The internet has significantly democratized fundraising over the past 5 years. Barrack Obama's 2008 campaign raised an astonishing $337 million from individuals making small donations (under $200). According to the Urban Institute's 2010 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey report, individual giving is the largest single source of contributions for nonprofit organizations. This change raises the following question about the donor experience and online relationship building:
How many of you have received an online solicitation from an organization that you are familiar with, made a donation, and then never heard from the organization again, until it was time to ask for another donation?
Are You Leaving Donors Blowing In the Wind?
While the internet has also made it easier to give, it has also made it easy for organizations to receive donations without having to nurture and engage their donors to build a relationship with them. Many nonprofits, universities, and associations are turning to online community technology to stay connected to donors before and after they give. Here are five ways that your organization can use a private online community to keep important donors engaged.
1) Online Communities Let Donors Know They Are Part of Something Bigger
Donors, both larger and small, give for a variety of reasons. However, one of the largest commonalities among donors is their belief in a cause. Inviting donors into your online community instantly lets them know that they have helped support a social good bigger than any one person.
2) Online Communities Make Donors Feel Special
Provide donors with a place to get exclusive information about your organization's initiatives and progress. In your online community, you can segment the kind of information available to each donor based on donor type, giving level, or other demographic.
3) Online Communities Keep Donors Informed
Use the email tools built into your online community platform to send segmented messages to communicate relevant information and updates to specific donor types.
4) Online Communities Help Donors Stay Connected
Access to an online community serves a double purpose of providing a tangible benefit of donating and keep donors connected to your organization so that they turn into repeat givers.
5) Online Communities Turn One Way Messages Into Two Way Conversations
We have all received follow up solicitation from groups to which we have donated. Online communities turn one way marketing messages and newsletters into opportunities for two-way conversations in online forums, listservs, and on social media comments.
Engaging your donors in a private social community leads to additional giving, passionate volunteers, referrals, or the simple satisfaction donors receive when you help them find answers to their questions.
How have you seen online communities transform an "ask" into a relationship? Add your experiences in the comments section below.