Is Your NonProfit Leaving Digital Dollars on the Table?

An article recently published in the Chronicle of Philanthropy suggests that nonprofit organizations across the United States are missing out on billions of dollars in online gifts due to their having fallen behind the times with regard to digital marketing and online fundraising strategies. The researchers looked at the websites and email campaigns of several different types of organizations and found that most had room for improvement.

“Eighty-four percent of nonprofits, including many of the nation’s largest charities, haven’t made their donation websites easy to read on mobile devices.”

The study looked at 150 organizations, most nonprofits, but also some political organizations and found that some fundraising groups were better at using online tools to collect money than others. Researchers found, when looking at their subjects as a whole, that environmental organizations and nonprofits that raised money for animals were much better than faith-based organizations and performing arts groups. In addition to a lack of mobile-friendly websites, many organizations sent mixed messages in their emails and calls-to-action lacked urgency.

“Lack of urgency. Only 14 percent of the groups’ websites provided compelling reasons for giving ‘today.’”

The study found that small charities and large charities alike suffered from not investing in digital fundraising efforts. Some organizations that scored poorly were big enough to land on The Chonicle’s Philanthropy 400. Among the specific problems found, websites were not asking for email signups or didn’t clearly communicate the value in doing so. Additionally, emails sent would include multiple calls to action, leading to confusion amongst recipients as to what the organization really wanted them to do.

Of the organizations that were preforming well with their online fundraising, one, the Environmental Defense Fund, increased online giving from $200,000 in 2005 to $2.3 million today. The organization raises a total of $13 million annually. Though the article sited previous studies that showed that online fundraising accounted for just 10% of all funds raised by nonprofit organizations, that number is growing and much of it is coming from donations made on mobile devices.

“One reason for the growth in online is the constant testing her group does to see how any changes affect donations.”

The best advice an organization can take from the article is that it’s more important to be aggressive with your communications than to fear overwhelming your audience, following up with online donors soon after they make a donation is key to retaining their loyalty and earning future donations and it’s critical to monitor the impact of changes in your website and communications strategy to ensure efforts lead to the intended outcomes.

To read the entire article, click here. Visit the Chronicle of Philanthropy online to read more articles or subscribe to the online version of their magazine.

If your nonprofit is seeking an overhaul to its website or needs help crafting stronger online fundraising strategies, contact us using the form below. We’ve helped numerous nonprofits with their websites, social media presence, email campaigns and traditional communications efforts.