Have a person outside the organization test your site to see if it's as easy to use as you think it is.
6. Be Brave. Try something new -- whether it's a new fundraising campaign or experimenting with mobile giving. Be innovative. Don't be afraid to fail or put yourself out there.
7. Be Grateful. Say "Thank you." A lot. Call, write and email your donors. Find your champions and show them extreme love.
Here's a very eye-opening statistic from the Network for Good and TrueSense Marketing Online Giving Study: Repeat giving by donors is 66.7% lower for generic non-branded donation pages than it is for those who have a clearly branded donation page. In other words, those donors may give once, but they aren't coming back.
When donors experience a sterile commercial transaction as part of the donation process, you take away the feeling that the donor is directly conversing with your organization and making a difference. This will diminish the effect you have on the donor and therefore, the amount you fundraise.
Donors need to feel closely tied to your organization and not feel like a walking ATM. Show who you are in your entire donation process to make the most of and further the relationship you have worked so hard to build.